Over the last few months there have been many stories in both mainstream and social media chronicling the decline of blogging. Fewer people are apparently starting blogs, many blogs are not being updated and less people are reading them.
There is a fairly contentious debate as to why blogging has become less popular, but many commentators cite the growth of micro blogging or Twitter, as the most significant reason for its downturn.
I think they are right too. Twitter is a fast and instantaneous way of sharing information with a large group of people, it makes blogging look slow, cumbersome and rather one dimensional.
There are however still many good reasons why savvy individuals and brands will continue to use blogging software to deliver content.
1 I think that only very shallow minds can express everything they feel about an issue in 140 charactars.
2 Blogging should still be a major plank in website owners SEO strategy. For search engines original content on websites is still a massive draw and if a blog is updated regularly it will not only attract regular readers via RSS, Twitter or others sources but will pick up readers through Google, Bing etc
Why Posterous might be a game-changer
I think that blogging will still be a major part of the social media world if blogging software can evolve to make things easy for people to express their opinions. This is where Posterous comes in.
Posterous, along with its rivals Tumblr and Twitblogs, is the fourth wave of blogging software. It all began with basic systems like Blogger at the turn of the decade. Then more sophisticated systems like Wordpress and Movable Type enabled bloggers to produce more website-like feature-rich blogs. The third wave married blogging with social networking like the blogs on sites like MySpace as well as blogging software with social networking elements like Vox.
With Posterous and its rivals, we have blogging software that is optimised to not only ape the simplicity of micro blogging, but also to harness its reach, to syndicate content.
So is Posterous the future of blogging? At this point is hard to say. However given the way the Posterous has reignited many bloggers love of the format (I'd include myself here - nearly 100 posts in a month) I'd argue that it at the very least it will play an important role in shaping the future of blogging.
Posterous is not entirely new. It has been around for a year now, but it is now only really starting to gain traction with bloggers on both sides of the Atlantic.
Ease of use
What makes it so attract to bloggers is that it is so simple to use. With traditional blogging software users had to log into a site, input their text, upload images, size them and carry out other tweaks too. With Posterous there are two very simple ways of posting. Firstly users can email content. The subject matter of the email becomes the head, the body text the content and any attached images the pictures. It is incredibly simple to use and very effective when used with smartphones like the Nokia N97 and the iPhone.
Secondly Posterous users can download a bookmarklet which sits in the bar at the top of the browser. When they find a page they want to link to or write about, they click on the bookmarklet and it appears on top of the page. It grabs any images on the page - the user just chooses the one they want - and they add any text or links in the text box. They then press save and within seconds their post is published. Even complicated things are made simple. Producing image galleries can be done in seconds rather than minutes by attaching a lot of images to an email - the software automatically presents them as a gallery. The software is also smart enough to recognise video content and presents it in the correct way on the page without the user having to make any amendments.
Once the post has been published Posterous does several other clever things. The user can set their account up so that each time they post, details of the post are automatically sent to Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites. They can even use it to feed another blog.
So for example I very rarely post direct to Twitter now, but rather post a mini blog story on Posterous which automatically pings my Twitter account. The system's excellent tracking ability means that I can see exactly how many people have clicked on my post. Some bloggers use Posterous as an alternative to Twitpic in that they can share many images quickly and easily with the Twitter community.
It'll be interesting to see where Posterous goes in the next few months. An obvious move would be a deal with Google to allow users to monetise their blogs. Adding more advanced features so users can tweak their posts after posting would also be useful.
It will also be interesting to see if Posterous type features are incorporated into traditional blogging software like Wordpress and Typepad.
From this bloggers perspective though Posterous is the most exciting thing to happen to blogging software in several years. It might not slow the decline of the format but it will certainly attract hard core, time-poor bloggers and it could have some very interesting uses for both commercial and corporate bloggers.
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