Steve Rubel and His Cronies are Full of Crap

How many of you remember back in October of 2008 when Wired said blogging is dead? Here is what I said in my post in response to their dribble.

The premise of the post, which is ironic in and of itself, is that blogging is dead and being replaced by all the other social media tools out there. And just because Jason Calacanis dumped his blog we should all go out and get a twitter, flickr, and facebook accounts.

Wired seem to have the position that just because people like Calacanis and Robert Scoble decided blogging was no longer a viable media, it was dead.

Writing a weblog today isn’t the bright idea it was four years ago. The blogosphere, once a freshwater oasis of folksy self-expression and clever thought, has been flooded by a tsunami of paid bilge. Cut-rate journalists and underground marketing campaigns now drown out the authentic voices of amateur wordsmiths. It’s almost impossible to get noticed, except by hecklers. And why bother? The time it takes to craft sharp, witty blog prose is better spent expressing yourself on Flickr, Facebook, or Twitter.

What was even more idiotic was the fact Wired told us blogging was dead on a freaking blog. Seriously, people. If you want to tell us blogging is dead, go on the tonight show with Leno and tell us there. Than maybe NBC might get some viewers as those of us who blog tune in to see how full of bull shit you are.

That was then, this is now.

ZZ2FB5818F.jpgAll of that happened over a year ago. And look, blogging is still a viable tool for business, large and small to use for marketing and to connect with their intended audience. In fact, most of the so called “mainstream media” have blogs now too. Could it really be true that using a blog to connect and provide information to your intended audience is a viable media in 2010? I and a lot more believe this to be true.

Well, not all of us. Steve Rubel seems to be on the band wagon now that blogging is no longer the way to go. In a nine minute video recently on Social Media Examiner, Rubel tells us among other things why he stopped blogging and started lifestreaming on Posterous.

What was also interesting the last few days, was watching some of the conversations on twitter about this post. Even more troubling was the fact, I am not sure anyone caught the fact that some of these self-proclaimed blogging and social media gurus feel blogging is over, old hat or dying all together. Blah, blah, blah. Really, blogging is dead. Not only was Rubel’s interview on a blog, god forbid. Most of those saying blogging is dead are using a blog to say so. I just don’t get it.

Is the face of blogging going to change over the next few months or years? Yes it will. Is blogging dead or old hat? No, no it is not.

Businesses should forget blogging and focus on more diffuse approaches to social media, says Steve Rubel, who advises brands including Pepsi, Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft. SmartBrief

Seriously, is this really what the blogging/social media “gurus” are telling their business clients. If it is, you are doing them all a disservice and they should demand their money back. Tell me exactly how a business can get their message out to their customers and potential customers in only 140 characters. Tell me how they can deal with company news and new product updates by only using social media.

I will be the first to admit that social media tools like twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are valuable and have an important place in any business’ overall marketing plan. However, I fear the “gurus” are not looking at the total picture when they say blogging is a dead horse.

In the interview, Rubel gives some of the reasons he stopped blogging.

  • World is moving to a world of streams
  • Posterous allows him to post by email and iPhone. It allows him to post video, audio and photos.
  • Hub and spoke model
  • Where people are
  • Now does shorter post
  • Digital is mandatory and not optional

Maybe I am just slow, but don’t all of his reasons for not blogging point right back to blogging? I can do all of what he describes with my WordPress blog and my iPhone. And if someone can show me where Posterous is not a blogging platform, please do. I have heard some lame reasons for not blogging, but those 6 listed above are just plain ass stupid.

Blogging was social media before social media was

There is not one thing listed above that I can not do with a well thought out blogging/social media/marketing program. And any small business marketing professional who is telling a small business that blogging is dead and to not blog is out to lunch. Where else can you start a conversation with your customers and give them the opportunity to jump in and comment. And comment with more than 140 characters too. Where else can you communicate, connect and build a relationship online with your customers and potential customers than with a blog? And where is it written that a blog is not the “hub and spoke model” mentioned by Rubel in this interview.

In fact, I do believe the hub and spoke model has been mentioned previously by such bloggers as Michael Martine, Darren Rowes and Chris Brogan and even myself. You don’t have to use Posteous and Steve Rubel’s model to take advantage of this hub and spoke model.

Social Media and Engagements

PostRank recently did a post called Measuring Engagement of the Social Web: ’07 – ’09 It contained some great stuff and good points. However, the key is the engagements always started some place. And that some place was on the blogs.

An interesting side effect of the widespread adoption of more pervasive communication tools (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) is the increased lifespan of a typical story. Back in 2007, we observed that over 94% of all the engagement occurred within the first day of publishing the article.

The post goes on to state:

Fast forward to 2008 and 2009, and we’re seeing a steady increase in the lifespan of a story: down to 83% of total engagement for the first hour in 2008, and 64% in 2009. While the real-time web is all about lowering the latency, the pervasive nature and number of people engaged in their communities and conversations (the Social Web) is helping with information discovery.

What this all means is the best statement Rubel made in the nine minute interview: “Digital is mandatory and not optional.”

What all of this doesn’t mean is that blogging is dead. Yes, social media can cause the conversation to go to different places. It doesn’t mean the conversation is going to start on twitter, Facebook or Linkedin. Yes, “social media” may extend the convesation and lengthen the lifespan of a story. However, the story has to start somewhere and they are not going to always start on social media. They are going to start on a blog. You simply can not expect twitter for example, to give you the space you need for the long conversations you need to build the trust with your audience a blog affords you.

Blogging is not dead. In fact, it is and should be the center of any good social media and overall marketing plan for any small business.

Small Business Need a Web Presence

Less than half of small businesses have a web presence, Without a web presence, small businesses lose their ability to:

  • Separate yourself from the crowd
  • Build trust and create authority
  • Spread ideas and information about your business
  • Connect with the other social media tools.
  • Take advantage of being found by search engines
  • Being found via local searches thanks to search engines
  • Build your own community around your product, service and brand
  • Provide a way to answer FAQ’s you see on a regular basis
  • Target marketing to your specific location
  • Build and market to an email list that has come to trust you

All things you can do with a well thought out, well planned and well designed blog or blogsite. Not something you can do using the digital methods discussed by Rubel. People, you have to have a web presence if you want to compete. You have to have a web presence if you want to build trust with your target market. And you have to have a web presence that is also integrated with a total marketing plan, including the other social media tools.

And one more thing. If you are wondering how to measure the ROI of social media and blogging, please listen to this great three minute rant by one of my favorites, David Meerman Scott.

Final Thoughts

I almost didn’t write this post. Needless to say, I figured it would tick some people off. However, I felt it was something which needed to be said. I for one am sick and tired of the so called and self-proclamined social media gurus telling us every few months that blogging is dead. What is also funny, Rubel admits in his interview that he reads at least 1,000 blogs. Really, I thought blogging was dead.

About The Author
Grant Griffiths is founder of Blog For Profit and co-founder of Headway, the first Drag and Drop WordPress Theme Framework. You can follow Grant on twitter at @grantgriffiths

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