Is there anything new in blogging? No.

social media workshops

I walked away from the recent Blog World and New Media Expo a bit depressed and I haven’t been able to shake it.

Running concurrently with this conference — in the same convention center space — was the National Book Expo. Here is a rough comparison of the two events:

Blog World attendance: Maybe 2,000?

Book Fair attendance: 20,000

Blog World keynote: Chris Brogan

Book Fair Keynote: Neil Young

Blog World space: In the basement of the convention center, next to the taco stand

Book Fair space: The top level (with windows!), taking up tens of thousands of square feet of display space

Blog World schwag: Free frozen ice cream treat

Book Fair Schwag: Lunch with John Grisham

Blog World Tech: No wi-fi and maybe 30 exhibitors

Book Fair tech: Interactive exhibit produced by Disney and hundreds of industry exhibitors.

Weren’t books supposed to be dying?  Isn’t new media supposed to be overtaking traditional publishing?

To be fair, this is probably not comparing apples to apples and the SXSW event is probably bigger and more star-studded than any book show. But it did drive home a point for me. I didn’t see anything ( repeat: anything) new or exciting at Blog World, one of our industry’s signature events.

Now of course I could not attend every session but I attended as many as I could and even looking through the program, I could not find  anything that I had not heard many times before. Like …

What is the ROI of social media? Gag me.

How do I build a blog audience? This was a new topic in 2007.

How do I monetize a blog? Just Google it and find the 14.8 million hits on this topic, Bub.

My five keys to blogging success. If you read Chris Brogan’s blog, you would know the main points of his keynote speech by heart.

I interviewed Mike Stelzner about the biggest thing in blogging and he named “podcasts,” a technology that was introduced in 2001.

Instead of being inspired, I walked away with a sinking feeling that was only made worse by the pulsating energy and glitzy production values of the book event. I understand that for those who are trying to set out as a blogger for the first time, these are really important sessions to attend. But as somebody who has been around for awhile, I’m trying to distill some meaningful trend from this conference and I’m just not grasping it.

Is there ANYTHING new to be excited about in blogging?  I’m not talking about a tweak to a commenting platform, a new way to schedule tweets, or a WordPress plug-in. What is going to change the game in blogging? What is going to take us to the next level? What IS the next level? What will replace blogging as a means to provide rich content and ideas to our audiences?

If we stagnate, we die.  What’s next? 

Community note: This post prompted a follow-up dissenting article by Mitch Joel and a subsequent podcast on the future of blogging where we debated this topic. This debate is not to be missed! 

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  • Totally agree! Bloggin is not what it was, or perhaps it’s exactly the same and that is the real and main problem. The trend is to shorten content and have it on the go, and this is affecting the bloggers. Also their inability to be original anymore is not helping as well.

  • if blogging is talking and talk has been asynchronous till recently on blogs, then isn’t it time conversation mimicks IRL more with Hangouts and the like. Seesmic tried it years ago but people were less comfortable & familiar with web recording then compared to now. More casual bloggers and readers could interact with authors like that and not just the diehards.

  • Very thought provoking post. And I mean it. Can I throw some more ashes to the fire? Who is organising these conferences? Are they proper events organisers or some not particularly professional wannabes? I have been a marketing professional (in Europe) for oven 10 years and having started a little blog as a side thing, that is the impression I get. Could it be just this side of the pond?

  • Mark, that is a great observation, but can’t you ask the same question about the comparison group – the book show. What innovations have occurred since Gutenberg that have not also aided blogging. For me, it is ALL about content and asking the questions that will provoke deeper thought. I tip my hat and read daily content from you, Jay Baer and Jason Falls to look for those thought-provoking questions and challenges. Thanks!

  • A lot of what I have been thinking about lately is expressed right there Mark.

    There was marketing and business before blogging and there will be an ‘after’ blogging. Even though many social media ‘experts’ will put a bounty on my head for even suggesting that there will be an ‘after’ blogging.

    I ran a brick and mortar business before blogs came in and you are right there needs to be a next level because most large multinationals aren’t picking up the blogging ‘thing’.

    I don’t care if they are ‘right or wrong’, it’s simply a fact and one that hasn’t stopped them from posting profits year after year.

    The way I see it, there is going to be a return to old-school face to face business.

    In this hyper connected world, consumers are looking to make this human connection and it ain’t happening with a blog. A bundle of paper, a book, actually has a better chance of making this connection.

  • Ben Barden

    I’m attending NMX in Las Vegas next January. I haven’t attended before. However, I have a blog about blogging, so I imagine I’ll already know some of the topics raised. Why not present at a future event? I would volunteer, but as it’s my first visit I’d prefer to try it as a regular attendee before trying to be a speaker.

  • I’m still waiting for the holographic blog.

  • RogierNoort

    This is like going from silent movies to talkies. We are very comfortable behind the keyboards.., no we have to get comfy behind a microphone, or worse.., a camera.

  • RogierNoort

    With blogging there is a distance, even thru the use of comments and or sharing. I am just an avatar entering some text that you may or may not repond to. This discussion in real life would be far more interesting.
    Google Hangouts (or similar) might be serious next step.
    I think a book doesn’t get me close to an author at all, commenting does a bit more.., having a genuine face-to-face conversation would be the only real thing and a next logical step (and I’m not talking about a podcast).

  • Oh Blog World…you had so much promise – what happened?

    Interesting post today Mark, and while I didn’t attend Blog World this year, I have been attending many of the staple “social media” events, which all had the same effect on me.

    Is it because we’re still slightly ahead of mass? Maybe in 2005 – 2007
    Is it because there is honestly nothing new? Unlikely

    I think the biggest thing that will happen in blogging is…unfortunately the same old same old. Currently there is no great push for anything totally radical and new (yes video blogs are becoming more popular, but those are certainly a long way form being new). We are in a time that could be compared with the mid-90s for computers. Blogs are getting slight upgrades and more RAM (aka stuff) – but nothing really new.

