Blogs can be considered social media, though not everyone agrees on this. People who consider blogs social media do so because they are user-generated, can be part of networks, and allow interactivity. People who do not consider blogs social media say it is because they use long-form content, the networking is not social, and the interactivity dynamic is not equal.
Understanding Social Media
There is no universal definition of social media. In the broadest sense, it refers to material that is on the internet, generated by users, and that involves some form of networking.
Each definition includes some combination of other features. These features only overlap to the extent that almost all of them consider media like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to be social media. These three services and ones that are almost identical to them will be referred to as “core social media” throughout the rest of the article for convenience.
Social Blogging or Microblogging
Microblogging, also known as social blogging, is a type of blogging that utilizes core social media services to publish. Because of its presence on core social media, it also includes all of the latter’s additional features and allows microbloggers to engage directly with others doing the same. Microblogging is considered social media by most people, which complicates the issue further.
Depending on your perspective, microblogging represents either a transitional form between blogging and social media, an overlapping element that covers both, or acts as proof that blogging simply is social media.
Ways In Which Blogs Are Social Media
People who consider blogs to be social media will refer to a few important points to support this. Let’s look at some of them.
1. User Generation
The content in blogs is generated by the user and published independently on the internet. This is the fundamental difference between social media and legacy media.
Whether it is written content, visual media, or any other type, the material that gets published in blogs is made by an independent individual for the purpose of broadcasting out to whomever wants to view it with no middlemen in the way.
2. Blogging Networks
Many blogs will be published as part of blogging networks. These networks can be very tightly knit and highly dependent on one another or they can be rather loose unions.
In both cases, the blog is a member of a larger network, which it publishes as a part of. The development of social networks on the internet is one of the fundamental definitions of social media.
Most blogs allow readers to leave comments. Some blogs are famed for the entire communities that have been built solely within their comment sections, which makes them an interactive medium. Interactivity is another fundamental defining feature of social media.
Blogs that use commenting services like Disqus even extend these interactive communities across any other blogs that use the same service. This increases interactivity further and integrates the blog into a much greater social network.
Speaking of integration, a lot of blogs integrate core social media into themselves.
Although some people consider this to be a point against blogs being social media since they have to integrate it separately, doing so does extend all of that functionality to the blogs. If a blog has the same functionality as core social media, then it necessarily has the same features and meets the same definitions.
Ways In Which Blogs Are Not Social Media
Blogs do not meet many of the additional and more subjective criteria of social media. Many people also consider blogs to not even meet all of the fundamental criteria for being classified as social media. Let’s look at a few of the main points that people make to support this position.
1. Content Length
Although it may seem trivial, one of the most obvious differences between blogs and social media is the length of the written content. For example, even after Twitter doubled the maximum length of its tweets, it still only sits at 280 characters. Other core social media allow a bit more, but not as much as the potentially infinite post lengths of blogs.
We discussed microblogging earlier, which mixes and matches features of both blogging and core social media. Notably, it takes the very short content lengths from core social media, and this is a big part of why so many people accept it as social media.
2. Social Networking
We learned earlier about how blogs do contain elements of social networking, but another of the biggest reasons why many people do not consider blogs to be social media is because they do not contain enough social networking.
Although blogs differ between themselves, there are many basic features of core social media that are missing from most or all blogs. These include elements like notifications, user-focused delivery, “friends” or “followers” between users, one-click interactions like “favorite” or “retweet,” and many more.
A lot of these can be added into a blog by integrating core social media with it, but some would argue that this functionality is not integral to the blog and is therefore not a true part of it.
3. Lack of Interactivity
The interactivity of blogs is a controversial point. We looked earlier in the article at how many consider blogs to be social media precisely because they are more interactive than legacy media. The flipside is that many will consider blogs to not be social media because of how much less interactive they are than core social media.
Within blogs, the interactivity has a very different dynamic to that of core social media. Notably, in blogs, no matter how open the interactivity, there is a clear distinction between the blogger and the commenters. Contrast this to core social media where everyone has the same channels to publish and comment on others’ publications.
This equal interactivity is another feature that microblogging inherits from core social media rather than from traditional blogs.
We have learned today why there is no consensus on whether blogs are social media or not and looked at the reasons that each side gives for their position.