Social Media Requires Real People
I took a non-intended swipe at Om, Mike, and Rafat yesterday when I said:
The other thing that has changed is that many of the blogs I “grew up”
with are not individual blogs anymore. Rafat has a team, Arrington has
a team, Om has a team. They are much better at putting out a stream of
blog posts all day long, but they aren’t the same thing as Mike and Om
blogging along with me.
Om responded on his blog, writing:
Like Fred, most people presume that because I have a team, I don’t
personally blog as much. Take this month, for example. So far, we have
published 82 posts on GigaOM.com, of which 60 were written by me.
That’s roughly 74 percent of the total posts published on my blog. It
works out to about four posts a day.
Unfortunately, a blog where Om is the only person who posts is fundamentally different from a blog where Om posts 74% of the time.
I have always thought of this blog as "me". I started fredwilson.vc so it could be even more "me". It’s like my facebook profile the way I want it to be instead of the way facebook wants it to be. The great thing about tumblr, where fredwilson.vc is hosted, is you can follow people. I follow 11 people on tumblr right now and 84 people are following me.
You can take a blog and make it a business, like Mike, Om, Rafat and others have done. That’s a fine strategy and it’s working well for them. But it stops being personal and when that happens, something is lost. We have a blog at unionsquareventures.com where I blog frequently. That’s a corporate blog. I would never do all my blogging on a corporate blog. I think facebook got it right that there are personal pages and corporate pages. Like it or not, TechCrunch, GigaOm, and PaidContent are corporate pages in the facebook vernacular.
When I read Scoble, Winer, Calacanis, Jarvis, etc, etc, I am reading them. It’s personal. I try to spice up my blog with posts about the concerts I go to, the vacations I go on, etc because I want this blog to be personal.
Social media allows you to have a relationship with thousands of people. Something that was not possible before it came along. Many of the relationships that have started on this blog have morphed into the real world and that is fantastic. Without this blog, that would never have happened.
My post yesterday was not a complaint that the "old guard" had been kicked off Techmeme, it was that the person centric blog was not well represented. Gabe left a comment on my blog yesterday highlighting that you can look at the techmeme leaderboard on any date you want by using the "history" drop down box on the right sidebar. Maybe somebody will do an analysis of the trends on the leaderboard. I don’t have the energy to do that right now.
But regardless of whether techmeme is to blame or not, the tech blogging world has seen a move to the corporate blog. It’s happened two ways. Personal blogs like Mike, Rafat, and Om have become businesses. And businesses like CNET, NYT, and many others have developed tech blogs that are now in the midst of the conversation.
The result is the tech blog world feels a lot less like Facebook than it used to. Blogging with my friends is what I want to do and maybe that’s why new platforms that are inherently more social, more personal, like twitter and tumblr are exciting to me.
An interesting angle to this is the choice one makes when deciding to blog about oneself, or on a topic. I chose to blog about myself, instead of venture capital or turkish technology sector, and i think this decision has hurt my traffic. People are more interested in topics than other people (unless they are famous, which, fred, you are.. :)). The long tail effect helps vertical or focused blogs (Nivi had a good post on this). Personal blogs are probably as valuable to the author (i know it has been for me) as they are to the audience.
too bad you have to defend yourself for honest posts. right on both times. Techmeme likely has more readers now, but I feel like I am getting less information and it’s drab. I like the made up stuff from the bloggers 🙂 .
As someone who runs a leading blog software company in Korea (and an avid blogger myself), I can perhaps bring some Asian perspective here. Of course, blogging means different things to different people, but the general connotation associated with the word “blogging” seems to be a bit different in Asia than it is in the US. In the US, blogging often means “publishing”, while in Asia blogging is first and foremost expressing oneself. The #1 blogger in Asia is Chinese entertainer, but the #1 blog in the US is Boing Boing, a tech blog (or that’s at least what Technorati says). In the US, if a tech blogger talks about iPhone and then talks about great restaurant he dined in on the next post, it’s not considered professional, while in Korea, doing so is not considered something terribly inappropriate. So I think there’s a bit of cultural difference here.