    Will a shakeup be in the future? If we push hard enough maybe

  • We should have really short blogs, maybe just a sentence or two. We’ll call them “microblogs.” 😉

  • I definitely understand where you’re coming from – the expo is supposed to be about getting pumped for what’s new. But maybe it’s a good thing to have a break in new tech (for once) so people can master the existing platforms instead of diving halfway into the newest thing?

  • Mark, in answer to your concern, and questions… As an affiliate, I’m currently working with Chris getting acquainted, and sharing his new “blogging education” program via social media platforms. His program is also listed as an option on our “Lifelong eLearning Distance Program” — as is yours! 😉

  • Bernard Yin

    Hard not to be prompted to respond here! Humbly raising my hand with something even more old school: CONTENT. Books have been around forever and the Harry Potter titles were released in an era when the great web distraction was in high gear. They sold reasonably well (enter winky emoticon). I always look for inspiration versus new tricks. All that said, I wouldn’t dispute your frustration. I am trying to ponder what would have made the event more successful and interesting for you. *I didn’t attend* Ya know, maybe a workshop where randomly selected recipients must work as a team to create a blog, support it with all poss. social media tools (even a podcast ha ha ha) and make a humble dollar off of it before Blog World was over. Hands on, pressure cooked geek fun!

  • I see your point, Mark–but it’s hard for me not to read this as an indictment of Blogworld, rather than a lamentation about the state of blogging. I wonder if one might instead ask, “Is there anything new in blogging conferences?” How much do you think is endemic to blogging, and how much anecdotal to Blogworld?

  • BlogTour! have a look at #BlogTourLDN on Twitter which we just launched yesterday. It’s buzzy, it’s exciting and it can syndicate. It has a reach of over 1 million, it’s not terribly expensive for sponsors, it’s fun. Bloggers get a trip to some far off land, new inspiration and experiences to broaden their horizons along with more visibility, traffic, SoMe following. They’re happy and enthusiastic and they return the favor by drawing a lot of attention to the brands that support us.

    Sponsors are happy because we create lots of buzz around their brands online and then…imagine that…we take the buzz offline, and draw audience eyeballs back to the showrooms and shops. Yay. Real world benefits – who would have thought.

  • Scott Allender

    I posted note on FB earlier, captured in attached pic, dealing with “Like” icon. I often see posts about a tragedy or death, with comments that I “like” because they are heart warming or inspiring, but I don’t “like” the associated event. Should I click “Like”? What does that mean?

  • Inspired by the @fpodlaha:disqus witty comment… I did a satirical video on the future of blogs that pokes fun at a large University (which is one of my Alma maters). I am not trying to drive personal web traffic here but it really is one of my favorite blog posts, guaranteed to make you laugh. I refuse to put links into comments so if you want to see it, you’ll need to do a little legwork. Google my company – Innogage. In the bottom right corner, you’ll see a search bar. Put in “breakthrough” and hit return. The post should pop up. You’ll need to click on the post name to watch the video. Enjoy!!

  • jennwhinnem

    Whither the social media conference for the more advanced?

  • True.
    What fueled the growth of the blogosphere at first was a mix of passions for speaking and hearing truth and individual connections. Same as it was for the advent of the printing press. We sought freedom of the word from The Church.

    Then, capitalism fueled the growth of the printed word. Newspapers and media were no longer designed for the reader or viewer, they were about ratings and advertising. Just like bloggers are about klout and monetizing. Blogosphere peaked as fast as it crashed and capitalism lives on. Nothing new about that, you are right.

  • Gini Dietrich

    You go get ’em, girl!

  • Thank you Gini for your encouragement, and your support! 😉

  • danperezfilms

    “What’s next” isn’t the question – “what’s in it for me” is what you should really be asking yourself. If writing (blogging) puts a smile on your face, then write. If writing allows you to express your pain/fear/anger, then write. If writing allows you to share your political/religious views or your expertise with whatever audience shows up at your blog door, then write.

    You ain’t gonna get rich doing it, so you might as tune out the “blogging experts” and simply enjoy it.

    Just my stupid two cents…

  • I’m usually disappointed with everything if I expect something new in a space that is known for milking 12 blog posts out of 1 subject (I see that advice a lot in posts about not being able to think of a post). Your piece here is the main reason I started SMS – because most niche sites are following a tried and true formula using existing channels, but few are truly innovating.

    I feel compelled to build a database of content for beginners on SMS, and build an audience that validates the strategy and tactics before betting that people will buy our brand of innovation, whatever the channel. I always try to make sure in the posts I write that there is at least one tip or tactic, included in even beginner posts that the majority of bloggers, even experienced ones are not familiar with. I don’t think this is exactly what you meant, but it’s a sign that the space is robust and extensive enough that no one can claim they know everything, and there’s no excuse for doing the same presentation for 4 years. Innovation is high on my list, but I’m still checking some basics off.

    I don’t think the majority of bloggers see innovation as their imperative, and since you’ve quickly ran through the checklist of things for a newly minted top blogger to do in the last year (write a widely acclaimed book, TV interviews, throw a successful conference) it’s now a time when taking the show on tour (playing the same album to new crowds – ) isn’t exciting maybe? Book some studio time and incorporate some new instruments into the band!

  • That’s a great point. I’m sure most silent movie stars of their day were thinking they have achieved the full motion picture potential.

  • Ultimately, to determine the future of blogging, we have to look at blogging from an even broader perspective. There was an interesting excerpt I read in a “book” (those things are still great!) that had a sentence along the lines of “America has a rich history of blogging: American’s Founding Fathers published a blog to the British to gain their independence.” This interesting flip shows that blogging is really just writing using a specific medium. The only thing that can change is the inclusion of things besides writing, like pictures, sounds, and videos. The most recent new thing I heard about was putting blog posts together into an ebook (and that’s not even new).

