January 22, 2010
Answer: when the blogger doesn’t publish comments or trackbacks. But why are so many of these Charade Blogs supposedly ‘blogs on European communications’? Are there too many freshly minted ‘social media experts’ in Brussels?
I’ve found that Eurosceptic-oriented blogs are generally very open environments – I had a comment blocked once on Devil’s Kitchen, but otherwise even the most rabidly loony eurosceptic bloggers have always published my comments. They may have done it because it gave them something to kick and bite, but at least the debate is out in the open, where it should be.
Not true for some blogs professing a desire to have a Web2.0 conversation on EU policy – even EU communications policy. Just on this platform, there are a few blogs where comments never see the light of day – for example:
- European Movement UK: while the Brussels end of the European Movement embraced crowdsourcing (contributions + comments + rating) to define 60 ideas for Europe for the Congress of Europe’s 60th anniversary two years ago, the UK branch doesn’t even publish comments, despite inviting people to ‘Join the debate and put your opinion forward!’. Oh dear.
- iBlog: ‘You are what you share‘, apparently. But please don’t share your thoughts with me because I won’t publish them, despite the fact that you should ‘feel free to comment‘ …
- EU Communication à la 2009: this ‘blog about the EU and its communication activities’ takes the Commission to task for not ‘creating a dialogue’, but is itself uninterested in having a dialogue with its own readers.
- EU Media – Blogging about EU Media and Blogs: it’s all about ‘Commenting on EU Comments‘ … but no comments are allowed. Ouch!
These blogs, and the many others like them, are Charade Blogs. Comments and trackbacks are the online infrastructure for ideas – any blog which does not have them is just an El Cheapo Web1.0 site.
Onto the bandwagon
I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while, and I was finally prompted by the above illustration, used to illustrate a seminar, semi-spammed to me via a LinkedIn group a while back. At least the the image’s filename – social-media-bandwagon.jpg – is honest.
Charade Blogs are the product of people jumping on a bandwagon they don’t appear to understand. They are often the product of ‘Social Media Experts’.
Rant on: Social Media Experts
I have a problem with this concept.
I accept that there are communications experts, and even online communications experts. But social media experts?
Whenever technology throws up a new medium, you get your early adopters and evangelists. They immerse themselves in it, become experts, build a career on it and write a book.
As they go out to hawk their book, agencies glimpse the bandwagon and hire them to impress their clients. They score work, so more agencies do the same.
This is when the number of “experts” explodes. Consider the conditions:
- demand is high
- real experts are rare
- agencies can’t tell the difference between them and those bluffing and rehashing their way onto the bandwagon.
Hence the above BandWagon seminar.
Shortly after that the new media goes mainstream: everyone understands what the expert once alone knew, and noone calls themselves an expert in it anymore. The new media becomes just another tool in the toolbox. The “Dummies for …” edition hits the shelves.
By which time, of course, the original expert has either moved on to a new field or had kids, got a mortgage and become a manager.
There are many tools in the communications toolkit. Social media is one, but it cannot be considered separately from the rest of any online communications strategy. And any online communications strategy must be part of a wider, fully integrated communications strategy, encompassing everything from dead tree books to events and PR.
Having a social media strategy separate from the rest of what you do is as pointless as having a blog and not allowing comments, or (as I said in a previous post) building a sportscar but forgetting the wheels. It’s not going anywhere.
Yet this is precisely the trap many organisations seem to be falling for, probably because they’re hiring social media experts who weren’t even doing communications before the emergence of Web2.0, and don’t see the wider picture.
When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.