Why Won’t Bloggers Dig Into Detail?

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Photo cred: Damien Sachs-Dromsön

Do we care more about the popularity of our content than the advancement of our industry?

In order to appeal to as many people as possible, professional bloggers have to make sure that their content can be consumed by readers of different levels of experience.  The beginners have to be able understand what they’re talking about.

The issue is then, what about the more experienced readers?  When the “thought leaders” limit the depth of their thoughts and advice, experienced readers get to a point where they can’t learn any more from reading blogs.

The growth of the industry is halted.

I think that blogging is slowly becoming the heart and voice of so many industries as more and more professionals are turning to blogging to learn, share and grow.  If we don’t help them grow beyong the “beginner” level, the advancement of the industry will suffer.

It’s not just blogging.  Look at conferences. Same speakers, same topics, same shit every time.  Makes sense…if a conference wanted to dig deeper, “beginners” wouldn’t find it valuable.  Less money to be made.

Will this problem become even greater as blogs grow in popularity and influence?  Could young and upcoming professionals become so used to learning and researching with blogs and social networks, that they’ll forgot how to conduct research using other methods?

For contrast, look at the science world. My friend Jon just started a blog that focuses on bridging the gap between the ivory tower and the common man.  This is because when scientists and academics write about their work, they don’t write to get more readers, they write to be acknowledged for their innovations within their industry.  They don’t dumb it down at all.  Sure it created a disconnect with the common man, but science continues to grow and innovate as a result.

If you’re used to information always being brought to you, it’s very hard to go back to seeking it out.  When there’s nothing left to learn from blogs, where do they go to continue to learn?

Help me out here…share your thoughts.

21 thoughts on “Why Won’t Bloggers Dig Into Detail?

  1. Going back to what you mentioned earlier about beginner content vs. in-depth professional content… I think there can be a balance between reaching out to beginners and professionals at the same time, but the difference will eventually take over. I think it is difficult to attract both of those extremes consistently through the content of the blog. Some will eventually get bored with the content, and other will just be plain confused. I understand that blogs are a great resource for research, but I do not believe they will ever take over traditional method of research, such us books and scholarly articles. I think you’re right though, people might really get lazy and stop seeking out their own research. But then again, if you want to do quality research and learning then you should NEVER stick to one type of source such as a blog. Traditional research methods like: library, books, scholarly articles, newspapers, etc can be easily accessed online for further research material.

    1. I agree that it will be available and that one shouldn’t rely on a single form of research. I think that in 50 years though, after an age where blogs and wikipedia have started a new trend in how we find information, that the traditional research methods will be a lost art.

  2. The main problem lies with time. If I’m ‘expected’ to write 3 blogposts a week and want to do proper research, these posts are going to be pretty lengthy and time consuming.

    When I started blogging in 2005 it was all about content and in-depth articles. Now if you write over 5 paragraphs, people don’t even bother to finish reading it, so why would I take 3 hours to research it like I do when I write my PhD thesis?

    If you are blogging to give solid info, you should have at least factchecked your information, but if I’m writing the same BS ’10 Ways to Make yourself more productive’ post, why do I even bother looking anything up?

    When will people realize that reading blogs isn’t the answer, but actually going into the real world and doing something with the information!

    1. GREAT point. You really nailed a huge aspect of the issue. It’s a matter of reader expectations where if you don’t write in a format that appeals to the average blog reader, you won’t gain any traffic.

      It’s really an issue that blogging is becoming such a huge source for research and information, without having much of anything to back it up.

      Actually my friend Jon started blog recently about the gap between the science world and the average Joe. When scientists write about their work and research, they don’t do it for the general population, they do it for the advancement of their industry and to be recognized for their accomplishments. The science world has innovation at the heart of their publications.

  3. David, you have a knack in voicing the questions, don’t you?

    Snippets lead to readership, leads to numbers.
    Everyone wants to be a movie star these days (or blog star).
    I am amazed at the number of people doing podcasts, blogs, and interviews online — to a handful of people– each hoping someday to make it big. If I can garner one seed a day from 50 it’s a good day. (not beginner).

    SM is like the wild west, and you make the most money with the biggest tent — so I don’t see that going away too soon.

    I believe you will find thoughtful discussions taking place behind “almost” closed doors much more often. In a community type setting where the readership is not so transient.

    Look at a group such as http://www.marketingtwo.net/ , readership by membership, and deep insightful interviews with the hard hitting folks who do SM as a biz, daily. (Great CEO and CMO interviews here). I look forwards to their weekly updates (sometimes more often, other times longer).

    If you have a blog, doesn’t mean you have to write every day, unless you want to. The difference between flog and blog is only one letter after all, and so close together on the keyboard.

    cheers.
    Vince.

    1. I certainly try (=

      Thanks for sharing the link to Marketing Two. Will have to check that out…it sounds interesting.

      I agree, the real stuff will take place behind closed doors for the most part. The people that truly understand the details of an industry are the ones out there doing it…not the ones reading blogs 24/7.

  4. David, excellent points – glad you said it! I share your concern. I know I have been guilty in my own blog posts of trying to write to be scanned and picked up, but I am trying to wean myself of that. A lot of people think the web will revolutionize knowledge and learning, but I think if we are not careful it will have the exact opposite effect – the death of understanding. Keep up the great work! Bret

    1. Thanks a lot Bret. I’ve absolutely been guilty of the same thing. It’s a tough battle for any blogger. It will be interesting to see how the blogosphere develops and if it will change to become more information based rather than “ratings” base.