    Each big thing in blogging isn’t really even a big thing. Blogging is all writing and that’s been around for centuries. Monetizing blogs was a big thing 10 years ago, but I’m sure monetizing magazines was just as big a thing a 100 years ago. Building a blog audience was big 5 years ago, but I’m sure authors 200 years ago were thinking “who’s going to read my books?”

    Incidentally, the history of authorship is very telling of how blogging is evolving. For example, many of the classic novels we think of today from the 19th century were published as serials. Basically parts of books were published in newspapers over a long period of time. According to Wikipedia, Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stow was actually published over a 40-week period in an abolitionist periodical. That’s how many authors got their names out, by publishing short posts in newspapers and periodicals. Furthermore, according to Wikipedia, a serial is a message “in any medium issued under the same title in a succession of discrete parts, usually numbered (or dated) and appearing at regular or irregular intervals with no predetermined conclusion.” The only different between that and blogs is that blogs appear online.

    Ultimately, books spawned movies – which perfectly fits the prediction that video blogs are going to be the next thing. History does love repetition.

  • My only question is…

    Why does there have to be something “new” for it (whatever “it” is) to be exciting?

    Information is available at a mind-numbing pace… where it wasn’t before, so you’ve (we’ve) probably consumed and are consuming so much information… that it’s getting harder to be “new” any more.

    When something “new” does happen, or gets made… it loses its “newness” at a much faster pace (MUCH faster) than say… something “new” did back when radio or TV was a new technology.

    Honestly, I think we’re spoiled, and you’ve just confirmed it Mark. 🙂

  • Mark, your comparison to the Book America Expo highlights the exact issue which you’re pointing out – yet even with it being plainly up-front in your face, no one seems to see it (or wants to see it).

    You point out BAE had a keynote with Neil Young and a lunch with John Grisham, plus if you take a look at the schedule, many more events and sessions with people of a similar caliber. But who exactly are these folks and what do they do? They’re authors. They make their living writing great books.

    Take a look at BlogWorld in comparison (not to single them out, but take virtually any social media/blogging conference if you’d like) and you point out a keynote by Chris Brogan, there was also Scott Stratten among others. Who exactly are these folks and what do they do? They’re consultants. They make their living helping others create content.

    Don’t you see the ridiculous disparity here? John Grisham’s primary business isn’t to teach others how to do what he does – it’s actually doing it that pays his bills. Maybe he sells a few more of his fiction titles in the process, but there’s no marketing angle or back-end to why he speaks at BAE. He’s a top content creator that draws people to the conference and they pay him handsomely for it.

    On the other hand, nearly every speaker at a social media conference is there to either promote a business book, a software platform, their agency, etc. Their hour session is essentially a loss leader to drive customer leads and build brand awareness & credibility. There’s rarely any “John Grishams” here, only people who claim to teach *you* how to be one. Maybe in our small echo chamber, these names are big, but to the wider public, they mean nothing.

    Where are the guys on YouTube from Maker Studios? How about Marc Maron with his wildly downloaded podcast? The genre-defining gossip blogging of Perez Hilton, where’s he? Anyone from Gawker Media, Arianna Huffington, Matt Drudge, Daily Kos, etc. How about Matthew Inman of the Oatmeal or the dude behind Sh*t My Dad Says? Felicia Day of the Guild, Will Wheaton, George Takei or any of the million+ followed celebrities who really harness social media well?

    There’s *plenty* of new stuff going on in blogging, social media, etc. These content creators are the ones who are innovating, launching new business models, engaging the medium in unique ways. *These* are the people who *should* be speaking at these conferences. A bunch of those names on a bill would make a difference from a paltry 2000 attendees to a more mainstream event.

    Unfortunately, as long as these conferences remain a veiled platform to pitch wares and services to “newbie” content creators and business owners in the space, this type of upward mobility shift will never happen.

  • I have been thinking the same thing. Only problem is how do you scale one-to-one?

  • The conference was well-organized. But I’m uncertain where the innovation is coming from. Not apparent in this display any way.

  • Kneale Mann

    Dang Mark, I just downloaded 18,743 new plug-ins for my website, looked at 87,451,873 powerpoint presentations on slideshare about the art of the conversation, and read 1,934 new books on how to build relationships. Thanks for saving me, brother!

  • There was a palpable energy to the book show, As I said, Disney had a multi-media presentation, as an example. I actually see tons of opportunity to innovate in how books are delivered. Maybe in blogs too? Why aren’t we talking about it?

  • Would love to talk about this over a glass of wine in Provence with you. I bet we could figure it out. Of course there will be an after-blogging and I’m thinking it should start to be in sight by now?

  • Fascinating observations Rogier. You’re invited to the wine party too : )

  • Keep an open mind. You’ll probably enjoy it. I did present in NY and wold like to think it WAS something new since it was based on an original book, Return On Influence. Have a good time in Las Vegas!

  • Let’s do it.

  • I think this is probably the direction, at least in part.

  • I have to admit, I do have some ideas of what might be new and kind of floated this post to see what the world is thinking. We’re just not discussing this. We seem to happy with the “Five reasons to blog” posts. There is a place for that but somebody in the space needs to be pushing for something edgier. Who is on that edge? I don’t see it.

  • What a concept. How many characters should we have? Somewhere around 140? Not sure it would fly.

  • That would be nice, but I don;t know of any successful business that ever pauses. : )

  • Dr. Rae rocks. The most active learner I know!

  • I think anything that will create and ignite content will be hot. Thanks Bernard.

