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Advice Unlimited

Advice Unlimited

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Dos and Don’ts of Blogging: How to do it right

Blogging has become an essential part of an organization’s online presence. Blogs can be seen on just about every organization’s site. Although it may seem like a good idea to just jump onto the ever popular bandwagon of blogging, understanding what makes a good blog can make all the difference. Having a blog just to say you have one is not effective and could create a negative perception of the organization. Being able to engage a reader and being consistent are the key aspects to being able to maintain a strong blog. Here are some of my dos and don’ts for successful blogging.

Do: Have a clear direction

Many of the negative comments about organizations’ blogs focus on the writers of the blogs. The main issue with poor blogs is that there is no clear objective. This can be a main deterrent that turns readers away. The goal should of course be known to the author of the blog but more importantly, to the reader. If a reader has no idea what to expect from a post, there is a good chance they will not be subscribing to the blog. For example, The Federal Times blog has a clear mission – inform and create brand loyalty. They make it easy to navigate and spark strong interest by using up-to-date posts, topic separation and page interaction.

Do: Create order out of chaos

For a blog with multiple writers, it is good to have each writer have their own page that links to the main blog of the organization. On the Office of Management and Budget blog, they feature a main column of blog posts from each of their different writers. On the right side of the page, the reader can easily find past posts of a specific author they might like. There is no clicking from page to page to find the information; it is all in one place. This is a great example of a blog that could have been much more cluttered or chaotic.

Do: Make your posts social

Writing a blog is pointless unless people read your posts. An extremely easy and effective way to do that is by linking your organization’s social media pages to the blog. Nextgov is a prime example of how to link a blog directly to a story. Every story on this page is linked to Twitter at the beginning of the post. It makes it easy for readers to share the story with as many people as possible and gives the blog a much wider reach.

Do: Create interesting content

For every blog, creating a buzz should be a goal. Having a blog that posts content that matters is great. Having a blog that posts that same content but can make it compelling -- that is huge! VMware does this very well. They have many bloggers covering many different topics. The one thing that they all do very well is post stories that capture the attention of the reader instantly because of the uniqueness of the topic and the relevance of the topic to the targeted audience

Don’t: Post without purpose

Some people might think that because your organization has a blog that they have to post every day. This is not true at all. Posting regularly is a must; however, doing it just for the sake of frequency is not the best idea. This is what I would call “empty posting”. Empty posting gives the perception that the organization does not put thought into what they are saying. It also can take away from the credibility of the organization if the post is rushed and sloppy. Be sure that you have a purpose with every post.

Don’t: Forget about Design

A blog can really lose a reader if they have a hard time navigating the blog. A blog that I really believe captures the audience by design alone is FedScoop. FedScoop has brilliant colors and is easy to navigate. The black and white color scheme with a touch of pink is simple but also catches the reader’s attention. The page is also linked to all of FedScoop’s social media pages in the top right corner. This makes the blog well-rounded as well as well-designed.

Don’t: Talk to yourself

Blogs are a great place to spark a conversation. Having a blog that people can respond to and want to comment on is wonderful. This gives the writer a chance to respond to comments and create buzz on their story. All the comments that a story gets can be used for great feedback for future posts and insight on if and how you are reaching your target audience. An organization that has a good blog comment section is the USDA. On their blog they have a large section for commenting and feedback. They also integrate the rest of their brand throughout each post by linking to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and email. 

Don’t: Forget to use the power of the internet

For any blogger, this should be an essential element of their blog. The internet has so many connections and can relay a story in a more interactive way than a print copy can. So take full advantage of it. NASA does a great job of using the power of the internet. On their page they have videos, pictures, links and news feeds which can be easily navigated on their homepage. They also include links to their social media pages on the top of the page. This not only looks great on the page, but it keeps the reader on the page longer. Clicking and following a picture to a story and a video creates more time for the reader to connect with the brand.

Creating a blog is a great idea for any organization, especially when the blog leverages its platform for optimum communication outreach. Using the power of the internet, social media and strong writing skills, blogs can create good site traffic and brand loyalty – and help you communicate your message directly to your audience in a fun and memorable manner. Maybe it’s time you started blogging?