Has social media finally reached saturation point?
It might just be me but I’m seeing a big drop off in interest in blogs, and similarly on Twitter where there are more and more people but less and less good conversations taking place. Trying to start a decent professional conversation online is getting harder and harder.
It has also been interesting to see how many active social media users attempted to “go dark” over the recent Christmas holidays and keep away from all forms of social media for the duration. Some of them probably won’t be back. A taste of things to come perhaps.
At the Sydney HR Tech Fest in December, Bill Boorman (a man who pretty much built his reputation online) suggested Twitter was dead – “robots talking to robots.” I tweeted that of course.
But back to blogging. Another early Twitter stalwart and one of the first people I followed many years ago, Matt Alder, talked in Sydney about how hard it is to get cut through with blogging now. He’s gone down the podcasting route as a way to get heard by more people and perhaps that’s a way forward. But it’s a very different discipline and perhaps not one that’s going to appeal to the average introverted blogger who writes to express him/herself.
So has HR blogging had its day?
Not so long ago I used to see at least one great post a week, now I’m lucky if I see one a month. Instead LinkedIn has become the writing platform of choice for many and is giving us a lot of short punchy pieces littered with poor grammar and spelling mistakes that state the obvious, offer no new perspective and therefore have no real point other than to promote the author. It’s like the whole world is now in broadcast mode.
Often in the past the best part of the blog was the subsequent debate that went on in the comments section or on Twitter. That doesn’t really seem to be happening any more. Views, comments, likes and shares are declining. A quick check with some other regular bloggers has confirmed this, and in particular that comments on blog posts have all but disappeared. I suspect the reasons may be many and varied.
- Have we reached a saturation point where every element of HR has now been battered, blogged and tweeted into submission?
- Are our attention spans now so short we can’t read anything more than a one paragraph summary without passing judgement and moving on?
- Is there simply too much out there that it’s getting harder and harder to find the quality and the different perspective?
- Are there too many other ways of getting messages out there now?
- Has the move to accessing everything online via phone made it harder to really take things in?
- Are people consuming their learning in different ways?
- Or, are we just consumed by group think and boring each other senseless?
I honestly can’t remember the last time I came across a new HR/business blogger who really excited me with something different, left me wanting to read more or lasted more than a handful of posts before losing interest and giving up. And so I tend to read the tried and tested old favorites who consistently deliver.
But that’s not what I want to be doing. As someone who absolutely loves the whole blogging movement this saddens me greatly. I want to be excited!
So is Twitter also dead or dying? Are we all socialed out? Is there simply too much out there to grab anyone’s attention?
Perhaps there is just too much noise and it’s just time for a little more quiet reflection in the HR and business world rather than trying harder to shout above it.
I would love to hear your thoughts if you’ve lasted this far through the post and can be bothered!
Update to original post
Since publication three days ago, there has been a very healthy level of debate on Twitter in addition to the comments posted on here. That’s ironic really since I was bemoaning the lack of comments and debate in these forums! As Julie Drybrough put it – “Hah! We disproved you! We are listening & responding!” Or as Simon Heath suggested – “It’s been great seeing it doing precisely what it feared ISN’T happening.”
So thank you to everyone who chimed in with comments. There is life in these media yet! As there was so much of it I thought it would be good to add a summary update to this post. A round up of the Twitter thoughts are as follows:
On the future of Twitter
Rich Watts is obviously interested in this area and posted his thoughts on his own blog. Give it a read. He questions whether this decline is industry specific or across all industries. Although I focus on HR, I suspect it’s the latter.
Alen Levis: “Great blog Richard. I’ve felt like this for some time about blogging. Twitter was about having a conversation once upon a time!”
Tim Scott: “Isn’t it a cyclical thing? Sure we’ve had this debate before… I guess it also depends what you use Twitter for – I value interaction as much as blogs.”
Tony Jackson: “It’s nearly over. We’re tiring of Twitter.”
Dave Goddin: “The bubble of the echo chamber has burst so really what is left?”