  • Robzie81

    @Jordan Cooper, well said sir. Mark, a very sobering post from someone I admire in the industry. I hope Jordan is right that things will get more interesting. Those of us just starting out really need to start thinking of ways to reinvent this wheel!

  • Actually, the anecdotal support of Blog World was strong. I think the online feedback I saw was very positive. So I would say my view is one data point, a contrary opinion, not an indictment.

    I used my BlogWorld experience as a way to address a larger issue, as you say. I think the issue is with “blogging” and BlogWorld simply reflected that reality. I do hope the organizers of this and other conferences step out and be less “safe” though. I would be surprised if you told me there was anything there in the planned content or “new media” trade display that intellectually challenged you, although the networking was great.

  • Thanks for the blatant advertisement Veronika. You’re welcome in the community and I would value your real insight but if you hijack the comment section with self-promotions like this, I’ll delete it next time. This is an opportunity for thoughtful discussion and I hope you’ll support that. Thanks for being here.

  • I’ve never been to Blog World but I read many of the bloggers that attend, speak etc.. I’m still thankful for the content at conferences I attended more than three years ago that were already repetitious for those that discovered blogging way ahead of me. But I now look for more from the events I participate in.

    I would imagine there were some at this past Blog World that almost had their heads explode with what, to them anyway, was all new – while those that have been at it for a long while like you, were asking yourself what’s missing, what’s next?

    Hopefully those that plan for Blog World will be asking questions, listening and coming up with great ideas for making it a more of a new and enlightening experience each year.

    If I ever make it to one, I would be expecting more than old news. That’s the challenge for all you master bloggers, marketing maniacs and visionary braniacs. You started this. Now what? What’s next?

  • Chris Penn (who spoke) always challenges me, but I can always just go out to lunch with him. I get your point, of course, but it’s somewhat endemic to this kind of conference. To get people to come and really share the good stuff, you need to pay them. To pay them, you need to charge more. Blogworld is a survey course, to be sure.

  • Capitalism is good. But as a motivation, it drives lousy blogs. Thanks!

  • Your two cents are never stupid! Your views are always very honest and I appreciate that. It’s always an honor to have you stop by Dan.

    I have been blogging in some form since 2008. There was a period of real innovation and ideas. It was kind of scary even being in the middle of it because so much was changing. I just don’t see that same energy now, and that was reflected in a blah event — and not just BlogWorld. I’m just kind of mystified by the lull. And I’m even more mystified that it’s not just me. Others in the comment section seem to sense it too.

    Seems like an opportunity, no?

  • I like what you’re doing with your site and content, but name one thing that is new. Building a database for beginners? Nope. Curating a newsletter? Nope. You are the kind of young mind that needs to be pushing the envelope. What are you doing that is NUTS? I don’t want you to follow in my footsteps. I want you to create a new ladder and have me look over and say shit — why didn’t I think of that? I actually think you could be that kind of innovator Adam.

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  • Good point. I need to make my blog into a movie. Now that would turn a few heads! Who would play me?

  • Thanks for the very thought-provoking questions Joseph. You’re actually pretty good at that!

    I have been in business a while and here is what I know to be true. Complacency is death.

    The social media world is evolving so fast. But it appears that blogging is being left behind. I don’t see the rapid-fire innovations of a few years ago. I love blogging and want it to remain vibrant. Just don;t see the energy in this space like the others, which is a bad sign, from my experience.

    I was hoping somebody would come on here and tell me I’m full of crap, that there are tons of innovations. Not seeing it.

  • I’m not worthy.

    Brilliant observation. I do think that is why SXSW stands out. They do aim for diversity and non-commercial content. Billy Corgan, Don Tapscott and Ray Kurzweil have nothing to prove and they really challenged me to think at the last event.

    Well done sir.

  • I’m here to serve.

  • Yes. Do it. And let me know what I can do to help. The trends, consumer needs and technology enablers are actually staring us right in the face.

  • Exactly. Where is the leadership and vision? We’re treating blogging like a cash cow instead of reinventing the space.

  • Well Mark, I think you just said it… blogging could be “left behind.” But, I don’t know if it’s complacency, or because most of us are attuned to “the next big thing right around the corner” and we all geek out over what’s next because innovation in other fields (mobile, nanotechnology etc…) happens so fast.

    My gut feel is the speed at which innovation happens nowadays leaves us wanting more so quickly, that really, the innovators might not know what to do “next” with blogging. It’s only been 3 or 4 years from my perspective.

    But again, complacency isn’t good either.

  • The nano-blog. Like it. : )

  • Certainly an opportunity for innovation!

  • Social Slam, in part. And next year will be even more so. Planning some advanced small-group sessions.

  • Point taken. Many thanks for contributing to the dialogue Tom.

  • Thanks for adding your view!

  • jennwhinnem

    Definitely give me a reason to go again Mark! (travel costs are
    prohibitive so was considering skipping next year). I was just struck by how the Blogging 101 breakout was the
    most popular. Perhaps it makes sense from a $ point of view for you to
    go in that direction?

    Either way, it’s always nice to get to say hi to my SMM (social media mentor). #soslam is a great conference.

  • I don’t blog much but I do comment often. However, my comments would not happen if people didn’t write good blogs. I definitely have my favourite blogs and online communities that I follow daily but I am always excited when I discover a good post with an engaged community (such as this one). My sense is that most of the blogs I favour are providing content to create conversations and actually contribute value to the community. Those writing blogs on 10 steps for this or that are so redundant that I don’t even bother reading them. So my point is that blogging is limited only by how many creative and knowledgeable people are out there that continuously share their experience and viewpoint about interesting topics. If any blogger is doing this for the purpose of getting financially rich then I think it is a big mistake. Obviously, you can indirectly benefit your business by blogging but first you have to build authenticity and be transparent.

