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Blogging vs Social Networking

Blogging-Social-Networking
Hugh McLeod writes:

“So that’s why I have a blog, I suppose. I like the control. I write something, I post it, it gets read, hopefully good things happen as a result, somewhere on this small blue planet of ours. Unlike a book or a movie or a TV commercial, there’s no waiting around for somebody else to greenlight it. The only light is the greenlight….

I guess my point is, if you’re one of these people considering giving up on blogging in exchange for paying more attention to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and MySpace, or whatever they throw at us mere mortals, bear in mind you are giving up on something rather unique and wonderful.’

Hugh’s onto something with this. I chatted with an ex-blogger recently who lamented that he ended his blog 12 months ago to spend more time exploring social networking. His words still ring in my ears (paraphrased):

“I was offered a job through my blog….
I have 9000 ‘friends’ at facebook and myspace….
I used to know most of my readers by name and knew that they all knew mine – even though there were only 200 a day….
I know a lot more people see my profile on facebook – but most of them just are hunting for friend bait….
I used to spend hours writing things that meant something on my blog….
I now spend hours updating people on the lattes I drink and people I meet on Twitter….
I had a brand of my own on and on my own property on my blog….
I now have a brand on someone else’s property….”

His ultimate reflection was to wonder what he could have achieved if he’d invested the amount of time and energy into this blog as the time and energy he invested into his social networking.

My own opinion with social networks is that they’re not all bad (and you don’t need to choose between blogging and social media) – but that I see them as a secondary and supportive strategy to support my primary activities – those being my blogs. Social networks have been useful as ‘straws’ in the overall ‘nest’ of my brand.

Social networks (as well as other social media and web 2.0 sites) have the ability to reinforce your brand, drive traffic, introduce you to new audiences and open up new networks – but in my own business the primary vehicle that I use at present to drive forward what I do remains my blog.

Further Reading – Blog Bloke wrote on a similar topic a few days back. I don’t know that social networking will die – as he does – but rather think we’ll see it gradually integrate more with blogging and hopefully see the pendulum swing back to a more balanced view of these types of sites.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Yax says:

    Even as a supportive strategy for a blog, I find that facebook and other networks are too time-consuming for what they bring to my website.

    Maybe it starts paying off if you’re on all social networks – being everywhere people will keeping seeing/hearing about you and eventually decide to check out your site.

    So far, only Stumble Upon has had positive results on my blog. Everything else I tried was a waste of time. Am I doing this wrong?

  2. I subscribe to Hugh’s blog and read the same article with great interest (Hugh is phenomenal–like a darker Seth Godin in some ways).

    I think maybe some people were blogging because that’s all there was to try and meet the need to connect with other people (other than forums, which lacked the public face and the branding possibilities). When the social networks came along, these people were attracted to them because they were more like what they wanted in the first place. At one point several months ago, when it seemed Facebook was indomitable, I had a discussion with someone about whether people needed email or blogs anymore. Now that seems awfully premature, especially considering how Facebook has egg on it face lately.

    If you want to a professional on the web, a social network profile alone does not suffice. You need your own site and it needs to bear your personal brand. I think a blog is still far and away the best vehicle for that.

  3. Ah, sorry — I meant to say “If you want to be a professional on the web…”

  4. Social networking can’t replace blogging. When you blog what you write is the main focus of the reader. But when you do social networking your content takes a back seat to other stuff such as the number of friends on the sites. People on the internet are proven to be unfocused, so when we multitask it all gets jumbled together and people aren’t able to focus on the one thing.

  5. Mike Smith says:

    I think Blogging goes hand-in-hand WITH social networking, but I don’t think social networking will replace blogging.

    I believe that social networking is just like any other form of networking and if used properly, can benefit your main goals greatly. Sometimes thats a blog, sometimes thats services.

  6. Without blogs and blogging, would there be social networking? Most of what appears on Stumbleupon, Digg, Sphinn, etc. is content from another blog or site.

    I think the blog comes first, and the social network helps to promote it.

  7. Sumesh says:

    I don’t know that social networking will die as he does – that feels like ‘die as he does’…I know the history between you and Bloke, and actually started the thought process with a comment here on PB in a post where you and Bloke rambled on. That sentence seems a bit clumsy ;)

    And oh, the blockquotes seem silly because the whole content column text is self centered.

    This is a nitpick, yes, but hope you take it positively. Nothing personal. I am proud to be a part of the PB community :D

  8. Mark Dykeman says:

    Darren, I think you’ve brought up a point that I’ve been struggling with for the past few months as a writer: time spent creating vs. time spent promoting.

