Blogging is Alive and Well for Leaders, Learners and Lead Generators

Vector concept in flat style with trendy icons - blogging and writing for website

In 2009 some folks said Twitter would kill blogging. Six years later, longform is flourishing.

Some english teachers still worry that texting and social media damages student writing, but look at all the great new content sites full of great stories and useful information!

What caused this resurgence of writing? We think it’s new platforms, advocacy, content marketing, and a little edu blogging.

1. New platforms. We’ve been toiling away on WordPress for seven years and it’s still pretty clunky. It takes a while to get new team members up to speed. In short, blogging and sharing your content hasn’t been easy.

For a decade The Huffington Post has been building interest groups with a degree of curation, but publication is up to the discretion of their blog team.

We’ve also been contributing to EdWeek but, like HuffPo it uses the quirky Movable Type platform, and a paywall keeps freeloaders out.

Tumblr, launched in 2006, caught on because it’s easy to post different kinds of content. Hosting a quarter of a million blogs, Tumblr was acquired by Yahoo in 2013.

Medium, launched by Twitter co-founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone in August 2012, gained early traction with great stories, full screen images, and a beautiful interface.

Business oriented bloggers started using the super simple LinkedIn Pulse to get great traction with a targeted audience.

We weren’t surprised Facebook let it slip that they were dusting off Notes, their longer form offering that has been in the attic since 2006.

With Medium positioned as the preeminent platform for bloggers who don’t want to create their own website, Facebook bringing Notes back to life with a design update, and Tumblr long graduated from GIF hub to microblogger mogul, it’s safe to say that longform is making a comeback in part because it’s becoming easier to publish and share multimedia content.

2. Advocacy. Anyone with an opinion has discovered that blogging is a great advocacy tool. Call it thought leadership or thinkfluence, blogging is a great low cost advocacy tool to position yourself, your company, and your issue in conversations that matter.

Getting Smart frames and manages thought leadership campaigns. These transmedia initiatives start as a blog series across three or four platforms; they are amplified by podcasts, infographics and five channels of social media; they are summarized in a book (print and every electronic format) and then become workshops and other professional learning resources. Our new book, Smart Parent: Parenting for Powerful Learning, is a great example. Most of the content originated in 100 blogs from 70 contributors.

3. Content marketing. Blogging has become a popular way to advance organizational brands.

It takes a long-term commitment and high quality content. Unlike search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click, you are not subjected to an algorithm. Instead you are dealing with the values, emotions, and mindsets of your audience. The most effective way to make a value-based connection is through storytelling. Brand conscious companies, organizations, and individuals have recognized the potential in engaging their audience in ways that aren’t transactional, but rather relational.

Seth Godin explained in All Marketers Are Liars Tell Stories how content marketers live and die by their ability to tell stories. Specifically their ability to appeal to the “world frames” of their target audience. Here’s the trick: Successful content marketers don’t tell stories that challenge world frames — successful content marketers tell stories that reinforce world frames. This is achieved through authenticity, first impressions, believability and making a connection to values. This doesn’t mean reinforcing beliefs, it means telling stories that your audience can relate to, moments of humanity that sheds a light on a value or idea that your are promoting.

Content marketing isn’t just the job of the communication department–everybody in the organization that sells, provides technical assistance, or develops products should be contributing. Every customer email can turn into a blog. Have a visitor in the office? Turn the conversation into a podcast and promote it with a blog.

A steady stream of informative and inspiring blogs is step one. Step two is converting pageviews into customers. Concluding a blog with call to action is key–visit, call, or sign up for a newsletter.

4. Teacher and student bloggers. Educators have been leading the way with blogging as professional learning (see 10 Reasons Teachers Make Great Bloggers). We track 50 great blogs and blasts.

“As professionals, we will share data and analysis on blogs. As creators, we will express ourselves on blogs,” said teacher blogger Susan Lucille Davis. She added, “As learners, we will share our evolving thinking and growth on blogs. As human beings, we will share our stories on blogs.”

We’re strong supporters of providing learners a domain, and encouraging blogging and curating a digital portfolio to promote thinking, understanding and better idea articulation. Active use of a blogging platform cultivates habits of lifelong learning by promoting reflection on what to learn.

As the blog is becoming the basis for our future communications, Susan also identified skills that matter most:

  • Understanding our various audiences and adapting our voice accordingly
  • Blending and using media in meaningful ways
  • Making connections and building community online
  • Being open, honest, and transparent
  • Using language in original ways to express a unique vision or perspective
  • Understanding our various audiences and adapting our voice accordingly
  • Telling a story

Long live longform! Writing is alive and well. Advocates, leaders, and lead generators are using blogs more than ever to share stories and tips that promote empathy and action.

For more on blogging, check out:


Tyler Nakatsu is Managing Editor of Follow Tyler on Twitter, @post_west.


Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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1 Comment

Chris Hodgson

Good post on the power of blogging. Many Thanks!

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