Why I’ve quit reading “social media blogs”

I’ve spent the last year and a half reading and learning as much about social media as possible, going from a complete n00b with barely a Facebook profile to a recovering social media addict. I ravenously consumed blog posts about PR, communications and social media. But after awhile, a lot of the information begins to feel repetitive (and derivative). I get it at this point – it’s “about the conversation” and “engaging with people” and “being transparent.”

My reading habits have changed over the last month or so. I’m no longer looking for basic social media information or more social media Kool-Aid and so I’ve purged my Google Reader of feeds I haven’t been getting much value from. I’m reading fewer and fewer personal or individual PR bloggers and instead gleaning more insight from collaborative blogs or blogs at major media outlets. My goal is less about the nuts-and-bolts or “how to” of social media and PR 2.0 and more about understanding the big picture — trends and successes in media, social networking, and the Web, and looking at how all of it impacts the way we will continue to consume news and information.

Some blogs will always have a revered spot in my reader, because I’m always finding value and new ideas from them. However, a lot of what I’m reading now isn’t even necessarily PR-focused. I’m always open to discovering a post on someone’s blog that showcases great thinking or a new idea, and I still stumble across some of those via Twitter. But I’m being more discerning about which feeds make it into my RSS reader.

Here’s what’s been recently added to my reader or what I’ve refocused on lately:

Media Industry and Trends

Hyperlocal News

Social Media and PR 2.0 in Practice

Business and Technology Insight

It’s a lot of content, which wreaks havoc on my previous system of organizing Google Reader. I’m much better now about scanning headlines, using the “sort by magic” feature to see the best posts, and not agonizing anymore about trying to get to everything.

What sites are you finding value in these days? Share in the comments.

44 thoughts on “Why I’ve quit reading “social media blogs”

  1. Amy thanks for sharing the new blogs your reading. I’m still consider myself half a noob, so although I’m relying on the “how to’s” to learn more I was looking for some change.

    I actually had a recent conversation with Jay Keith about this topic. How a lot of what I am reading seems to be redundant. I’m looking forward to seeing what these recommended sites have to offer.

    PS – I also just added Convince and Convert and really enjoying it.

    • Thanks Christina. There’s so much content out there and every now and then it helps to cull it down and make sure that I’m still getting value from what I subscribe to. Plus, my new job as meant that what I’m interested in reading has changed a little as I try to get up to speed, so a recalibration was definitely necessary. Glad you like Jay Baer’s C&C – it’s good stuff.

  2. Amy, this is why I follow you.

    I’ve been noticing the same thing lately and 90% of the time I simply go into my Reader, hit ‘mark all as read.’ I’ve been reading mostly non-SM related blogs. The true success that comes with SM done right is bringing in a variety of business principles. Those who simply focus on SM will be left behind, while those who emerge themselves with knowledge about business as a whole will succeed.

    I want to read about innovation, I want to read about finance, I want to read about how different cultures communicate. I’m tired of reading about conferences and how to integrate things.

    • I used to agonize over the ‘mark all as read’ button in Google Reader. I realized that I was hitting it more frequently, which was an indication that I probably wasn’t subscribed to the “right” blogs and feeds for me. Since I’ve made changes I’m certainly getting more value.

      • Good point on the ‘mark all as read’ button. I’ve been hitting it way too often. Looks like I’ll be doing a little spring cleaning in my Google Reader

  3. Amy! You wrote exactly what I have been thinking. I ccan only ready SO many “social media” blogs. I try and work my way into different communities.

    I start reading alot of fashion blogs and see how the community is working together. I might start reading alot of strategy blogs and see who knows who and how they are connecting the material. I have found actually diving into different communities and digging into their structure teaches me much more than reading about the landscape over all.

  4. Amy,

    You answer my prayers again! I’ve also been looking for the “next step” blogs that teach you more about the technical stuff and than the why you should start. I’ll definitely check out your recommendations and let you know of any other blogs I might find along the way that you might like.

    Thanks!
    @balemar

  5. Well said. I was never a huge consumer of social media blogs, but when I started on Twitter I initially followed a lot of folks who work in PR/marketing/social media. The first thing about Twitter that became very stale wasthe obverabundance of tweets about tweeting and how awesome Twitter is.

  6. Amy,

    I am with you on this one. I am totally refocused on blogs that discuss strategic and tactical integration of marketing, PR, communications and digital media. [There aren't many out there.]

    I applaud you for saying what so many folks are doing. I think there’s a fear that “If I don’t read theirs, they won’t read mine.” There’s more than enough content to go around and in the past two months I’ve enjoyed meeting so many new folks that DO focus on integration.

