Monday, February 16, 2009

Why Vlogs Aren't All That

I hope you had a great Valentine's Day if you observed it, and that you, uh, have a great President's Day, I guess. Today I'm going to talk about a growing trend in blogging, and why I'm not really a fan of it most of the time. The trend? Video blogs, or vlogs.

It's easier than ever to record, edit, and post video on the Web. Even my cheap little EeePC comes with a basic webcam and simple video recording software. I've yet to use it, though, and odds are you won't see a vlog post on Hired Minds anytime soon. To be honest, I'm concerned that this is taking off so much (even though it's been around for several years). It's not just that I'm not a fan of them for the most part, it's also that if you're a blogger, vlogs are quite possibly causing you to lose readers.

Why the drama, you ask? Well, consider the following:

1. Most people spend time at work reading blogs, and (let's be honest) this is often done somewhat surreptitiously. If you have a video on your blog, the reader either can't listen to it or has to dig out headphones to hear the sound, considering that they probably wont want other people to hear it. This will also apply when the reader is, for example, reading your blog on their laptop while watching TV with their family. Better hope they have a DVR so they can pause American Idol! Additionally, watching a video will draw a lot more attention than reading text on a screen. These factors will combine to cause people to not read your blog post at work.

2. They can be hard to view. Not everyone has a fast Internet connection, and sometimes people may be reading your blog on a mobile device. In the latter case, video can be especially problematic since some mobile browsers don't handle video well unless it's formatted specifically for mobile devices and, more importantly, unless someone has an unlimited data plan, the video will eat up tons of their allotted download memory. As a result, these folks are going to skip your blog.

3. Most people can read faster than you can coherently speak. People typically can read significantly faster than a person can talk while still being understood. Granted, this is a generalization, but I would guess that's probably very true in the case of frequent blog readers. Unless you're doing an auctioneer impersonation, I can read your blog post faster than you can talk about it.

4. Most of the time, vlog posts don't add value. The bulk of vlog posts I've seen are just someone (or people) sitting there talking about something. How does this add value to your blog? We can get this information just as easily by reading it. Plus, I will bet dollars to doughnuts that you spend more time working on a vlog post than you do on a standard written post, unless you are a fantastic improvisational speaker and have a slick video setup. The caveat here, of course, is that sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words. If you're showing how to do something, for example, a video could be the way to go. They can also be interesting if you are posting from a unique location or have a special guest on your blog. But most of the time, text is king (or queen).

Brad over at Brad Ideas wrote a post about this a few years ago. I'd say it's still true today, if not more so. If it ain't broke...


  1. ...and this is why a blogger who wants to reach all audience in his/her niche should use text, video, photo and audio :-)...anyway, in my opinion, the content is indeed the king..

  2. Wow, I never thought of it that way! Nice thoughts -- after hearing your reasons, I don't think I'm much of a supporter either. Sure, vlogs make sense on Youtube, or if you have a blog dedicated to teaching dance or interviewing celebrities -- but they aren't practical for most blogs. I saw that Brad recommends the use of transcripts to supplement vlogs. This is a great idea not only for usability, but also for SEO purposes. Vloggers need to keep in mind that the content of their blogs isn't going to be indexed by search engines. While transcripts are a good solution, I don't see many people using them.

  3. People read blogs at work? Really? :)

    Nice post Mr. Minion

  4. @Anita: I too liked the idea of a transcript supplement. Also, I didn't even consider the SEO angle (though I should have, since we've been discussing it in class) and you make a really good point there.

    @Michael: I was shocked, SHOCKED to find out people read blogs at work! :)