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The future of blogging: Multimedia of life

April 22nd, 2014 at 11:00 by Martyn Hudson

Future of blogging

From personal diaries to providing fashion advice, more people are joining the blogosphere. But how has blogging changed and what is its future? Plusnet has looked into the changes in blogging with help from some keen bloggers to give you an insight into where this pastime-come-industry has come from and where it may be heading.

Where has blogging come from

Blogging has been around for the best part of two decades. The term ‘weblog’ was first used by American Jorn Barger as he chronicled his interests on the web in the hope that other like-minded people may come across his site, Robot Wisdom. Over time, the term has been shortened to ‘blog’ with authors being called ‘bloggers’ largely thanks to the founder of Blogger, Evan Williams. Evan’s platform swelled in popularity, eventually being bought by Internet behemoth Google. But as blogging became more popular, new sites such as WordPress (now with over 60 million websites), Typepad and Tumblr began to emerge.

Why do people blog

Thomas, who currently maintains 13 blogs on various topics, focusing on genealogy and High-Definition Genealogy advises that he has various reasons for blogging:

“I need a creative outlet; I need to preserve my family history; I also need to market my genealogy business in an economical fashion. For me, blogging is not a soapbox or an ego thing where it is all about me; instead, blogging is about community and connecting with others.”

The creative view is also shared by Lela London, a highly popular fashion blogger on her site Lela in London.

“I wanted an extra way to be creative but it eventually became the only way I wanted to be creative”.

But it is not just for personal reason that people use blogging. Company Shake Social offers a bespoke blogging service and founder Kate Tyler says “blogging became an integral part of their content marketing strategy” for their business.

Blogging has changed rapidly and its growth has been significant. But will this remain and what exactly does the future of blogging look like? Here are our thoughts and predictions with insight from our expert bloggers.

#1: Blogging will continue to become more accessible

Blogging will keep getting easier for more people to be actively involved online, creating and sharing content. The amount of people involved will continue to rise steadily, proving Thomas’ insight that “more and more everyday people are finding that having a blog gives them a voice” correct.

#2: Blogs are with us for the long haul!

The number of people blogging, the platforms available, and the awareness of blogging as a whole will continue to grow. The year on year graph from WordPress’ stats page shows a significant growth in the amount of posts published a month compared to 2006.

Growth in blogging

The need to document and log experiences, ideas, content and advice is fairly timeless, so blogs will always serve a purpose, even if the vehicles for doing so change”, says Kate.

When we look back into history we see countless written records of peoples’ daily lives, so it makes sense that this will follow the trend of the times and become a digital pursuit.

3: The tools for blogging will change, but the core platforms will remain strong

Bloggers are looking for new ways of enhancing their blog both visually and in terms of the content they curate.  Content created through Instagram, Snapchat, Vine and similar tools will be integrated just as freely as YouTube videos have. Thomas says: “I see blogging merging with life streaming so that various forms of multimedia can be easily integrated into blog posts”

The bloggers we spoke to predicted that more services would become available which focus on different content mediums. Kate notes “the rise of video as an integral part of blogging platforms” and has been an important development in recent years. She also predicts a “continued shift towards the visual in blogging, from photos to memes to video”.

#4: Bloggers will continue to become more accepted and influential

The voice of the blogosphere will become more and more important in terms of news and opinion. We’ve seen news stories that have broken over Twitter in the past, and this will become more frequent as the amount of tools and accessibility increases.

Lela has noticed since she began blogging that “bloggers have started to become more accepted in the mainstream”, and this is well documented by the rise of opinion blogs, inclusion of blog contributors on news sites, and the increasing trend of businesses using blogging. She also says that “bloggers are quickly becoming more powerful than traditional media platforms”, and believes that this “will only become more evident in the coming years”.

Lee Simspon, co-founder of Blogbranch an online guide to blogging and has a vast understanding of the role of bloggers. His thoughts on the subject of bloggers as influencers are interesting, noting that “professional bloggers and YouTube celebrities are the gate keepers to a huge market of highly engaged consumers and brands [and] have began to leverage this to their advantage”. Their ability to do this is bolstered by the fact that “some lifestyle and fashion bloggers have monthly traffic comparable to large media organisations and they’re doing it with half the overhead”

#5: Blogs will become more integral in business strategy and website design

Businesses will take advantage of the continued rise in blogging by incorporating it into their marketing strategies. Blogs will feature on more business sites and will be used more as a method of making announcements, keeping customers in the loop, and interacting with them.