  • Hi Mark,

    My sincere apologies, it wasn’t my intention to self promote. I’m not selling anything to you or your community. I was sharing what we do based on your question “What’s new in blogging?”.
    BlogTour is new in blogging in that we try to promote bloggers and give them a shot at monetizing all the work they do.
    You also made a point of saying you’re not looking for yet another WP plug in, or fun widget or new way to social share so I assumed you were looking for initiatives that do make a difference, that help people make some sense of all the buzz.
    But if the valid effort by a one woman show isn’t acceptable for your forum please delete away and thank you for the warm welcome.

  • Thank you Mark for your kind supportive words! ~Rae 😉

  • I have something. It is not the next level in blogging, it is not a reinvention of the wheel, alas. RiteTag tag-derived content, saved to “Collections”: a new way to aggregate material from multiple authors and from multiple networks, easily credit them, and curate material for either reference purposes or a multi-source blog post. This can be done in RiteTag with a topic (one word or multiple words) search on your choice of 10 networks > select a tag .> save content to something called a “Collection,” add content from the same or other tags and the same or other social networks, and keep “Collecting” until you have what you need for an article.
    I’d be happy to screen-share in a G+ Hangout and demonstrate how this is done. Welcome Mark and other bloggers, hit me up in G+ and let me show you what (free) RiteTag can do for bloggers and content creators.

  • Somewhere around 2005 I had a discussion with some other bloggers about how monetizing blogs might very well be the death knell of blogging. We talked about how getting paid to sell out would have an adverse affect and that it might be time to get creative so that we didn’t get caught in the trap.

    Blogging isn’t dead or dying and innovation while useful isn’t going to be the thing that kills or shoots it full of life.

  • I think we have an opportunity to do something exceptional next year!

  • Mark, when I read this post I found myself saying “So?” How is this different from most of the medical conferences I attend? When I attend a conference that is clearly within my area of specific medical expertise (such as pediatric critical care), I know that the majority of the “how to” or “what’s new” sessions I go to in order to learn something “new” will be old hat. I know the presenters well, so I know what they are going to say. Don’t see how that is different than what you saw at Blog World.

    The only sessions I truly learn from are the ten minute “abstract” presentations of various research projects. That’s where the ideas are, That’s where the fun is. That’s where we can imagine the future. Of course research is more than just data, which tends to be what is presented at blogging and social media events. What we really need is to have people asking important questions and setting out to discover the answers. That brings new knowledge. With new knowledge creative individuals can change the world.

    So, I think that with the new social media research platform you are involved in……..

  • A very important and balanced perspective Abdallah. No matter what happens, I hope we can keep the community going here! I’ll stick around if you do : )

  • I’ve read your posts and visited your site and I still can’t quite tell what customer problem you’re solving. This is probably a great concept but I’m not understanding it. A demo on your site might help. Good luck with your venture Saul.

  • Interesting. I think technology actually will kill it, or at least replace it. I think we are seeing that in some ways now. Are people diverting energy from blogging to Pinterest, for example? Would be interesting to talk this through. Many thanks for sharing your wisdom Jack.

  • George Clooney! lol

  • And yet, Mark, I bet you touch many more people with your blog than you do your books. Much to my chagrin, I have yet to read any of your books, but I certainly check in on your blog about three times per week. As for the books, that’s a problem I’ll have to rectify soon.

  • Digital marketing & communications has become so fragmented over the last few years with the emergence of blogs, podcasting, vlogging, apps, etc, that perhaps it’s wrong to expect a major innovation within one particular tool. I’ve been playing with blogs since the early days of LiveJournal and Movable Type and although the technology is now more robust and we’ve integrated other forms of content, the platform hasn’t really developed. The strategies that make blogs successful maybe haven’t either.

    I don’t see a radical paradigm shift in “blogging” on the horizon. Sure, more and more people (businesses) may embrace podcasting or video and start to include this in their blogs but that won’t make blogging new, just multi-textual.

    Personally I think digital marketing practitioners have been trying to hold everything in the air at once, juggling emerging technologies and strategies, and often that’s been centered on the actual site of a blog. We’re at the point now where this is diverging. Some digital marketing platforms will leave blogging behind. That’s not to say blogs as we know them today won’t still continue to be effective. They’ll just remain one tool in the digital marketers’ armoury.

  • Hey Mark.

    Man, there seems to be a lot of lip service in blogging.
    I happen to agree, wholeheartedly, with Jordan Cooper.
    The best line I have ever heard in my short time in the blogging world came from Jason Falls in an interview where he asked a simple question. As a blogger why would you write about blogging in the same way as it makes no sense to write about journalism as a journalist? No one cares. That’s what education is for.
    No wonder these conferences have nothing new. Maybe the application and innovation don’t necessarily come from analyzing “how to” use the platform but by the different ways to make business viable through looking at the unconventional ways to apply the platform. Or is that too cliche already too?
    What makes the successful businesses successful? Now that would make an interesting conference. Would I attend a conference if I knew Arianna Huffington was attending? Sure I would. Sad, really. But it would get the numbers.

  • I guess my expectation is, when I attend the “New Media Expo” that there would be some new media there : ) We were missing the “abstracts” you enjoyed at your conference. I think that is a great idea.

  • That’s hard to say Frank. There are many more copies of Tao of Twitter out there than the number of blog readers I have. And the shelf life of a blog post is about a week while the book continues to change lives. But your point is well taken. PS — As a PR professional, “Return On Influence” is a must. These trends are transforming the field.

  • I disagree. I think blogging needs to change and will change. Think about this. Last week I wrote this post about the needs and values of the Net Generation. How many of these needs are served by the current format of blogging? None. So we better change. Content delivery has to be faster, customizable, more interactive and more fun than what we’re doing now. I would love to partner with a technology company to make this happen — I don’t have the resources to push for this kind of change myself. I can create great content, but a lot of this other stuff is tech-dependent.

