One of this biggest challenges with building any sort of online presence (whether you’re a blogger, consultant or selling a product) is working out what platform you should be focusing your energy on. I’ll admit it’s a constant struggle to decide what existing or emerging technologies best suit you/your audience. Things change over time too – we’ve seen a shift in the way that people consume online content, 5 years ago it was mainly as long form on blogs and spend a lot of time on more instant mediums like Instagram and snapchat. This, in effect, has left some people wondering whether they should even bother with a blog, if Instagram is easier/quicker to upload why not just focus on that? The reality is that I feel like now more than ever your blog, and what you put on it, should be a key part of your content strategy. Not the whole strategy (obviously) but a cornerstone. Why?
1. You own your channel
You may have heard this week that Instagram is starting to test an algorithm based feed – so essentially you’ll see the ‘best’ or most ‘relevant’ photos when you jump on your feed, rather than the most recent first. In theory this is great, because it sucks to miss cool stuff while you’re sleeping. However, in practicality I feel like there are major questions about who decides what you will see, and what will it be based on, all of which may impact upon how many of your followers will see your content. You’ll know that Facebook evolved it’s feed over the course of a few years, with what you see completely changing, and these days businesses needing to boost posts in order to see engagement. Now, I’m not saying I’m an expert here, but if they wanted to, Instagram could obviously go in a similar direction, meaning companies or pages could boost their post to get highlighted in people’s feeds (with, potentially, unpaid posts getting less priority). Pinterest has done something similar with their ‘picked for you’ posts and in their search results. Annnnddddd while in relation to insta this is all conjecture, and may be completely wrong considering how carefully insta have been about major changes, but it reflects the way that regardless what direction the platform goes in, for all these channels – facebook, snapchat, pinterest, youtube, blogger – you’re at the mercy of the platform. Which, is my point. Your blog is invaluable because it’s your own little piece of the internet, with no algorithms or shareholders to deal with. I’m not saying you should be abandoning all those other mediums – in fact if you’re not on them it’s time to consider, because the right ones are essential to your content strategy. I myself rely heavily on ones like Instagram and Pinterest for promoting content and reaching new audiences and also just love the different types of interactions you get in these communities (and it’s clear some people have built huge followings and careers from single mediums) BUT, taking a long term view you’d be silly to ditch your blog.
2. You can create a ‘home’ for your content
When clients approach me for a collaboration, sometimes they want to focus on one medium – Instagram and Pinterest mainly but increasingly Snapchat too. But since the beginning I have always tried to focus on content that is promoted across all my channels, albeit in different ways that suit that audience (as much as possible anyway). I mean, it’s actually easier to do a quick snap, and therefore often I find myself having to work harder to create something for the blog, but to me it’s important to disseminate my content across all mediums and not just one. My main reason for this is because on your blog you can create a ‘home’ or hub for your content from which you can interact with all your other channels. Blog content by nature has more longevity, it’s better referenced by the internet and SEO than other mediums – some of the highest traffic posts on this blog are 4 or 5 years old. By developing this hub people always know where to go, and you have control/understanding in regards to users and traffic. Bearing in mind that the average life span of an instagram post is a few hours, your blog is a great home for the longer version of that post, or the stitched together snapchat video that people loved.
3. You can evolve your content
The reason many of us have started to focus on different mediums is that our tastes have changed – as both consumers and creators. In some areas, where people were happy to read a 2000 word post, now they want content in different forms. This isn’t the hard and fast rule for all audiences or genres, but it’s important that we understand what our readers want and evolve as they do. That doesn’t mean ditching your blog though, even if you feel your audience wants other types of content – it’s more about being able to integrate varied types of content into your blog. There’s a need to be able to modernise your blog over time so it changes as your audiences does, and to do this you need to have a long term plan about what you want from your blog. As an example, some people are shifting away from stylised content to something a little more raw – something that’s been done on youtube for years but is now filtering down into other mediums like snapchat. It doesn’t mean you need to throw away all the editing or perfect flatlays, just that you need to provide some element of your content, on your blog, that meets the changing needs of your audience. Whatever they may be. You’ll also want to consider updating your website’s layout and design over time so that you’re reflecting how people prefer to read content, and integrating new formats into that. From a personal perspective, I feel like video will be an even bigger medium in 5 years that it is now, and given how well DIY and how-to content lend themselves to this format, that’s something I’m excited to experiment with more, and consistently.
If you’re thinking about starting a blog and worried that perhaps you’ve missed the boat, take this as a sign that you haven’t. Get started!
I’d love to hear from any bloggers/people with an online presence – what mediums are you focusing on and which do you want to move into? Don’t be afraid to play the devil’s advocate either, I’d love to hear if you think it’s time to ditch the blog. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