SOCIAL MEDIA SNAPSHOT COMMANDER, SUBMARINE GROUP TEN BLOGS!
Blogs are content rich, so they often show up on the first page of search results. Notice that Commander Submarine Group Ten’s blog shows up as the first two results when searching for the command. Having a blog increases your share of voice online about your command. Let’s find out how Commander, Submarine Group Ten does it!
1. What’s the goal of your blog? Commander Submarine Group Ten’s Blog is intended to inform and educate readers while providing a medium for intellectual discussion and debate about important issues involving the U.S. Navy in today’s environment.
Your blog should have a very clear goal and overarching theme that is appealing to your target audience and relates back to your command’s mission Consider why you want to have a blog and how that helps your command better achieve its mission Some blog concepts/goals you may consider: Provide a human/personal perspective on the official daily duties Share an insider’s look into your command Provide clarity around complex issues your command faces Highlight specific careers/jobs within your command Share the history of your command Update the public on current events related to your command Provide helpful tips for Sailors and/or the Navy family on a particular topic Provide support for the Navy family
2. What is the tone? Commander Submarine Group Ten’s blog is informative, friendly, and official Smiling staff photo sets a friendly and approachable tone. Complete sentences written in relatively formal manner with references to official titles denote a professional and official tone.
Setting the tone There are so many angles you can take with your command’s blog and it’s important to set the tone upfront, especially if you are planning on having more than one blogger author your blog Think about your target audience when setting the tone. Choose your angle and writing style and try to maintain that style in each post to provide consistency for your readers Your blog could have any one of the following tones or a combination: official STOIC Humorous Sarcastic Positive Encouraging Investigative Caring Sincere
Content Every blog should have an editorial calendar that plans out at least a rough schedule of topics to blog about over the next 6 months to a year. Blog topics can be story ideas, potential interviewees, resources to feature, etc. The editorial calendar should also outline who is responsible for writing, editing, and approving posts before they are published. Before going live, have 3-5 blog posts already written. You can use those to get started or keep them as a back-up for when you are really in a crunch for time. Coordinate your calendar to link up to important Navy events and milestones.
4. What platform do you use? COMSUBGRU10 uses WordPress to host their blog. WordPress has a built-in content management system so you can easily publish content, monitor comments and track activity of readers (# of views, top rated content, # of comments, etc.). WordPress has set themes so you do not have to design and code the blog yourself. WordPress is free! WordPress has hundreds of widgets you can add in to customize your blog with calendars, Facebook plug-in, Twitter plug-in, and even polls like the one at the right to increase engagement with readers.
Blog hosting platforms There are several open source tools you can use such as WordPressand Blogger When using these tools, it’s important to note you are agreeing to their terms of service and privacy policies, unlike a blog on a “.mil” site You may also use the DoDLive.mil platform to start your blog by filling out the Blog Request Form available from CHINFO
5. What policies do you take into consideration? Disclaimer COMSUBGRU10 has a disclaimer that doubles as their comment policy. On the front of their blog, there is also a privacy statement in keeping with the Privacy Act. Privacy statement Comment policy
Policies Whether you use an open source platform or DoDLive.mil, the standard Navy disclaimer and comment policy should be clearly posted on your blog For additional guidance on where to find the disclaimer and how to post, please contact CHINFO.
6. What does your blog look like? COMSUBGRU10 has chosen a simple WordPress theme and added their own photo to the header to customize the look of the blog. They have kept the colors simple, making the blog easy to read!
Aesthetics As much as the standard templates allow, your command should adhere to Navy.mil branding guidelines when designing your blog In general, white background with a dark colored text is the easiest to read—especially if you expect your blog posts to be relatively lengthy Use your command’s official photos, seals, and logos when possible If you are using the DoDLive.mil platform, they have a few standard templates you may choose from.
