5 Most Important Trends in Blogging for 2016

trends-in-blogging-2016

The fireworks have faded, the champagne bottles are lined up for recycling, and those midnight text messages you didn’t mean to send but did anyway are fading into memory – or so you hope.

2016 is here and with it a chance to start the new business year with a bang. Your goals are set, your team is pumped, and you’re already hitting the ground and running.

But what has changed since last year? How will the world of online marketing look in this new year? And what opportunities should you be aiming for in the year ahead?

All this week we’re looking at the most important digital marketing trends for 2016. Whether in the domain of SEO, online video, blogging, or social media, our four-post series will explain what you need to know about the year ahead so you can deploy your marketing resources efficiently, effectively, and hit those goals.

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The first blogs appeared in the late 1990s meaning that, in 2016, blogs are moving out of their awkward teenage years and entering a more mature stage. Much has changed over those two decades and, indeed, much continues to evolve in the blogging world today.

Some of the most popular blogging platforms have only emerged recently. For example, Medium is a daily destination for millions of internet users and the blogging platform of choice for a growing group of individuals and businesses. Just four years ago, Medium didn’t exist.

Also forcing change on the world of blogging are the social networks that, in recent years, have evolved from narrowly-focused content aggregators and sharing sites into elaborate content management systems of their own. Whether microblogging on Twitter, or posting long-form content on Facebook using a much-improved Notes feature, the line between social sharing and blogging has been significantly blurred.

Blogging, too, has also continued to evolve from a leisure activity one might engage in to share a passion or record their personal hopes and dreams and towards a legitimate career choice for talented content creators. While ‘blogging’ might have only been entered on a resume under ‘Hobbies and Interest’ in 2006, in 2016 it is just as likely to be found under ‘Work Experience’ on the same document.

But where is all this change leading?

And what other changes can we expect to see on the blogging landscape in the 12 months ahead?

Here are the five trends that will impact significantly on blogging in the year ahead, and how smart content marketers can take advantage of each to deliver value for their readers, grow their audience, and use their corporate blog to develop more and better leads.

Trends in Blogging #1: The End of the Blogger

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How can you have a blog without a blogger? The simple answer is ‘you can not’, but that is exactly what we’ll see in the year ahead. Not fewer people blogging, but fewer people describing themselves as bloggers. Instead, we’ll read more and more about influencers.

This makes sense. Bloggers today are not simply writers looking for an outlet. Instead, they draw together text, images, online video, knowledge of pop culture and trends, business savvy, powerful and extensive social networks, and the skills to bring all of this to bear in a dynamic zeitgeist to deliver value for their audience, advertisers, and themselves. “Blogger” just doesn’t seem big enough to corral this diverse skill set, and when outreach is your career and your focus is on adding value, “influencer” seems so much more appropriate.

For those who see their blog as a tool by which to monetize their network, ‘influencer’ might be a synonym for ‘gun for hire’. For others with established distribution platforms and channels for their work – for example, television, books, or film – might see their blog as a chance to influence sales and conversions elsewhere. For those who will spend much of 2016 running for elected office in the United States, their blog is nothing less than a blatant appeal for influence upon the votes of millions of Americans.

And all of this suggests that 2016 might sound the death knell for the blogger and the arrival in force of the influencer.

Trends in Blogging #2: Size Matters

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The size of the post, that is.

With more people than ever getting their information online, blog posts and articles need to cut through the noise and deliver real value. And frankly, it’s the rare 200-word piece that is going to be as useful to the reader when faced with competition from extensive, data-backed 2000 to 3000-word pieces.

Orbit Media Studios surveyed more than 1000 leading bloggers and found that the average length of a post in 2015 was 900 words, an increase of 100 words or more than 10% over the year before. As marketing expert Ann Handley has said, “To thrive in an over-saturated content world, you’ll need to constantly write or produce (and syndicate) content with depth. Longer posts, more substantive content that people find useful and inspired.”

In 2016 you can expect to see this trend towards longer posts and more substantive articles continue. ‘Click bait’, thanks to the efforts of Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and other search engines and content aggregators, is likely to die out, and low-value ‘listicles’ are likely to go the same way.

For companies and even individuals that are looking to bring in qualified traffic this coming year, there will be a greater emphasis on the length of the article being published as well as its value. While size isn’t going to be the be-all-and-end-all of blogging, it will be an increasingly important element in proving value, seriousness, and expertise to curious visitors.

Trends in Blogging #3: The End of Comments

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Let’s call this one the ‘reverse Instapundit’.

For many years Professor Glenn Reynolds’ blog Instapundit was known for two primary reasons: first, a link from the blog could send enough traffic to crash all but the most well-prepared sites with an ‘Instalanche’ of readers; and second, the blog was one of the few high-profile blogs that did not have a space for readers to comment on posts.

More recently, though, Reynolds has not only brought a suite of co-bloggers on board, he has also opened up the posts for comments by readers. The site has always had a large audience, and now that audience has more of a reason to stick around.

For most sites, though, there is reason to believe that 2016 will see the end of comments on blog posts as we have known them for the last 15 years. The reason? It’s not complicated, it’s social. In simple terms, comments are not what creators want to spend their time managing, and they are not where readers want to have their conversations.

Comments on blogs require either active moderation on the part of the owner, or an acceptance that the discussion underneath a blog post will quickly devolve into the cesspool of disagreement, name-calling, and abuse. For readers, too, there is a big disadvantage in commenting on many blogs. Not only is it one more password/login combination to recall or record, it is a conversation that is limited on an internet that is not.

This is why in 2016 we’ll see the conversation move to the social sphere, perhaps entirely. Want to make a comment on a blog post? Cite the URL and share it on Twitter. Blog owners will encourage comments on Facebook, either using a dedicated comment/conversation plugin, or syndicating their posts entirely on the big blue social network.

