Effective Blogging

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So you’ve decided to start a blog for your business or organization, but now what? This session will help answer that question and much more. Not every blog will have the same strategy and goals.

You’ll learn the right questions to ask to help guide your organizations blog strategy. Important considerations include the Who (who are your authors), the What (what is the blog about), and the When (how often do you post) of blogging.

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  • Mention #secon2011
  • So what do I do here at Systems Alliance? Essentially, I manage projects. I organize our internal resources to ensure that client projects are completed on time and within budget. I also work with our clients to ensure our internal resources have access to all of the client source information possible so they can deliver the project as specified in our agreement.I am also well versed in information architecture, digital strategy and content strategy to enhance the overall user experience of site visitors. This often means I collaborate on deliverables for those specific portions of a project. Perhaps I am wire framing some templates, developing a new site map, or creating an online survey to gather audience behaviors.
  • I specialize a bit more on content strategy. This means I work with clients to help them build a sustainable plan for their contents full lifecycle, not just the original migration. I’ll provide guidance to determine what content they need, who will create that content, how that content should be designed, and finally when the content should be published, reviewed and archived.Blogging often plays a big part of an overall content strategy and so today we will focus on that topic.
  • So, you’ve decided that you need to start a blog for your school, business or organization. This cartoon, borrowed from the Grow website (http://www.businessesgrow.com/2011/11/04/content-strategy-a-growtoon/), is pretty much spot on with how a lot of content related projects get started. Sure, you want to start a corporate blog. Do you really want to start blogging without a strategy? Hopefully you are all thinking “of course not” so lets start to figure some things out together.
  • Before you even consider starting a blog, it would be ideal to have some basic strategic business information at hand. Information that will be required before making some of the decisions we will talk about today include:Business Strategy – Hopefully you have an overall business strategy with goals and objectivesAudience Research – Do you know who your audience is? Do you understand what their goals are?This information is important because all of the content you post is only valuable if it does at least one of two thingsSupports one of your business objectives Helps the user complete their task – this could be as simple as learning the benefits of a product, or finding the company phone numberNot every blog is going to have the same strategy, objectives and goals – you need to have a plan. There are important questions to be answered so that you can build that plan. To start with here are some of the answers you will need to come up with:Should you blog at all? Don’t be afraid to really consider this question.Who are your authors, who will blog for your organization?What is the blog going to be about, what will we say?How often do we post? Is this going to be a lot of work? How will we remember to blog?I’ll be providing some examples, suggestions and scenarios that will be focused on higher education, corporate, and personal bloggers during this presentation so I hope I am not leaving a particular audience out here, I just needed to select a mix to focus on and also be able to keep the session time reasonable.
  • With a quick show of hands, how many of you in this room are blogging already?Those that raised their hands, are you blogging for personal use or for your business? For those not raising your hand, do you post on Facebook or Twitter? Do you participate in discussion on linked in groups?Blogging really started out as more of a personal passion for people to log their personal lives in an online format. Eventually blogging became more mainstream and started to become integrated into corporate websites both internally and externally. As I go through my presentation, I think you might find that many of you that didn’t raise your hand may actually be blogging as well.
  • You should be able to answer this question, with more of an “I want to…or we would like to” response, because you have something valuable you would like to share and contribute. These contributions, your blog posts, should achieve a goal that you have as well. You need reasons and goals and they shouldn’t be “everyone else is doing it” or “my boss said we need a blog”. If your vice president says you need a blog, then your vice president should answer the “Why Blog” question and let you know what value there will be from this new effort.You want to create goals:Specific – Increase client prospectsMeasurable – Improvements you can track with campaignsAttainable – Is the goal realistic?Relevant – This could increase our profit, and in turn my bonusTimely – We should see results in 3-4 monthsPerhaps your organization doesn’t even need to blog…it is worth considering.
