Recently, Pinterest and Instagram have gotten all the press, as businesses frantically race to establish a foothold on what may be the next super–site. But that doesn’t mean they’re the most useful social media tools for all companies. Sure, some companies shine on those photo-based networks. However, for companies and people that aim to be recognized for their ideas, the clearest — yet most underrated — path is through blogging. It seems like blogging has not been talked about in years; still it’s considerably more essential than ever, as some companies recognize.
Indeed, if you want to shape public opinion, you need to be the one developing the narrative. An amazing study by Yahoo!showed that only 20,000 Twitter users (a mere 0.05% of the user base at the time) produce 50% of all tweets consumed. A small number of “elite users” set the conversational tenor, just as in the overall community of blogging.
Blogging’s ability to impact conventional discourse has never been better. Decades ago, we knew that when someone decided to put something on the web — but not in an actual paper — it was a brushoff. Fewer people would see the web content, and (before Google) it would dissipate into non–existence; it wasn’t solid like a real paper on someone’s doorstep. Now, the hierarchy has been turned around; content lives eternally on the internet and will be seen all around the world. Nowadays, we’re measured by the quality of content — not its brand name. If you create top-notch content, you may legitimately become a source as powerful and trusted as the “legacy media.”
Of course, it’s no secret that the number of blogs has skyrocketed in recent years. At the end of 2016, there were 350 million blogs, compared to only 152 million in 2013. It’s harder to be noticed as the noise level grows. But there is cause to think that serious (high-quality, idea-focused) competition in the blogging community is likely to decline in the future, thereby increasing your influence.
One cause is the sad decline of the paid news media, which has nearly cut in half the number of professional journalists gathering information and providing quality content. Next, amateur bloggers are likely to drop, simply because it’s a hard job to keep up at a high level. Creating an informative 1000 word article several times a week, for little or no money, is much more challenging than snapping a photo or sending a 140–character tweet. This is part of the reason the level of blogging is decreasing among teens and young adults, who would rather spend their time on social networks instead.
Writing is still the clearest and most definitive medium for demonstrating expertise online. As long as your content is rich and thoughtful, you can still establish an enormous following and reputation, no matter your channel. In an information-hungry world, there will always be a need for expert content. And there will always be more readers and “retweeters” than there will be creators.
If you want to be influential, you might as well be the one setting the itinerary by blogging your information.