    The blog is the place where I create my work, as well as a few specialty sites which host articles. Although I’m not a business, nor do I run a business, the blog is kind of like a shop window or a catalog. The front page shows the new stuff that’s visible to the world. My archive posts are the older, but still good stock that’s waiting for someone to find through browsing.

    Social networking, for me, is marketing and promotion. However, I’ve been making some wonderful contacts through social networks (and blogging, I might add!) and they help expose my writing to the world. Shouldn’t blog directories be considered social networks now (food for thought?)

    I could write and write and write for years and make a great blog that no one reads about. I can use social networking to jumpstart the readership process. I just don’t see social networking as an end to itself.

    I think social networks are here for the long term, but they can be a blogger’s best friend if you’re prepared to put some time back into them.

  9. Agree with you, Darren. I’ve been shouting into the wind for months about wasting time and energy on social networks.

    Despite the decline of blogging, reinforced by Google’s recent downgrade, I believe it’s only a shakeout of the born Twitterers and Faceless types anyway. The best of blogging is re-emerging as real media and will continue to thrive, especially the Hugh McLeod types and — dare I say it — Problogger. :)

  10. …and besides, ProSocialNetworker doesn’t have the same ring to it.

  11. Two ways to use social networks: either you keep small number of friends and know them all personally (whatever that means to you). Other way, you go broad and wide, and add according to principle “friends of my friends are mine too” making the network big as possible.
    First approach is socialization. Other one is baiting to get people somewhere else, usually to your own blog.
    Anything else is pure waste of time. Though second approach can be waste of time if it doesn’t bring number of visitors proportional to time and effort spent on networking.

  12. Guru says:

    Very true..

    From someone like me, who came in the other way – Social Networking first and then Blogging, I really think nothing can beat blogging. It is a different thing when you create content and own them, and build a faithful readership. Nothing can beat that.

    Also i guess making it big on Social Networking is no big deal, you need very little skills, effort to be reach there, and we all know in blogging it is exactly the opposite. You need to work real hard to get a grip, and even after that you need to work harder to retain your place.

    Also i have another point against Social Networking, even with all the cross linkings there is a limit on the number of people you can interact with, even if you manage to devote all your time to such sites you’ll maybe end up connecting with a few hundred or a thousand people at the most. I’m talking about the maximum number of contacts you can make, but with Blogging the number of people you can reach has no limit, you have thousands reading your ‘thoughts’ every single day.

    A Blogger from 12 timezones away, who probably does not even know your real name, waits for your updates each day ..

    Awesome !!

  13. MySpace is both a Blog platform AND a social Network.

    So perhaps other popular Social Networks should consider allowing their members to have a hosted blog

  14. As you pointed out, with blogging you have your own brand, your own ‘real-estate’ in cyber space. Many people tend to overlook this very important factor. I don’t think all social-networking sites will die away though some probably will. Using these sites as secondary to your own blog is the way to go.

  15. plonkee says:

    I guess I’ve never really got social networking. I enjoy Stumble Upon, and Facebook but I can’t imagine spending lots of time on them.

    I guess I use Facebook to sort of see what my readers are like if they friend me. Stumble Upon I use to find interesting things to read, and to share interesting things – very boring I expect.

  16. Blog Bloke says:

    Not quite sure what you meant by “die as he does”, but just to let you know my blog is “Blog Bloke”.

    Also, to clarify… my view in a nutshell is that bloggers need to “balance” their online time and spend more of it on their blogs instead of the SNs. It’s a matter of priorities.

    Thanks for the link by the way. Cheers!

    …BB

  17. Silicon, is MySpace to be considered as a serious blogging platform, or just a place to share a few thoughts inside your social network?

  18. Good point. Facebook is no substitute for blogging. It is too frivolous and now has so many negative privacy issues. Blogging is quirky and individual and done well is highly creative.

  19. Arham says:

    I agree with U
    Is that they’re not all bad (and you don’t need to choose between blogging and social media), each of they have a good or bad side.

    but, I fact … I using social media for advertise my blog, in order to get known my existence by Blogger..

    just for additional..
    http://road-entrepreneur.com/?p=48
    thanks

  20. Gyutae Park says:

    I don’t think blogging and social networking really are in competition. They go hand in hand and work well together. In fact blogging itself can probably be considered a form of social networking.

  21. Max Powers says:

    I gave up on MySpace, Facebook and all the others when I decided that my time was too valuable to spend socializing just to have fun and make friends online.

