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We’ve heard lots of talk about the death of blogs and blogging, with fingers invariably pointed at the likes of Twitter and Facebook. The truth is a bit more straightforward. Blogging was never really as big as everybody said it was.
Well, here’s the good news: blogging is back. Except now it’s called microblogging. And it’s great.
First, let's consider the so-called 'death of blogging'. Here's a fact: for every one blog set up and maintained there are – give or take - 99 others that haven’t been updated in the last week. Even Technorati, the blogosphere’s number one cheerleader, said there were only 5m active blogs out of 133m.
Before you question my maths note that Technorati’s measure of ‘active’ amounts to one post in the last three months. That’s about as active as a sloth bear. Let’s also factor in spam blogs, which automatically republish RSS feeds to generate tiny amounts of revenue from Adsense. They plague blog platforms and Google results, and they also skew the data (can these automatons really be considered ‘active’?).
Now consider the parallels with Twitter, which also has its fair share of passive users. While it is difficult to see the exact picture, there are some ideas out there about the amount of inactive accounts on Twitter. A report by Hubspot (PDF) found that:
- Almost 80% of users hadn’t included a homepage URL:
- Almost 76% of users had no bio whatsoever.
- Around 55% of users weren’t following anybody, and almost the same number had no followers.
And you know what: this is to be expected. Just think about how many websites you have registered for over the years, compared with how many you actually use. People check things out, and some of these things stick. Others don’t...
It isn’t Twitter’s fault!
Why don’t more Twitter users have their own blogs? It’s not as if they’ve nothing to say, based on their Twitter usage patterns. I think the main issue with blogging – compared with Twitter - is one of ease and access. We all tune into Twitter through any number of different applications. I primarily use Tweetdeck, Tweetie and Bitly, and they make accessing and posting tweets incredibly easy.
So what happens when you make it easy to publish blog posts? Would more people start to regularly blog? I reckon so, and thankfully there is a microblogging platform that solves this problem.
Posterous has plenty of things going for it and I suggest you spend five minutes checking it out, for the reasons explained below.
Before we dig into a little detail it is worth mentioning another microblogging platform, called Tumblr (this post was originally going to be called ‘Microblogging smackdown: Posterous vs Tumblr’). Tumblr allows you to quickly set up and customise a blog. But Posterous works differently, and I don’t think they’re directly comparable. In any event Jennifer Van Grove did a ‘Posterous vs Tumblr head to head’ at Mashable, which covers this subject in a lot more detail than I was going to.
So here are eight reasons why I think you’ll like Posterous, and why you should take a closer look at it:
Posterous has reduced the pain involved in publishing
Ok, get this: you can post by email. The subject line becomes the headline, the body text the article text. It’s simple, and it’s very fast. Genius. This is one feature that will be copied elsewhere. But until then this is a key advantage of Posterous, and it makes it incredibly easy to add post to your blog. Publishing is easy as writing an email.
Posterous has significantly lowered the barrier to entry
You want to try to create a Posterous blog? Well check out this innovative sign-up procedure: there isn’t one. You can upload a post right now, without needing to fill in lots of forms beforehand. It’s a kind of genius… a buy now, pay later approach to attracting new users. Give it a whirl.
Posterous supports and makes sense of rich blog posts
Posterous makes very light work of images, audio and video. If you attach pictures to your post, Posterous will automatically create a gallery-based post. If you click the toolbar bookmarklet (‘Share on Posterous’) on a YouTube page it will grab the video and embed that… no need for copying and pasting embed codes. Audio files are dropped into an MP3 player, so the reader can play them on the spot. All of this is nothing short of brilliant.
Posterous loves documents
As well as video, images and audio files, you can send Posterous Word documents, Powerpoint files and PDFs (among other files types). No problems. It uses iPaper to embed Word files into posts, transforming Posterous into a kind of personal version of SlideShare.
Posterous will post to your other social media sites
You can use Posterous is a conduit to easily publish your content elsewhere. If you have a Flickr account, it will automatically add pictures to your photostream. If you use Twitter you can tell Posterous to tweet any new posts. Facebook minifeeds can be updated in the same way. It also supports a lot of other third party blog platforms (including Wordpress and Tumblr). Go see.
Posterous supports group blogging
Multiple authors can post to Posterous directly from the web, or from their individual email accounts. As far as collaborative blogging is concerned, this is win win. Blogs can be private, should you want to keep your thoughts behind closed doors.
Posterous has some limitations
So it’s not all good news. Specifically, there is a major lack of customisation options in Posterous, but the team behind the site says it is working hard to make these happen (“customisation is coming soon”). Thankfully the minimalist theme applied to all Posterous blogs isn’t remotely offensive, so it gets a pass. You can however customise the URL of your account if you have your own domain name.
Posterous makes richer bookmarking easy
I have started a Posterous blog as a kind of video and image-based scrapbook, pretty much for my interests beyond work. I use Twitter as a sharing and communication tool, but also as a bookmarking resource where I tweet various notes to self and things to check out later. Often I want to post things outside of the scope of the internet industry, or to bookmark richer content (for myself, rather than the crowd). Posterous is going to neatly fill that gap for me.
Is Posterous innovative? A fad? The saviour of blogging? Share your view by leaving a comment below...
[Image by Solacetech via Twitter, various rights reserved]