Right now, nearly everywhere I go, some aspect of blogs and blogging pursues me. Whether it’s the pressure to write this blog, the need to train students to write for blogs, the design and editorial planning of them for my corporate clients, their role in content marketing, or a more esoteric look at what they are for in a Community Management course I’m taking. I honestly can’t seem to escape the things demanding my time and attention, so it looks like I should be blogging about blogging and more often.
So lets take a basic look at the Grandpa of social media. The blog deserves this title since it’s been around for many more years than its whippersnapper grandchildren (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and the like) and tends to communicate something a little more profound. Despite the hype, there are at least six reasons why we should appreciate this grandpa or our grandparents in general.
They think before they speak
Writing a blog needs planning, focus, editorial criteria and creative ideas. It’s hard (and pointless) to drag out an opinion into 500+ words, and even harder to get anyone to read it. While the blog allows you to think freely on a topic and mold it into what you think the audience wants, you have to ponder long and hard on this, you have to ensure you have something worthwhile saying. Not all grandparents are the same but I don’t remember my Grandpa ever coming out with something frivolous or poorly thought out. You might not have agreed with his point of view but you could never accuse him of not thinking it through.
They don’t go out every night, but they know how to have a good time
I still fondly remember going out of an evening with a friend of mine’s grandma in Madrid. The grandma was no spring chicken at this point, having clocked up at least 80 years, but she loved a good party. You would start with a seemingly innocent dinner, followed by the wonderful Spanish “sobremesa” (liqueurs at the dinner table), this would progress to a few gin and tonics and before long we would be delivering her back home at 5am. Good blogs are a bit like this (although perhaps the recovery time between posts is a little quicker). In contrast to the 10 Facebook statuses a week or the 30 Tweets, the well-managed blog (and this by no means refers to this blog) communicates once or twice a week. Check out this post for more information on planning.
They help us look good
My grandparents lived quite far away so I’m not very aware of them serving as my personal marketing tools, but I have witnessed other peoples’ grandparents pitching the virtues of their grandchildren with the gusto of Madison Avenue executives. The blog can also do this, although the approach is rather more soft-sell. Blogs are especially useful for services or intangibles and personal branding because they give you a chance to showcase skills and thought processes, as well as personal creativity and character. Of course, it’s all about finding a way to add value to your readers and telling stories in such a way that the reader feels a connection. (That my friends is a whole other kettle of fish I will come back to in a later post).
They know how to connect with the younger generation
Grandparents nearly always add some value (something that sometimes sadly only becomes clear once they’re not there any more) one way or another they tend to know how to connect with the younger generation. Old man blog is like this with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and others. While the blog enjoys the attention (traffic) given by the more agile media, these finally have something interesting, focused and different to talk about. Without the self-generated value that a blog can provide, other social media often fall short, limiting themselves to quick opinions and dissemination of content generated by others. Things that alone, do not help develop our personal or corporate brand.
You have to make an effort to visit them
Our grandparents no longer have the networks that the younger generation have, so we have to make an effort to ensure that they are not alone, that they have an audience for the stories and wisdom they share. A blog can easily end up like a forgotten grandparent alone with no one to talk to. Generating visits is one of the biggest challenges. The job in hand is not simply to design a pretty blog, write nice, well optimized pieces on relevant topics, but to ensure those pieces get some attention. I’m grappling with this myself right now so once I see the light, I will share it.
The older we get, the more we value time and understand its slippery nature. For me, the other great blog challenge is time. It takes a surprisingly long time to put together an original post, even for an experienced writer, and there are always a plethora of reasons not to do so: particularly if you are running your own blog and have the mother of all excuses “I have real work for real clients who pay me to do it”. In the last month, as the guilt of not posting a minimum of one post a week hung over me, I have told my self all of the following: “but I don’t have a good idea” “but what will people think” “what if people don’t like what I write” “there are loads of people out there who know more about this than me” and so on. For more in-depth tips on making a blog work, check this out. There is only one thing to do, as Nike kindly prints on the inside waistband of my gym shorts, “Just do it” or in my dad’s words, “Just stop your winging and bloody get on with it!”