  • I disagree too but primarily because I think your stuck on the nomenclature we have at present. What you’re talking about the cool kids doing seems beyond the idea of a “web log” to my mind. But whatever it is they come up with, maybe we’ll persist with the term blog just as we refer to “mp3s” for digital music, even if they’re of a much sexier, stronger, more versatile format.
    So is anything new coming in the blogosphere? Maybe not. Maybe we’ve exhausted that paradigm as far as it will take us. But maybe the new thing that WILL come around will get christened blogging because we can’t come up with anything better.

  • I know this will sound weird based on where I am coming from on this post, but I disagree! : )

    There is a constant churn of new people out there who want to learn the blogging fundamentals. I would say every social media blogger can relate to the fact that “smart” doesn’t necessarily sell. The posts that go viral are the “Five most” posts.

    So every day, I am reinforced to dumb down the content on {grow} ( but I don’t). I’m sure the BlogWorld folks see this too. “Five most” conference sessions are probably the best-attended presentations! So I don’t blame them for that all. They are serving their customers.

    However, there does need to be a balance. What good is a New Media Expo without new media? How does this important gathering of influential voices keep things MOVING?

  • Maybe it will be beyond the “weblog.” Or, maybe it will re-invent or replace the blog. I think we have just begun. Millions of people are just finding their voice. I have no doubt it will evolve!

  • I owe you one.

  • Brad Shorr

    My view is very similar to yours, Joseph. In 2005 nobody knew what blogs were, so everybody was eager to talk about blogging. There was a ton of curiosity because businesses were trying to figure out if blogs were the secret to marketing success.

    Nothing can stay new and exciting forever … except perhaps the content itself. To me, what’s interesting about blogging now is the challenge of producing original, meaningful, actionable, authoritative and sharable content. If there were a convention that could teach me how to do that, I’d attend in a heartbeat.

  • Love it Brad… totally agree.

    And… the time which something stays “new and exciting” is getting shorter and shorter because of the tidal wave of information publishing and sharing technologies available to us.

  • Its right on the index page:

    Reach far beyond your followers

    Tag your content right on social networks to get seen more.

    Select networks you’ll share to, give us a term or two and we’ll show you the
    tags closest to your search on each network. Reach beyond followers with tags that reach, relevantly. Box-tick and copy
    tags, paste them in content. Save the set of your favorite tags or curated “Collections” of content for
    later use or share to social networks.

    This is unclear – for you?

  • The SMS Best Blogs list is one of a kind… but it’s not new. It may look at first glance like every other list of its kind, but there are key differences that although small, make a big diferrence in capabilities and how it works. I never got it to where I planned though. It’s a good example of an offering that met my own limitations, which in this case was the fact that I don’t know how to write code for and integrate with the Twitter API. I planned a heavy integration with Twitter, something that truly was unique. It’s a limitation that a lot of people could have overcome easily, which brings me to my primary limitation: Capital.

    The business side of things is my biggest weakness. I’m proficient or better at nearly every aspect of building and promoting a website / blog that is about building and promoting a website / blog – except what could be the most important aspect, which is making it profitable. It may not even be that I’m that terrible at it (I see other people doing speaking engagements primarily to fund their blogs, but I haven’t even tried to develop that type of income stream). I know about business, but I’ve never had the opportunity to learn firsthand and get the experience it takes to make those development plans a reality. Most people would have just hired a capable developer (like Joe Fernandez did with Klout), but it wasn’t in my budget, and honestly I didn’t know how to go about it. I don’t think it would have been the next big thing or anything, but it would have been something new. It solved problems for the site, and the users – it would have been valuable to a wide demogaphic (it is now actually), but just missing key pieces makes it less than innovative. It’s not what it should be.

    That’s the problem with innovation – it takes a little something extra. I feel like blaming it on a lack of money is an excuse (in a way it is), but as long as I know where I’m lacking, I know where to concentrate. Until I can start generating more revenue to work with, all I know to do is try to make the best version of existing offering that I possibly can. If blog world was really that bad, I think I could do a better conference, and I believe there is value in improving on things that have been done before.

  • I went all over your website again and still don’t see a demo.

    “Reach beyond followers with tags that reach relevantly.” I just don;t even know what that means. I’m probably just dense but I honestly don’t get it. Sounds like Evernote to me. I’m sure it is a great idea but it is not making it through my brain. Sincere best wishes with your idea Saul.

  • It’s true that comparing the 2 events is like comparing apples to oranges, or more aptly comparing lemons and grapes. This blog post is a challenge more than an indictment as someone below called it (or at least that’s how I see it). There is a ton of discussion here, and if just 1 of the people here take it to the next level, they’re going to be glad they read it.

    Here’s the catch: let’s say Bob Smith goes off and creates a new app that allows you to wield video posts in interactive and interesting ways – pretty much replacing Podcasts, vlogs, and lots of text blogs. Next year they aren’t going to be speaking at BlogWorld, they’re going to be at f8 or one of those conferences with bright lights and clean bathrooms. That kind of proves what you’ve said. Bloggers don’t want to be bloggers, they want to be more – and after they graduate, they’re glad to shed that moniker. I feel like most readers take our content for granted. That makes me think the more important question is: Is blogging as an industry (and serious bloggers) better served by a blogosphere that is more accessible, more ubiquitous, and bigger, or a blogosphere that has more prolific, more exclusive, but ultimately smaller? If the blogosphere gets smaller, you will have bigger celebrities who identify themselves wih the medium, and could probably have the kind of draw that the book club has. However, that’s not what blogging is about, and a bigger blogosphere that the majority of computer owners participate in would mean more newbies for Chris Brogan to sell DVDs to.