Kandy Woodfield: “On the positive side it could mean we’re just all getting on with doing it!”
Community catalysts: “Totally agree – I used to have a (positively fuelled) Twitter addiction – but now it disappoints.”
Chris South: “Nice blog Richard. Spot on, Twitter is on its last legs. Blogging is changing but hard to say if it will be replaced or just morph.”
On the role of blogging
Adam Axon: “Really good points Richard. I think this is a big reason why I’ve drifted away from SM over the last few years. Too much noise. It’s that much harder to truly take anything in, or to have meaningful convos that take things fwd. Bit like a mouse wheel.”
Julie Drybrough: “Such an interesting blog & debate. I agree, but wonder if it’s not being heard…..I’m with Richard, there’s a sense of little new out there to explore. I’m not as prevalent as I was….It all seems said.”
Simon Heath (who also wrote in the comments section below) really got into the debate and challenged how comfortable the online world has become: “There’s an unnatural lack of proper robust debate and disagreement. Nobody is pushing. Status quo reasserts quickly. I do try and provoke a response with mine. But that’s cause I’m a pain in the arse.”
In response to Simon, Emma (@onatrainagain) said: “I’ll be honest, there are times when I find the social circles a bit cliquey. I’m sure that someone will come along and do something different. It’s just a case of when. (But) you have a point. Twitter used to be so much more interesting and educational.”
Michael Carty: “Aye – I think it’s probably in a deep lull rather than over. Dismal tidal wave of bad LI posts don’t help!”
Simon Heath: “The democracy of technology. Anyone can blog. But no filters for poor writing and paucity of intellect.”
Alastair (HR Tinker): “That’s why I don’t post, unless I feel I can stand out I don’t feel it’s worth my time. There’s definitely a decline but I’ve stopped as I don’t think I’m adding anything new to the conversation.”
Kev Wyke said he had also seen a decline in blogging and debate and agreed with Alastair but suggested “and yet I feel it is a loss having such a high bar for new voices to get over.”
Michael Carty also suggested: “I don’t think bloggers should worry about whether anyone reads their posts or not. Writing is its own end.”
This prompted Simon Heath to challenge whether the “noise” was the result of too much unfiltered thinking out loud being made public which in turn prompted an interesting exchange.
Peter Hros: “Last post I wrote was 4 y ago. I feel everything is already there & I don’t need to add to the pile.”
Simon: “Why not just keep a journal then. It’s a good discipline.”
Alistair Cockroft: “I like idea of blogging as an aid to reflection, just not sure it needs to be public.”
Richard (me!): “Collating your own thoughts on a subject is part of it. Good to share though.”
Peter Hros: “It might sound narcissistic but I like to know what impact my reflections make on others. I think you can reflect to help yourself and/or to help others. Sharing triggers conversation.”
Some other random thoughts on the subject
Gem Reucroft: “Raising interesting points. At the moment I’ve shifted to blogging about fitness and the like as I’ve more to say.”
Troy Hammond: “I think content marketing in recruitment especially is to blame. Also people don’t have the courage to be real.”
Michael Sleap: “Would love to see more in house HR/L&D people blogging, rather than just consultants. Many LinkedIn posts are poor.”
Sarah Moore agreed with Michael: “My blog is up, but it’s getting the time to write that is tricky.”
Sarah Miller: “Now here’s a post that’s not afraid to call it like it is…”
Annette Hill: “Read to the end! Agree that most stuff has been said. Some excellent blogs still appearing such as most recent @sukhpabial.”
Check out Rachel Kemp’s thoughts about LinkedIn prompted by this post.
And a more oppositional view from Sukh Pabial himself (rolls eyes!)
And a further addition from Kylie Telford.
The last words
I will leave the last words with Andy Spence and Michael Carty.
Andy: “Probably same 20 yrs after invention of printing press “heard it all before…back to my Ox..”
Michael: “Written communication is over. Oxen is where it is at.”