social @ edu

Exploring strategies for social media in higher education

If Video Killed the Radio Star, Has Mobile Killed the Blogger?

Do you like sequels?  We do.  Especially this one: guest blogger, Megan Wolleben, returns to Social @ Edu.  Do you want to write a guest blog for Social @ Edu?  Tell us about it!

Megan Wolleben

Megan is an Assistant Director at the Bucknell University Career Development Center and the Program Director for Student Communications. Megan manages the social media and student marketing for the career center. Feel free to connect with Megan on LinkedIn and Twitter, or, if you are adventurous you can check out her musings on her Tumblr: Thoughts on a Bike

I’m wondering if blogs are just too much these days. I know that everyone is using their smart phone but the statistics that are coming out about mobile usage are sort of startling, and causing me to question things –like blogs.  I do not think the blog should be squashed, especially given the recent finding that blogs are strong influencers.  But I do wonder if perhaps we need to move to a format that allows shorter posts as well as a place where you can integrate pictures, quotes, and links easier – that’s Tumblr, right?

First, I started thinking: why did we start a blog in my office?

  1. When I started, our office was sending out a digest, of sorts, targeted to each class year with information and events they should know about. It was all text and you can imagine during a busy time – like September – how long this email became. No one read it.
  2. We needed a place to easily highlight events, resources, and tips.
  3. Our website has too much information on it which leads to the issue of not finding what you may be looking for – we needed a place to help direct people.
  4. My least favorite reason:  a “catch all.” We all have those kinds of drawers at home, namely in kitchens or desks.  Now we have it online. Content managers will know exactly what I mean by this.

If you look at the stats of what gets viewed and shared on Facebook it’s nearly all photos. These findings were part of the driving force of the latest Facebook redesign: it’s more visual. I have already felt the need to constantly have an image in blog posts, but that need has now turned into a requirement –one I cannot always fulfill. Between this trend, the rise of mobile, and the death of Google Reader I just don’t see a bright future for blogs.

Now I’m not forecasting the death of all blogs, although other people may be. I love what blogs offer and think they still very much have a place in the cyberworld; I’m just questioning the platform. All this talk of mobile has got me wondering where the place for text heavy blogs may be. Is there a place? I’m sure there will be some people that will be steadfast bloggers and steadfast blog readers. I can see cooking blogs staying in the WordPress/Blogger realm. But in light of this rapidly changing landscape I’d like to use the opportunity to take a look at the current state of career related blogs and to see what the future may hold.

Which brings me to my next question: Does anyone use Tumblr, professionally or personally? I use it on a personal level and really like it. I have actually been mulling the question of blogs over for some time and started a Tumblr to try it out. I hated it for at least the first 9 months. Now I’m a total convert. I’ve held back converting our university career blog into Tumblr for several reasons though. First and foremost, I don’t want a blog and Tumblr; I think you only need one or the other.  Another reason has been the potential backend work and the possible loss of years’ worth of blog posts (some of which may not be a bad thing). The final reason I’ve been hesitating is because I don’t think much of our student population is on Tumblr. This last point may not really matter that much as you can still see, read, share and enjoy posts on Tumblr without having an account or “joining” the platform. I’ve seen lots of sites that I think are a blog only to discover they are powered by Tumblr. I do think there are trade-offs between traditional blogs and Tumblr, but if no one is reading blogs anymore because the format is not conducive to mobile habits then the little things seem to be worth giving up. I’d rather have readers than a blogroll feature.

The number one reason I like Tumblr is its versatility.  Yes, it is positioned as a blog but it is set up for sharing quick links, pictures, or long posts. It doesn’t look odd if you only have 2 words to say about a link.  You can easily integrate instagram into Tumblr, you can add all your social profiles, and each post is already set up with easy ways to share a post via Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.  To top it off, Tumblr offers a built in “follow” feature (top right of screen) that allows you to easily keep up with other Tumblrs you like without needing an RSS feed (although that is an option) or a reader service to help you keep track of posts.  And there is an app so it is already set up for the mobile world, and people LOVE apps.  Here are some screenshots of Tumblr to demonstrate what I’m discussing:

Sample of a Tumblr post

Here’s an example of what a post would look like on Tumblr from a really good blog I found through Andrew Gossen. You can see how easily it is to pull in and highlight other social media platforms and how to follow (or unfollow) in top right.

Screenshot of Tumblr dashboard

This is what your dashboard looks like. The dashboard is your RSS feed – it displays all the posts from the Tumblr blogs you follow. On the top right you can like or repost to your own Tumblr site.

Example of Tumblr's easy to share options

Tumblr has built-in features to easily share posts on other social networks.

So, fellow higher ed and career services folks, what do you think? Would you switch your blog to Tumblr? What are some issues you see? What’s holding you back? What’s moving you forward?

And while we are on this topic, I wanted to share this article by Mark Schaefer on what he thinks blogs may look like in 2020. Some of the key items he forecasts are already features of Tumblr.

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2 thoughts on “If Video Killed the Radio Star, Has Mobile Killed the Blogger?

  1. Thanks for this post, Megan. I agree that text-heavy anything online is going to have a hard time finding a home (not impossible, but hard) as mobile usage rises and screens get smaller and smaller. People just love consumable content like images and videos. No matter what the site or what the platform, responsive design is the name of game this year and beyond.

  2. Pingback: Social @ Edu: 2013-14 Edition | social @ edu

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