I'm going to take a walk out onto some thin ice, and then jump up and down on it.
Social Media has become a loud and hot topic and for good cause. In the last few years tools like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn have skyrocketed in popularity. Facebook tops 500 Million users, while the youthful Twitter has grown to over 18 million users and LinkedIn, in a very business oriented market niche, has grown to more than 80 million active profiles. The reasons for this growth and the subsequent intense chatter are varied and full of theory and opinion. I'll add mine to the mix.
Social Media (specifically the venues mentioned above) has empowered the internet user to connect and communicate with communities of people online. They provide ongoing and interactive forums with intricate and vibrant interfaces. Now - let that statement settle a moment. Community connections. Interactivity. Intricate interfaces. I'm too lazy (or stubborn) to break down the various forms of Social Media to apply these elements, but it should be apparent that each of them have these elements: Community connections, Interactivity and Intricate Interfaces (although I will say a word about interfaces - meaning, the many ways you can now connect and communicate across not only a single Social network, but between those networks. These are represented mostly by 3rd party UI tools).
Social Media has presented us with a unique twist to the internet's ability to display information and made it more accessible for the user to participate in what is being said to/from any given target audience. It is a grass roots movement empowered (i'mpowered?) by technology. This isn't blogging.
Blogging isn't, by nature uniquely interactive, community focused or intricately interfaced - at least not like the aforementioned (I love using that word, just because it is so fun to type aforementioned...) Social platforms. Blogs are written mostly by individuals or small teams of people. Typically, blogs have something to say to the reader. The voice of the blog is primarily singularly directed from the writer to the reader and blogs don't really provide a very interactive format for conversation. What of the comments you say?
Comments on blogs are usually just that - comments. The typical format for comments doesn't lend itself to conversations very well. Readers leave their thoughts and opinions and there may or may not be any response by the author of the post, and almost certainly there is no conversation between commenter's. The technology to connect comments, responses and dialogue via blog comments is cumbersome and not widely implemented.
Blogs build readership, not communities. For the aforementioned (I do love that word) reasons, blogs aren't particularly useful at creating communities. The relationships created are more between the reader and the blog than they are among the readers. Those who follow a blog don't by design connect with each other.
When it comes to an intricate interface that can connect the community (that doesn't exist) with others inside and outside of the readership of the blog, blogs are sorely lacking. In fact, blogs have struggled to find a singular technology to connect them with each other and readers for years. There are many and diverse blogroll tools - but no universally accepted format. There are blog directories and listings in abundance, yet even the great Technorati lacks for universal recognition as the dominant blog directory. Yet, it is this lack of Social interface that has, I believe, thrown blogging into the Social Media mix.
Bloggers have embraced Social Media to promote their blogs and the interface technologies provide by Social Media have made that a workable mix. Technorati's State of The Blogosphere 2010 identifies this reality. Here are some of those stats.
78% of bloggers surveyed are using Twitter with the most common purpose being to promote blog content (72%) and share links to interesting content (62%)
87% of bloggers surveyed use Facebook, and the majority (66%) do not have a page for their blog separate from their personal account
The most effective social media sites to promote blog content are Facebook (28%) and Twitter (26%) followed by LinkedIn (4%) StumbleUpon (3%) Flickr (2%) and YouTube (2%)
All of this to say, Blogging isn't Social Media - bloggers have however embraced Social Media in much the same way that companies have utilized it to promote their web presence.
Nuff said - end of thin ice dance.
Nuff said - end of thin ice dance.