Digital pebbles

Clarke Mulder Purdie on PR, media and other random topics

The art of conversation

Posted by Graham Hayday on January 9, 2008

I read with interest a post by Steve Rubel earlier this week, bemoaning the laziness of tech bloggers.

While this isn’t strictly speaking a tech blog, his pointed remarks still struck a nerve. Why? Well, for a start I’ve not updated Digital Pebbles since early December (blame a pre- and post-Christmas rush of client-related activity).

But that’s not really the kind of laziness he’s referring to. His major beef is with those bloggers who tend to publish posts on a topical topic (if you’ll excuse the tautology) when they don’t have much to contribute to the debate. To quote Steve:

“Somewhere circa 2006 the tech blogger mindset shifted – at least among the majority. People who used to work hard creating and spreading big ideas resorted to simply regurgitating the same old news over and over again, often with very little value add. It’s almost like we stopped the real work of reading, thinking and writing in favor of going all herd, all the time.”

It’s very easy to fall into this particular trap (indeed, I have on more than one occasion. And if you need a recent example from the blogosphere at large, look no further than the Scoble/Facebook brouhaha. Too many posts, not enough originality). Every blogger wants to be more popular; we all analyse our stats and think about the best ways of increasing traffic. Jumping on a blogging bandwagon is one way of doing so.

If I wanted to I could now tag this post with the words ‘scoble’ and ‘facebook’ and may get some traffic as a result. But I won’t, because it is lazy. We should indeed keep our fingers to ourselves until we have something new to say.

This provides a challenge to the nervous corporate blogger of course. What if Mr Smith, the CEO of Widget Inc, wants to launch a blog – but fears he will run out of original things to say after a month?

I’d still advise him to go ahead with it. If the first month goes well, he’ll end up having conversations with his audience, and these will generate ideas for future blog posts.

The second thing I’d say is to remember that one sentence can make a good post. You don’t need to spend hours and hours every week on your blog.

My third recommendation would be to get others involved in the blog. The more people you have blogging, the less each individual has to contribute.

Which brings me nicely onto a little change here at the CMP blog. I’ve rather dominated proceedings up until now, but you’ll begin to hear from more of my colleagues from now on.

This isn’t because I’ve run out of things to say though (honest) or have fallen under the spell of Twitter, even if the conversations going on about the US elections there have finally convinced me that it’s a marvellous thing. To digress slightly, this site (which is built on the Twitter API) is fantastic. An explanation of how it works is here. I’m also looking forward to seeing how the World Economic Forum in Davos fares on Twitter later this month. You can subscribe to the official feed here.

Back to my point. The real reason things will change here is that my colleagues really, really want to get blogging. The chances are that there are people in your organisation who want the same thing, whether or not you already have a blog.

Why stop them joining – or starting – the conversation? If nothing else, it’ll decrease the likelihood of you ending up in Steve Rubel’s ‘lazysphere’.

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