ASAE Discussion about Blogs

26Nov08

The other day someone started a discussion regarding blogs on the ASAE list-serv. It was cross-posted and generated a bit of response on the Communications Section, but the Marketing Section really ran with it. I ended up responding and thought that my response might be helpful to those interested in starting an association blog. It’s cut & pasted text, so excuse any plain text formatting errors.

Original Question: “How many of you have blogs? Is it a good idea? Costly? I guess I’m just asking what is involved with this thing called blogging?”

My Response:
*LONG POST*

FYI – I deleted the thread for the sake of those who receive the digest (like me!)

A great post by Beth Kantor on time commitment for non-profits diving into the social media space:
http://beth.typepad.com/beths_blog/2008/10/how-much-time-d.html

***For associations out there who want to dive into the blogosphere…

Start by listening first! (as with any social media endeavor, ask the SocialFish about this)

Find out if there are already people who blog about your trade or profession. Are they engaging? Look at their comments. Are they personal? Read their posts. Does anybody read what they write? Ask them about their subscribers. Bloggers that are already out there can be a powerful tool for associations already, plus they will do free promotion on their own blog usually! Great slide presentation on blogging styles: http://tinyurl.com/blogstyles

It does take time, but that is going to be the biggest investment/expenditure at first. There will be little things like if you want your blog to appear as you association’s domain (for example: http://www.yourassociationhere.com/blog/) that cost money. It all depends on how far you want to take it. From the get go, time is the biggest thing, you can do the other stuff later as you become more involved in the conversation/blogosphere. Look to your members to help you on the time investment, let them have some control and remember that because someone writes a good article DOES NOT mean they will write a good blog or understand that a blog is supposed to provoke conversation. Find people who are educated about your industry and get them talking and involved. Also, don’t be afraid to go outside the inner circle of volunteers.

Start small. You don’t have to dive into EVERY single conversation out there. After you have started listening, then start contributing. Commenting on blogs that are related to your trade/profession slowly gets your name out there. Then you take a look at the next step to see if blogging is right for you. If you decide Twitter is where you want to be, set up alerts (like on http://tweetbeep.com/) to find out who is talking about you, follow them, listen to what they have to say, respond if it concerns you. And btw, have a personality, be a real person online, not a brand, not a company, not an organization. Be you first, then the other stuff can come later. Know the tool before you use it.

You don’t have to do everything at once. Try one thing and if it works out then you can see where it goes from there. At my current organization, they started with Flickr as a way to share conference photos and now it has blossomed into something that they are diving into all the way (hence me coming on board very recently).

Most importantly(!!!!!), DO NOT try to control the conversation. Add to the conversation, bring value to your online community. Let the comments happen freely.

Another resource – http://tinyurl.com/6o7tru Great presentation about Social Media, short, sweet, to the point, might be a little more advanced.

~Lynn

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