    Hats off to you!
    Beth Harte, Sr. SME – Digital Marketing
    Serengeti Communications
    @bethharte

    • Thanks, Beth. I think many people are probably struggling with how to take in so much content and filter through to find what’s really useful to them. I agree that for a while there was a “quid pro quo” feeling among bloggers and I did feel the pressure to read friends’ blogs no matter the content. I’m still happy to find and read great posts one-off, but I needed to add some focus to my reader.

  7. Thank you Amy. This is the just the refocus I needed in this new month. The listing of sites and blogs are following is insightful and the resource I am using to build my Google reader. I am a big fan of Jay Baer’s Convince and Convert.

    Kathryn Pinke @katpinke

  8. My RSS feed never remains static and I’m constantly looking for new things to read. I don’t think your change reflects the end of social media (right? ;-) but a change in what you’ve learned and what you want to know more about. I would suggest you add to your list The Big Money and the WSJ’s Real Time Economics. You list above has given me a few ideas as well.

    • I’d definitely agree that a lot of the change reflects my own learnings and not necessarily the death/end of social media. Especially with my new job, I’m much more interested in learning about topics like hyperlocal news consumption/distribution and even start-ups and SaaS companies. While social media still interests me, I’m less interested in the discussion around why it’s awesome and instead want to know more about who’s using it effectively, how it’s affecting the way we receive and share information and how business models are evolving and adapting in its wake.

      Thanks for the other two suggestions!

  9. Someone (Amber Naslund, maybe) opened my eyes to the idea that reading social blogs (or PR blogs or marketing blogs or…) is a backwards strategy. Sure, we keep up with peers, competitors and best practices, but we’re engaging with each other instead of the clients/customers we profess to help.

    Like you, I’m scaling back the communications and technology blogs. I still subscribe to many of them — although, I’m using folders to skim more effectively — but I’m also focusing more on industries that I want to do work in.

    Ultimately, I think we need a hybrid approach. We are, after all, the interpreters of tech/comm blogs on behalf our non-comms clients/customers/employers.

  10. Two questions:

    1. If someone comments on your blog, do you visit that person’s blog?

    2. If you comment non-stop on X blog, but said author never comments on your blog (or even reads your blog), do you still read that blog?

    I’m curious your thoughts on either.

    • 1. It depends. I will sometimes click through and visit, especially if it’s someone new that I don’t already know from Twitter, for example. I wouldn’t say it’s a general rule (especially when I’m reading comments from my phone – then I’m probably less likely to click through.
      2. I still read the blog if I find it valuable. I’m not a huge commenter, so I can’t think of a specific example of a blog that I comment on frequently or non-stop. But I don’t think it would bother me if the author of a blog I read or commented on didn’t necessarily read mine.

  11. Amy,

    You have put into words my frustrations with stories posted by leading social media blogs over the last few months. I feel like I have been living in a social media groundhog day, something equivalent to combining the rhetoric of an18th century schoolteacher with a Japanese anime cheerleader.

    The blogs you have mentioned here have more teeth than anything I have read recently.

    Thanks again,

    John

  12. Your post inspires me to do a similar spring cleaning. Thanks, Amy.

    One of my favorite blogs not on your list: Ethan Zuckerman’s “…My heart’s in Accra” http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/. Interesting, thoughtful, truly global perspective. I almost always read things there that I don’t see or get anywhere else. For your media/hyperlocal categories, I’d also recommend the MediaShift Idea Lab blog (PBS): http://www.pbs.org/idealab/ Both look beyond our own borders in a valuable way.

    • Thanks much for the suggestions. I’ve seen a few great posts on MediaShift but hadn’t added it to my reader yet. Will do so now.

  13. Amy – Thanks so much for adding some calm to the chaos. More is definitely not more. There are a ton of fantastically smart folks out there writing blogs, but it can be flat overwhelming.

    I am truly delighted to be on your RSS reader. I’ll do whatever I can to continue earning your trust, and the trust of your readers.

    • Thanks, Jay. I’ve enjoyed your posts for a while but they were getting lost in the shuffle – overwhelming, like you said. Now that I’ve cleaned things up I have much better visibility to all the good stuff on C&C. Keep up the great content.

  14. Amy, great article and reading list.

    As an aside, I teach a social media course at Oklahoma State University and each semester the students are required to read some very specific sm articles written by some “A” list bloggers. This is the first semester in which some of the students have really challenged the content as being obvious and the authors as not necessarily being genuine. Perhaps we are seeing a shift not only at the top level (not for the better) but also at the entry level to PR/SM (for the better).

