And yes, I’m aware that I’m a blogger and have been since 2008.
The topic at hand: The complete glut of list and how-to posts in our industry.
If you’re a regular reader of any social media blog or site, you most certainly know what I’m talking about.
As an example, let’s look at Jeff Bullas’ blog. He’s a prominent social media blogger. I peek at his stuff from time-to-time. But, he’s all about the list and how-to posts.
9 of Jeff’s last 10 posts are either a list post or a how-to post. And there’s more where that came from. Just browsing his blog–it’s full of list and how-to posts. Now, I do find some of Jeff’s content pretty interesting. But, when almost every post is a how-to or list post, I’m a little turned off.
This is hardly a unique situation in our industry.
Many bloggers have taken the same tack. And apparently, it’s working. Recent research from Andy Crestodina says How-To posts are the most popular form of blog post–by far. Also on the short list–list posts. So, it’s not just happening in our industry.
Here’s the big problem with all these how-to and lists posts: they’re a commodity. Think about our world. If you read a how-to article on how to create a Pinterest ad, who much trust does build with the author? I mean, a lot of people could have written and shared that article. It’s not unique.
Back to Crestodina’s research: opinion posts sit at just 41%–5th on the list! That’s the freaking bread and butter of any blogger! And it’s 5th on the list. Shame on all of you!
The downside is these opinion posts may not always pull in the most traffic. But this is the content that establishes you as a true blogger. You have a POV. You have an opinion. What’s the quote, you’re not a blogger until you’ve pissed someone off? Blogging is all about POV.
The how-tos and lists might drive traffic. But the opinion posts make you a blogger.
In fact, I would argue the focus on how-tos and lists takes away the super-power of the blogger–his/her opinions!
We’ve completely lost sight of the deep, interesting opinion posts in favor of the flashy, I’ll-always-click-on-those list and how-to posts.
And that’s sad.
Some of the bloggers I read regularly are still writing great opinion posts. People like Gini Dietrich and Mark Schaefer–go scour their blogs. Full of great opinion-based stuff. And, big surprise, they both have massive readerships.
Just look at a few of Gini’s recent posts (posts she’s written–she does use a lot of guest posts):
- Can Facebook be fixed–or do we all have to leave it? (great, timely topic)
- The contentious relationship between PRs and journalists
- The communicator’s job and ensuing mental health challenges (we’re all facing this right now!)
Very few lists. Very few how-to posts. Yet, Gini’s blog has been on my “must read” list for 10+ years.
I guess this is all a long way of saying I wish we had more smart people blogging and sharing their opinions. There’s just not that many left anymore. In fact, Mark and Gini are the last of a dying breed.