“It is this merger of personal, professional and public that makes the blogging sphere so interesting”, says Kate. The benefits are wide reaching for businesses who engage with blogging: not only do they engage with their customers in a public setting, but “you optimise your search engine results, you also reinforce your expert credentials [and give] people a reason to visit your website again and again”. Kate warns, however, that “companies that treat [blogging] as a fad – something to be given cursory treatment to only – are unlikely to see any real benefit from it”.

Lee told us that “brands have begun using their blogs as an aggregator for all these social channels – increasing their reach and giving customers a chance to discover all of the touch points across the web.”

#6: There will be debates on legality of content ownership

All of the predictions so far have been positive but we think there will be some tough debates to be had around blogging. One question we think will be asked is ‘who owns blog content’? This is especially relevant when an employee writes for a company blog but moves onto another company – does the employee or the company own the content?

Kate predicts “legal repercussions of our digital footprints in the long term”, posing the question “who technically owns the subscribers to / influence of a blog?”

This is indeed an interesting issue, especially with the increasing prominence of tools such as Google Authorship which can track an author’s output around the web. We’re sure this is a debate that we’ll hear more about in coming years.

What do you need to know about blogging?

Thomas, Lela and Kate have also offered their advice for anybody looking to set up their own blog in the future.

Thomas:

  • First, read lots of other blogs to get ideas; look for layout, format, which platform they use (Blogger, WordPress etc.), and focus on their voice and audience
  • Make sure you have a Welcome post and an About section or page so readers can get to know you

Lela:

  • Just do it!
  • As long as you’re doing it for yourself (not for money or not begrudgingly), you’re doing it right

Kate:

  • Audience is key
  • Before writing, consider the question “Will your content be useful?
  • Think carefully about WHAT the purpose of your blog is, WHO you hope will read it and WHEN you will post. Put together a strategy and a schedule and stick to it

We think that Thomas summarised the appeal of blogging, and the drive for more varied blogging technologies perfectly:

“We’ll be able to leave a legacy as to who we were and why our lives mattered in just the tap of a screen or click of a button”.

Our closing thoughts come from Lee:

“Lots of bloggers see the creation and curation of content as an expression of themselves, their peer group and their generation. It’s not unlike being an artist or a musician. Just get out there! Starting a blog is easy, and if you’re passionate about something, finding the inspiration for content should be easy too. Getting people to read that content is the tricky part – but building that community around your blog comes with time and experience“.

How do you think blogging will change in the future? Do you read and engage with more blogs now than you used to? Are you tempted to start a blog, or do you have any tips and tricks to share from running one already?

 

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So, did .yo fall for it?

April 10th, 2014 at 15:20 by Martyn Hudson

April Fool header

For hundreds of years, April 1st has been a day for japes and tomfoolery, and this year Plusnet decided to join in. Riffing off of the new top level domains currently being released by ICANN and our love of all things Yorkshire, we went with a simple announcement about our plan for a new website, Plusnet.yo

 

Twitter Announcement

A few people fell for it (probably the ones who hadn’t had their morning coffee yet!), but we were rumbled soon enough. The first person to see through our joke was ‘Reserved’ in the comments of our announcement blog post and a prize is on the way to this observant chap for his swift ability to rumble our faux press release.

Reply

A number of you engaged with us on Twitter and said you loved our efforts – your feedback has been taken on board but you will have to wait and see if this ever becomes of our marketing plan! Adrian Braddy of The Dalesman Magazine and Wave FM’s Nick Piercey also picked up on the story too, although they haven’t yet signed up for t’broadband or t’phone unfortunately (from what we know!)

Twitter reply

Our favourite April Fool gags this year come from Google and Twitter. Google built an interactive Pokémon game into Google Maps, which is good fun! We wonder how many hours it took to put this together? Obviously beyond the capacity of many companies!

Twitter also went for something based around recent developments in the online / tech niche. They claimed to be bringing the Twitter Helmet into production soon, to compete with Google Glass and Oculus Rift. We think this would actually be pretty cool – hopefully it’s something they revisit in the future! Read the announcement here.

Did you fall for our April Fool? What did you think to Plusnet.yo? And what was the best April Fool you came across on the Internet that day? Let us know your thoughts below!

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We’re very proud to announce that Plusnet has stepped in for the second year running to give support to the world famous Grimethorpe Colliery Band, allowing the band to continue its great work in the community and help grow talent in the area.

The band, based in Barnsley, South Yorkshire has been a bastion of the local community since founded in 1917 and achieved global fame in 1995 when it was the inspiration for the hit British movie, Brassed Off, which starred Ewan McGregor.