  • If you are the director of the Maryland Bridge Fanatic’s Tournament your research might prove your investment is still better with print media, perhaps in the “Coffee Shop News” or local church bulletins. Make sure you are doing some research to find out where your audiences are!Write down your list of goals on the handout sheet I provided, for now, your goals are just early ideas – flesh them out when you get back to work later this week. Once you have the list, and even if it is one goal, stick to your list, and measure your success. Everything you post should really fit into your strategy and work towards meeting one of your goals.http://www.coffeenews.com/
  • MIT admissions website uses their student blogs directly on their homepage, with an apparent goal to use the student voice to grow admissions. This is a great strategy to allow current students to be the voice of the school. I feel it is also reflective of the schools perspective on advancing media and technology.http://mitadmissions.org/
  • Another use might be to set up the blog with a goal to promote a collaborative workspace for students, taking advantage of commenting functionality. This example is a language learning blog, allowing students to share specific projects with each other - http://langlearnlog.wordpress.com/Some online or distance students might want to create a blog as a way to engage with peers and faculty. Blogs can be fantastic tools for publishing and sharing information among a wide community.
  • Our goals at Systems Alliance are to:Build brand awarenessGenerate new prospective clientsEngage with our community of clients and prospects and providing them valuable information on web effectiveness solutions, IT Optimization and SiteExecutive CMS software.Your business might have some different goalsRecruiting employees – LinkedIn and Twitter have been very useful tools for companies looking for new hiresLink building and site promotionImproving Search ranking – right now this is becoming even more important with the recent Google update focusing on fresh content. If your blog is related to anything timely and your content is fresh you will potentially display higher in search results.The key here for businesses is to balance your content between “marketing and salesy” content and actual content that provides solutions and value to your audience. If you are doing too much promoting and not providing enough real value, you will find your audience will move along to a competitor. If your content has value it will be promoted and engaged with.
  • Earlier I mentioned engagement as a goal for the content that we post on our Systems Alliance blog. It is important to mention the fact that committing to a campaign of engagement with your audience will require a commitment to continue the conversation beyond just the original post, be it a blog or on Facebook. If users comment and/or have questions you need to continue the dialogue. See this example here of Moleskins blog post about creating a logo for their blog. The design community took offense to the request for what they felt was free work. - http://www.moleskinerie.com/
  • This may require that a policy be in place for responding to comments and questions. I am sure moleskin has a corporate policy but here is an example where their community engagement plan backfired and was not well received.Creating policies to keep your organization safe could be a whole sessions itself. In fact it is part of a session tomorrow, at 1:15 PM, with Dan Soschin and myself. The keynote address tomorrow morning also focuses on Social Media Law.EXAMPLES: http://www.moleskinerie.com/ - Moleskins business blog – promoting engagement with their moleskin users – their idea for a logo design contest led to the next examplehttps://www.facebook.com/moleskine/posts/10150437031147049?_fb_noscript=1 – Moleskin follow up to some facebook criticism.
  • Wordpress, Instagram, Tumblr, Squarespace and Posterous are just a few of the very easy to use blogging platforms available today. Most of them are free (Squarespace has a monthly fee) and even have mobile apps to allow for blogging on the go.
  • Whether you are a blogger, posting personal journals or just someone who likes to post completely randomly… expressing yourself is both fun and fulfilling.Right now you can even have your personal blog nominated for a Mobby on baltimoresun.com
  • As I mentioned earlier most of us are already blogging in a sense on facebook, twitter and Google +. What is nice about many of these social blogging tools is the ability to control our audience. You can target specific messages to lists of users that would be particularly interested in the message using facebook lists and google circles.
  • This is an easy decision when you are blogging for personal use.As part of a larger organization though there should be some sort of policies in place regarding blogging and who can do it representing the organization. Policies can be very informal, and allow anyone to blog, but they should have at least minimal guidelines to ensure that the organization is not put at risk.As part of an overall content strategy you should also consider implementing a workflow process so your content is reviewed. It would be most ideal if you had someone in your organization that acted as editor in chief or chief content officer to ensure the organizations message and voice are maintained across all digital channels. But at least have a team that reviews/approves content, you want to ensure that other eyes are seeing your new content. Also, don’t forget to include bios about your blog authors, keep them short and simple but include them to add a little life to their work. Oh, and photos are also nice!
