Conversation Is Essential. Listening is Optional.

conversation

Blogging is coming to maturity as an industry, but it’s going through some growing pains. In fact, it may be in an awkward growth stage and seeking its own identity amid the plethora of promotional tactics.

In the beginning, blogging was about journaling. Now blogging is about marketing and news (but there’s still room for the personal journal too). Many bloggers, especially those who value blogging as a powerful social media platform, see blogging as a conversational tool. Traditional media seeks to feed news to the masses, while new media seeks to create conversations about news among the smaller tribes. But that’s still up for debate.

Yesterday, it was announced that Engadget was turning off comments. This might seem like a simple move made for a simple reason – to ward off inflammatory comments – but it’s certainly sparked a lot of discussion about the nature of the “blog” as we know it.

My headline might have caught your attention because of your vehement disagreement with the idea that listening is optional, and I would have to agree with your disagreement. The rise of conversation marketing, especially as it is carried out through the vehicle of blogging, is extremely important to our industry. The question is, should we be alarmed at any sign of reversal? Should we care at all what Engadget does with their own blog?

The better question is probably this: do we understand just how important listening is to the entire spectrum of social media today (at which blogging is still the center)? If blogging is not only a reporting method, but also a tool for generating conversation, then listening must be extremely important as it’s really the chief cornerstone of what conversation is all about.

My own approach to decision-making, communication, and leadership tends to be marked by listening, then responding, then listening some more. Only when we understand our readers, clients, consumers, or fans can we rightfully expect to garner their full attention when we speak.

I don’t know what you’ll decide in the future about comments on your blog, I just know that we absolutely must keep listening. And in the spirit of this, what are your thoughts?

In addition to serving as Editor of Fuel Your Blogging, Brandon is also a Pastor at Saddleback Church and Online Community Coordinator for Pastors.com. He’s also a web designer, blogger, and church communications consultant. Catch him on his own blog or on Twitter.

 

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