Last year the band’s fate echoed scenes from the film as funding cuts left them in danger of being unable to carry out its vital work in the community. As so many of you have long associated us with the brass band from our advertising we were inundated with requests to help and so offered a donation to support Grimethorpe Colliery Band’s schools music programme.

This week – one year on – we visited Birkwood Primary to see the progress being made. It was really exciting to see how life has changed dramatically for these children. As the profile of music within the school has been raised, pupils are now reaching the standard necessary to take music exams – a first in the school’s history.

Birkwood School band

Pictured: Pupils and staff from Birkwood primary school with Grimethorpe Colliery Band member, Martyn Beecham and John Ingman of Barnsley Music Services.

This is our second donation to the music programme. The funds will be used to ensure the continuation of the band’s youth education scheme which will ensure 15 pupils between the ages of 8 and 11 at the Birkwood Primary School will have the opportunity to take specialist music lessons.

Showcasing just how valuable the programme has been to pupils at the school, class teacher and school music co-ordinator at Birkwood Primary School Esther Sutton Smith said,

“Children at Birkwood Primary are now aspiring to be musicians and getting ready to take their first music exams which is incredibly exciting for us! Beyond the obvious musical advantages we are actually seeing an increase in children’s self esteem, especially for those who are not as strong in other area. It’s wonderful to see them take such pride in their achievements. We’re also noticing a real sense of engagement with the community as local people flock to watch the children perform, for which we are very grateful.

Tegan, aged 10, a pupil at Birkwood Primary School commented,

“I play tenor horn, and things that I learn in my music lessons help me concentrate during lots of my other lessons.” Whilst nine year old Joshua added, “My brass teacher inspires me to concentrate.”

Headteacher of Birkwood Primary School, Julie Allen expressed her appreciation to Grimethorpe Colliery Band and the generosity of Plusnet to enable these wonderful opportunities to take place.  She is very proud of Esther’s dynamic leadership and of course the children’s efforts and dedication.

Andy Baker, CEO of Plusnet commented,

“Last year you called on us to help Grimethorpe Colliery Band continue its work with the community. The plight of such a traditionally Yorkshire institution made it an easy decision, and we are continuing to support them for a second year. It has been a real privilege to see how Birkwood Primary School and the children are flourishing under the band’s teaching. We are proud to continue to fund next year’s programme.

Grimethorpe Colliery Band Manager, Nigel Dixon added,

“It’s encouraging to know there are companies like Plusnet out there, ready to step up and show support for their local communities. With this further injection of funding we hope to do Grimethorpe proud as the crop of talent at Birkwood Primary School develops through the music programme.”

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Plusnet to launch .Yo Domain to fly Yorkshire Flag

April 1st, 2014 at 09:00 by Martyn Hudson

Plusnet

Phone and broadband provider Plusnet has announced that it has been given the go-ahead to launch its website on a new specially created .yo domain later this year aimed at businesses in the Yorkshire area.

With similar domains being offered in Europe already, and with the Tour de France heading to the county later this year, Plusnet has lobbied for the Yorkshire top-level domain to be given the green-light by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) aimed at promoting Yorkshire and Yorkshire business as a whole.

Customers accessing the website whilst in Yorkshire will see it transformed with the pages altered into the local dialect, aimed at improving customer experience and simplify any issues with understanding the products and services on offer to them as part of their broadband deals. It will also provide tourists to Yorkshire with an insight into the dialect.

Yorkshire Broadband

Those customers accessing the website outside of Yorkshire will still continue to see the traditional landing page.

eCommerce Manager Ben Fretwell said:

“This is a unique opportunity for Plusnet to position itself as a champion of all things Yorkshire, providing good honest broadband for our customers.

“We are extremely proud of our heritage and moving to the .Yo domain will allow us to promote us as a company that values the experience our customers have, getting them to be a part of our community and also join the Plusnet broadband experience.

“We believe that this will be a positive step for our customers based in Yorkshire but also for Yorkshire tourism as a whole in promoting our great county. The dialect and slang we use here is one aspect that sticks with people in their memories when they visit the county and we want to celebrate that.”

It is anticipated that the website will launch at http://www.plusnet.yo in July this year but as a flavour of what’s to come, you can view the homepage here.

 

Update: We’re pleased to inform you that this is, of course, an April Fool’s joke. Hands up if you fell for it? Let us know below what you thought about the spoof website and our April Fool!

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