Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
May 10, 2012 9:43 PM

This Blog Sucks (And You're Probably Not Reading This)

I don't mind that I'm becoming a dinosaur.

I'm not going to lie and say that I was shocked to read the DigiDay article, Agencies Ditch Blogs, that they published on Monday. "With the rise of social media, businesses are blogging less. That goes for agencies, too, which are increasingly turning their backs on their blogs in favor of platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and newer kids on the block like Instagram and Pinterest." The article went on to quote Sam Weston (director of communications at digital marketing agency, Huge): "Nobody reads agency blogs, and there are so many out there it's impossible for people to keep up anyway. We put ours on hiatus while we figure out what we want to do with it. We do use Facebook and Twitter. We've figured out what works for us there."

Please allow me to correct that quote...

"Nobody reads agency blogs"... THAT ARE BORING AND SELF-SERVING. This is what the Internet brought: just because everyone can publish content, it doesn't mean that they should. Let's argue and say that I'm wrong and that anybody and everybody should be publishing content... fine. Then just because everyone can publish content, it doesn't mean that anyone will care. What advertising agencies are learning is that publishing content on a frequent and consistent basis with a compelling voice is not only a commitment, but it is very difficult. Nothing new here. We've been saying this for close to a decade. It has only become more complicated because there are many other, faster and quicker and different ways to create and share content. This is no longer about the Internet grappling for some of TV's viewers. We live in a world where Instagram is biting into Pinterest's usage and Facebook is tackling users away from YouTube and beyond. It's very complex. It's very complicated.

Blogging is about writing.

Here's a dirty little secret: I hope more agencies stop blogging. I could also name some bloggers that I'd like to see stop. Why? Am I being mean? Absolutely not. I see too many agencies and bloggers struggle with their blogs. It's both obvious and painful to watch. They wind up spending too much time writing about themselves or covering the same areas of interest that everyone else is talking about. They're afraid to have an opinion, step into a territory that they're uncomfortable with and - most of all - they're afraid to go "off brand."    

Why you should blog...

  • Because it's your own space - not another platform or channel that you can't control.
  • Because it's good for search engine optimization.
  • Because it helps an agency build a community.
  • Because it's good for business and helps your company look more human.
  • Because it's a great place to share links and advice.
  • Because it's a great way to attract clients.

Maybe... but no.

While all of these may sound like a good reason to blog, they're not.

Why you should blog (really)...

  • Because you have something to say.
  • Because you are passionate about your industry.
  • Because you are seeing things that not many people are talking about.
  • Because it helps you to think critically about the changes that your industry faces.
  • Because you love to write.
  • Because you have to write.
  • Because if you had more time, you would write even more.
  • Because you feel that others out there might connect with the content and the connect to you.
  • Because you're not blogging for work. Your working hard to make your blog work.

Cowboy up. 

This isn't about blogging or whether or not blogging is cool. Blogging simply allows an individual (or an advertising agency) to publish how they think in words, instantly and for free for the world to read. If someone (anyone) is abandoning their blog, it is for one reason only: the world is not caring all that much. The truth is that the world can be a cold and unforgiving place. The only way to change that is to create something so compelling that it makes people stop, think, wonder, share and engage.

Maybe the agencies just realized that there are no free lunches?

Some additional thinking on this:

By Mitch Joel


Comments Comments Feed
  • Posted by Anita
    Mitch Joel

    Well said!

    Reply
  • Posted by Melissa
    Mitch Joel

    Thank you! I read the DigiDay article as well and couldn't agree more with your comments.

    With the Google Penguin update blogging should still be on the radar as a very effective SEO tool but doing it right takes a lot of time, commitment and guts.

    Love your blog, thanks for writing posts like this one! I’m actually becoming quite obsessed with your blog, I never miss a post.

    Reply
  • Posted by Mark W Schaefer
    Mitch Joel

    Amen. Preach it brother.

    Reply
  • Posted by Carl Sudholz
    Mitch Joel

    Yes, well said!

    I want to see more blogs that discuss 'solutions to problems'. And less ones that are 'all about me'.

    Reply
  • Mitch Joel

    Fantastic post - as someone who is committed to blogging, but still searching for a coherent strategy (read: true commitment) on Facebook & Twitter for my business, the advice given is typically, "It's free & easy... Why wouldn't you do it?" Well, there are lots of things that are free & easy, but not necessarily right for your business.

    This post should be mandatory reading - The Bloggers Pledge of Understanding - for people signing up at Wordpress! Thanks MJ... If "no one is reading," I'm proudly a Nobody.

    Reply
  • Posted by Jim Connolly
    Mitch Joel

    Hi Mitch,

    As you say, low quality content has never been popular and agencies are among the worst culprits; with their posts often reading like pitches.

    Thanks for an interesting post.


    Reply
  • Posted by Matthew Grant
    Mitch Joel

    While the first set of reasons may be important when trying to "sell" the idea of blogging to people, your second set contains the only actual reasons to blog. Thanks for articulating that.

    Also, although it was probably a typo, I like the idea that "Faceblook is tackling users away from YouTube." I'd love to see THAT on YouTube!

    Reply
  • Posted by Anna Gustafson
    Anna Gustafson

    Did you write this? It doesn't suck. No I am not an agent/publisher. :)

    Agree that we don't need documented proof of how much someone is not into their job/business. You say so much by what you don't say or "kinda say". Well said. Enjoyed.