    Look forward to reading more of your blog.

    • That’s a very interesting observation about your students. It’s good that they’re already coming in with enough baseline social media knowledge to be able to make those kinds of challenges.

      Thanks for visiting the blog – stop back and let me know what your students are reading and finding useful!

  15. Love it, Amy. I’ve been going through much the same “angst” as you and you’ve given me some great ideas on cleaning up (and organizing) my own Reader, just as your earlier post did (which I think of often, believe it or not).

  16. Thanks for getting this discussion going! Nice list you’ve compiled — I’ve found a few new blogs to follow on it. Personally, I’ve lost my patience for social media blogs that are preachy (and there are a lot of them!). How many times can one read, “you *must* be doing X,” with nothing to back it up? I’m amazed that some of these bloggers remain popular, because I’m hearing a growing chorus of fatigue.

    For me, I do enjoy posts that offer nitty gritty best practices/case studies, because I haven’t seen that many that do it well. With social media always changing, I rely on the Jason Falls and Jay Baer’s of the world to give me the scoop. And, in addition to the tech blogs (which is my area of concentration), I also love reading blogs that make me look at work differently, like Chris Guillebeau’s Art of Nonconformity – http://chrisguillebeau.com/3×5/ .

    • Thanks for recommending Chris’ blog – I hadn’t heard of it and will definitely check it out. I have a “fun” folder in my reader that’s full of feeds that don’t have much to do with PR/Comms/Media but that I love reading just for entertainment (The Bike Snob NYC and Strange Maps are in there, to name a few).

      You’re right on the lack of best practices/case studies. We’re starting to see more, but they’re limited to certain industries or types of companies. It seems like 2009 was a lot of talking about social media – I’m hoping in 2010 we’ll get to see more and better examples of people actually doing it.

  17. Amy,

    I’ve been doing a lot of rethinking what to read lately, too. It’s time to clean out my RSS reader and add some new things to the mix. Gotta keep things fresh. I’ll let you know what gets cut and what gets added once I’ve made some edits. In the meantime, thanks for keepin’ it real. ;)

    Sara

    • Sara, thanks for stopping by the blog. Glad that I inspired some spring cleaning, and I’ll look forward to hearing what blogs and feeds you discover in the process.

  18. Been meaning to comment on this blog post for a couple of days and now I’m getting to it.

    I’d say that you’re making an informed and smart choice in mixing up your reading habits a bit. After all, we don’t read See Spot Run our entire lives (well, most don’t) because you don’t learn anything new otherwise.

    I also think it’s a smart move to read outside of your niche, at least the high quality resources. It’s amazing what you can occasionally read outside of your main area of interest (don’t know if celebrity blogs would add a lot to your research, as an example, but you never know. At least I don’t know because I don’t read celebrity or gossip blogs, which means I’m probably not the best authority on this sort of thing. Which means you can comfortably ignore this aside!)

    • I don’t have much use for celebrity gossip either, other than occasionally being able to keep up with the cool kids, but I definitely agree about the importance of reading outside of your niche. Sometimes seeing the same basic idea presented from the perspective of a different industry or organization can lead to revelations that wouldn’t have happened otherwise.

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    • Thanks for stopping by, Geoff. It’s been really good to thin out my reader and refocus. Though I can always appreciate a good nap. :-)

  20. I feel a little foolish adding to the discussion at this point, but it sounds like you’re in the same place quite a few people are camping out in. I actually tweeted the other day something like, “Do you ever have days when you don’t want to read remotely social media related?” A great conversation started and the consensus at the end turned out to be that the NON-SM discussions and NON-SM blogs are where at it’s at, because they provide incredible outside perspective and means of connecting the dots that are bigger than the tools and industry itself.

    All this social media chatter and postulation is so much bigger than we’ve made it, and sometimes I fear the insular nature of our little SM bubble will be the thing that kills us in the end. It’s time we went big picture, and it’s awesome to see you step out and head that direction. Thanks for sharing your new reads with us, too — some fantastic staples and recommendations. :)

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  22. Thanks for this refreshing read. Defo time to reassess my RSS feed and blogroll. I’m writing from a place where social media is only just rearing its head – everyone says NZ is a bit backward, blissful for it in some ways. Rather be sailing. Or fishing. Anyway, I’m trying to introduce the concept of social media to some of my clients and I’m in the process of sorting the wheat from the chaff to find the true value. This post has been a good conclusion to a week’s research – I just cited you in my summary, have a quick peak if you got time http://tinyurl.com/yfd2ut9.

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