Search the web and it’s not difficult to find articles announcing the end of blogs. Texts from times as far away (in internet times) as 2008 were already claiming that blogs were a media with no future.
And look; we’re in 2019 and blogs haven’t disappeared. On the contrary, they’re alive and healthy.
Over time, blogs have positioned themselves on the Internet as platforms for generating independent content. They have established themselves with their own business models in a way that not even the most audacious of analysts would have dared affirm in the last decade.
Blogs and social networks
Ten years ago, those analyses that stated that the end of the line was near for blogs were based on the initially unequal competition they would have to face from the much larger and more popular sites that were emerging. The future looked bleak.
Facebook, Twitter and other social networks presented themselves as environments where the content produced by bloggers, which was previously restricted to their own community of readers, could be widely shared, with the potential for it to reach a much wider audience.
In pursuit of the possibility of having content amplified, there was a mass migration from the blogosphere. The conversations, discussions and friendships that happened before and were formed in their comment boxes began to take place under the wings of the major sites from Silicon Valley. It was only natural to imagine that blogs would be entirely absorbed by these larger sites.
After all these years, the predictions of growth in social networks and of a change in user behaviour have proved correct. The blog as a personal diary, as it used to be called at the time, lost the space it had had. Many bloggers became Tweeters, Instagrammers and influencers, but many others incorporated these functions into their blogging, thus creating extensions of their own content.
Although the original analysis was correct with regard to many of the issues, the mistake lay in considering that blogs were merely instruments of social interaction, and for that reason they would die or be entirely replaced by a new platform.
Blogs have survived in a world of volatile and ephemeral content creation because they are platforms for producing authorial, long-lasting and searchable content.
Blogs have survived in a world of social networks because of their inherently unique characteristics.
Blogs are the repositories of authorial content
Whereas blogs were once defined as personal diaries, today I believe they are best described as the repositories of authorial content.
While readers previously followed all publications regularly, just like a diary, they now access when necessary, without following any established order. They know that the information produced by that author will be available there and catalogued for when they need it.
Bloggers were at first both the subject and character of the action. Today there is still a clearly identified author with their own audience, but the content is devised and produced with a focus on the reader.
The system has rebalanced itself in this way and I see no risk of blogs disappearing.
Bloggers are the owners of their own content
Blogs didn’t die because bloggers own the content they produce.
Posting a text on Facebook or Medium leaves the author at the mercy of the whims and fancies of the chosen platform’s CEO (and I won’t even get into the issue of changing the reach of the algorithms here). The decisions of these vehicles are always taken with a view to the profit of their owners and shareholders. The producer of content is just another cog in the machine.
The CEO of the blog, on the other hand, is the blogger himself or herself. If a problem occurs with hosting, or with the platform on which the material is posted, they will still have their content backed up remotely so they can repost it somewhere else. The decision depends on them, and on them alone.
Blogs publish long-lasting content
In a world where content is produced in an increasingly ephemeral way, either because it literally disappears after a few hours, or because it gets lost in the midst of the immense volume (and noise) of current production, blogs stand out because they are long-lasting.
A reader who is impacted by an image or a link on a social network will not have the action converted into a lead or a sale, unless this happens immediately. Content will be lost or quickly become dated. It will depend on the user’s own memory, on remembering who the author was, what product it was or which hashtag was used for the action to become effective in the future.
With blogs, on the other hand, most of the content is timeless, made for the long term, or is easily renewed after being updated. If a user today wants to reread an article they saw on a blog ten years ago, they’ll still be able to find it quite easily. And if the blogger keeps their content up-dated, there’s every chance that it will still be relevant to that reader.
Blogs produce searchable content
Blogs haven’t died, and I have no pessimistic forecasts for the future of the platform, because they produce content that is easily indexable on search engines.
However much the world of the Internet has evolved, when a user has a doubt or a problem and needs to solve it, their first instinct is to look for the solution on Google. And there, blogs will fill a significant part of the list of results.
The demise of blogs will not be occurring anytime soon, since that depends on Google dying first – and that any search engine that substitutes Google ceases to exist too!
I can imagine a world in the near future without Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. But I still can’t grasp what the Internet would be like without its navigation structure using search results as its conceptual basis.
The importance of blogs in the tourist industry
Blogs are still relevant in any industry or niche, but they have a special place of prominence in those in which the process of converting readers into consumers takes a long time.
This is especially true in the tourism sector.
While it is possible to have an impact on a large numbers of users in the short term by sharing photos and videos of destinations, hotels and activities, it is in the long term, on a scale of months or even years, that such efforts will come to fruition. In this time, however, the path taken by the consumer, the potential tourist, will be subject to numerous deviations. Along the way these consumers will be assailed by other competing actions, products and destinations.
At the bottom of the funnel, at the end of their decision-making process, they will turn to Google to resolve any last-minute doubts. And there will be the blogs, as alive as ever, to direct them to the most appropriate conversion.
Carlos Arruda is the author of the Vida Cigana blog and a director of the ABBV – Brazilian Association of Travel Blogs (2018-2020).