    When I started back in Sept. I almost quit because I new nothing and everything seemed so confusing. I got lucky and somehow wound up on your site learning the ropes and now I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

  22. Jon Ward says:

    social networking never really appealed to me. yeah sure, i’ve got accounts on myspace and facebook but its just not the same as blogging. social networking is meant more to communicate with people, not to express opinion. the blog features you can find on social networking sites are often overshadowed by everything else going on. while i agree that you can gain readers from social sites, they aren’t something to dedicate all your time to.

  23. Suzanne says:

    I’m so glad that I explored myspace first. I barely pay it any mind. Especially noticeable in the music pages, people accumulate absurd numbers of “friends” for what? The sake of showing that they’ve been able to accumulate that number through clever means of using that particular system. I find that myspace has very little meaning. My blogging on the other hand has a tremendous amount of personal contact, content and meaning. Good topic!

  24. I know – I get these “invites” all the time: “so and so wants to add you to..”

    And I think to myself “Why?” And then, because I don’t want to be rude, I’ll “accept” and hope that either I’ve already joined this network or that joining will be quick and simple, but that’s the end of it: other than accepting invitations, I’m never going to visit any of these again.

  25. Evan Hadkins says:

    Bottom line for me: can anyone tell me how many extra readers or subscribers they have got from the social networking sites?

    For me (an introvert) the blog is my focus. I use the social networking site I use – Facebook – mostly to connect with my friends.

    Another question: do you put in your About Me page that you are on particular social networking sites.

  26. I use my MySpace to stay in touch with broader circle of friends and acquitances. Pownce and Twitter can bring some amount of new readers, but they take, IMHO, too much time compared to number of readers and subscribers. That depends on person I guess, and is ok only if one likes that way of communication. Just this morning I made MySpace account which is ment to promote the blog. We’ll see how good is that in a month or two.

  27. Here’s another issue: How about blogging vs. reading blogs? In other words, I suspect that many (like myself) spend a helluva lot of time reading blogs, but far less time blogging — and I’m not sure this is a good thing. For me, the existing social networks are, for the most part, a waste of time.

    FeedHub, Twine, things like this may help to bring me content I want rather than wading through so many blogs. (Matter of fact, I was pointed to this post through FeedHub.) But FeedHub isn’t social, it’s content-based, contextual filtering. I’ve tried many social bookmarking sites and haven’t found any that are useful. One problem is the way people assign tags. For example, “China.” What does this mean? That’s usually way too broad. (BTW, I live in China. However, I’m guilty of creating a “China” Twine. Life is funny. But, in my defense, I also created a “Qingdao” Twine and a “China” Twine might be fine since there are not a lot of us in the Twine private beta, i.e., it’s not likely going to be misused. Also, a Twine is different than a tag.)

    I want something that can really, truly help me get through the few hundred blogs that I subscribe to (actually, several hundred on one of my Bloglines and Google Reader accounts). FeedHub helps a lot. It’s a step in the right direction. Takes a bit of patience, but it seems to work.

    OTOH, I find that I find way too much junk through social marking sites. My favorite is Furl, but NOT because of its social bookmarking features; it’s my favorite because its the only personal digital library, caching a copy of whatever I’m reading, even PDFs. Their social bookmarking feature is just as noise creating as the similar features on del.icio.us and StumbleUpon. Junk and more junk. The ability to receive the RSS feed of somebody I trust is great; I do, indeed, appreciate this. But, in general, social bookmarking sites create more noise, less signal.

    Twine may have a way to overcome this. Semantic Web processing might be the solution. Tough technological challenges, to be sure, but worth the effort. It’s a game-changing idea, not YAFW (yet another Facebook widget). Matter of fact, I’d bet on a race between Twine, Powerset and Google, maybe MS and IBM, too. I’m in the Powerset (Powerlabs) public beta and see more potential with Twine than with Powerset. Really, they seem to have different approaches: Twine with semantic processing, Powerset with natural language processing. These are VERY different approaches … and on many different levels. Both are a step in the right direction, but for my needs, Twine is better, more useful.

    BTW, I include Google in the race because, well, it is in the race. I include Microsoft and IBM because IBM may very well have more researchers in this space than anyone (although it’s fairly common for IBM to have the most in any category) and IBM recognizes the importance of this space. Just peruse IBM Systems Journal or the IBM Journal on R&D to see what I mean. MS has also got to get this; I’ve got to believe Ray Ozzie is fully aware of the potential of both semantic processing and NLP.

