awww shucks Matt, thanks for the nice comments. Matt's right though. I did know the answer but I thought it was an important enough topic, considering some recent marketing debacles, to start a conversation on it. And that's the thing ... I wanted to start a conversation. Not just tell people what I think they should know. That's because I don't think I know everything and I am keen to get your views and opinions.
But to do that I believed that I needed to write a post that didn't cover everything so that people felt they could add to the conversation. I had to hold back a little.
I took this approach because there are a few blogs that I read which leave me feeling like I have been reading a news bulletin (Mumbrella the nice exception of course). Too many blogs are lecturing me and I get to the end of the blog and think "wow, they have written so much and covered so many points that I don't have anything to contribute". I then move onto the next blog. It seems that some writers need to take the opportunity to impart onto me everything they know.
Lee Hopkins wrote in a comment at a recent Laurel Papworth post that "... in the same way that television news presenters are not allowed to express an opinion but just read the teleprompt, so as social media pundits our duty (if one can be so high-browed as to call it that) is to report what is happening in our space."
If that is true then blogging will become about as social as watching news on television (granted that it will be more targeted and more timely). Just because people have the ability to leave a comment doesn't make it social. People can write a letter to the station but no one considers that social.
I was pretty upfront with Lee and told him that line of thinking is ridiculous.Surely Mumbrella has that covered? Our job in the social media space is to start conversations. If your friends just spoke to(at) you about what was happening and provided no opportunities to have a proper conversation then you would stop hanging out with them.
Lee responded "But Daniel, surely if a “sermon” is offered from the pulpit of a blog that is an invitation to converse? Just like we are doing here?". I don't think it is. In fact the defintion of a sermon includes "a long, tedious speech". Nothing about a conversation. In the true sense of a sermon, inside a church, there is never a conversation with the community that follows it.
Combine that with the sermon/lecture approach and you have a problem. If bloggers are all talking "at" me about the same thing, and those things are news, then I really don't see the point of subscribing. This is definitely a trend. Keep and eye out for it next time you log on to your RSS reader and keep a little tally of the number of blog posts that talk at you rather than seriously crafting something that starts a conversation. Also, keep a tally of the number of posts that talk about the same thing. Double points if you catch any that do both.
Read any guide on how to write a blog post and any worth their salt will advise you to finish the post with a question or something else that will invite comments. Darren Rouse at Problogger notes in a post last year that with regards to conversation "often the real action happens once your post is published and being interacted with by readers and other bloggers."
Don't get me wrong, I have fallen into the sermon/lecture trap once or twice in my short blogging career. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but looking back at my posts that received very few comments it is obvious that I was talking at you rather than starting a conversation.
Are the so called rules of blogging changing because bloggers are too lazy to put some real though into writing a post that adds value and instead would rather provide news on something we have read on 4 other blogs or just lecture us on what they think we should know? How many times have you fallen into the trap in your eagerness to show everyone who reads your blog just how much you know?