190500Notes on blogging<br /> Malta 3–4 June 2010<br />Hello bloggers!<br />It was great meeting you all in Malta and wonderful to see such enthusiasm around blogging. It’s a fascinating world; one that is both productive and informative. The key to success for full content blogging is commitment and personality. Remember, to your readers, you are what you write. These notes bring together the references we used in our sessions and include some interesting links. Happy blogging.<br />Jovan and Mary<br />Four types of blogs<br />Source: http://lorelle.wordpress.com/2005/11/13/judging-blogs-by-their-post-content-styles/<br />
Links Content is post content that consists of a link, a group of links, or a sentence describing and including the link to an external blog or website. These are blog posts which are short and to the point. All they offer are the links. Link Content style posts are fast to read. Many people follow such sites because of the quality of links to other sites with information they want and need. This puts pressure on the blogger to present one or more links which encourage visitors to leave the site. Quite the reverse of most website goals. Yet, visitors expect consistent and reliable links to information, so they will return to such sites for those pointers. Maintaining such a blog means constant research into hot or specific topics that establish your blog as a key resource for these types of links. This encourages visitors to return.
Blockquote, or more appropriately called Reference, content styles are the next step above the links content styles. These posts offer a link to the offsite resource, but they also contain a paragraph or two from the external site as a teaser of what is in the post you will visit. Again, these post content styles encourage visitors to leave your site to visit another to get the information they need. Visitors will return if the blog consistently presents solid reference material that will catch their interest. Bloggers who specialize in reference content often scour the web looking for information related to their topic, consolidating what is spread across the net into one resource, earning respect from users looking for similar information and resources.
Feed Content is the ‘resource for content that isn’t yours’. In other words, feeds fuel the site rather than the blog owner or administrator actually finding the information, links, and content from other sites and posting it. Feed content is post content that comes from other sources. Feed content style blogs are not good or bad, unless they are poorly executed. They just are another form of content choice. Successful blogs which use feeds as their sole source of content are usually ones which use paid feed services that allow filtering to the incoming feeds, keeping the feeds isolated to a specific topic. Feed services, free or paid, which bring just about anything onto a blog rarely attract a consistent audience. Some blogs will use feeds to enhance their own content style, often showcased in the header or sidebar. They add to the overall information available to their readers.
Full Content post styles are posts written entirely by the blog author(s). While there may be links to external sites and reference, the blog is dedicated to providing ‘original’ content for their audience. While many think that this is the ideal type of blog, there are pros and cons to full content post styles. They can be very time consuming, as the author must generate the content, research, and possibly substantiate the material. The writing style needs to be consistent and good quality. Frequency of posting may be less than faster link and reference style posts. Yet, full content posts offer more information and resources for the audience. Well written blogs will hold a reader on the site longer, encouraging them to read more. Such bloggers, especially those who specialize on a specific topic, tend to be seen as ‘experts’ or at least ‘informed’. Readers return because they know this is where they will get ‘all’ the information, not just part of it. Some call this style the ‘one-stop blogging shop’ where people come to get the news they can use, not just a reference to news somewhere else.
Awareness-building activity: As you search the Internet for diplomacy-related blogs, see which category you’d put them in. Ask yourself what you like about them and why? If something irritates you, make note of it and be sure not to repeat it in your blog. Developing a sense of what content works and what doesn’t is a key part of blogging successfully. And don’t forget to share your links with us!
19050942Terms you should know before you start blogging<br />Blog platform: The software that manages a blog's content and publishing. Examples include Wordpress and Typepad and Blogger. Free platforms are designed primarily for personal blogging. They offer style templates and free hosting and domain names. They also offer a limited number of blog tools/metric free of charge. <br />Domain Name: Domain name is an easy-to-remember address that can be translated by DNS into server's IP address. Domain names are hierarchical. Domain's suffix indicates which TLD (top level domain) it belongs to, for example .com, .gov, .org, .net, or .jp. Recently ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) added several new TLDs, like .biz, .pro., and .museum.<br />A web hosting service is a type of HYPERLINK "
Internet hosting service"
Internet hosting service that allows individuals and organizations to make their own HYPERLINK "
website accessible via the HYPERLINK "
World Wide Web"
World Wide Web. Web hosts are companies that provide space on a HYPERLINK "
server they own or lease for use by their clients as well as providing HYPERLINK "
Internet connectivity, typically in a HYPERLINK "
data cente<br />1905025400Things to consider when choosing a blog platform Source: http://www.problogger.net/archives/2006/02/15/choosing-a-blog-platform/<br />What are your goals – Probably the most important thing to do when starting the process of choosing a blog platform is to consider your aspirations for your blog. Of course complete first timers might struggle a little with seeing the future of their blogging, but to the best of your ability attempt to answer some of these questions: <br />Is blogging something I see myself doing long term?<br />What will the main purpose of my blog be?<br />Is my blogging more of a hobby or does it have some professional application?<br />Do I foresee putting ads on my blog?<br />What is your budget? – As with most things in life, blog platforms come with a variety of price points ranging from free through to more expensive options. There are three main things that you might pay for: <br />The blog platform itself<br />Hosting for your blog<br />Domain Name<br />Different blogging platforms offer different levels of service. Some like HYPERLINK "
Blogger.com and HYPERLINK "
WordPress.com offer both the platform, domain name and hosting for free. Others like HYPERLINK "
Wordpress.org (note this is different to WordPress.com) offer the platform for free but you then need to find and pay for your own hosting and domain name. Others still, like HYPERLINK "
