I'm speaking today at Blah Blah Blogs, an afternoon for the Washington digerati asking the question, “Should your organization blog, and if so how?”
The simple answer is it depends. Blogging is publishing, just like a newsletter is publishing. Who is your audience, what can you do with that audience if you have their attention, and can you turn that attention into something of value, are the key questions to ask.
The answers to these questions become the business case for your blog. Some groups have millions of members they may want to activate on an issue, or give money. Others may just have 100 decision makers they want all singing the same tune.
In all cases, don't just post a blog. You want an RSS feed. You want to announce posts on Facebook, and Twitter, and Google Plus (a tool like Tweetdeck can hit several of these services at once). You want it going out as an email, to your core list, and you can measure how well you're hitting that target based on whether the email read and how many unsubscribe. (A good email marketing service can always tell you if emails have been opened.)
Once you define your audience and what you want from them, the question becomes what will you give them? What most good blogs offer is an inside look into the blogger's struggles, which in this case is your organization's struggles. Since blogging is publishing, a blog must be focused on its mission (unlike this blog) and its message should be built around the mission.
With the parameters set, how often do you blog? Regularly, I know, but how often? Generally the larger your audience, and the more their active participation is sought, the more often you post. If your target has six-or-seven figures in the number, you may want to post multiple times in a day. In this case use a variety of media – pictures, video, sound files. Build an interactive story. Call for a response of some kind – a contribution, a note, an action. This gives you something else to measure.
What are you trying to build? In the end, you're trying to build a community, a collection of like-minded people who share your interest, and consider you to be the main source on that interest. A good blog is your branding message, and builds loyalty.
Practical tips. Everyone is different. I write as easily as I talk, and my family will all tell you I talk a lot. I write every day, and your blogger should, too. Even if you decide to blog once a week, your blogger must be an active writer, and actively engaged in the work of your organization, so they know what to write about when the time comes.
You may choose to schedule topics for posts, so you can tease them. (Next week our analysis of S. 505 and why this could end life as we know it.) I don't do that, but mine is not an organizational mission. This blog is a personal mission, an ongoing statement of my beliefs and experiences.
Let's summarize. Blogging is publishing. Choose your target audience, and base both your frequency and your media mix on hitting that target. Write well, read over what you've written, add pictures and video, consider a podcast.
Don't know about podcasts? Ask me.