  • It is fairly common to find that CEO’s, CTO’s and Marketing leaders are some of the main bloggers for most businesses. These bloggers have achieved a following in most cases, and have the chops to create content that is valuable to both the business and the audience. This forum allows them to reach and even larger audience! Tom Glocer CEO of Thomson Reuters blogs about and is influential in changes in new media and other technologies, he also talks a bit about travel and sports, things that interest him. A good place for thoughts on what might be next for big media companies.http://tomglocer.com/
  • Administrators, like leadership in the business world often blog for similar reasons. This example is the blog of the President of American Public University System. Dr. Boston blogs to communicate higher education issues, though sometimes touching on personal interests like golf and social media. http://wallyboston.com/
  • Here is a great example of a collaborative blog that features both student and faculty contributors. - http://blogs.nursing.jhu.edu/Professors may be interested in blogging not only about particular subject or course but sharing their approaches to lesson plans or particular experiences they have in the classroom. I have a friend who has some very humorous posts about daily interactions with students, almost always student 1 and student 2, very interesting names.Providing students with a forum to post their experiences, creativity and ideas can keep them engaged in their educational activities while promoting literacy, collaboration and community.
  • Expanding the pool of bloggers in a business has become increasingly popular with the rise of social media. Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) can now promote services and products to an ever increasing circle of followers by creating content that highlights the value of the service or product. Our software trainers and developers provide advice on getting the most value out of your SiteExeutive implementation.
  • Customer Service and Public Relations teams are other examples of potential members of your social team. A bad story can spread around the web’s social networks at speed. – see Moleskins example. Having personnel available to monitor the activity of your brand is now crucial. Jumping back to the moleskin example, you can see they formed a response to all of the negative comments and feedback from the prior week, this response however was received much better than the initial Facebook post.
  • A final idea for additional content creators is having guest bloggers on your site. As long as the blogger creates content that is related to your business and also creates useful, usable content there are good reasons to have a guest blogger – primarily that you are expanding your circle of potentials views as the guest blogger promotes the article to their followers. Chris Brogan is a good example of an experienced guest blogger. http://www.chrisbrogan.com/about/ Chris is a guest blogger on many sites, one of them being the citrix blog http://workshifting.com about working from anywhere, American Express OpenForum, Entrepreneur Magazine and many others.Article on reasons for having a guest blogger: http://www.viperchill.com/guest-blogging/
  • MIT, which I covered earlier, is a great example of utilizing a good mix of bloggers: students, staff and guests.
  • So, how many of you have difficulty getting authors to actually create content for your blog?
  • Make it easyUse simple software and simple processes: create content templates, train the authors, provide best practices on writing for the web!
  • Here is a sample of a content template, showing the fields you might want to prepare in a template to make it easier for your authors to create and submit content.
  • Make it easyUse simple software and simple process: create content templates, train the authors, provide best practices on writing for the web!Interview approach – schedule sessions to have a content editor interview a subject matter expert. Keep it light and informal, we do this at systems alliance. Our editors take us out to lunch or we talk over coffeeProvide topics or ideas – if you have a pool of content authors but are not getting content suggest topics or ideas on a regular basis. Eventually something that someone is working on may prompt them to create some useful content. I’ll be talking about some ways to get topic suggestions soon.Guest BloggersAsk someone you know and respectInteract with someone on their blog if you would be interested in them postingFeature them in some way (interview, webinar panel, etc.)
  • If you need some ideas on what exactly to blog about, here are a few ways you can approach coming up with your blog contentAfter establishing your goals and authors you are probably going to have a solid set of topics in mind already. Looking to your peer sites and evaluating their topics would provide some additional ideas. Also, using past content to help find your potential topics is a place to start. You will also want to consider your audience. What content can you provide to add value and help them complete tasks.Utilizing the keywords your audience is likely to search for is another approach I will talk about.You might have a large amount of current content that could be re-purposed for your blogging use. Perhaps press releases about a new product launch could be updated to a conversational tone with additional solutions and added to your blog, or a power point presentation that you used at a recent conference. Leverage your current content when possible.http://www.copyblogger.com/create-content-ideas/ http://www.contentmarketinginstitute.com/2011/11/thought-leadership-platform/
  • Eduguru focuses on the topics of Internet Marketing and Web Development in higher educationAs an educatoryour topics could be varied: your course subjects, collaboration advice, or technical information related to your fieldhttp://doteduguru.com/id7670-students-and-campus-technology.html
  • Administrators like the American Public University System President, Dr. Boston might want to communicate higher education issues, perhaps being focused on affordability or engaging online and distance students to create a better integration with the campus experience.