MovableType charge for a license for the platform (depending how many blogs you have and whether they will have a commercial, personal, educational or not-for-profit use – they do also have a free version) and then you need to arrange and pay for your own domain name and hosting. <br />Other costs you might like to factor in at an early stage include: <br />design – all platforms come with free templates (some more professional looking than others) but if you want a more individual look you’ll either need to have some design skills, know someone who does or be willing to pay for a design.<br />blog tools/metrics – there are any number of tools you can pay for to help you in your blogging. These might include stats packages (again you can get free ones but can also pay for more features), offline blog posting tools etc. If you’re a beginner you might not need any of these – but down the track you might find them useful.<br />How technologically able are you? – This is a crucial factor to consider when choosing a blog platform. If you’ve never had any experience in creating a blog or website before and are not a technologically minded person then there are some blog platforms and set ups that will be much more suited to your needs than if you know a few of the basics, or at least are willing to learn them. The other option of course is to find someone who is a techie to help you out (either paid or as a friend). One of the great things about blogging and most of the platforms out there is that there is a wonderful communal knowledge out there and many forums dedicated to helping people get the most out of their chosen platforms. <br />What blog platforms are others using? – While I am always advising bloggers to make their blog their own – when it comes to choosing a platform it might be worth finding out what others are into. Over the last few years different platforms have come and gone and I suspect they will in the years ahead also. MyHYPERLINK "
recent poll on the topic might be helpful to get a handle on recent trends – but as this post gets a little older you might like to do some research of your own.<br />0-426Are you a blogger or a writer?<br />Source: http://lorelle.wordpress.com/2006/01/08/wearing-two-hats-writer-or-blogger/ <br />A key difference between a writer and a blogger is that a blogger can express their opinion while a writer, while they might have the occasion to express an opinion, usually doesn’t. A writer writes about the topic at hand, providing information, resources, and news that you can use. It might have a personal slant, or it might not have any slant at all.<br />19050290195<br />Getting started and keeping on track<br />Setting up a free blog is pretty much self-explanatory. Most of the platforms have clear and simple instructions. Lorelle on Wordpress includes some video clips. Check her link at http://lorelle.wordpress.com/2010/04/27/one-minute-with-lorelle-planning-your-blog/<br />
Jovan presented Diplo’s failure with developing a collective blog for the staff. A few years ago, Diplo tried to make institutional blog but it did not work. The key lesson learned: blogging has to be individual with a potential ‘institutional layer’ added later on. Mary presented her own personal blog which takes an individual and bottom-up approach driven by the desire to communicate her experience of moving to Budapest. This blog averages about 500 hits a month; she’s been using Facebook as the primary advertising medium for the past year and has seen a notable increase in visitors. With some proper care and attention, this figure could grow and grow.
Some things are worth remembering:<br />
Add a ‘counter’ to your home page so that people can see how many visits you’ve had. It’s amazing how large numbers will encourage readers to spend time reading your latest entry. If other people visit you, then quite probably you have something interesting to say. Bear in mind though that these figures only tell you how many people clicked through to your site and which posts they opened, not how long they stayed.
For those unfamiliar with RSS feeds, add a simple ‘subscribe to’ box where people can sign up to new postings to your site by simply keying in their email address.
Update your content regularly. If you have a free time one day, write two or three posts and then use the schedule system to publish them at different times during the coming week.
Reply promptly to comments left by readers. It’s good manners and will encourage them to come back and visit your blog again.
Join a group of bloggers who are blogging in the same field. This will help publicise your blog (if you have something interesting to say).
Link to others in your post. If you mentioned a place, a company or an article, create a hyperlink where readers can click to find out more. These pingbacks – a message automatically sent to a blogger when another blogger references one of his or her posted entries – are another way of publicising your blog.
Use keywords to direct traffic. Monitor how people have arrived at your site by regularly checking your statistics to see what keywords are used most often and then include these in future posts.
Comment regularly on other blogs and drive traffic back to your own blog by including a link.
Creditability is key. You readers need to know about you. Who you are. What you’ve done. Then they can decide whether or not your opinion is worth reading. You need to get personal. And ‘getting personal’ is not about telling them what you had for breakfast; it’s about sharing what shapes your opinions, thoughts, and views on what you’re blogging about. Have a clearly visible page where people can go to find out more about you.
Do your research. Check to see what blogs are being read the most. Sites like Technorati can help. http://technorati.com/blogs/top100 If you find a blog that’s relevant to your subject, comment on it.
We cannot proofread our own work because we see what our mind tells us we have written. Get someone to check your blog for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. If you don’t have someone you can ask, try reading your blog backwards. This will trick your mind into ‘not remembering’ and should flag the mistakes.
If the subject you’re writing about is a delicate one, have someone who is familiar with the situation read it and check it for sense.
190501828The institutional aspect<br />
Some of you asked questions about integrating blogging into institutional procedures. How can a Ministry of Foreign Affairs make blogging part of its communication policy and strategy? Because blogging thrives on a strong personal note, this is not an easy task. We heard from the US State Department that the key is ‘nurturing’ not imposing Web 2.0 activity. It cannot become part of the ‘terms of reference’. The best approach is to identify enthusiasts and assist them by providing training and technical support. At an institutional level, you might consider promoting their ‘success stories’, including exploring the possibility of including social communication activity as an element for faster career progression. It has to be completely bottom-up approach.
190501668Links to blogs that may be of interest<br />
Links from the UK FCO site provide useful guidelines for diplomats involved in social media:
Follow the links at the top right of the block image (social media guidance, audio) <br />There are several links from this page that talk about objectives, case-studies, simple how-to's etc<br /> <br />A very diplomatic blog: British ambassadors worldwide tell (nearly) all on the web<br />http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2009/nov/20/british-envoys-join-bloggers<br />No blogging, social networking for Indian diplomats<br />http://www.hindustantimes.com/No-blogging-social-networking-for-Indian-diplomats/Article1-376183.aspx<br />