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Innovating into the new year: Blogging Key Areas for Business to foucs on

January 2, 2009

Be Authentic

Blogs have come a long way from personal diaries, but, as I’ve mentioned, readers still expect them to be written in authentic and personal tones. Copy that sounds as if it came from a marketing brochure will not be well received. To connect with young readers, take advantage of the fact that a blog is an alternative to marketing materials. It creates a forum for unscripted, dynamic, and personal conversation. Creating personal connections with your supporters is the primary benefit of operating a blog.
Devote Time to Blogging

Setting up a blog takes ten minutes. However, creating a blog that draws readers requires posting frequently, managing comment spam, and making efforts to join the community of like-minded bloggers. Blogging is an ongoing daily project. Maintaining positive blogger relations and regular blog reading, writing, and posting must be scheduled priorities.

Clarify Objectives

What are you trying to accomplish with your blog? The question seems rather obvious, but many organizations start a blog without thinking it through. Explicitly answering this question will help you focus the content and writing style of your posts and the way that you interact with supporters. Here are some possibilities:

* Telling a story that advocates for a candidate or issue

* Connecting supporters with one another

* Creating a space for supporters to express ideas and creative thought

* Conducting market research

* Attracting new supporters

* Reporting news

* Raising your organization’s search engine ranking

* Establishing your organization as an expert in the field

* Preparing to respond to timely events

* Supporting a broader campaign

* Showing the impact of your organization

* Fundraising

* Improving internal communication

If the purpose of your blog is to tell a story, for example, your blog is going to look radically different than if you’re seeking to improve internal communication. Write a list of objectives and then outline the ways in which the blog will meet those goals.

Tag Smartly Integrate Broadly

Consider the ways in which a blog can complement the range of your organization’s activities. For example, you can use a blog to enhance communication surrounding a traditional direct-mail piece. Print an exciting lead-in on the mailer and then steer people to a blog post to discuss the topic. Blogs don’t have to operate as independent entities— use them creatively to encourage communication.

Tags tie a community of bloggers together. You can join the community simply by using tags common to bloggers in your field. Before you begin a blogging project, research tags by looking at the tags in use on related blogs. Develop a list of tags that you’ll use frequently. In the Web 2.0 world, tags help define your brand, except that you share and codevelop this brand with fellow taggers.

Release Control

For many organizations, one of the biggest hurdles in starting a blog has nothing to do with software. The obstacle is fear of losing control. Blogging requires a willingness to relinquish some control over branding and messaging. It encourages greater openness and a flattening of organizational hierarchies. It invites constituents to have a conversation not only with your organization but also with you, the real people who work behind the scenes. Blogs also ask constituents to converse with each other. They will not always say nice things.

Blogging purists will say that operating a successful blog necessitates shifting the very structure of your organization—making it more open, transparent, and responsive to constituents. Certainly, some organizations have used blogging to facilitate these types of changes.  By not deleting controversial comments, they demonstrate a commitment to the spirit of blogging.

The benefits of blogging diminish as you add more controls. When you strip opportunities for social interaction, the blog becomes more like a marketing brochure or advertisement. Before starting a blog, review your objectives. If your organization wants to broadcast a message, create a Web site or run an advertising campaign instead.

Participate in the Blogging Community

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, when you start to blog, you become part of a community of like-minded bloggers. Your organization undoubtedly has developed expertise in a given field. Think about how you can contribute that expertise to the community. Read other blogs and post comments, and start discussions. When someone posts a comment on your blog, respond quickly to encourage lively conversation. Keep tabs on discussion in your field by running frequent blog searches on relevant keywords.

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