Blogging – Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time

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 Equally no editor worth their salt would allow such outdated content to be displayed, even if it is coming in for free, which is clearly the case with some of these blogs.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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5 thoughts on “Blogging – Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time”

  1. Dear Martin

    Just to clear up any confusion about the Ninemsn Travel blogs: the Malaysian Insider and the European Insider (plus another blog called the Ultimate Trip) are no longer being updated as their natural ‘lifespan’ has come to an end. However as much of their content is evergreen and still interesting, we have left them live for people to read. The majority of our content is found by users via internal and external web searches, allowing people to find relevant content in a blog via keywords, rather than needing to read chronologically.

    Our main blog, the Armchair Traveller, is the most popular section on our site, and a key part of our brand. It is updated by Ninemsn staffers several times a week and sometimes several times a day. We simply find it more effective to maintain a single primary blog and focus our energy on this, than to scatter material across several blogs.

    Gemma Pitcher
    Ninemsn Travel Editor

  2. Hi Martin.

    It all depends on what the purpose of your travel blog. At Viator (excuse my self-indulgence) we focus on 2 things. And 2 things only. Good writing. And stories / events / contests / photos / etc that directly relate to travelers and the broader travel community. This is partly why we’ve won numerous awards for our blog (http://travelblog.viator.com/).

    Do we try to make money from the blog? No.

    Do we worry if every blog post is helping to sell tours and activities (our core business)? No.

    This helps keep our blog fun. It keeps our blog topical. It keeps our interesting to TRAVELERS. And this, in turn, keeps our blog relevant to our staffers and writers in charge of maintaining the blog. A virtuous circle if there ever was one.

    I find most corporate-powered travel blogs, when they sputter and fail, are trying to accomplish too many things. They get too niche. They get too insular. They try too hard to sell things. They become brochure-ware.

    -Scott

  3. It doesn’t matter how many content channels you open, if you have nothing pertinent or of value to say to people (other than subverting social network platforms for poorly disguised advertising and SEO brownie points), then it creates the same guaranteed result: multiply zero by anything the result will always be zero.

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