I am totally into the korean way of blogging!Fred
Also, what makes it more complex is the fact that blog has both “community” aspects and “media” aspects. Most people believe the two aspects of blogging can go hand in hand. But as someone who runs a blog company I have realized, time and time again, they don’t. “Big name bloggers”, or the “media types”, don’t really engage in community activities such as comments or trackbacks – they are too busy writing more content and getting more page views. Community type bloggers i.e. those bloggers who like to share stories within a circle of groups – the content generated by them do not carry a lot of media value as they prefer to share the content only within the boundary of closed group (think Vox option to “publish entry to only family and friends”). So how can we embody both the community aspect and the media aspect, often seemingly mutually exclusive, into blogging? I can attest that’s the challenge faced by blog service providers.
FredAgree with you completely.In a blog I am looking for comments/thoughts/views from a person Irespect and who is master of the subject matter.Those blogs that have lost this very important element get much less of my attention . . maybe get dropped.manoSan Diego
A blog is a Blog.A blog is a place where I go and read and comment.I do not care who writes, I care what is written…The beautiful of the Internet is that you can be a one man publisher, one man director, one man news, one man everything.Internet is the world that makes possible and possibly profitable the “one man company”.You do not need much to begin a business on the Internet.But you need brain.You need an idea, you need to know how to make a business out of an idea.But if you have more than one man, if you have more than one idea, and if you are more than one to use it, that can be much better and produce better results.Exactly like the blog where more than one writes…Patrizia http://woip.blogspot.com
I see your point Fred but, as a long time reader of A VC and GigaOm (starting before he incorporated the site), I feel the need to come to Om’s defense. I don’t recall Om ever posting with the same personal tone that you employ and I have always valued the relative objectivity of his viewpoint, just as I value the “personalized” tone of A VC. Likewise, I don’t think the comparison between A VC and GigaOm is valid, given that I never consiered the tones similar. Perhaps this is just my own personal interpretation, but I doubt I’m alone.However, WRT Techmeme, your previous comments are spot on. It has become increasingly repetitious. Perhaps, this opens the door for a new service that attempts to find the stories just below the “techmeme fold.” Maybe it would give greater weight to individual bloggers. In time, that too would be gamed but it appears there is a void in the market for now. Maybe the NYTimes’ Blogrunner can get past this with the use of human editors? But that just gets us back to the whole objective/subjective debate.
I feel badly that this is coming across as a critique of om. Its not. He’s great and hasn’t lost a beat. I just feel a stronger connection to those who write with a personal voiceFred
You might be starting an unintended semantic spat again. It feels to me that this post could be titled “Social Media Requires Individuals.” Contrary to popular belief, journalists are people too. 🙂
Good point scottI had forgotten that ;)Fred
Nice post Fred – I also think that the need for the personal touch is why Social Media is a hard thing for most corporations to get their minds around.I published a Social Networking Whitepaper on it just a few days ago. Clicking on my name should take you to my site where you can download the PDF.
As everyone seems to agree here, it’s difficult to call one form of blogging “better” than the other, they are more simply “different” and both serve important purposes.While I love the personal and singular “voice” of certain blogs, I also think there is real value with multi-author blogs. Blogging is a conversation – it is about sharing perspective, insight and intellect. In some blogs the conversation takes place in the comment sections. But on others, the conversation often takes place through the top-tier blog content as well.As a business school student, I launched an “open” business school blog called bschoolers.com. The blog is “open,” meaning anyone interested in anything business school related can post top level blog postings. We chose to launch in this open way precisely because we valued the diversity of opinion and perspective an open forum would provide, and frankly, we believed our readership would be more interested in the breadth and depth of the open forum rather than hearing from three individual students.At the end of the day, no matter which method of blogging you prefer, we can all agree that blogging has benefited us with an explosion of information and depth of the beautiful conversation.
