Blog Against the Machine

Heavy Industry

They say that professional blogging is a dying social marketing tool. The University of Massachusetts revealed a 25% drop in the number of corporate blogs in the Inc. 500 (from 50% of the general surveyed population to 37%).The next generation of trade media — team and professional “blogs” — have risen to the fore and dominated their various niches. Lost in the dust are the individual and small business bloggers who can’t create enough content to compete effectively against the content machines.

In the marketing sector we have strong professional trade media plays from Hubspot, MarketingProfs and Copyblogger. Individual blogs like Jason Falls’ Social Media Explorer have augmented the individual voice with guest posts, providing daily or near daily offerings to remain competitive. In the nonprofit sector, I helped start a similar professional team blog, Inspiring Generosity.

Most individual bloggers — blogs like this one, which feature, one, two, maybe even three posts a week — simply cannot command the traffic to generate competitive market attention in the face of these machines. They don’t cover breaking news like these more professional outlets. Responding to the news cycle requires a dedication to blogging. Most people with jobs that are tied to other activities beyond social simply cannot afford to spend the time necessary to compete.

Yes, there are exceptions to the rule. A Mitch Joel manages to remain relevant with regular posts. Others, like Brian Solis, leverage incredible popularity, and their words, though infrequent and often safe in tone, spread across the sector like that favorite syndicated newspaper columnist’s next anticipated piece.

But, most small outlets are left to blog against the machine, delivering intermittent pieces of texture to the regular drum beat of the team and pro media offerings. What’s a writer to do?

If you play by the same rules as the top trade blogs, you’ll lose. It’s better to develop your following, your niche, and offer unique context. Make your outcomes relevant to your business, and you can win. Make them a rat race with everyone else in your sector, and you’re likely to lose.

It takes great fresh new content everyday to stand out. In essence, you’d have to launch a competitive trade publication.

In my case, I blog less, saying the one or two things a week that seem pertinent and worth sharing. I don’t really give a damn about being popular, I’d rather speak my mind than make the sacrifices necessary to be the king of the hill. But truth be known, if readership completely dried up or people didn’t find value here, I would have moved on to other pastures already.

If you’re an individual blogger, how have you responded to increasingly successful team and pro blogs? If you’re a reader, what do you think of this trend?