  • I can certainly sympathize but perhaps you will be inspired by this:

    Xavier started with nothing and taught himself how to build a legitimate business. Also, maybe I can advise you at some point. Would be happy to have a call if you’re stuck.

  • andrei

    Love this post. It’s creating awareness and igniting creativity..This keeps me thinking. What’s next? I’m not sure but I hope whatever it is, it’s going to be a whole lot better than what is now.

  • I’m perfectly happy being a blogger. I’ll always be a blogger as long as people keep reading!

  • I don’t really think it’s all too brilliant of an observation, Mark. It’s something *everyone* knows in this space, but doesn’t talk about. No one’s going to call B.S. on anyone when they themselves are doing their fair share of it.

    These conferences have mostly the same keynote speakers for several years talking about the same old thing. Where’s the representatives of the businesses who are actually prospering through use of blogging and social media? Where are the success stories? Why isn’t the CMO of company/brand X being trotted on stage to speak based on strategies implemented by Mr. Conference Circuit Guru?

    There’s only three possible answers.

    1. The conference doesn’t solicit these people for a myriad of reasons, one being that said companies won’t be sponsors, reps from those companies need to be paid well & aren’t looking for speaking gigs for “exposure”, and/or the organizers don’t want to overshadow and look to appease the consultant-types who drive attendees through affiliate promotions.

    2. Speaker/consultants are ego maniacs who want to maintain the “thought leader” aura around them, pump up their book sales and subscriber numbers and give little credit to the actual clients they serve so they can’t be held accountable, their work can’t be scrutinized, and god forbid give off the impression that the company did 90% of the heavy lifting anyways.

    3. There aren’t many client success stories, if any.

    I’ll vote for #3. In every other industry I’m in or have been in, trumpeting your successes is commonplace and people actively partake in humble brags. Everyone wants to say they’re the one who discovered and pushed X band to super stardom. Everyone wants to say they’re the one who signed Y ballplayer when he was 18 and spent five years grooming them to be an all-star. Everyone wants to say they’re the one who developed Z show into an eventual Emmy award-winner.

    This is the defacto standard of what builds credibility. So why is it that seemingly every marketing / social media blogger I read talks about up-in-the-air strategies, theoretics, and most of the time, themselves? Where are the posts of “I did X for client Y and here’s what happened”? As a web designer, I can give URLs to show my work and competency as plain as day. Apparently, it seems like no one in the marketing/SM blogosphere wants to show their work and trumpet their successes. Why else not other than there aren’t any?

  • This is so disturbing to me. I have felt something of late that has taken the wind out of my sails; imagine your sails/sales billowing bigger than mine.

    Where do we go; what next? You’ve done it all as a leader for those behind you (moi), and the future of blogging depends on inspiration, creativity and mojo. If yours is less billowy, what can we do to infuse?

    Looks like your new collaboration in big data may help, Mark; but, that’s not about blogging per se.

    I’m thinking on this and don’t have a clear vision. I wonder if I read the other 92 comments then perhaps I would?

  • I have to jump back in. The shelf life of a blog post isn’t necessarily limited to a week. We all try to make sure that we include SEO as part of our writing and that is because it drives traffic to our posts.

    That traffic isn’t always limited by the date. I just checked my stats and I am getting a fair amount of traffic today from a post that is two years old. It was linked on a message board somewhere.

    There is life in these posts that goes on a bit longer sometimes.

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  • Ok Mark. I get it but maybe look at it this way. If educating bloggers on how to blog is a viable business opportunity or more importantly marketing in the on-line world then the social media conferences should be tiered.

    I attend a trade show every year for the architecture and design profession here in Toronto called IIDEX. They offer seminars, lectures and key notes as part of a 3 day conference (2 days trade and 1 day public). On the trade days, the difference between that and what I saw at SocialMix2012 was that the sessions were tiered for degrees of knowledge. What I didn’t see at SocialMix2012 is opportunity for hands on, learning based opportunities. Now, that was one conference but if it is indicative of many how can they attract people if the sessions are akin to a talking head selling their agency, whatever.

    This was not necessarily the gist of your piece (re: innovating) but offering tiers to these conferences may add value and get some of the more seasoned veterans such as yourself to see value. Let’s face it if someone with deep experience no longer sees the value because of the lack of innovation then the whole industry is in jeopardy.

  • Richard Conyard

    As promised Mark a few thoughts 🙂

    Thinking about this a little further, is there anything new in blogging, maybe you’re right with the initial answer of no, but rather than placing this down to stagnancy I’d like to use the term hibernation (well on the innovation front just at the moment), and I believe there are technologies and trends that are seeping in from the horizon that will wake blogging up to be even bigger than it is now.

    You mention the same old questions, I tend to find that there are two reasons for the same questions cropping up time and again:
    – That they haven’t been answered (or cannot)
    – That people haven’t been listening (or new people)

    The questions themselves are perfectly valid:
    – What is the ROI of social media? This is true not just of blogging, but most other channels in social media at the moment so blogging isn’t alone in this introspection (FYI – check out Red Ant later in the summer, my paper on this is going through first draft checks)

    – How do I build my blog audience? For anyone starting out awareness and audience are hard things to achieve as a question it’s always going to be around; of course if you’re not starting out and still having these troubles you may want to review your choices.

    – How do I monetize my blog? Like you say Google, but since there are far more people blogging than will actually make a living wage out of blogging it may be time for that reality check again.

