I’ve been thinking a lot about blogs these days. This is mainly because I’ve been doing a lot of blogging myself. But also because I am a student of communication and am interested in what makes a blog post worth reading.
So after a couple weeks of research, I sat down and read 100 blog posts chosen at random on Pulse. This was not an easy task. But I wanted a good random sampling to base my findings on. I won’t tell you which posts I looked at, because that’s not really important, other than to say that my choices were as random as I could make them. I also don’t know, because I have no way of knowing, if these were originals or mashups or what, which simply adds to the randomness of my samples.
This Could Make Me Very Unpopular In The Blogosphere.
What follows are the conclusions I drew from this ad hoc research. Now this might sound a little harsh, but I have been a reviewer and critic in many areas over the years and one of the things I have learned is to honestly tell people what I saw. Otherwise, what’s the point of doing this in the first place?
My Findings. (My opinion only)
1. A lot of people really don’t know how to write very well. So this means that their posts are awkward, lack confidence and communicate poorly, which, in turn, makes them boring and in some cases, maddening.
2. Most bloggers don’t really want to give away too many trade secrets. So they tell you one or two good things and then pad their posts with a lot of crap. This can be very frustrating for readers because what starts out interesting ends up boring.
3. There appeared to be very little strategic thinking applied to most of the blogs I read. No matter what you are writing about it’s very important that you create a premise and then resolve it. Readers aren’t stupid. They will notice when you start to ramble or stray and they will leave. If I wasn’t doing research, I would have left a lot of posts myself.
4. Hardly anybody used their post as an invitation to meet or get closer to their readers. This astonished me. Every blog post you write is supposed to reinforce your expertise. Assuming that you at least have done that, you really need to close the deal. The vast majority of the posts I read, didn’t.
5. A bunch of the posts were just regurgitated versions of other blogs. This, I assume, is because most people have drunk the content is king Koolaid, but are somehow incapable of creating original posts, so they borrow a bit from here and a bit from there. But it’s all quite derivative and tells you very little that you might find useful and hardly anything about that person’s talents. Ergo, no interest.
6. Some of the posts were filled with marketingese or psychobabble. This is to say that they pretended to go deep into a subject, but because the writers obviously had no intrinsic understanding of what they were talking about, they kind of got lost and end up, well nowhere.
7. Several of the posts were nothing more than (Your Market Sector) 101. Very few posts that I read went deep into their subject matter, instead they floated around on the surface, oblivious to the fact that their readers, like all readers, were looking for some indication of depth. Because people read blogs to both learn things and to get to understand the skill sets of the author, telling them a lot of elementary stuff just makes these posts highly forgettable.
8. Very few posts challenged accepted norms. I think this is because people don’t like to rock the boat. They worry more about the people they could be alienating than those they could be converting. If people were more assertive in how they wrote, their posts would be more interesting and would be more likely to get them the business they are looking for.
9. Hardly any of the posts attempted to reinforce some sort of core brand message. This is a serious flaw, because your blog is a part of your marketing program and as such, every post needs to support your core message, even if it’s just in your signature, or a promotionally oriented bio paragraph, which almost none of the blogs I read even bothered to create. Duh
10. A lot of bloggers want to have a top 10 list, (guilty), even if they only have two or three things to say. This forces them to create a bunch of bullshit points that either stray from the main theme of the post or simply tell people stuff they already knew. This, of course, is boring too.
Most of the blogs I read exhibited a blissful lack of awareness of how the writers could be seriously inhibiting the progress of their brand through lack of consistency, shallowness, borrowed interest and poor writing skills. So the advice here, and it’s free, is to work on improving these areas. Be more authentic. Be honest. Be original. Share good knowledge. And for God’s sake, promote yourself.
Now I don’t want you to think that I’m attacking the whole blogging community. There were also some very good posts that I read. But honestly, they were in the minority.
What got me thinking about this in the first place was a very interesting online slide show on the content marketing deluge. This is something everybody should be aware of, because if my random sampling results have any relevance at all, good bloggers are in as much danger as the poor ones.
Jim Murray is the creative director of Onwords & Upwords, a communications resource that creates and implements strategically focused branding, advertising & promotion for companies who appreciate solid creative thinking and value reasonable rates. He is a communications strategist, blogger, writer, art director and producer.
Jim Murray, Strategist & Creative Director
Direct Line: 416 463-3475
E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: http://www.onandup.ca
LinkedIn Profile: ca.linkedin.com/pub/jim-murray/0/3a4/b8a
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