Blogs aren’t dead… even in this Twitter age

November 11th, 2008 Karine Joly 14 Comments

For the past few days I’ve been busy wrapping up my presentation for the marathon 4-hour workshop I’ll give this Sunday at the AMA Symposium for Higher Education.

And, I can report that blogs aren’t dead or “so 2004” as Paul Boutin would love his readers to believe after scanning his Wired article published on October 20, 2008:

Thinking about launching your own blog? Here’s some friendly advice: Don’t. And if you’ve already got one, pull the plug.
Writing a weblog today isn’t the bright idea it was four years ago.
And why bother? The time it takes to craft sharp, witty blog prose is better spent expressing yourself on Flickr, Facebook, or Twitter.

As higher ed blogger, Kyle James, noticed in a comment posted on higher ed blogger Andrew Careaga’s post about this essay, there’s something really fishy in this (link-bait?) article:

they are declaring the death of blogging… on a blog… by a blogger…

Paul Boutin is indeed a correspondent for the blog, a gossip blog per Wikipedia definition.

But, enough with this rhetoric.

I’m sure you want proof that all this “blogs-are-alive” chatter isn’t a conspiracy developed by bloggers for bloggers. So, I did some investigative research for my AMA “Blogging Boot Camp” workshop and thought I’ll share the results with you, dear readers (anybody out there?)

In his Wired piece, Boutin tries to defend the point that Twitter, among other social media applications, has killed blogs.

Twitter — which limits each text-only post to 140 characters — is to 2008 what the blogosphere was to 2004. You’ll find Scoble, Calacanis, and most of their buddies from the golden age there. They claim it’s because Twitter operates even faster than the blogosphere. And Twitter posts can be searched instantly, without waiting for Google to index them.

You can also search the posts from this blog,, instantly without waiting for Google to index them, but I’m not claiming yet that my blog’s internal search engine will bring more traffic than the big G.

Didn’t I say that I would stop with the rhetoric?

Sorry for that.
Now, let’s focus on hard cold facts:

How do Twitter and Blogs perform when it comes to Google rankings?

Just look at this story posted on Missouri S&T’s research blog, Visions, last month: Brain Powers for Power Grids.

The blog post was announced on Missouri S&T Twitter account almost immediately:

A bit more than a month after the posting on the blog and Twitter, check out what pops up for a Google search on the topic.

No Twitter post in sight.

Don’t get me wrong.

Twitter is a great tool, but in a world where everybody googles blogs are still bringing amazing value with a bit more context than any 140-character would ever be able to do.

What do you think?

14 Responses

  1. Dan Karleen says:

    Twitter versus Google: Does it matter? I spend far more time on Twitter. Sorry, Google!

  2. Karine Joly says:

    Dan, the thing is that you’re still part of the minority on this one ;-)

    So, I’ll take Google love over Twitter, but anyway who said you can’t have your pie and eat it too? We live in a world of choices.

  3. First, the idea that “blogs are dead” because other tools that serve different purposes using different media are also popular is ridiculous. That article is woefully short on evidence supporting the author’s hypothesis. Moreover, it makes so many unfounded and unsupportable assumptions and assertions that it doesn’t deserve a response; it deserves to be dismissed (writes the man responding to the article). Most damningly, the author assumes that everyone writing (blogging, twittering, etc.) online is writing for the same reason – to be famous and gain attention (“buzz”) – and that clearly is not true.

    Second, the fact that Google may not currently be indexing Twitter messages seems to be a relatively weak reason to not use Twitter. I am sure that Google will eventually index these messages if they’re not already doing so. It’s certainly something to take into account but I don’t know if it’s wise to make a decision to adopt or not adopt a tool based on the practices of Google today. There should be a lot more involved in that decision.

    Third, Twitter and blogs (and SNSes and…) are different tools that serve different purposes. That some people may be abandoning blogs to Twitter is itself not a condemnation of blogging. We need to know *why* that is happening (if indeed it’s happening at all). I suspect that some who have started blogs were experimenting (the cost of entry is so low that it allows easy experimentation and subsequent abandonment) or using a tool that didn’t really serve their needs and desires. For example, I think my blog meets many of my needs and desires. However, if I come across something that works much better then you better believe I’ll move on without looking back. But I’ll do so without condemning blogging as it’s served me well so far.

  4. Karine Joly says:

    Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Kevin.

    I can’t imagine how long it would have taken you to share that via Twitter (no, no, don’t get mad, I’m just kidding ;-)

    I totally agree with you on your first and second points.

    As far as the second one is concerned, I think there was a misunderstanding/miscommunication:
    I know that Google does index Twitter posts (as Dan pointed out above). What I meant is that without context those 140-character twitts would probably never (unless Google changes its algorithm) perform as well as blog posts.

    And, again, I didn’t say people shouldn’t use Twitter along with blogs, on the contrary – there are great synergies between both tools.

  5. Kyle James says:

    As far as Twitter vs Blogs I think Brad described the relationship perfectly in his presentation last week. Here is a link to to the slides and notice slide 53.

    Twitter is the blog posts between the blog posts. To me if you don’t have something more than 140 words to say, yes words not characters. Then it’s probably not worth blogging about and just tweet it. Blogs are for sit down and think about what you want to say thoughts, tweets just aren’t.

  6. drew says:

    That example from Missouri S&T is great.

  7. I try in some of my posts to make them fairly time resistant and find that some entries from one and two years ago are still being read. Some of the crisis PR blogs, judging from traffic, are being studied by college students — PR majors I would assume.
    So I agree that there is certainly a place for both forms.
    Twitter is instant with a pretty strict format.
    The blogging form, on the other hand, is so flexible that it can do pretty much what any blogger needs to do.
    I would guess that some blog posts will still to be read years from now by persons looking for information or doing research for whatever reason.

  8. Karine Joly says:

    @Kyle, Brad has an interesting take on the topic, especially applicable to student bloggers as students aren’t major Twitterers yet (who needs Twitter when you IM with dozens of people at a time and rely heavily on text messages? ;-)

    I’m not sure I agree with your 140-word (or is it more 1400 in your case? I’m still amazed at the length of some of your posts) rule though. A good blog post could be composed of a few links or even a short quote depending on your readership. Not every reader will come via Google, some do end up subscribing (as they do on Twitter).

    @Dennis, You’re right: two of the blog strengths are its flexibility (isn’t Twitter a microblogging platform, anyway?) and its resistance to time in its regular form (in part due to Google algorithm).

  9. I believe it is the combination of all of these great tools that come togeher to make the communication effort a success. Humm . . . sound familiar? I’m a fan of integrated marketing both online and offline.

  10. NormaC says:

    Twitter killing blogs is like saying my iPod killed my television…or my laptop killed my desktop. They’re all useful, valuable and none of them can quite replace the others.

  11. scott talan says:

    I dont blog per say but still find interesting ones out there in a variety of ways often via facebook. I’ve used social networks to create a self replicating blog ecosytem where users post and respond to what interests them regarding grad school education (mpa and mpp degrees) while i monitor things and comment where it makes sense.

    In a media class i teach i tried using facebook as class blog space and that worked. I also attempted to use twitter with not as much success. That said it is as some of the others wrote towards the end of this post; it is not either or (google vs twitter etc) but what combination of online tools makes most strategic sense. I think the biggest challenge i face is keeping up on new sites, apps etc. On that note off to check out ning as well as site called pingg

  12. […] are not dead. Neither are they passe. Karine Joly wrote on about the issue of blogs and whether they are, as Wired’s Paul Boutin said, […]

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