    I would say Twine is more B2B ready than Powerset, so I can see Twine capturing this space. In the purely consumer sector, Powerset might even challenge Google. What I’ve seen with their Wikipedia capabilities is impressive (whether it can scale is another issue). Twine is different; it doesn’t necessarily compete against Powerset. There’s also True Knowledge, but I’m not in their beta so I won’t comment. Looks like it may have legs, but that’s based upon press releases and demos, which really mean nothing.

    Back to the topic. I’d like to be able to blog more, not necessarily read less, but spend less time wading through a lot of blogs. The best solution: Probably Twine. Taking the best of social bookmarking and combining it with context-based approaches (like FeedHub). This is indeed a powerful idea.

  28. I happened upon this post and found it fascinating. Although I love networking sites, there is only so much time in a day. I do not have many comments on my blog but, I know the folks who come by and visit have similar interests, invest in my real world art business, and aren’t merely collecting people for their online specimen boxes. Facebook, MySpace, SecondLIfe and all the loverlies in between have an important spot in the virtual fabric of social networking but, for me personally, I have always found blogs a bit more content rich.

  29. Desmond says:

    By using the power of things like myspace and facebook, the increase of your social network would increase your blog’s readerships.

  30. Shawn Farner says:

    I’m with Gyutae; I really don’t think the two are in competition.

    I use blogs to write about things I enjoy and to interact with people who enjoy those same things. I use social networking sites to keep tabs on friends I can’t be around otherwise.

    I’m not sure why someone would quit one for the other; they’re pretty useful when combined.

  31. IAAdmin says:

    In my world, blogging and social networking meet. A social network built around blogging???

    What could be better……………………:)

  32. Darren Rowse says:

    Blog Bloke – sorry about the name stuff up. Late night posting after a 13 hour day of moving house will explain that one.

    Sumesh – the ‘die as he does’ was clumsy grammer – have inserted a hyphen which I hope makes more sense. It was referring to BB’s statement ‘The Social Network Fad Will Die’ and where he predicts the ‘demise of social networks.’

    In terms of the blockquotes – yes they do dominate the post – but there are a couple of sizeable quotes there and when I quote someone at that length I like to give it some prominence and avoid any confusion over it being my work.

  33. This is an interesting topic. I have been seemingly forced into having a Facebook and MySpace account and do not touch them at all. I do not have time for it with all the work I do on my blog. There is no way that blogs should be pitted against Social Networking. If SN is what you want to do then that is great; otherwise it seems much more like a way to get more links back to your blog or site. Thanks for the great topic.

  34. Vicky says:

    I think you are correct. I personally would rather blog than do the social networking thing because I work online so don’t have time to waste just playing. I’m not very good at the blogging thing yet because I’m very new to it but I’m learning and already have a few followers. I like to try to write relevant commentary instead of the normal drivel you find on the social sites. Not all of them but most. :}

  35. Leon says:

    Heh. Sucker. What he says makes sense though. I need to use social networking more to power my blog. I have absolutely no friends on my MySpace, save for the omnipresent Tom.

  36. Todd Morris says:

    Like some of the others, I do way more reading than actual writing since I started blogging. When you take into account commenting and linking out to other blogs, really blogging is social networking … but unlike myspace, facebook etc, most of the friends I make blogging have information that I actually want … not many blogger posting surveys about their favorite color, who their crush is, and how old they were when they got their first kiss.

  37. Wikilaw says:

    A lot of people underestimate the power of Wikipedia for social network. To be sure, it’s an explicitly disallowed policy (see [[WP:NOT#MYSPACE]]), but frankly a large part of my non-legal related blog relationships (my blog covers both the law and wikipedia) come from Wikipedia. It’s certainly a relatively steady provider of traffic, and while I’ll note that the numbers are small (I got more traffic in three days from a referral burst from lawschooldiscussion.com than I probably have in all time from Wikipedia) they are steady, consistent, interested (they leave comments) and return (It’s the same users). This is hugely helpful to a small blog like mine, which averages only around 50 readers per day. Wikipedia relationships tend to make sure that at least half of those are returning visitors, and so this is extremely valuable to me.

    Next time you’re looking at a social networking tool to grow your blog, consider editing Wikipedia (positively; don’t give bloggers a bad name), and making some friends there. They might provide a steady traffic source for your growing blog.

    Obviously this really won’t help large bloggers so much, but then again, maybe it will.

  38. DefogMyBlog says:

    I think it is best to hang on to your blog. I would say that wouldn’t I. Seriously I think we need to blog and interact with social networks and remember that our blogs are our piece of real estate and the owner of the social network can make up the rules as he/she goes along and not necessarily in our favour.

