Blog Planning Practices

Over the last few months, I’ve had a few issues with this blog. Posts didn’t seem to be coming together well. I feel that the quality has deteriorated greatly – post are shorter – only 200-300 words, lines of thought seem to be scattered and truncated, and I have had less motivation to research the background of a topic. I have lots of ideas, but I struggle to get them ‘into order’ as evidenced by the growing list of blogs in my draft folder; most of them disjointed sentences and bullet points that never pull together well enough for me to want to finish them.

At first I thought it was due to my overall decline in writing output since leaving University earlier this year. Writing is a skill that needs to be practiced like any other, and the only proper practice I had was in this blog, along with short pieces of copy for Willow Wood‘s Fundraising department. To that end, I started another blog on an entirely different topic – Foodie Follows, a food blog that I run jointly with my sister. It’s been great fun to work on and is doing well, but that didn’t seem to cure the writers block of this blog, and I really wanted to continue it.

Eventually I had a revelation – lack of planning and thought processing, which is frustrating because I’ve even sort-of touched on this topic in the past! When I began this blog as a University project, I would discuss every post that I wrote with one of my parents, and by ‘discuss’ I mean ‘ramble on about the subject whilst they probably tried to ignore me.’ That rambling is really what helped me sort out the ideas in my head, as well as find the opposing arguments and possible flaws. In addition, I would frequently plan out my ideas on paper, using mindmaps and other techniques to get all of my ideas together.

So from now on, I’ll be trying to plan out my blog posts properly again. Finding all of the possible ways of approaching a topic is something I need to practice. I feel that simply stating my opinion or experiences on a subject are not enough to do it justice, and  it will force me to work harder on researching a topic.

Can any new social media site stand up to the ‘big guys’?

One thing I’ve noticed when browsing various news sites such as Mashable or TechCrunch, is the number of new social media platforms and apps that are constantly being created. Enormous amounts of investment are being put into the start-ups and companies involved, especially in the great technology hothouse of San Francisco.
Start-ups news page from TechCrunch

However, the vast majority of social media users, even the real technophiles and heavy users, seem to still use the same couple of platforms – Facebook, Twitter etc.

The trouble seems to be that many are going for a niche market – ones that facilitate meetings, or create a photostream, or gets questions answered (I mention this one because I tried the app ‘Jelly‘ at Mashable’s urging, and I still don’t feel like I ‘get’ it.) But the sites we all already use can do all of these too.

Obviously, many are probably designed simply to get a good idea going that can be sold at profit to a bigger company – even big success stories such as Instagram.

But it means that even if these sites are evolving by absorbing smaller platforms and apps (isn’t that how the game Spore worked?) to an extent social media is stagnating – there are no new platforms worth getting onto because no one is moving away from the ‘big guys,’ as least, not in big enough numbers for me to want to move too.

Of course, it’s possible that the next evolution in social media isn’t social media at all. There have been plenty of articles on how Facebook is using traction with younger users (example from The Independent) perhaps Twitter, YouTube, Instagram etc. will be the next ones to go, in favour of an entirely new system that we won’t be able to call ‘social media’ anymore. ‘Social media’ will become old-fashioned, obsolete, and eventually forgotten terminology (rather like Usenet Groups.)