    Reply
  • Mitch Joel

    Well said, Mitch. And know that yours in an exception to the rule :)

    Reply
  • Posted by Roger Dooley
    Mitch Joel

    If you've got nothing to say, your blog will say exactly that: nothing. Nothing useful or interesting to others, at least.

    You're no dinosaur. Not even a wooly mammoth. Endangered species? Maybe. ;)

    Reply
  • Posted by Marc Ensign
    Mitch Joel

    Amen! It isn't at all about the medium, it's the content. There are some people that can doodle something on a napkin and it's a work of art...does that mean we should all start doodling on napkins? And if we do and the public doesn't like our doodles, should we outlaw napkins? A majority of agencies see their blog merely as another prospecting tool...which it can be. The piece they are missing is that it works well as a prospecting tool second, first it needs to be valuable, different, funny, engaging, entertaining, smart, etc. That's a lot of work.

    What REAAALLLY concerns me is the thought of all of these agencies realizing that sounding off about their company on their blog isn't working so they are going to move en mass into Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, Facebook, etc. and use those same oversell techniques over there making it equally as cluttered as the blog space is now.

    Reply
  • Posted by Mark Farmer
    Mitch Joel

    "Though many sporadically maintain blogs to highlight things like awards, hires and news."

    I think I see the problem: "awards," "hires," "news," and "sporadically." So three topics guaranteed to bore people so much that you probably couldn't pay the average reader enough money to care about them. And they're published sporadically, which means the reader has to guess whether there's 10 posts that month or none.

    Wow, what's not to love?

    Reply
  • Posted by Andrew Goodman
    Mitch Joel

    *Agencies* don't create blogs anyone might want to read... *people* do. Which is why your "agency blog" will live on. If that reflects well on the agency's brand too, it's a nice side effect. If only more agencies/people got that.

    Reply
  • Posted by Anne Millerd
    Mitch Joel

    As a relatively new business blogger, I found this post very encouraging. I am working hard on my business blog, clinging to the belief that we (us guys at my business) need to be super keen and informed about the interests that our target audience have in common. Every day I think and think, trying to put my finger on content that those people will find helpful and interesting.

    Blogging is hard work, I agree. But of all the hard work I do in my week, it is the hard work I look forward to the most. It is the hard work which is the reward for all the other hard work.

    Thanks, Mitch, for standing up for the value of business blogging. I am betting that it will pay off not only for your business, but for all of us who are really in there, committed to doing our best to make a contribution to good content on the web.

    Reply
  • Posted by Ian M Rountree
    Mitch Joel

    I think Joey Comeau said it best when he said - "I'm tired of playing dinosaurs. Let's be meteors."

    Reply
  • Posted by Antonio Basso
    Mitch Joel

    Great , great post!!! I do agree 100% with the fact that not everybody has to blog. Good engaged blogging is not that simple, is it?
    They think, lets start blogging and our business and notoriety will jump. But it doesn´t happen. Why? Because they blog soul less. (with out soul, strategy, and differentiation.

    It all reminds me about a Cold Play song that sings "no body said it was easy...."

    Thanks

    Reply
  • Posted by Scott Fox
    Mitch Joel

    ""Nobody reads agency blogs"... THAT ARE BORING AND SELF-SERVING. "

    Very well said, Mitch.

    This really applies to all social media, doesn't it? Receiving value or at least entertainment is what we all want when investing our scarce time.

    Thanks for saying this out loud.

    Reply
  • 100% agreed, Mitch.

    Please bear with me, this is my first comment here, but I'm so encouraged to read about your views on blogging.

    I blogged for 7 years with a total of 300 comments, half of them mine -- not a soul knew me, but I had a message to express and it felt right to do it on my space, my blog.

    And you know what, I wouldn't trade it for the world.

    Part of the story here: http://www.firepolemarketing.com/blog/2011/12/13/8-failed-businesses-in-6-years/

    Reply
  • Posted by Christoph
    Mitch Joel

    I read because I care and admire your work greatly! I've lost count on the number of fascinating books, podcasts, and topics that I've been luckily enough to discover here.

    How about a big thank you for sharing your passion with the rest of us!
    CS

    Reply
  • Posted by Nick Faber
    Mitch Joel

    Awesome post, Mitch, and I love the comments. Blogging can be a frustrating occupation, especially if it's your job to do. If you're not a passionate thought leader (or you're not working for one), then move aside, friend!

    Reply
  • Posted by Jeannine
    Mitch Joel

    I read every word of this - and I read it twice. I haven't said that about a blog post in a long time.

    Over the last six month or so I've been slowly unsubscribing from company blogs (that are BORING), and unfollowing, unfriending and uncircling the same companies or company reps for strictly adhering to the utterly predictable schedule of blog, then tweet, then share, then +1, then pin....the same post over and over.

    Oh I know that just because something is sent to me, I don't have to read it. But there comes a time when even the seconds spent deciding not to read something add up to a significant chunk of time.

    I want that time back.

    I totally agree Mitch, I hope a bunch of them stop blogging too.

    Reply
  • Posted by Joseph Ratliff
    Mitch Joel

    I also added a piece to this discussion: http://josephratliff.com/blog/on-blogging/

    I thought it was a stupid move, I mean, if I were looking towards using the services of an agency like this... and they didn't have a blog... ?

    Reply
Add a Comment

Please complete all the fields below, including the spam filter (to prove you're not a robot).

  1. Fill in your email address to have your Gravatar photo included with your comment.
  2. Please type the word pixels here:
TrackBacks

TrackBack URL: http://www.twistimage.com/movabletype/mt-tb.cgi/2852