    Just because the answers, or attempts at the answers are out there doesn’t make the questions invalid and doesn’t signify that there is nothing new around the corner; for that I think there is plenty 🙂

    Since it is my background part of me still gets off on technology, so I’ll start and stop with my ramblings here. There are of course many other future areas of growth for blogging some that I believe will be started by tech, and some that will kick-start tech, but those are for others 🙂

    Data Islands no more
    Regardless of platforms, blogrolls, trackbacks and moves into semantic hook-ups blogs tend to be almost an anathema to our connected world. Each blog tends to end up as a data island all on it’s own with little or no connection to peer blogs and audience outside of the efforts of the author to maintain these over different channels. This is going to go, for blogs it needs to, it is foolish that they are an end point on a journey or a minor bridge into closed off conversation. Thought needs to spread if it is to be free and blogs need to become part of the exploration not the destination for the communities that read them. I think the kick-start here will be from social platforms, whilst in part there is some platforms that could be considered “blogging lite” (G+), which may grow into more established mechanisms I think the real push for this will be the flow of identity and the forced release of that from the big gorilla in the room (FB), that will allow people to move seamlessly between networks. For the next couple of years identity is going to be a hot topic, and blogs I see as being one of the winners.

    SEO is dead, long live SEO – I foresee greater utilisation of technology to parcel and move blog content from simple word matching to more complex classification and article ontologies, these will also be combined with multi-platform distribution to give the right info at the right time, every time. Putting it into the quick and losing the long words, going onto a company website and viewing customer comments is okay, but doubts still remain (what is the veracity of the comment chain for example), I want to pop in-store, point my camera phone at the product I’m interested in and get relevant blogs returned to me in an easy to read format. If I’m requested to hit an extra button let it only change the sort order from greatest relevance to closest to me on my social network at mentioned above.

    Group Publishing
    Although at times I prefer to write in peace, most of the other time having someone to bounce ideas with leads to greater alacrity. Whilst Wave was an interesting (if but failing), concept I think we’re going to see collaborative posting moving towards the norm rather than the exception through easy to use tools.

    For what they were worth those are a few thoughts 🙂

  • Stupid books! Runing it for bloggers! *shakes fist angrily at sky

  • I think many conferences do try to do that and have “tracks” by interest or skill level. Thanks for the ideas!

  • Very true. I’ll amend my comment. The shelf life of 95% of my blog posts is a week : ) I do have a few that bring home the bacon every day.

  • Thank you.

  • Unfortunately not. I was actually hoping for a thunderous response of, “You’re missing something,” but alas, no.

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  • I think you actually make a couple of good points about our event Mark. We believe social media events in general have been stuck in a rut for a while now and have been working on some new ideas that you will see in Las Vegas.

    I actually agree with Jordan 100%.

    To answer your main question for something new. Web TV. We had an entire track on Web TV in both LA and New York. Yes it has been around for a while now but Web TV is just on the cusp of breaking out the way blogging did in 2001. That’s why I attended the first ever IAWTV awards in Las Vegas last year. We were watching history and I couldn’t help feeling this must have been what it was like to attend the first Oscars.

    This was a major factor in our decision to move back to Las Vegas and change the time of the event to coincide with the IAWTV Awards this year. (They programmed the tracks for our events by the way).

    Mike Stelzner wasn’t wrong when he answered your questions with Podcasting. Yes it has been around for a while, but Podcasting is coming into a new renaissance.

    These emergence of two mediums are exactly why we chose to change the name of the event this year. New Media and our event is not just about blogging any more. It actually never was which is why the event was always called “BlogWorld & New Media Expo”. But blogging always dominated the news and the conversation at BlogWorld.

    I am confident Web TV will be the most talked about medium in the future.
    That doesn’t make blogging or podcasting less important or relevant. It is just the way content consumers view the world.

    I feel it necessary to point out book publishing was invented in 1440. blogging was arguably invented in 1990. They are in essence the same thing with a different delivery method. Obviously blogs are able to integrate audio, and video in a way books could not until now. At least digital books can.

    By the way here are some of the topics from book expo this year:
    Facebook Workshop
    Apps 101
    Picture Books & Ebooks
    Basics of Licensing for Publishers

    and if you look at their speaker
    list you will find quite a few BlogWorld Alumni among them.

    At least we had one new idea at
    our show right Mark?

    “I did present in NY and wold like to think it WAS something
    new since it was based on an original book, Return On Influence.”

  • A legitimate blog post in its own right! Thanks!

  • Well said Rick. Thanks for chiming in. As I said in my comments, you have to produce what sells and the conference is obviously well organized for that. Will also be fascinated to see how the whole WebTV thing plays out.

    I’ll be exploring some of my concerns (and it looks like others too) here in future posts, but I’ll leave you with this. Right now, about 1/3 of Americans access the web through their smartphone. We are in an age where the desk top computer and even the laptop computer are fading from our lives.

    Have you ever tried to read a blog post on a screen the size of your palm? That’s just one point, but there are others on my mind. Day by day the viability of blogs are slipping away I think. What is the new media that will carry our voice? WebTV? Not sure about that. I would love to see that debate at your event.

    Thanks again for offering your vital voice to the discussion Rick.

  • Mobile is huge! that is why we have had a track on mobile for the last two years and we keep expanding the mobile content at our event.

    Another thing that needs to be addressed our the needs of content creators (bloggers, podcasters, Web TV and other video producers) and marketers.

    We have been and will always be an event for content creators. We always view the world through that lens.

    Lastly most of the world has never heard of all of the things that you find boring and old hat. That is just a fact that I keep reminding all of my friends in the social bubble of.

    To create opportunities for content creators, we need to educate those business owners and executives about all things related to blogging, podcasting, Web TV and social media.

    The more they know, they more likely they are to hire or provide some other form of compensation to a blogger, podcaster or Web TV producer.

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  • I have heard the terms ‘white space’ and ‘snippets’ being bounced around a lot lately, maybe that’s the future, at least temporarily, especially in the ‘where is blogging going’ articles 🙂

    In fact, it may have even been mentioned in an article on Grow a few weeks back?!

    There’s also the saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, is blogging broken? I think it’s doing quite well personally!

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