SCARRED by the hype, empowered by recent evidence, I reckon 90% of social media comes under the heading: It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time. How else to explain the absolutely slack approach many major travel sites are taking to that social media pioneer, blogs. Australian travel websites are now awash with untended blogs.

For starters – and thanks to Kristi Barrow for this example – the Expedia Australia blog hasn’t been updated since April. Even slacker is Ninemsn Travel, where two of the five blogs (The European Traveller and The Malaysian Insider) haven’t been updated since January – 10 months and counting.

The situation is not much better at Yahoo Travel – two of its eight bloggers (Daniel Fitzpatrick and Kris Madden) have not posted since May (update 2/12/09 – both now removed) – while one of their most frequent bloggers is a Sydney travel PR consultant who, based on the stuff I saw, cannot claim objectivity.

So much for blogs being the new journalism. No old school media would allow that – at least without branding it advertorial. Equally no editor worth their salt would allow such outdated content to be displayed, even if it is coming in for free, which is clearly the case with some of these blogs.

My guess is that the slackers are those who thought, ‘no money but a great opportunity to build a brand (my own)’.

The publishers liked it because they’d get content. But you pay peanuts you get monkeys. You pay nothing, you get nothing – literally. Or frauds, or people who simply don’t care. The big problem for publishers though is that such a selfish, self-centred approach drags down their own brand.

There is simply no credibility in promoting a blog where the most recent post is about to celebrate its first birthday. Ever heard of the real time web?

Now, I only looked at three travel sites for this story and had a 100% strike rate. I reckon there’s dozens of other deadwood blogs out there (know of any?) occupying valuable space on major travel sites.

I predict this is the fate that soon awaits still rampant travel Twitterers. How long can they can keep it up? On the evidence of blogging, the answer would have to be not long at all. Another case of It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time…

PS: I love and believe in social media but am even more enamoured of the concept that if you’re going to do a job, do it right or not at all.

PPS: Great story story on policing blogging ethics at Boston Globe.

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