It is indeed that time of year where both tech fans and music nerds alike come together in the little town of Austin, Texas for the days-long festival known the world over as South by Southwest — and don’t its social media-centric counterpart, South by Southwest Interactive. Over the last few years, SXSW Interactive has become famous for breaking big social media marketing trends. FourSquare and Twitter both made big splashes at the festival. In fact, it has become a tradition among social media bloggers and tech writers to scoop out the big emerging social media stories of SXSW. Yet if we’re to believe WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg, this year’s social media story might not really be about social media at all.
“Certain ideas need to be expressed and a man needs more than 140 characters,” Mullenweg said. He was interviewed by AllThingsD’s Kara Swisher this week for the session titled “A Home on the Web: The State of Blogging in 2013.” Mullenweg also used his platform at SXSW Interactive to talk honestly about web advertisements (which he still thinks are ugly) and about how employers have the technology to let more employees work from home.
Mullenweg told the crowd at SXSW Interactive that WordPress sign-ups have increased “every single year.” He also noted that the average length for WordPress blogs is about 280 words. Blogging, according to Mullenweg, is far from dead. He theorizes that the millions of blog creators who start with other sites, like Blogger, switch to WordPress when they get serious about the platform.
As far as social media goes, Mullenweg believes that sites like Facebook, Tumblr, Google+ and Twitter have actually helped blogging. He says these sites are “the start of the funnel” that eventually drives “tons of traffic” to blogs.
“It used to be half of your traffic came from search engines,” said Mullenweg. Now, social media has “breathed a second wind into blogs.” Fundamentally, he added, “they are about linking out, which is kind of cool.”
As far as we can tell, Mullenweg is right on the money. Social media marketing has indeed helped boost blogging-for-business efforts. We’ve seen clients rake in tons of readers thanks to a few well-placed tweets or smartly-structured status updates.
But what do you think, readers? Is social media helping blogging or wiping it out? Sound off below!