mark w schaefer

A State Of Content Shock

Episode #393 of Six Pixels of Separation – The Twist Image Podcast is now live and ready for you to listen to.

Here is the definition of Content Shock from Mark W. Schaefer: “Content Shock is the emerging marketing epoch defined when exponentially increasing volumes of content intersects our limited human capacity to consume it.” In short, it’s getting more and more expensive and difficult for brands to create content in a world where consumers have a finite time to consume it all. Do you believe in this or do you not? Schaefer presented this theory (something I have blogged about on countless occasions with my own spin) on his Grow Blog earlier this month. That blog post has since generated over 300 comments and tons of diverse feedback. Shel Holtz (famed communications professional and one of the voices behind the long-running podcast, For Immediate Release – The Hobson And Holtz Report) took exception to the theory of Content Shock in a blog post titled, Six Reasons There Will Be No Content Shock. It felt like this could be a very interesting three-way debate. I hope it doesn’t disappoint. Enjoy the conversation…

You can grab the latest episode of Six Pixels of Separation here (or feel free to subscribe via iTunes): Six Pixels of Separation – The Twist Image Podcast #393.

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What’s The Point In Commenting On Blogs?

What is the true value of a comment on a blog?

If you go back in time (a little over a decade ago), the mainstreaming of blogging as a publishing platform brought with it a couple of unique features. Initially, these instant publishing platforms were seen as simple online journals for those who wanted to keep them. Eventually, additional features like the ability for a reader to comment on a post and the introduction of RSS (a syndication feature that would notify readers by email or web-based readers when the blogger updated or published to the blog) helped to propel the platform to the mainstream. To this date, there is a constant slew of criticism and discourse on the importance of comments. Simply put, there is a strong legion of new media pundits who believe that a blog isn’t a blog without comments and the back and forth between the key blogger and the readers. There are some famed bloggers (like Seth Godin) who don’t even allow comments on their blog posts, there are people like yours truly who allow people to comment freely but rarely add to the discourse, and then there are those (like Gini Dietrich, Chris Brogan and Mark W. Schaefer) who spend a lot of time playing in the comments.

There are no wrong choices, so long as they are tied to a strategy.

Blogs are a publishing platform that allow anybody to have an idea and to publish said idea in text, instantly and (mostly) free to the world. Individuals and businesses need to best define how this type of media drives the overall strategy and adds true economic value to the brand. People like Godin, are simply looking for a way to share what they are thinking with their readers. Personally, blogging is a publishing medium that enables me to publish a thought, idea or perspective with the world, in the hopes that others will take it and add to it. For people like Dietrich, Brogan and Schaefer, they are trying to build an engaged community in the spirit of peer-based communication on their own platforms. Each individual is, hopefully, acutely in touch with what the end game is and laser-focused on ensuring that their blogging matches the strategy.

The conversation is everywhere.

The truth is that you no longer need Seth Godin, Chris Brogan or my blog as a destination to comment. As social media continues to expand, individuals interested in leaving a comment for a Seth Godin blog post can do so on their own Facebook page, on Twitter, on YouTube or even on their own blog. That’s what makes the non-hierarchical and disintermediated publishing platform that social media affords us so fantastical. If something’s upsetting to you, if something has inspired or if you feel that you just want to acknowledge something that a blogger published, you don’t need their platform or their validation to add to the discourse. The idea of a centralized receptacle for everything surrounding one, particular, piece of content seems both silly and counterintuitive in these hyper-connected platforms.

Sharing and sharing alike.

A personal story: often when people leave a comment on my blog, I do not respond. It’s not a policy. It’s not the law. It’s probably a character flaw. Ultimately, I feel like I have said everything that I need to say on the topic, and I’m hopeful that the comments from readers are additions to that piece. Some agree, some add perspective and some disagree with my content. There are many instances when other readers respond to comments left by other readers. There are instances when I jump in. All comments are being read, digested and considered, but the need to leave the digital equivalent of a high five doesn’t fit with my personality. It’s not an indication that I’m not appreciative of the discourse (quite the opposite, I’m extremely thankful that individuals read the content and feel compelled to comment). I’ve had people leave a comment, then post to Twitter that they have left a comment, then posted a link to the blog post with an additional comment on LinkedIn, Google + and more. There are many social media “experts” who feel that every comment must be acknowledged on a blog post. Does this mean that bloggers must also acknowledge those additional comments, shares and more on every other channel as well? The power of social media and blogs comes from the ability to easily share something that matters. The additional content that gets bolted on by others (including comments) help turn this content into a more three-dimensional piece of text-based content. In the past, the amount of comments to a blog post used to be a major metric for success. In a world of abundance, perhaps the more important metrics should be:

  • Did the content resonate?
  • Do people talk about it beyond the blog (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, on other blogs, podcasts, etc…)?
  • Do the readers keep coming back for more?
  • Do the readers have the means to add their own perspective wherever they would like?
  • Did the content amplify beyond these readers into their networks?
  • Do the people who curate the type of content that the blogger writes about take notice and share it?
  • Can the content be repurposed for the brand, the industry or the greater community at large?
  • Does the blog act as a great entry point to learn more about the brand?
  • Does the blog humanize the brand?
  • Does the blog communicate in a more humane way?

