Blogging. It’s a funny old thing to be part of. For those of us that were around when it first came about, when we all used dial-up connections and had to wait until the house phone was free before you could log on, it was an exciting new hobby to while away your time on instead of just endlessly drawing pictures on MS Paint.
Fast forward to now and blogging is a whole new animal. It’s grown exponentially to the point that in a recent article I read, they predict there are 440 MILLION blogs in the world and growing! And with that growth has come the biggest change I’ve noticed – the fierce competitiveness amongst creators as everyone strives to become The Next Big Thing.
On a daily basis people are trying to build up their followers, increase their engagement, raise their page views and hit the dizzy heights of viral fame, and with that competition and hunger for success often comes something else – negativity, baiting, bullying and opinions. Endless, endless opinions (hear that Irony Claxon as I share my opinion with you all here…)
With Bloggers and Vloggers now being household names and those at the heady-heights of the industry ladder being able to run free from the ties that hold them to their office jobs in Dullsville, we see these high profile individuals making a living by travelling the world, visiting nice restaurants, wearing the latest fashions and, y’know, just living their lives, and it has created an influx of people who have it as their ambition, their life plan and their career goal to hit the big time blogging, vlogging and Instagramming.
Don’t get me wrong, who wouldn’t rather be Instafamous and laying on a sun-soaked beach than standing at the office photocopier waiting for 60 copies of the same document to print off? I would love to give up work and write for a living – it’s been my dream since I was a child, long before blogging was a thing or the internet was even in the Average Joe and Josephine’s house (yes, I’m that old). But, with the internet now accessible for so many of us and with it taking just a few short minutes to set up a blog and accompanying social profiles, there are so many of us little fish squeezed into this big online pond that the chance of making it a reality is really pretty low.
Plus you have The Social Tree. This particular one has the golden branches at the top where the big names of social media sit. Those branches are so sought after, so climbed for, that people have started to push others from the boughs they sit on in the hope they drop to the branch below, or even out of the tree entirely. Taking them down in the hope it will free up a space for them.
In recent months, the Blogging Community has been pretty much in a constant state of turmoil. Arguments are rife, name-calling is everywhere, lies are told and called out, cliques are put together before swiftly falling apart again, and to be honest, it’s a pretty sad place to be sometimes. I actively took a step back from it because of this and started spending less time on social media – after all, I had hoped I’d left all of the pettiness, bullying and poison in the school playground, I don’t want to see it on my screen.
For the most part, when I see anything occurring, I scroll past or log off, choosing to take my exit from the situation until it’s blown over. But sometimes something will get to me just enough that I feel I want to say something about it. But those 140 characters (or 280 if you’re one of the ‘hashtag blessed’) afforded to us on Twitter isn’t quite enough when you feel ripe for a good old rant, so a blog post will have to do.
** Commence Rant in 3, 2, 1…**
A few weeks ago, I was party to a conversation between bloggers about the way that Instagram has changed and how difficult it is to grow on the platform these days. With the changed algorithm, the rumoured shadow-banning and the crackdown on spammy comments (“thanks lovely” apparently enrages the app) people have been looking for ways to beat the system and ensure their engagement remains at a good level. One of the ways people are doing this is via Insta Pods.
For those of you that don’t know what an Instagram Pod is, basically you create a group discussion and whenever a member posts a new photo, they tell everyone within the group and they will all go and ‘like’ it and leave a comment. Fairly harmless stuff but some parts of the blogging community see it as cheating as it is forcing engagement.
Personally, Pods aren’t for me – too much admin and effort – but I honestly don’t really care if other people are doing it. However, within the conversation about the problems with Instagram, somebody mentioned starting up and Pod and received this (slightly shortened) response:
“It’s simple. Don’t cheat by going into pods. Post good content.”
Now, everyone is entitled to their opinion and nobody is ever going to agree on everything so my initial reaction was, “Hmm, calling them cheats is a bit harsh” and that was that, however, after a little while it kept niggling at the back of my mind…
What IS good content when it comes to blogging and social media?
What SHOULD I be posting on Instagram to get all the likes?
What COULD I be writing to get more people to click on my blog?
What WOULD get more people following me on Twitter?
These have to be the million dollar questions that everyone wants to know the answer to and, you guys, I think I might just have it…
There is NO SUCH THING as “good content”.
The internet is huge – 440,000,000+ BLOGS HUGE – and it acts as a perfect representation of the planet’s population as a whole. Everyone is different. Nothing you do will ever please 100% of the audience. Nothing.
For example, there are beauty-focussed Instagram accounts out there with lots of followers, gathering ALL the likes with their beautiful flat-lays and perfectly shot images. I can see the effort that goes into them and appreciate the skill and talent but, for me, it’s not content that interests me. That doesn’t mean it ISN’T GOOD CONTENT, it just means it’s not my thing and that’s ok!
Likewise, Mummy and Daddy Bloggers post content relating to family life, Tech Bloggers post about the latest gadgets to hit the market, Food and Drink bloggers write about the best places for good grub and tasty cocktails, Travel Bloggers share photos of their adventures, whilst my Instagram fits well and truly into the Lifestyle category.
Not all things are going to appeal to all people. Not everyone is going to be interested in gadgets, days out for kids, beauty products, or the latest cute position my dog has fallen asleep in, but that doesn’t mean it’s BAD CONTENT, it just means it’s meant for a different audience.
What I guess I’m trying to say is, honestly, as long as you’re not causing offence or harm to others, there really is no such thing as bad content. Write about what you want to write about. Tweet about what you want to tweet about. Instagram whatever the hell you like. It’s a big world out there and there are literally millions of us bloggers so there’s bound to be something for everyone. You might not be everybody’s cup of tea, but that’s just because some people prefer coffee in the morning.
You keep doing you, you’re one of a kind.