    We think about Google a lot but does Google think about us? Their main aim is to give their customer a terrific experience so they remain loyal and when they think of bloggers their main focus is getting them to toe the line and provide that experience.

    It can be a struggle get going and maintain a blog and maybe other people have a different vision and can cut it without one. Even if you do not have a blog for your particular business I think in the future it may be important to have one for your portfolio of skills, contacts and profile management. You can control the design and content of it more than a facebook or myspace page. Managing your profile across the lot may become key.

  39. Brian Clark says:

    >>I now have a brand on someone else’s property….”

    This is the key. These people have gone from developing a digital asset of their own that could have real value, to becoming someone else’s user-generated content.

    Sad.

  40. Angie says:

    I personally concentrate more on my blogging and how to improve on that…and the social networking when I get a chance. I do think that they both go hand in hand…but I enjoy the blogging much more…more personal and directed at people who want to read about what I write.

  41. Paul Chaney says:

    I think both have their place and that blogging has matured to a point where only those willing to commit the time and effort will continue to do it. Blogging, today, is all about creating real value for the reader, as the previous commenter Brian Clark asserts.

    For conversational media marketing purposes, I see a blog as strategic headquarters, the fountainhead from which all other initiatives flow.

    Like the friend you cited, I, too, gave up blogging in favor of playing in the social media sandbox, but only for a short time.

    I’ve learned three valuable lessons:

    1. That my blog is where I really get down to business dealing with the topic about which I’m passionate

    2. That anecdotal, daily life type of journaling can easily be accommodated via Facebook and Twitter

    3. That social networks like the aforementioned can be used as announcement and syndication systems for the posts on my blog, resulting in a greater level of awareness and heightened participation

  42. If you’re just doing it for the money, both blogging and social networking will lose their appeal after a short while. Passion is key.

    I’ve noticed that boggers tend to be the people who have more of a personal agenda, they have a message and they want that message to be heard. The really good bloggers are usually writers at heart. If they weren’t blogging, they’d be writing for a newspaper or magazine, they’d be writing books or screenplays, they’d be writing poems or songs. Fundamentally, they are writers.

    Networkers tend to be more social butterflies. They’re more interested in other people and in relationships. They like to build things, to code, to develop. If they weren’t in social networking, they’d be in gaming or something similar.

    Ultimately, it’s not about what’s blogging versus social networking; it’s about doing what you’re passionate about.

  43. Wypoczynek says:

    problogger is cool :-)

  44. Caitlin says:

    I use social networking for fun but not as a replacement for blogging.

  45. As others have said, I don’t think blogging will ever go away. The ability to create your own brand, release your ideas, feelings and random thoughts to anyone and everyone is something special. The social networks can only go so far and I think they’ve neared that point.

  46. Thanks for sharing this info. I have been a bit overwhelmed with the balance between my blog and social networking. While I realize that social networking is important, it is helpful to see someone put things back into perspective. Thanks.

  47. 66tx says:

    I think the blog comes first, and the social network helps to promote it.

  48. Simon says:

    Interesting topic, not least because I’m developing something which at least starts to bridge the gap between social networking and blogging.

    It’s basically a group authentication system, which I’ve termed as a “conversation” between bloggers. You can become a part of a group, then interact with the posts of others in that group directly from your own blog. Based off the whole idea behind trackbacks, but with a lot more practical uses (collaborations, debates etc).

    Social networking can be a powerful tool for driving traffic back and forth, which is why I see my own development work as a way to drive readers between blogs, back and forth.

    Been testing it out with a few bloggers recently in fact, and receiving some good feedback. I left a link to the early concept page I drew up (with screenshots) if you click on my name above.

  49. Darren,

    This is very important post.

    I’d have to say (without any disrespect) that comparing blogging on your own blog versus blogger on a Myspace type of platform (so not your own brand) is like having your own business versus being part of a network marketing arm.

    When you are in network marketing…you maybe building your unit, but in the end you REALLY are building the business of the company behind the networkd marketing.

    Gisele

  50. Andrew says:

    The ex-blogger in your powerful example was part of the herd charging away from content and toward connection. As I wrote a few weeks ago:
    What’s changing on the web right now is the relative emphasis between two ingredients of conversation: content and connection. Traditional blogging emphasizes content. Social networks, of course, emphasize connection.
    If you can stand to read more of this, you can do so at:
    http://changingway.org/2007/11/19/conversation-content-connection/