Let’s get over the comments.

Comments are great. They add perspective and personality. But, they may no longer be a key metric for success. At a more macro level, social media affords brands the opportunity to create unique and new metrics that aren’t universal. An ad is about an impression, the amount of people who saw that impression, the amount of attention it created and, ultimately, did people buy and talk about the brand. Blogs can do a myriad of other things, and those metrics should not be dismissed or admonished simply because certain individuals feel that a blog (and the comments that go along with it) all need to act and play a certain way as a metric for success.

What’s your take? Is a blog merely the sum of its comments and commenters or is it time to redefine the value of comments on a blog?  

The above posting is my twice-monthly column for The Huffington Post. I cross-post it here with all the links and tags for your reading pleasure, but you can check out the original version online here:

Additional note: This blog post was inspired by questions asked by Mack Collier during our #BlogChat on Twitter. It also serves as a response to the blog post, Should Bloggers Respond to Comments?  

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Blogs And Business Success With Mark W. Schaefer

Episode #356 of Six Pixels of Separation – The Twist Image Podcast is now live and ready for you to listen to.

If you could choose one media channel to create and own, in the year 2013, would it be a blog? Personally, I still think that blogging is a…

What’s Next? It’s You

If we stagnate, we die… so, what’s next?

This is the question that my good friend, Mark W. Schaefer asks in his blog post, Is there anything new in blogging? No. It will make great fodder for an upcoming episode of Six Pixels of Separation – The Twi…

The Power of Influence

Last year, a young lady named Molly Katchpole graduated from college and, like so many young Americans, could not find a job. Desperate to make her student loan payments, she took a job as a part-time nanny. While struggling to make ends meet, she received a letter from Bank of America stating that if she [...]

The Power of Influence is a post from: Convince and Convert Blog: Social Media Strategy and Social Media Consulting

The Return On Influence In A World Of Klout

Episode #308 of Six Pixels of Separation – The Twist Image Podcast is now live and ready for you to listen to.

Mark W. Schaefer over at Grow Blog recently published his second book, Return On Influence – The Revolutionary Power of Klout, Social Scori…

The Old (Evolving) Rules

Are rules set and permanent?

That’s obviously not the case – especially when it comes to social media. I’ve recently been watching some of the discourse online and how many people struggle, because they feel that no one is giving them any hard and tru…

Watching Me Blog

Blogs are one of the most valuable marketing tools ever created.

I believe that. I don’t just say it. I mean it by walking the talk. I started blogging in September 2003, and since then I have written almost three thousand posts. I’m proud of this blo…

10 New Books Worth Checking Out

There is a ton of great stuff that you should be reading.

The first quarter of this year is coming to an end, and there has been a plethora (yes, big word!) of great books for you to read and enjoy.

10 New Books Worth Checking Out (in alphabetical or…

The Tragedy Of Comments

Is the discourse dying?

Nick Denton – the founder of Gawker – generated a heap-load of comments the other day when he announced at the South by Southwest conference that the way blog comments are published has failed to boost the quality of public dis…

Klout and the Reality of Return on Influence

Video production by my friends at Candidio. Fast, inexpensive, great service. (Abbreviated transcript below. Please watch video for entire interview.) Jay: Welcome, everybody. It’s Jay Baer at Convince & Convert, joined today by a very special guest, my good friend Mark W. Schaefer. Mr. Schaefer, how are you, good sir? Mark: I could not be

The Truth About Marketing Leadership

Episode #293 of Six Pixels of Separation – The Twist Image Podcast is now live and ready for you to listen to.

Mark W. Schaefer over at Grow Blog is about to publish his second book, Return On Influence – The Revolutionary Power of Klout, Social Scor…

What Does Eight Years Of Blogging Get You?

Eight years ago on this day in 2003, I started Blogging.

Here’s some basic info about what has transpired in eight years here at the Six Pixels of Separation Blog: over 2700 Blog entries, over 20,000 comments and over 270 audio Podcasts. If you have r…

Failing Miserably

It’s easy to get down. It happens to the best of us. I’m not even a "best of us" and it happens to me all of the time.

Currently, I’m failing miserably at:

Reading a book every week. I’m doing my best to keep pace, but it’s late August a…