Social media: A Guide Positif Politics November 2011
What is a blog?
The word ‘blog’ comes from ‘web log’ – literally, an online log of activities
Sometimes it is difficult to tell which is a blog, and which is a website. There are some characteristics common to most blogs
Reverse chronological order – the latest entry appears at the top
Frequency – blogs are updated more often than websites, sometimes every day, especially if they are written by a team
Tone – is more ‘human’, less corporate
Interactive – they often allow comments
Tagging – they characterise the contents of a blog through words (‘tags’) that make it easier for people to find them online
RSS feed – they deliver their content to subscribers. We will cover RSS in more detail later
People set up blogs for different reasons and in different ways
Set up by individuals who take great pride in their work.
They are passionate enough about a subject to take time to maintain their blog.
Their individuality often comes across in the tone used.
They may not all be experts in what they write about – but in some cases, they are, and they become highly influential and credible.
Set up by corporations for research, marketing, sales, support or development, or to enhance their internal communications and culture
Blog platforms Name Characteristics Wordpress Good if you want to use at a basic level online, or download and customise Posterous Good if you want to customise to a high degree online or offline, but is less user-friendly at a basic level than Wordpress Blogger.com Good for mobile blogging when customisability is not important
Tips for successful blogging
Regular posts – at least once a week
Identify your keywords
Incorporate keywords into your posts. Keywords are what make your posts attractive to search engines. Tone: Be authoritative, compelling, intelligent and direct
Use direct, plain, simple language
Be genuine. Assert your personal authority through an honest, lively voice. This is what makes blogging unique and enables you to engage with audiences
Always try to respond to comments, whether positive or negative
Think about what effects you want to create with your blog. Different types of post can have different effects. Here are some examples:
Instructional posts tell people how to do something. They can be good for establishing you as an expert, or building up a body of knowledge that you can also refer to in future.
Reviews give your take on a product or service. They can help you to sell your own product or service by comparison.
Lists are simply lists of anything – products, services, tips etc – that often have the title “10 Top Ways To...” or “7 Best Examples of...”. They can be good for getting search engine traffic and becoming part of a blogging community.
Finding bloggers to target
The steps to identifying bloggers are:
1. Identify your keywords
2. Use searches to find them
3. Figure out who’s influential
4. Figure out who’s approachable
5. Figure out your pre-pitch
To determine a blog’s Authority yourself:
Copy the blog’s address eg mashable.com
Go to technorati.com
Click the ‘Blogs’ button
Paste the address
In this example you can see that Mashable has an Authority of around 1,000. This means that around 1,000 people link to Mashable.
Repeat for other blogs. The higher the Authority, the bigger the audience, and therefore the greater the influence.
Pitching a blogger
When you pitch a blogger you need to put across why it could be interesting for the blogger very quickly. Here are some tips:
Make sure what you have is suitable for the blogger.
Be open and honest. If you’re pitching on behalf of a client, say so.
Personalise your approach. Make sure you mention to the blogger why you think it is suitable for the blogger, even if it’s just one sentence at the beginning.
Tell a story. Show how what you’re pitching is part of a bigger story and that it continues an important narrative.
Be human. Don’t be too corporate but also don’t be over-familiar
Be honest about the relationships. If you’re representing someone else, say so.
Don’t offer money to a blogger, this hardly ever works and may even get you bad exposure
Don’t pester a blogger. If the blogger doesn’t respond, leave it
Case study: NACCPO
National Alliance of Childhood Cancer Parent Organisations (NACCPO) to partner with the UKs leading family and parenting bloggers
Parenting bloggers across the UK to gain free admittance to pantomimes
Bloggers to make donation to the National Alliance of Childhood Cancer Parent Organisations in place of paying for entry
Bloggers to then draft posts and reviews of the shows
Creative and seasonal way to generate awareness for NACCPO, with direct call to action to donate
Analogy #1: Think of it like traders have financial feeds delivered to their screens. You have content feeds delivered to yours.
Analogy #2: You subscribe to a feed very much like subscribing to a channel on your TV.
Analogy #3: In the same way you receive emails with your email application, you can receive updates from blogs with your RSS reader application
Wherever you see the RSS icon, or the word ‘RSS’, this tells you that a site has a feed, and you can subscribe to it. You can build and organise your own monitoring system across hundreds of blogs or sites:
RSS makes it easy to:
Monitor many blogs at a time
Monitor blogs in a consistent way
Blog monitoring platforms
Google Reader is a powerful, versatile, easy-to-use, free online RSS Reader
To use Google Reader, go to google.com/reader. If you already have a Google account you can start to use Google Reader immediately.
Google Reader has powerful archive and analysis features and can integrate with iGoogle so you can read feeds whenever you go to Google’s home page
Netvibes is also free and online
To use Netvibes, go to netvibes.com and create an account
Netvibes doesn’t have the RSS versatility of Google Reader but does have far superior display capabilities, enabling you to create powerful monitoring dashboards through RSS