Couple of days ago I stumbled upon an interesting article by The Next Web. The title itself – “R.I.P. blogging, killed by screenshots” – was enough to draw my attention. In part because I really love blogging and in part because I feared they just might be right. After all, we are living in a world where the only thing that is constant is change, so when I began reading it I was prepared for the worst.
Its main premise is that screenshots are “killing traditional blogging in its entirety”. The article says that people have found a new way to share their opinions on social media that prefer shorter content formats or images. Instead of sharing blog posts or limiting themselves to 140 characters, they type what they have to say and take a screenshot, which they share like a picture. And If I think about it, I did notice that the frequency of these messages is on the increase on my Twitter feed, and especially Instagram feed. After all isn’t Super.me, a new social media app by Biz Stone, one of co-founders of Twitter, doing just this?
Celebrities are the pioneers of this trend. They find this to be a perfect way to make communication with their fans more personal and authentic; kind of a proof that it’s the real person sending the message instead of a well-paid PR person. The latest example is Pink’s tweet addressing hate-filled comments about her weight.
Younger generations have jumped the bandwagon, using screenshots for everything from quotes, personal musings to music lyrics.
But does this really mean that we should abandon our blogs and start sharing screenshots of our thoughts instead?
I say no!
Screenshots are just another form of (additional) content
Since it’s 1990’s when first blogs appeared, blogging has gone from being the newest form of self-expression to a whole new industry. People are becoming aware of benefits of blogging and more of them are giving it a shot. As a result, we have enormous amount of content on one hand – IBM estimates that 90% of the world’s data has been created in the last two years alone – and the same amount of time to consume it on the other. Conflicting, no?
Bloggers know this and they are constantly trying out the ways to make their content different and engaging – whether it is by writing about controversial topics or finding another forms in which their content can be shared. Pictures, SlideShare presentations, infographics, videos, time-laps, slow-mo, and now screenshots are all just different types of content – the core remains the same – and they all had their 5 minutes of fame. Now is the time for screenshots, and that is completely normal. People will always try to find ways for their message to be heard.
It’s important to recognize that while it’s great to experiment with different types of content, none of these are destined to replace the good-old blog. After all, they all have to be hosted somewhere and that brings us to my next argument.
Distinct lack of control over your content
While it’s true that people’s attention has become the scarcest commodity, and that all generations show a distinct preference towards shorter forms of content, the fact remains that you are sharing your personal thoughts and feelings on someone else’s platform. You are just a tenant in someone else’s home, and that someone can change the rules of housekeeping and even kick you out if he wants to.
Even though you are the author, you don’t own the content you create.
Even though your content is highly engaging, you have no control or insight into the traffic you create. The traffic you attract doesn’t go to your website or blog – it stays on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and the like.
People continue scrolling and forget about your message, and you, after a minute or two.
Maybe you don’t care about the traffic and building a strong following now. Maybe you think that Twitter is the best way to connect with your peers. Maybe you are right.
But if you started blogging, whether it’s by writing 1000-word blog posts or by sharing shorter forms of content like screenshots, you certainly want to be heard. You will not achieve that this way.
Blog is and remains a great way to preserve the chronology of your thoughts, to interact with your readers through comments and to shape your personal brand over time. You may think that Facebook is the perfect place to record all you important life moments, after all they do have a timeline that is envisioned to do precisely that.
What happens if Facebook shuts-down? What if another, more hip network appears where all the cool kids are? Nobody could have predicted that MySpace will be gone too, and look what happened. All our memories, gone. All our friends and following gone.
Take control over your content. Create your blog on a platform you will control. Take control over your personal brand by deliberately choosing your domain name, instead of settling for an unfit username you had to choose because everything good was already taken.
Choose where, when and how you will feature your content and then use social media to amplify its reach! Do share your screenshot but also make sure to include it in your blog post and share the link to it with the picture. Also, make sure you brand your screenshots with your URL so people know where to go for more.
Your thoughts are worth hearing. The effort you put in creating your content is worth being seen. Invest in your future. Start thinking about these issues now!