  • http://www.lukew.com/ - Luke Wrobelewski is a thought leader writing on the topic of mobile first, promoting better content for the mobile experience.As a professional working for a company you may want to focus on a particular service. For example I recently posted about some Content Strategy best practices, a designer might discuss topics on designing for the mobile web or web typography. If you sell products you could blog about features and benefits of your product line.Use your customer questions from email, comments, or calls to build ideas for posts.Things to consider: Is your topic already covered by other blogs? It is okay if it is but if the other blogs are extremely well know you will have difficulty building your audience. Of course the opposite is true if your topic doesn’t have interest to anyone? Lastly make sure you are comfortably coming up with a decent amount of content on a consistent basis for your topic(s)
  • You may find it more valuable to focus on industry keywords as part of your blogging strategy, as these keywords are what users are actually looking for rather than your pre-defined topics. For example, on our Siteexecutive blog we have posted articles that are popular to the web industry (web typography and content strategy) and content management systems (workflow and training). But how do you know what keywords are the best to blog about? As a subject matter expert or a CEO you are probably familiar with some of the keywords related to your industry. What about using your site search analytics?
  • Here is another idea! If you already have a website a great approach to keyword blogging is to use your site search analytics to analyze the keywords your site visitors are using in your search. One final way you can build your list of keywords is by “listening” and reading the comments/feedback from your earlier posts or other blogs that may be written about a similar subject matter. Look for questions users might have had around a particular keyword.
  • Pricewaterhouse Cooper’s blog is a great example of producing a larger range of content. Their site manages 10 different blogs, in the US market alone. You can see the topics cover a range from Business Continuity to Finance to Gender in the workplace. Many of their blog posts provide examples of repurposing content.
  • Promoting a recent Economic reportIntroducing an online magazine article
  • Introducing an online magazine article using a new blog post – fresher contentAs I will talk about shortly an editorial calendar is an absolute must in this type of large scale environment to ensure content is created, reviewed, approved and published on a consistent basis.This is a great segue to the next question on timing…
  • A Publishing schedule is actually a very interesting consideration that a lot of bloggers overlook. The number one recommended blogging tip I have come across and totally agree with is to “Be Consistent” When you are ready to launch your blogging strategy ensure that you have a plan for regularly producing interesting and valuable content. If you do not, you will lose your audience, which you worked hard to grow.The best way to maintain a good consistent schedule is to take the time to create an editorial calendar. This is example here is very simple, showing the platform to which your content will be published and the Week it will be published followed by a field to check the comppletion.
  • Feel free to get very detailed, similar to this expanded example. Other fields you might want to Include could be:Submission dates – date submitted for reviewReview dates – allowing your editorial staff time to review and make changesPublish dates – date approved for publishingtopics or categories – what will the post be about in generalkeyword tags – the keywords that will be included in your postAssets needed ( this could images, audio, video links, pdfs)Related Content – what articles, documents or files will you need to link to from this postAuthor name – the content creatorDescription or title of the postCall to action – what do you want the visitor to do next?Audience – who is the article targetingNotes or status – where in the process is your post? Another Example: http://www.contentmarketinginstitute.com/2010/08/content-marketing-editorial-calendar/
  • Taking advantage of the various social networks available does require resources. Maintaining regular posting schedules will go a long way to building a large following. Be sure to use relevant #hash tags (Twitter, LinkedIn and G+) or name links (facebook and G+) to increase visibility. #highered #SEO #Social – you can search for popular hash tags at hashtags.org or tagal.us tagal.us is pretty cool, it starts to recommend tags while you type and also has a definition for tags, submitted by users.Consider doing solid research on your audience first to find out the best platforms for you to target. If you find your target audience isn't a heavy user of a particular platform save the time and focus your efforts on another platform.For example – the 2011 E-Expectations Report: Students and Parents by Noel-Levitz found that only 9 percent of students and 5 percent of parents said they had Twitter accounts.https://www.noellevitz.com/papers-research-higher-education/2011/2011-e-expectations-report Another example is shortly after launch of Google+, demographics were disproportionately popular with college students but now the trend is shifting significantly to a slightly older demographic that is also a much higher income segment.http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/google_plus_is_turning_mainstream_traffic_numbers.phphttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/30/facebook-vs-google-plus-searchers_n_941682.html
  • Fill out your editorial calendar well in advance to provide you with good guidance on determining your blogging schedule:Have a list of topics or ideas for your posts running alongside your calendar – if you have a very long list and have the time and resources a weekly schedule might work very well for youTake advantage of your blog comments to grab new ideas for contentUse your site search analytics to get ideasUseit.com – Is a great example of a very consistent blog. I have been following for more than 6 years and the posts are updated every 2 weeks exactly!It is important not to forget your workflow process and getting approval if your organization has a developed workflow process in place . In some organizations this can take a few weeks – but your publishing schedule should still be met so you don’t keep your audience waiting for your great content. Plan ahead with your calendar!