  5. Really great topic.

    I am a student and brand new to the PR/Blogging/SM world. I definitely understand where you’re coming from. When I get to some blogs, I have to do a little research to understand some of the jargon, topics, and etiquette. But in the end, I pick up the topic, engage with the “thought leaders” and give myself a pat on the back for going in blind and coming out alive. When it comes down to it, I wouldn’t want the seasoned pros to hold back because I think I’ve been more excited about the industry in the past week on these various social media sites than I have in the past two years sitting in class.

    Thanks for the perspective!
    Teresa

  6. I must have it all wrong I write for me, my style is me. I write about the outdoors. It’s a niche subject area, not big readership numbers, never will have that mass appeal. But I don’t care I write for myself, I’m just lucky that others like what I write.

    1. That’s awesome. I tried to make a point to say professional bloggers (as in a blog about a professional industry) because this post definitely doesn’t apply to the recreational bloggers who just write for themselves.

      Absolutely nothing wrong with how you’re approaching your blog (=

  7. Another great post David!

    I have a very particular kind of reader in mind for my marketing blog. He or she owns a small business and wants bullshit / buzzword free marketing ideas that they can use.

    I write exclusively for that group and offer posts that will be of ‘some’ value to noobs as well as those who have marketing degrees. Many of my readers / commenters run marketing businesses.

    It’s a challenge to get the balance right, that’s for sure.

    Thanks for the post, sir.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience Jim.

      That’s the thing. Most, if not all, professional bloggers have the goal of creating business opportunities and driving possible customers to hire them for their services.

      With that goal, you have to provide very basic, easy to understand tips and info. If you go into too much detail, not only will you not attract the people that need your help, but you’ll also be giving away your work for free.

      If it were simply a service to customer relationship, this would be absolutely fine. The issue comes when other people, who aren’t potential customers, rely on this info as a source of research and education.

  8. Though it’s not a dead-on simile, I view the industry in its current state as a sort of an 1800s school house with all the students in one room. If the teacher tries to cover one certain grade level (only 1st graders), he or she loses everyone from 3rd grade and above (online marketing/SM/etc. veterans). If the teacher starts trying to teach the 6th graders, then the younger (beginner level) students are basically lost.

    What we need is a modern elementary school setup where different skill sets can find content at the appropriate level. Unfortunately, someone most of us would consider a “pro” most likely reached pro status by mass appeal (as you so aptly stated in your post).

    So what’s the solution? Is it some form of Ning-style community with different levels of “Professionals” creating content for different ranges and skill sets? Is there a better/simpler/more reasonable solution than that? Or do we continue wallowing in the eternal 1st grade level of social/online media? Hopefully not the last of the three.

    Also, way to initiate this discussion, David. It’s definitely one that needs to be brought up more and more as we move forward in the industry. Maybe even at those conferences where we’re hearing the same discussions every other week.

    1. Wallowing in the eternal 1st grade level might be a slight exaggeration. I guess we’ve moved into a sort of 2nd-3rd grade limbo. Beginners at least grasp a majority of the content being created at this point, but it’s still not *that* far along or advanced.

    2. I think the solution will largely be up to the professionals with the capability to “dig deeper” to work together, to provide information for those who are ready to move to the next level. They have to work together because that ensures that they aren’t simply looking to better their own blog/site. The issue isn’t in capability. It’s in the root of professional blogging: success.

  9. Ryan made a great point about the time involved in blogging. I feel this is actually a similar issue with writing vs. blogging — writing takes time while blogging is supposed to be a bit more immediate, and it’s hard to maintain high-quality content when there are expectations of immediacy hanging over head.

    We are definitely running into a problem with people leaning more and more on information they read in blogs instead of searching out via more traditional means the knowledge they seek. I think the forum will change, though, given enough time, and if the experts stop appealing to the masses and start focusing content to a higher-level readership change will happen.

    What we have to get away from — and this obsession comes with living so much of our lives in public now via digital channels — is the attachment to high numbers of readers. The more niche and expert you get, the more your reader count will drop. If we can get over that, past the popularity game, I think we’ll start to get somewhere.

    Vince is right, you’re great with the questions. Awesome post!

    1. Great points Teresa. Not sure if professional bloggers will ever be able to get over the numbers aspect. It’s inherent in professional blogging to seek more readers.

      I think maybe the real stuff will come from things like “white pages” and case studies that are meant to go into more detail.

  10. David,
    What you’re essentially talking about is the difference between USA Today and The Economist. For different constituencies, people write differently. I think it’s a little oversimplified to say that bloggers don’t write in-depth. I think about blogs like this one http://vinothramachandra.wordpress.com/, which are definitely in-depth and thought provoking.

    And a bigger question, what is the purpose of blogging? Is it industry growth or a service that people use?

    1. Of course there are always going to be exceptions when speaking about an industry in general. I don’t think pointing out a trend is “over-simplifying”.

      Considering your bigger questions, the purpose of WRITING blog posts isn’t necessarily for industry growth. But so many professionals turn to reading blogs to learn about the industry and so industry growth becomes reliant on blogging. That’s the problem.

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