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Some thoughts about blogging for the first time

January 15, 2012

Recently, I had the opportunity to watch really smart people start blogging for the first time.

Before I talk about this, I should point something out: I happen to think blogs are just a website with a bad name. Is Huffington Post a blog? Is the NY Times a blog? If so, what is the difference between and article and a blog post?

Semantics in a comic

Semantics, in my opinion.

As a long time critic of the classic ‘website’, the place where we post “about us” and “company history” on platforms that need to be updated by programmers, I simply think the unfortunately named “blog” is merely a website that can be updated by people.

I bolded the last bit because that’s the crux of this particular essay. As I said, I had the opportunity to watch really smart people update a website on their own for the first time as so-called-bloggers.

Here’s what I learned: people like to share. But in their first experience sharing, they forget to share only the relevant bits.

When given the chance to post to a website whatever they want, some people decided to talk about the mundane. Other people had really well-though-out ideas – but some didn’t.

They started posting in a way that was unfiltered. It was their ideas.

I think this exact thing happened on Twitter. People were given the opportunity to broadcast what they were up to, when they were up to it, so they did.

“I’m having a poop.”

“I’m having a ham sandwich”

Indeed, just because people can share what they are doing, it doesn’t mean they should. People on Twitter learned that fast: post about the mundane things, and followers will not increase. Unless those posts are peppered with ones that add value to followers.

And that is the crux of the blog. It is okay to post less thoughtful things. Not every post needs to be a well-though-out essay on a topic.

But, and there’s often a but when one makes a point like “don’t always be relevant”, make sure these posts aren’t the first, and aren’t the most prominent bits of content.

Matt, do you have a point?

Actually, I do. If you aks someone to blog, get a feel for their social media usage. If they haven’t created content on a social network like Twitter or Facebook, then it is likely they will have to learn that it isn’t okay to post every thought.

Just because someone has the ability to post, it doesn’t mean they should.

Websites that are constantly updatable by people are excellent tools for getting attention to something. The ‘blog’ we started is well over 20,000 page views, and it started in late December. It is driving people to become aware of the initiative, so that is a good thing.

In turn, it reminded me about what it is like to create content for the first time online. If your idea involves asking people to create content for the first time, understand there will be a learning curve.

People have to learn to share relevant content.

Maybe I should rename my blog.

What do you think? Have you convinced someone to start posting and then been surprised at the content created?

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