I've been perusing the year on year stats for my blogs (six currently active).
I've had several conversations recently with bloggers about blog visits stats being on a steady downward decline, but that's only half the story. At the same time that visits to lovingly crafted blog sites are plummeting, the attention being paid to social media spin-offs is more than compensating for the decline in direct traffic.
This leads me to the conclusion that blogs are now brands rather than an end in their own right. You may say It was ever thus, and you'd be right, but it's a new year and most of us could benefit from some new thinking. Rather than being depressed about falling visitor numbers on blog sites, it's time to think about blogs for what they really are, online notebooks or diaries rather than an objective in themselves. It is the process of blogging which is important rather than the output. Now more than ever it is time to concentrate on curating online presence rather than defending a citadel. Like retailers, one strategy is not going to work any longer, it's got be bricks and mortar AND online, not just your flagship store.
So how does this apply to students? They don't have an existing brand to polish up and present, they are quite literally making themselves as they go. For them we need to concentrate on the primary reasons to blog, the flexibility of blogging tools, from online notebook to out and out PR machine, via the interesting bits - reflection and knowledge sharing.
If process matters more than product, we need good authoring environments and a convenient workflow which encourages engagement with content and reflection. In this, as in so much else, my iPad remains a disappointment. As blogging has become fossilized, the generation of authoring tools we need is missing. Just compare the mobile Facebook and Instagram clients to those available for WordPress and Blogger. Twitter is trying, but an older generation of bloggers is missing the boat. You may say It was ever thus, and you'd be right, but we cannot afford to miss out on engaging the next generation with online reflection rather than mere instant messaging.