  • The long term quarterly idea allows you to take a break from the regular day to day blogging activities. These activities may require some prep work while leading up to the publishing date and perhaps some extra resources during the activity but it can be a great way to end a quarter with something original and fun for you and your followers.Some ideas for Quarterly postings include:Social eventsContests or Q&A sessions on Twitter, or FacebookProvide a specific hashtag for your users to follow if using TwitterSpell out any guidelines in advance - For example on Twitter you want the user to follow you so that you can direct message them if they winNewsletter or “Best of” postings, which could include some of the following ideas:Could be a curated list of your best posts, could even be selected based on visitor feedback on your blog or social feedLists of most useful tips or posts on your blog over the past 3-4 monthsEvent recaps of events and conferences you have attended or hosted.
  • Create specific, measurable, and realistic goalsBuild a team of authors and make it easy for them to contribute contentHave a list of blog topics/ideas that fits your strategy and goalsCreate an editorial calendar and stick to it – consistency is key!
  • If not SiteExecutive, what other software are you using?
  • Effective Blogging

    1. 1. Effective Blogging – The Why,Who, What, and When to Blog John Mohr Project Leader Systems Alliance Inc.
    2. 2. Introduction• Project Leader at Systems Alliance – Information Architecture – Web Strategy – Content Strategy
    3. 3. Content Strategy• Building a sustainable plan for the creation, maintenance, and distribution of your organization’s content.
    4. 4. Outline• Why blog?• Who should blog?• What to blog about?• When to blog?
    5. 5. Quick Poll• How many of our audience members are already blogging?
    6. 6. Why Blog?• Have a reason!• Turn these reasons into S.M.A.R.T. goals – Specific – Measurable – Attainable – Relevant – Timely• Should everyone blog?
    7. 7. Personal Blogging Software
    8. 8. Microblogging• New potential for targeted messaging:
    9. 9. Who Should Blog?• Who in the organization is a good fit for blogging?• Are there policies in place to protect the organization?• Don’t forget your workflow!• Include author bios and photographs?
    10. 10. Quick Poll• Do you have difficulty getting authors to contribute content to your site or blog?
    11. 11. Getting People to Contribute• Make it easy – Use simple systems
    12. 12. Getting People to Contribute• Make it easy – Use simple systems – Interview approach – Provide topics or ideas• Guest Bloggers – Feature them – Interact – Ask
    13. 13. What to Blog About?• A couple of different approaches to ideas for your blog content – Focus on a Topic – Focus on Keywords – Current Content
    14. 14. When to Blog?• Consistency is Key – create an editorial calendar, you might be publishing content: – Daily – Weekly – Bi-weekly – Monthly – Quarterly
    15. 15. Editorial Calendar
    16. 16. Daily (Social)• Microblogging• Daily (or many times daily) Social Network postings – Facebook – Twitter – Linked In – Google + – Tumblr• Use hash tags - #secon2011 #SEO, #highered, #social – Hashtag.org and tagal.us• Automate it!
    17. 17. Weekly, Bi-weekly, or Monthly• Be Consistent – take advantage of your calendar
    18. 18. Quarterly• Social Events – Plan ahead for rules and regulations – This should be a scheduled event – Requires resources during the entire event• Newsletter or “Best of” lists – Best of posts – a curated listing – Top ten lists – Event recaps and summaries
    19. 19. Takeaways• Create specific, measurable, and realistic goals• Build a team of authors and make it easy for them to contribute content• Have a list of blog topics/ideas that fits your strategy and goals• Create an editorial calendar and stick to it – consistency is key!
    20. 20. Quick Poll• What platforms are you using for your blogs?
    21. 21. Questions?• Any questions for me?
    22. 22. Follow up and Contact InfoI am also happy to share more ideas andresources on this topic – if you’re interested,connect with me:• jmohr@systemsalliance.com• @johntmohr on Twitter• + John Mohr on Google +

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