This is part two of a three-part series of posts adapted from my session notes from the National Conference on Service and Volunteering. You can read part one here.
Setting up a blog is fairly easy to do, but there’s a lot of work that you should do both before and after you’ve started the blog. Perhaps the most important thing is that you don’t start with a blank piece of paper, or a brand new Word document. That’s a horrible place to start.
They might be a great place to start writing, but if you’re going to start blogging, or working with any kind of social media, then you need to have an organization-wide social media strategy. It doesn’t have to be a multi-page document like the EPA’s white paper on Web 2.0. It can be a few lines about how no one in the organizations will act in a way that paints the organization in a negative or questionable light. Don’t forget about it once you’ve written it, either. It should evolve as you experiment more with social media. Something that ought to be considered when you’re writing a social media policy is what the goals for using social media are, especially things that you’ll be spending a lot of time on, so you can tell whether you’re meeting your goals.
Once there’s a policy set, then you need to start thinking about how often you want your blog to be updated. Something that’s worked really well for Volunteer Maryland is to have five different authors for our blog, each one posting new content once a week. Five different authors posting once a week create new content every day. The best part of having a group of authors is that everyone is going to have a different voice, and a different way of seeing their jobs, so the content is always fresh. We shoot for blog entries that are 500-700 words long. It’s a nice length; long enough to develop a story but short enough so there isn’t a huge time investment in reading the entry.
If that doesn’t work for your organization, that’s fine; it’s ok to try something else. Find out what works best and go with that. This doesn’t mean that you can’t add or change authors, either. If your original plan doesn’t work for what your organization is trying to do, keep changing things until you find what works.
What do you do if you find out that your blog is no longer meeting your organization’s goals and you don’t have the resources to devote to maintaining it? You’re going to pull the plug on the blog, but you don’t want to just leave it hanging on the internet. The last thing you want is for someone to find a blog that hasn’t been updated in three years. Even if you have a post about how the blog doesn’t fit into your organization’s strategic vision anymore, make sure there’s some sort of closure to the blog.
There’s one more thing that I’m going to talk about, and that’s how to deal with negativity in your blog. If you’re really eager to get started, go for it! If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch with me on Twitter or by email.