Social Networking Crowds Out Blogging

Social networking is on the rise everywhere, while blogging lags far behind

Illustration: David Foster
Source: Trendstream
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This is part of IEEE Spectrum’s special report on the battle for the future of the social Web.

If the Internet were a monster movie, Godzilla would be played by social networks, and Rodan would be the blogosphere. And the story would have a simple plot: Wherever Godzilla goes, Godzilla rules.

Blogging’s “initial excitement is gone,” says Sebastian Hedencrona of Trendstream, a London-based tech trends consulting firm. “People don’t have time to sit down and write their own blogs. People are more interested in what their friends are saying.”

Indeed, when social networks penetrate deeply into the larger online population, we see a decline in the once-vibrant world of blogs and other “user-generated content.”

To be sure, Trendstream’s GlobalWebIndex, derived from surveys of at least 1000 Internet users in each country, reveals that Rodan is not completely out of the picture: Blogging is still robust, with more than 25 percent of the online population participating, for example in Mexico and India. And in South Korea, where social networking nearly doubled in 19 months, blogging remains in the lead, though by a much smaller margin.

But there may be a Godzilla “tipping point.” Some of the biggest blogging countries—South Korea and Japan—have the lowest social network penetrations.

Of course, Facebook and its ilk shouldn’t rest easy either. There’s one other eternal truth of monster movies to keep in mind: The complete dominance of one megamonster clears the way for a megasequel.

About the Author

Mark Anderson is an author and science writer based in Northampton, Mass. He also wrote “Six Billion Friends” for our special report on the social Web (June 2011).