Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Why TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram can never “kill blogging”

There has been a lot of talk lately on the internet, mentioned how short-format video content is taking over, “killing” blogs and long-format text content. Here is why that can never happen.

What is a “blog”?

A “blog” is just the truncated form of the term “weblog.” A weblog is a discussion or informational website published on the World Wide Web consisting of discrete, often informal diary-style entries (posts).

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The term “blog” has come to take up a wider meaning in general usage nowadays. It refers to the personal sharing of information, stories, opinions, etc. on a regular basis, not just in long-format but also in images and videos. Even large companies and business have blogs where they post updates, press-releases, and other announcements. 

Blogs aren’t dead, but the format is.

Now, “blogging is dead” is a phrase that is often thrown around the internet. The rise of YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok has seen a decline in the number of personal and niche blogs that become popular/successful. Newsletters are another example of long-format content that are considered “dead.” 

However, if blogging is really dead, how come people still write and buy books? A blog and a book are both examples of long-format content. The only difference between a blog and a book is the format of delivery. 

The past decade has shown that the social media format dominates all other formats of delivery. Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, etc., didn’t become popular by focusing on images/videos. Their popularity lies in the format of social media – a format where discussion, collaboration, and interaction thrives. 

Some examples of popular long-format content that is on the decline are newsletters and personal blogs. Newsletters are almost strictly one-way communication that hasn’t changed its format of delivery (email). In an age where even companies are moving from email towards professional messaging apps like Slack, how can we expect newsletters to survive? Personal blogs in long-format live in web browsers where sites display cookie pop-ups, GDPR-popups, and mailing lists pop-ups appear regularly. Sponsored content is usually in the form of distracting, non-native ads. The most interaction that can occur may be leaving a comment.

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Long-format content is not going away.

Though the format of delivery is not appealing anymore, people still hold-on to long-format content. Companies still need to publish press-releases and announcements in the long-format. A company cannot post a YouTube video and call that a press-release. SEC filings are not found with YouTube videos embedded in them. 

News publications still rely on long-format content to bring breaking news and updates. It takes minutes to quickly write a news article, but much longer to record, edit, and upload a YouTube video. That is why the news always comes first on Google, not YouTube. 

Even though videos are a great way to learn something new, video content is always supplementary to books and information documented in the long-format. Long-format content can easily be referenced and search through. A student can jump through pages to find information, but not scrub through an hour-long video in search of something specific.

The right format of delivery 

If blog sites and email are not the right format of delivery for long-format content, what is? Thankfully, there is already a wildly popular format which billions of people around the world use that we can get ideas from – social media. The world needs a social media platform for long-format content, a platform where users can like and comment on posts, explore different topics and people, follow their favorite long-format content creators, and create/read long-format content in a more engaging and fun way – all in a single app/platform.

All major social media platforms focus on images, videos and messaging. In a world of short messages and texting, people are not focusing on creating high-quality, long-format content. The few platforms that help host long-format content have business-models that do not cater to the user. 

In order for long-format content to reach the widespread appeal that Instagram, TikTok, or YouTube has, the platform on which the content is shared and hosted needs to be in-line with what users are expecting to see on any of the previously-mentioned social media platforms. If such a platform is achieved, a combination of the popularity of social media and the requirement for long-format content, that platform will dominate as the go-to place for long-format content.

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