The conversations will continue, but they won’t be the comments we’ve come to know.

Trends in Blogging #4: Great Graphics

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Just as, by year end, we’ll be referring to bloggers as influencers, we’ll also stop thinking about blogging as a text-based communications medium. While the trend is not towards the disappearance of text altogether – there is really very little that is as fast, convenient and efficient at transferring an idea in an asynchronous way than text – we will see bloggers and influencers use text less and graphical elements more.

In a sense, this move towards blogging with graphics and images mirrors a wider trend online towards graphical content. Social networks have long reported that content, status updates, and shares that include an image are viewed, shared, and engaged with at far higher rates than text-only content. And the growth of social networks and billion dollar companies founded on image sharing alone (think Instagram and Pinterest, or Shutterstock and Flickr, for example) suggest there is power in not saying a word, so to speak.

In 2016 this trend will see graphical content (including high-resolution images, infographics, design elements and icon sets, and images designed for sharing on social networks) come to the fore. Instead of images being secondary to a post or a writer seeking relevant images for their post in the wake of its drafting, images will become a more central feature of the blog post, with the trend towards Tumblr-style image-blogging expanding.

And here’s a prediction. The best content will combine two trends in blogging: great graphics and longer posts. Nobody wants to wade through a wall of text on a screen, and long slideshows are equally unpopular. But the combination of long form text with high-quality images that support and augment that text will be near irresistible.

Trends in Blogging #5: The Era of Engagement

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In the past bloggers would brag about their traffic. The key statistics were unique visitors and page views, and the bigger the numbers, the better the blog. When your numbers climbed high enough you’d try and monetize, selling a bit of your screen real estate to AdWords or a display ad serving company. Times were good for high-traffic blogs, but there was trouble ahead.

As content creators realized that advertisers preferred eyeballs above all else, they started doing whatever they could to build massive audiences, no matter how temporary. Click bait, hate bait, listicles, low-value content, slideshows, memes, and sometimes just flat out content appropriation – OK, content theft – all reared their ugly heads. Traffic spiked but users were left unsatisfied – and advertisers, too. What was a win-win was now trending lose-lose.

Luckily, in 2016, this will start to turn around

The most important metric for bloggers in the year ahead will not be their traffic or their page views. It will be their engagement rates. Can the blogger attract readers – no matter the size of the audience – and keep them on the site? Can the blogger create a community, giving readers something to come back for other than just fresh writing and attractive images? Can a blogger press publish and be rewarded with Twitter shares, Facebook posts lauding the content, and the launch of dozens of discussions on social media? And can the blogger remain at the center of all of this?

Whether a small but dedicated niche audience or a community of hundreds of thousands of committed devotees, what will matter for bloggers in 2016 is the engagement rate of that audience – the higher, the better.

Conclusion

Blogging isn’t going anywhere and will continue to evolve in its role as one of the most important content creation, publication, and distribution strategies for businesses and individuals online. The trends in blogging outlined here are the most important in terms of their impact on the blogging landscape in 2016, but they are far from the only trends impacting bloggers and blogging generally.

All this year at DOZ we’ll keep a close eye on the changing terrain of the blogosphere and on the trends in blogging that define it. Will our predictions in this post be proved correct? We’ll let you know…next year.

What predictions do you have for the blogosphere in 2016? Let us know on Twitter!

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15 thoughts on “5 Most Important Trends in Blogging for 2016
  1. Mark

    Really interesting read. I have always thought that long articles do provide more value and it shows the writer is passionate about their subject. I’ve read that list based articles are very popular – is this still the case?

    Reply
    1. Dylan Kissane

      List-based articles (sometimes called ‘listicles’) are indeed popular. They are great for sharing and offer a nice structure for the content creator to follow in building the post. The downside? They are everywhere and sometimes don’t add the value that people are looking for when it is the tenth or twentieth ‘Top Tne of X’ list.

      Reply
  2. Tom Brasier

    Good information. A lot of these changes will probably help a buisness like ours because we are able to offer high quality helpful articles that are extremely relevant to our customers and usually these do not include quick slide shows or click bait material. Thank you for the update.

    Reply
  3. Spunky Tai

    Hi there,

    Very informative read! Ive been blogging for a few years on blogspot mostly about my life experiences however I’ve never really educated myself on the world of blogging and after so many years I’m finally trying to organize myself to take it a step further. Anywho, reading this has made me aware of how unaware I am when it comes to the “bloggers world” i.e.; other sites, terminology, the basics etc. I’ve always just written whatever was on my mind/heart. I’m just wondering if you can give me some words of advice on where I can obtain the “Blogger 101”..? Thank you much!

    Reply
  4. Kristian Jønsson

    Great insights. Until now it seems like you have been right in all your predictions, good job!

    By the way, I have just sent a mail to you through Doz Support – I hope you will answer 🙂

    Reply
    1. Lina Albin-Azar

      Thank you, we are glad you appreciated the article. 🙂
      Indeed, we read the e-mail and responded. Thank you, by the way, for your submission.

      Reply
  5. Nestor Paul

    Fantasic post you got there! You are giving us the idea what will happen next in the world of blogging and because of that we are now ready. Thank you for sharing and god bless us all bloggers!

    Reply
  6. Blogging Trends of 2016 | Tasty Work

    […] Believe it or not- blogging existing as early as 1990s [Source: Link]. Today, blogs have become integral to companies’ online marketing efforts. Companies are using blogs to attract Internet traffic with the hope of turning visitors into customers. Blogging is becoming one of the most important form of content creation, publication and distribution strategy for businesses and individuals online [Source: Link] […]

    Reply

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