Your Blog Is Your Friend
Keeping It Real
Tips on Organizational Blogging
Practically speaking, blogs are a place where organizations can communicate with participants in a style that is highly personalized and a bit less formal than what visitors would expect to see on an organizational website.
Technically, blogs are a type of website software that allow anyone to easily publish and syndicate written text, photos, or video. The most popular consumer options on the market are Typepad, Blogger, WordPress, LiveJournal, and Movable Type, however, common content management systems (like Plone) offer easy to implement blogging functionality either as standard features (out-of-the-box) or as add-on products.
There are a few components to a blog post: the body content, a headline, tags (metadata to describe what the post is about), and reader comments.
As you set out to plan and focus your blogging efforts, it is critical to understand the audience you are planning to serve and engage via your blog.
Not everyone in your online audience is the same. Jakob Nielsen calls this "participation inequality," describing online audiences as communities where 90% of the users are lurkers who never contribute, 9% of the users contribute a little, and 1% of the users account for almost all the action. Check out Groundswell's Social Technographic Ladder for ideas on how your target audience might be interested in participating in your social web initiatives.
Depending on an organization's target audience and objectives, blogs can serve many different roles. Most effective bloggers view their blogs as one node in the "blogosphere," and split their blogging time between posting to their blogs and participating as active members of other blogs with logical connection to the topics, authors, or audiences.
Reaching and Attracting
Blogs can serve a number of roles in supporting your efforts to reach and attract visitors to your website and new members to an organization or campaign. This includes search engine optimization and receiving traffic from other complimentary blogs on the web.
Communicating and Informing
Blogs provide a platform for an organization to publish written content, photos, and video that might be less formal than that which they would put into a program or resources section of their website. Depending on the target audience, blogs can offer a different kind of connection between individuals because they are generally less formal and allow participation from the community through comments. An organization might want to use a blog to publicize an event, do regular link round-ups on a specific issue or topic, or publish editorials on current events.
The higher level value that blogs offer organizations is the ability to direct and facilitate conversation about their specific area of interest. If the quality of the content is good enough, it will begin to attract a readership, both passive and active.
Listening and Learning
One of our favorite uses for blogs is for listening and learning. Posting a blog entry and engaging your supporters in conversation is a great way to directly hear from your constituents.
Remembering and Growing
Blogs can certainly play an important role in providing meaningful ways for members to participate and be heard by each other and your staff. In this way, they can play an important role in helping you grow your relationships with individuals.
What You'll Need
- Appropriate blogging tool
- Clear understanding of the metrics you'll use to assess the return on you effort
- Appropriate staff resources and time
- Organizational blogging guidelines
- Appropriate audience
- Able to and willing to let conversation happen
Cost and Time Considerations
Good, well-trafficked blogs have frequent, engaging, and insightful content. The quality of a blog is very much a function of the time and effort an organization puts into it. Organizations interested in creating a valuable blog should spend at least 4 hours/week to produce one to two blog posts.
Connects Easily To
Websites: Blogs can be set up directly within an organization's existing content management system driven website.
Other social web properties: Information can be easily share to and from most blogs and the most common social web properties including Facebook, Twitter, Del.icio.us, Myspace, Flickr, and YouTube.
Other people's website and blogs: Blogs typically offer easy ways for the content to be syndicated and shared across the internet.
Database: Blogs that are built within an existing CMS website can be set up to share login information and other important user data with an organization's website.
What Others Say
Best Practices - Three key points: engage with other blogs and your
readers, keep the material fresh and exciting, and give people a reason
to return, Echoditto
- Top 10 Tools to Get Blogging Done, Lifehacker
- Help for Beginning and Experienced Bloggers, Lorelle on WordPress
- Open Source Blogging Tools
A Few Good Examples
- The Skywriter, 1 Sky's Blog
- Green Room: The Blog of The Environmental Defense Action Community
- Web Strategy
Want more? Hear how the super-bloggers at MomsRising use their organizational blog to connect with millions of members.