7. How do you get people to read it? COMSUBGRU10started blogging in July 2009 Initial outreach:
Sent an email out to local commands announcing the blog
After a few months and ~50 readers, they decided to expand readership:
Reached out to related industry bloggers (The Stupid Shall be Punished, Navy Submarine League, DoD Live) and asked to be placed on their “blogroll.” Result—they not only were listed on those blogrolls, but a few bloggers wrote a post about the COMSUBGRU10 blog!
The next step—engaging on a hot topic:
COMSUBGRU10 used the blog as a key tool in communicating RADM Bruner’s point of view on women serving on submarines
Media and interested parties were directed to the blog for answers to questions about the lifted ban. Result—traffic picked up and many quotes from RADM Bruner in the media came directly from the blog!
Command personnel provide guest blogs from time to time (e.g. a CMC in Iraq)
Regional safety information is pushed out in timely manner (e.g. hurricane season safety tips)
Every new blog posts also gets posted to command Facebook page
Reaching your target audience Consider how you currently reach out to your target audience, online and offline Do you have existing channels you can use to notify your target audience that you now have a blog? Consider sending them an email and adding a link to the blog to your email signature and other collateral distributed regularly Connect your blog to other online spaces your command is present, such as your Facebook fan page, Twitter account, website, etc. Be sure to submit your blog to the Navy.mil Social Media Directory so CHINFO can help you promote your blog as well
8. How do you know if you are successful? Measure!
13,200 views all time
On their busiest day the blog received 551 views
COMSUBGRU10 has several ways readers can interact with the blog—reading and commenting directly, subscribing to email updates, subscribing to an RSS feed of posts and comments, and taking a poll.
Measuring success The key to measuring your success is defining clear goals and measurable objectives before you start blogging Some metrics to consider are: Number of visits to your blog Number of comments on blog Inbound links (number of other websites linking to your blog)
Commander, Submarine Group Ten’s lessons learned in blogging Add photos--they drive traffic! Blog more often, but only if you have content relevant and critical to the command to discuss. When we blog more regularly, we get more traffic. Don’t be afraid to reach out to industry and DoD bloggers discussing topics related to your command. Speak to your local community as well as Sailors and their family members. They are an important stakeholder. Use a 3rd party platform, like WordPress, so you can easily track metrics.
Blogs are a great tool to… Provide an individual perspective on Navy topics Tell the story behind Navy.mil articles Discuss topics that matter to your command, personnel, and families Elaborate on a topic too in-depth for Facebook and Twitter Enhances Rhumb Lines Is a more “controlled” form of social media in which comments are approved or deleted before appearing to the public (unlike Facebook)
General blogging tips Blog posts should be One complete thought/opinion on a specific topic Timely Personal & Engaging (providing individual perspective on a topic; telling the human side of a Navy story; making a Navy.mil story relevant to the general public) Interactive (we want readers to comment and authors should read and respond to comments) Blog posts should NOT be: Rhumblines Navy.mil story Maritime Strategy, Naval Operating Concept (NOC), or your command’s mission statement General guidelines: Tie to timely Navy issue (topic must have been in news within past 5 days) Keep posts to around 500 words in length (best practice is 300-500 words per post) Include multimedia (engaging photo, video, etc.) Write in plain language (visit http://www.plainlanguage.gov/ or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QtXSCwphuzg for guidance)
REVIEW: Checklist of things to consider before you begin a blog
Other blogging guidance USA.gov’s Guide to Blogging, Things to Consider: http://www.usa.gov/webcontent/technology/blogs.shtml The Blogging Revolution by IBM Center for The Business of Government: http://www.businessofgovernment.org/pdfs/WyldReportBlog.pdf Blogs as a Public Forum for Agency Policy Making by the Brookings Institute: http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/Files/rc/papers/2009/08_blogs_mahler_regan/08_blogs_mahler_regan.pdf Comparison of Blogging Software: http://www.ojr.org/ojr/images/blog_software_comparison.cfm List of Government Blogs: http://www.usa.gov/Topics/Reference_Shelf/News/blog.shtml