Did HR Blogging “Jump the Shark”?

Mark Fogel HR, Mark Fogel 4 Comments

For those not in the know, the term “Jump the Shark” originated when the character Fonzie, on the TV show Happy Days, water-skied over a shark. I know, pretty far-fetched, even for this over-the-top hit series that ruled the airwaves in the 1970s. Others refer to Bobby Ewing and the famous shower scene from the TV soap “Dallas” as the first Jump the Shark moment on television.

Urban Dictionary defines Jumping the Shark as:

term to describe a moment when something that was once great has reached a point where it will now decline in quality and popularity. Origin of this phrase comes from a Happy Days episode where the Fonz jumped a shark on waterskis. Thus was labeled the lowest point of the show.

Now let’s look at the origins of HR blogging. A few of my FOT family members have been successfully blogging for a decade, and a couple of them have been around even longer. Dunn, Herbert, and Dingee led the way on this site. Sackett, Rapp, and a slew of current and former folks (alumni) have been writing for years as well. I started on a Google platform in 2007 and switched to a WordPress platform in 2014. I deleted most of my early content as I was embroiled in C-suite paranoia over my writing on social media and concern for litigation if I slipped and said something that could be used against the organization. For more on that, I will discuss in a separate post on another day in the future.

There are some blogging veterans out there who you might say have covered it all over the years. Or maybe not as there is always something new and different that pops up. It is, however, challenging to come up with new content or to go to places that have not been covered ad nauseam. So kudos to the veteran writers!

In the early years of blogging, there were no rules set and creativity reigned. It was often crude, sometimes long-winded (no word count limits), no legal or marketing oversite, and for some, no spell check. Like the rock bands U2 and The Police, before they signed with major labels. Raw and energized!

But the medium is old and due for an evolution of sorts.

Some folks believe that this already happened a couple of years ago and we are just now noticing. Video and podcasts are being used all the time and are being blended with traditional blogging. Sometimes, even just “vlogging”.  FOT has been using video for quite some time, mixed in with the daily posts.

Some of the outliers who introduced us to blogging and social media in the HR and Talent space have gone heavy with audio. Can you say “Chad and Cheese” or Laurie Ruettimann??? These folks led the charge in HR social media a decade ago and have switched gears in their content delivery. Podcasts, which have been around for years, are finally starting to be adopted in the HR and Talent space.

And HR blogging, which was once a place for those that were innovative and on the edge of HR, has now gone mainstream. HR tech company blogs and SHRM bloggers are now at all the major conferences. Like music that goes from edgy to popular, the rough surface and the creativity gets watered down as consumption goes up.

But, to be fair, I am contradicting myself in that more bloggers equates to more viewers or consumers, at least initially, even if the quality erodes.

I have recently done a few podcasts as I have embarked on my Last HR Jedi speaking tour. I have to say, I really like the medium a lot. My favorite being “Drive Thru HR” with Michael VanDervort (click here to check it out). However, 30 minute interviews are very long and I don’t know the appetite or the attention span of folks to handle this on a daily basis.

Some things in life have sustainability. The morning paper and the car radio are two that I can point to immediately. So maybe HR blogging hasn’t jumped the shark just yet. It takes about 3 to 4 minutes to get through an average 700-word post (did you set your stopwatch when reading this?) You could consume 3 or 4 of your favorites in the morning in the time it takes to finish off your Starbucks before work.

Maybe HR blogging hasn’t Jumped just yet….Still reading?

Mark Fogel
Mark Fogel is best known for his HR with an Attitude. His background includes almost a decade and a half as CHRO at Leviton Mfg., The Marcum Group, and The Success Academy Charter School Network, as well as co-founding Human Capital 3.0, a boutique HR advisory firm. Mark has been honored by SHRM nationally as their Human Capital Leader of the Year in 2007, and by HR Executive Magazine as an Honor Roll recipient in 2010 and “Best HR Ideas” in 2012. His HR teams have garnished numerous national and local awards for HR innovation, wellness, and employee engagement. Mark speaks regularly at national conferences. He is also an Adjunct Professor at Adelphi’s Graduate School of Business.

Comments 4

  1. Pingback: Did HR Blogging “Jump the Shark”? – Site Title

  2. Hey Mark – I did read to the end but then I still like the medium. Like some of your friends, my blog goes back a while – February 2009 is still alive albeit in an archive.

    I guess for me we all started to blog and because of that, it got tougher to write good content, that when you start you are motivated, angry or both you write your best stuff but then it dies out. I still write and publish but it’s not as frequent and it’s harder to write good original stuff.

    Video isn’t the same. It’s great for a 1-minute soundbite but longer than that needs editing or it can look amateurish. Doing a longer piece looks overproduced.

    We still read books. So, therefore, we still read blogs and like you, I hope that several 700-word blogs could be read, sat on a plane, train or bus and it will motivate them to feel something, learn something or challenge.

    M.

  3. I still like well researched balanced long form content. Unfortunately it’s rarely seen because:

    a) It takes time
    b) It does not pay the bills or anything more than a 2 paragraph fluff piece.
    c) People’s attention span is clearly lower

    Maybe that’s why why I hate Twitter and can’t get my blogging thoughts out with the limited word count.

  4. I smile because this is a blog post on the death of blogging.

    Thanks for the shoutout. Not quite all-in yet. I still blog regularly over at ERE.net, and I enjoy it, but my podcasting life is more popular than I ever imagined at this point. Blown away with the adoption and engagement for sure.

    I’ll add that writing, especially content others find worthy of reading, is difficult. And the rewards are few and far between sometimes. Many times a thoughtful post’s social engagement pales in comparison to a funny picture or quote. Podcasting, on the other hand, is a microphone, some free software, some awareness about what’s going on around you, a brain and a few hours.

    And then there’s the fact that … ah, screw it, I’ll just talk about this on an upcoming podcast. Much easier.

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