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Start: Mark Evans

Reports of blogs' death are greatly exaggerated Add to ...

Blogging is dying. The granddaddy of social media is on the demise because young people are less enthusiastic about blogging than they are about Facebook or Twitter.

At least that's the doomsday scenario that was painted in a recent New York Times story based on a report from the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project.

The report found that, from 2006 to 2009, blogging among children aged 12 to 17 fell by half. Now, just 14 per cent of children in that age bracket who use the Internet have blogs. Among those aged 18 to 33, the report said, blogging dropped two percentage points to 18 per cent in 2010 from 20 percent in 2008.

But there's a problem with the Pew report. It plays up how young people are less enthusiastic about blogging - but it downplays the fact that older people are becoming more engaged.

In fact, according to the report, blogging by all online adults over the age of 18 climbed to 14 per cent in 2010 from 11 per cent in late 2008.

While Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are shiny and sexy, blogs are still a valuable part of the social media landscape. They offer companies the ability to establish domain expertise and thought leadership. That can provide a competitive edge that may not be possible using Twitter or Facebook.

For startups and entrepreneurs looking to get a foothold in the market and, at the same time, rise about the crowd, a blog can be an effective communication, marketing and sales medium.

As well, blogs are powerful "content engines." All of the content created can be repurposed for newsletters, direct mail, marketing and sales presentations and e-mail campaigns. Blog posts can be leveraged to provide content to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

The reality about blogs is that they require time, energy and ideas. In a sense, these are barriers to entry.

But companies that break those barriers will find less competition from other companies that may not have the time, people or enthusiasm to blog.

One of the keys to successful blogging is having a strategic plan for what and how you want to use it. It's also important to make sure you have the resources in place to make it happen on a regular basis - whether that means one post or five in a week. A blog that comes and goes will quickly lose its audience and traction.

It is also important to have an editorial plan so that a blog has a focus and a mandate that support a company's strategic and tactical plans.

Finally, you need to define how success is going to be defined - whether by traffic, visitors, leads, sales, mentions on other blogs or media coverage.

The bottom line is that blogs are far from dead. If used well, they have a lot of potential to give companies an effective way to attract attention and differentiate themselves from the competition.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Mark Evans is a principal with ME Consulting , a content and social media strategic and tactical consultancy that creates and delivers 'stories' for companies looking to capture the attention of customers, bloggers, the media, business partners, employees and investors. Mark has worked with three start-ups - Blanketware, b5Media and PlanetEye - so he understands how they operate and what they need to do to be successful. He was a technology reporter for more than a decade with The Globe and Mail, Bloomberg News and the Financial Post. Mark is also one of the co-organizers of the mesh, meshUniversity and meshmarketing conferences.

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