A blog (short for "web log") is simply an informational online site consisting of discrete entries ("posts") on a particular subject or from a person or organization's particular point of view. Usually posts are listed in reverse chronological order (with the most recent post on top). Unlike traditional websites, which simply broadcast content one-way to the readers, most blogs allow commenting by others and foster two-way or multi-way conversation. Blogs also usually offer RSS (Real Simple Syndication); this means that users can subscribe to a blog's content so that they are notified whenever a new post is published. They can be notified via email or via an online reader like Feedly or Netvibes.
What Does it Mean to "Blog?"
A person or organization who manages a blog publishes regular posts to the blog. Content in a blog post can include photos, videos, text, and other embedded content. Posts can be longer that a Facebook Post or Tweet and can contain any kind of formatting/content a blogger desires. The best, most popular posts are not too long, include interesting visuals or video, and evoke emotion: happiness, sadness, anger, nostalgia. Blogging is a great way to tell stories and share testimonials about the work of an organization.
How Do You Create a Blog Post?
Most blogging software offers WYSIWYG ("What you see is what you get") formatting. That is, posts can be created using Microsoft Word-like templates to make it easy to post well-formatted content without programming experience.
Blogs also allow you to tag content with keywords. This allows easier searching within your blog (and in search engines) for content on particular topics.
Blogs normally allow multiple people to manage content. An organization can have more than one person responsible for posting content. Some blogging platforms allow for workflow, where some users can draft content, others edit, and still others publish content. Each organization has to decide how they want to manage their blog.
How Do You Get People to Read Your Blog?
Once a blog post is published, anyone who has subscribed via RSS will receive a notification. In addition, blog posts should be shared via other channels as well: Facebook, Twitter, eNewsletter, and any online channel that is being used by an organization.
Should You Allow Others to Comment on a Blog?
Most blogs allow other users to comment on posts. Post comments can be very powerful ways to engage others in an online conversation about a topic. Comments should be moderated to ensure the organization responds appropriately to questions and concerns.
Spam or inappropriate comments that are left on your blog should be removed swiftly.
How Can You Increase Traffic to Your Blog?
The following tips will help an organization drive traffic to a blog:
- Create engaging content. Blogs should have a new post every week or so at a minimum. Great content that your audience is interested in will drive increased traffic. Nothing is more important than regular, engaging content.
- Promote the blog. Consider the blog your hub of communications. Post links to your blog posts on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media channels your organization uses. Highlight blog posts in your eNewsletter and on the front page of your website.
- Connect with other bloggers. Find blogs that focus on similar themes or connect with a similar audience. Join the conversation by commenting on those blogs' posts. Build a sincere connection to become a trusted member of those communities. You can also ask to guest post on these other blogs to connect with their audience with great content (and not simply promoting your own organization or blog).
Where Can You Find Great Content for the Blog?
Content is king for a blog. But where to find great content?
- Stories. Look to those people impacted by your organization for their personal stories. Consider your staff and volunteers for stories as well. Interview people in short videos or with a few questions to gather stories. Be ready to ask questions at events and other meetings to create a store of content to share on the blog.
- Videos and photos. A video or photo can be the focus of a blog post. Add some context or the back-story to a video or photo for a good, short post.
- Guest bloggers. Ask your audience to share their thoughts or stories on your blog. For example, camp or school alumni can provide nostalgic stories about their experiences. You will still need to coordinate the writing and edit the content before posting.
- Comment on the News. Link to other stories and news items, adding your own context for your audience. A short commentary on news that is of interest to your audience makes a good, quick blog post.
- Repurpose. Do you have content you've shared in the past that is still timely and appropriate? Reuse popular content from other channels (an old Newsletter, for example) as a blog post.
How Do You Get Started With Blogging?
Most blogs are easy to set up and provide a user-friendly means of posting new content. A user can use a service like Wordpress.com to create a blog hosted on the Wordpress servers or use Wordpress.org to create a blog on your own hosted servers. If you choose the latter option, you have more flexibility to add functionality and customize your blog's brand. This option also allows the user the ability to expand the blog into a fully-featured website in the future.
Blogger from Google also provides a simple hosted blogging platform, but has less flexibility and limited expansion options. A variety of other blogging platforms exist as well.
Organizations should really implement a blog integrated with their existing website. Why?
- Blogs require regular, fresh content. New content can result in increased web traffic. Ideally this increased traffic will come to the blog on your site…and readers will stick around to learn more about your organization.
- This new content can be highlighted on your website to keep the homepage up to date. Some websites age quickly, giving readers no reason to return. A blog can change that by providing new content on a regular basis.
- Because of the regular, fresh content, blogs are great for SEO (Seach Engine Optimization). The more people who click on a blog post or link to a post from another blog or website, the higher in search engine results that post will display. Again, organizations want to drive search and traffic to the main website, not a separate blog.
Have further questions or need additional help?
Contact Technology Program Manager Kevin Martone to discuss your blogging needs.