Jokes aside this will not be a blog about blogging. There are some great resources out there you can leverage to learn how to create engaging content. In this blog we are going to talk about how to effectively integrate blogging into your overall Community strategy.
While considered Social Media because the majority of the people who blog (like myself) are part of the masses rather than a corporate entity Blogging is not, in itself, social. Blogging is one way communication from the author to the reader, there is nothing really collaborative about it except for comments where the author engages on the topic. I would not consider my website here to be a community just because I am leveraging a blog as part of the pages.
That being said blogging, like forums, are a tool in the toolbox to use when developing your community strategy. My methodology for integration is what I like to call…
The Community Blog Content Life Cycle
At a high level I believe that blogging can only be effectively integrated if your community membership participates in some way. In the Community Blog Content Life Cycle there are four key aspects.
- Driving Conversation from Blog Topics
- Drive Blog Topics from Conversation
- Empowering Community Thought Leaders to Blog
- Author Participation in Conversation
Driving Conversation from Blog Topics
When a Blog lives on a Community there is an expectation of synergy. In reality, though, most corporate communities treat their blogging and community programs as separate entities which are often managed in different silos. When a blog topic is posted there should always be calls-to-action for engagement and feedback. This could be as simple as a link to a forum where you can discuss the topic to leaving sections of the blog topic open for the community members to complete. The key takeaway here is don’t leave your blog post hanging as if you stepped into the forum at Rome and nailed a piece of paper to a door. Communities are about interaction and collaboration.
Driving Blog Topics from Conversation
I have always said that a blog is like a puppy. It’s really cute and fun when you start out but eventually it becomes a chore and the joy diminishes. I myself have struggled following my own rules when working on this blog. I planned out all my posts in advance, made a calendar, choose a publish day and not once have I hit that calendar. I’m only a few posts in and it’s already becoming a chore. Coming up with content for blogs is always a challenge and the well of ideas always runs dry eventually. That is why the great thing about a mature and active community is that there are always conversations and topics being discussed. Using the most active and engaging content as a “topic planner” demonstrates that you are a) listening and monitoring your community and b) ensures you are writing about content that your community members actually care about. It’s also another way of driving a 360-degree cycle between the blog and conversations.
Empowering Community Thought Leaders to Blog
When working on blogs in a corporate atmosphere there was always a challenge in finding authors. Even if you convinced one of your coworkers to write it was nearly impossible to keep them writing. It is always a constant battle. When you combine your thinking about blogging with your thinking around gamification though a new group of people emerges to tap to write blog content. Empowering your top ranked community members to be able to blog, working with them to develop the content and plans will both give you a free source of content as well as recognize your top contributors. It’s a win-win approach.
Author Participation in Conversation
If a blog author is going to write on a community blog I am a believer that they have to agree to participate for at least an established period of time. At the end of every blog post there should be a link to a thread or forum where you can ask the author questions and they can then respond.
In key to all of this is keep the conversation going… take it around the various tool sets. There is nothing stopping a forum post from being a blog, a blog from being an idea, an idea from being a blog, etc etc.
In my next blog post I’m going to talk about integrating wikis into your community strategy and some cool things you can do to empower crowd-sourcing to create documentation for your products.
As always, comments and feedback are appreciated!