It was part of discussion that came up in our Newbie Tuesday discussion in the Online Facilitators community on the Knowledge Hub. A lot of facilitators liked the idea of blogging. But didn’t know where to start and the best ways they could use it.
I’m no expert in blogging. But I do like to write my thoughts down. So here are my thoughts on how to make blogging an essential tool in facilitating your online group.
Why should you do it?
Growing your group, refreshing your member and keeping everyone in the loop as to what is going on is essential to continued activity and engagement in your online community.
Blogging can be a great tool to help you do this. But how do you get started? How do you plan and review blogs and what different styles can you use?
Let’s start with the basics
As you always have to quote Wikipedia in a blog (unwritten rule) here we go.
blog (a truncation of the expression weblog) is a discussion or informational website published on the World Wide Webconsisting of discrete, often informal diary-style text entries (“posts”). Posts are typically displayed in reverse chronological order, so that the most recent post appears first, at the top of the web page. (Wikipedia)
For me over the last few years, Blogging has started to become an essential tool in a group facilitators armoury. Not only can it be used to promote the group and the activities, it can lead to recruitment and recognition of what the community is doing,
It can become the place that holds the knowledge and history of the community due to it chronological order allowing new members to see what has been happening and allowing you to remind the members of what you have been able to accomplish.
What are the fundamentals of blogging?
I would say there are 4 things to think about when writing and developing your blog posts. The First 2 are around writing the blog. The second two are the forgotten ones. What’s the point of writing a blog post if no one has a chance to read it and if they do, what made them read it?
1. Pick a topic and a title
- Pick one topic to focus on per post
- Make the value of the post clear
- Make sure the title describes the post
- Keep the title between 50-60 characters (shows the best on search engines)
2. Format and optimise the post
- Whitespace is a good thing
- Use section headers to highlight points
- Use bullets and numbering
- Bold important statements
3. Promote your blogs
- Share on social media
- Share via internal newsletters etc
- Link from previous post
- Add links to relevant previous blog posts
4. Analyse the performance
- Number of views
- Number of comments
- Number of likes
- Shares, likes etc on social Media
So, what are the different styles of blogging and when can you use them?
There are a number of different styles of blogging that you can use to support your community.
I have broken them down into 3 different themes to help you pick the style that you want to use depending on the situation.
Looking to promote your group
|Reporting back from events
|Instead of just letting your team or close colleagues know, you can now tell a wide range of people who were unable to attend and look for further discussion from people who did.||1 out of 5||Easy|
|This is the highly popular of the top ten list (or any other number) list about something. Blog posts in this type of format are frequently bookmarked or shared
|5 out of 5||Medium|
|Conducting an interview and publishing either audio, video or transcript of the interview into a blog post.
|4 out of 5||Medium|
Looking to grow your group
|Writing blogs pointing out the work of your group or interesting things that are relevant to your group are great ways to recruit new members as you can also add a link to your group.||4 out of 5||Medium|
|Taking a post or article from another location and reposting a significant part of it as a blog post with limited original commentary||1 out of 5||Easy|
|Concentrate on a particular specialised topic. Using links to news or articles and personal opinions.||3 out of 5||Easy|
Keeping members in the loop
|Live blogging||Blogging at a face pace about something in real time as it happens. With constant updates to a blog or a stream of blog posts.||4 out of 5||Hard|
|Announcement blogging||Break news about an announcement or news that was not previously available elsewhere. For maximum effect, being the first to break the news matters most.||5 out of 5||Hard|
|Link blogging||Collecting a series of links to websites, blogs or other online content to create a list of resources with links in a single blog post.
|4 out of 5||Medium|
Remember. You don’t have to create all the content yourself.
Just look around and you will find lots of content and ideas that you can cherry pick for your group.
How do I start?
- Follow relevant Twitter #tags.
- Join other online communities.
- Sign up to organisational newsletters.
- Identify and follow influential bloggers.
- Sign up to newsfeeds on relevant websites.
If you have already started to do some of the above, you have already started on the content curation journey. Now it’s about flagging up interesting items that you have been writing in your blogs and sharing with your member. You can do this via ‘Announcements’ and ‘Group messages’ leading to greater engagement within your group.