I think what you are seeing is the divergence of “businesses” that started as blogs and may run on blog platforms (i.e., paidContent, GigaOm, Techcrunch) but employ professional journalists (Om is one, Rafat and crew are all journalists by training, etc) vs. the blogs that remain the thoughts, experiences, and opinions of one person. There is no right or wrong here, and I think your post is trying to say that, just an evolution of the way the subject matter is addressed.Rafat, Om, and Mike have consciously and intentionally decided to make businesses out of their blogs, hiring C-level executives (I am one of them) to help grow those businesses and staffing them up to look more like news/media organizations. This has nothing to do with Techmeme and everything to do with expanding the mission to bring information, news, and varying amounts of opinion and analysis in the new media paradigm in which we increasingly live: news is delivered real-time, in bite-sized pieces, by vertical/highly-segmented providers.There will always be a place and demand for the individual blogs and bloggers, but there is increasingly a demand for something in between those and the more traditional, more monolithic news and media outlets. Right now, that demand is being partly filled by some of the “corporate blogs” you mention. The interesting question is what will they (we) evolve into to meet that demand? Will blogging platforms also evolve to support that? Will audiences like what they see? Interesting times indeed.
Fred, I recently made the point that conversation involves both content and connection. While Om and others have recruited teams in the interests of content, you place relatively more emphasis on connection. I think that the emphasis on connection is behind the shift toward microblogging, social networks, etc.http://changingway.org/2007…
Great link/post AndrewI think that connection and content are the same thing but we just don’t realize it yetfred
Newspapers -> Magazines -> Blogs…How’s the old saying go: ‘Meet the new boss same as the old boss’I hate to see it go that way but definitely seems to be what’s happening.I love your blog but once you start having people post for you Fred you will be relegated to the feed reader like the rest of em.But, as it stands you are one of the very few blogs authors that I’ve been following for over a year that I don’t read in a feed reader. I actually COME TO THE PAGE because I respect YOUR opinion and enjoy seeing what’s happening in your corner of the web. Because I know this isn’t just a site meant to sell ads I actually look at the things happening in the side bars, ads included.
Oh, and let me add, I also read this blog on my Treo every other day.It would be cool if you used one of the mobile blog plugins to format it for those of us who read the blog on the go. As it stands I have to stop the blog after it loads about 100kb so that the text fits well… and I can’t comment from the phone with the new comments system like I could with whatever system you were using several months ago.
Hi Pierre, sorry to hear about your problems with the comments.I don’t want to take this off topic — would you mind emailing me at [email protected] to describe what phone you use and what problems you’re having?
Lets see …Fred wants to jam with his friends, drink beer and play records like back in the day Fred wants to blog with people who donot want to turn their blogs into corporationsand the very Fred wants to make millions investing in corporations/startups that can show “traction”hmmm….something does not add up :)j/k… I think its time Techmeme started ranking collab blogs separately
It adds up in my mindFred
honestly i fail to understand your point. do people really want to hear more about what concerts om went to on gigaom.com? for me, it’s always been a tech outlet. i never felt that it was or needed to be more ‘personal’ to feel a stronger connection to it. if that’s what i wanted i would visit om’s personal blog – which he does maintain at http://daily.gigaom.com/.
A bit late to comment, but this idea kept revolving on the back of my mind for a while…I’m not saying you’re wrong, but erhaps the thing is, you Fred, assume real people = an individual.This is not exactly that way in some of the best places of the blogosphere…AllthingsD.com to cite an example is a compound publication with several blogs, or just one blog with 3 different authors (Mossberg, Swisher, Paczkowski) under the same umbrella.Another such case could be Farber, Dignan and Berlind’s “Between the Lines”.One could hardly blame Kara Swisher for not being personal enough !!Perhaps there’s something in the middle, and there’s a full spectrum of other not-so-corporate ways of blogging, which is fantastic to me.
I think one of the problems is that people don’t go looking hard for new voices once they’ve got their initial collection of links, hence Fred staying with the older but trusted sources. But really, there are stacks of individual tech bloggers out there — you just have to renew the effort to look for them. But with RSS readers and the like, I think most people find their collection of voices and never really add to them or diversify. It takes a bit more effort but if you go looking you’ll find some more.