I really want you to blog. Did you know that Social Media Examiner’s 2013 State of Social Media Report puts blogging #1 at the list of the top 14 social media channels you should be exploring? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Your blog is the hub of your content strategy (or it should be). Build a blog and rock it. You’ll simultaneously put in place a content strategy that will enable you to easily share relevant content across every communication channel you use. Online and offline. There’s no better way to offer your constituents meaningful engagement. So… what are you waiting for?
BTW: You can learn a lot more if you download my free webinar,The Keys to Nonprofit Blogging that Drives Engagement. Did I mention it’s free?
Here are 10 tips to get you started, or to help you simplify the process so you can focus and deliver.
- Who is this blog for? Recommendation: Have a primary target audience in mind before you start. If you have truly distinct audiences that don’t overlap much, you may consider more than one blog. Remember that you want the blog to build bonds with existing fans and also create new ones.
- How do I get started? Recommendation: Use a simple blog template such as WordPress, Blogger or Typepad. Ideally you’ll use a design that is similar to your main website, with tabs that mimic that site and which can be clicked on to take your readers back to the website. They won’t even realize they’re on a different site if this is done right.
- What will you post about? Recommendation: Develop a three- month editorial calendar with topics of interest to your target constituencies. What are your most frequently asked questions? Which programs generate the greatest number of earmarked donations? You can even create posts out of emails. What’s fresh and new and exciting? Include topics that are in the news and/or breaking news for your organization. And cover a range of topics so you appeal to those who prefer vanilla as well as the chocolate lovers.
- How often you will post? Recommendation: One blog post per week is a reasonable goal. But shoot for something that’s manageable for you. It’s most important to develop and consistently stick to a schedule.
- When will you post? Recommendation: Initially you can play around with different days of the week and times of the day; monitor which posts get the most page views. Ultimately you’ll want to develop a schedule and stick to it. Blog fans come to expect their updates on certain days and even at certain times. Fans who get disappointed a few times often stop showing up and stop recommending your blog.
- How long should the post be? Recommendation: It’s a post; not a book. 500 – 700 words is a good average. That’s just one page double spaced. Aim for something you can accomplish. If that’s shorter, then try for a useful top ten list; or post an event photo and add a commentary, or excerpt from a workshop and talk about the desired outcomes for those who involved. Be creative, and keep it simple. From time to time you can do longer, meatier posts just to shake things up.
- Who will create the post? Recommendation: Spread the wealth and ask a range of folks on your staff to create content. Or ask board, volunteers or colleagues to do “guest” posts. Make sure you ask only those who are excited by the task, and who have the skills and knowledge. Keep it personal, yet have one person serve as “editor” to assure that everything meets the criteria set forth in your editorial calendar, adheres to your brand guidelines and doesn’t look sloppy.
- Should I include graphics? Recommendation: YES. People engage more and retain more when images are incorporated into text. You can also upload videos (e.g., from YouTube). Check out Should your blog posts look more like this? for more data on how this works.
- Why are you blogging? Always remember: You’re doing this for a reason; not simply to fill airspace. What do you want your readers to think/feel/do as a result of reading your post? Ask them to do it, and make it easy for them to do so. Encourage readers to engage by commenting. And always respond to comments. This humanizes your blog so you don’t seem like a faceless internet “robot.”
- Where else can this blog content be useful? Consider the blog as the hub of your marketing communications strategy. Information in your post can also be shared on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and other social media sites. You can link to your blog from your e-newsletter, enabling you to create succinct e-news emails with everything ‘above the fold’. For areas that interest them, fans simply have to “click”. No more scrolling for them, and you don’t have to create fresh copy. It’s already been written!
If you have other tips to simplify the process for folks, please add them. Also, remember to download my free webinar, The Keys to Nonprofit Blogging That Drives Engagement, below. Or you can simply get the Clairification Blogging Resource Guide. It’s free too! Let me know how you’re doing. I’m happy to chat any time.
Photo: Flickr, Steve Bridger