Written by Leslie McGraw, Owner and Founder of Les Go Social Media Marketing and Training
The Early Days
One of the worst mistakes I made early on in my business is using the company newsletter model as a way to describe what blogging might look like for a nonprofit. I made the connection between the two as a way to describe how I sort of, naturally moved from newsletters to mass email updates to blogging in the early 2000s. Many of the people I came in contact with had no context. Unfortunately, some organizations create a dangerous trend of just repeating themselves on their blog. In fact, I have seen a few cases where the same information is repeated on marketing materials, email newsletters, the website, blog, Facebook, with a Twitter presence only for the purpose of adding links to the same information!
Five years ago, this kind of treatment was tolerated. A basic website, blog, quarterly newsletter and Facebook page was enough for a small nonprofit organization (NPO) — savvy even. That is because in 2009, many people still didn’t understand what a blog was. Donors were not connecting to their favorite organizations on Facebook at the same rate, and Twitter and Linked In were seen as optional social utilities. In 2014, anyone with a nonprofit or community organization has some context as to what a blog is…and so does everyone else. Today, volunteers, staff, board members, donors, and other stakeholders are online. The bar of expectation has been raised.
What a Blog Isn’t
First, let’s talk about what a blog is not. A blog is not an online newsletter. As an extension of your organization’s newsletter, email marketing is a good fit. An informative, well-designed e-mail newsletter can be a valuable one-way communication tool where you can share information about upcoming events, announcements, and progress on organizational initiatives. However, this should be seen as a basic part of the administrative duties of your organization. The first purpose of a NPO newsletter is not that different from an annual report; you want to let your stakeholders know what you are doing with the money. The second purpose of a NPO e-mail newsletter is to be a communication piece for announcements, events and campaigns.
What a Blog Is
The distinction I failed to stress in the early days was how blogging is really meant to promote two-way communication. As you construct your blog format, name, theme, visuals, content, and categories – remember that the end goal is to hear from your readers. Building a blogging audience can take time, but it is worth it. You often will not receive comments on the blog itself, but the conversation will come. I receive emails, Facebook comments and shares, tweets, Linked In messages, sharing on bookmarking sites and lead generation from my blogs even when I don’t see comments on the actual blogging platform. That’s okay; this is how I hear from my online community about my services and communication, what to strengthen, and how I can provide value to current and future clients. Remember: Blogging is social media. Blogging is social media. Blogging is social media. If need be, write it on a chalkboard! If you already have a blog and it has either been abandoned or just isn’t working, change your strategy. Here are couple ways to help your blog go social today:
Start the Conversation
Here a few social media sites to promote your blog and start a conversation:
- Google Plus (have to sign up for Google Mail, excellent SEO (search engine optimization) benefit, works well with Blogger and WordPress, no real time control, vanity URL’s available now)
- Facebook (has the most users next to YouTube, can link to author page, helpful insights, paid promotion and PPC available, real time controls, easy to use, algorithms change too much for utter dependence)
- Twitter (can tweet blog post several times a day, breeding ground for journalists, writers, artists, activists)
CLICK HERE to learn more!
Leslie stumbled upon blogging, in the early 2000’s, as a natural next step to her experience in designing and editing newsletters. In 2008, with the availability of flexible, easy-to-manage blogging tools, she became the blog site owner for Life and Poetry using the (then) popular blogging platform, Live Journal. In 2009, Leslie became a contributing blogger for Black Kinship Network. In 2010, Leslie became a blogger and writer for Skyword, learning the craft of online journalism, social media marketing, and content marketing. Through Skyword, Leslie has written for dozens of companies including Buyer Zone, Bounty Paper Towels, Lifescript, Daily Glow, Business Administration Information, and the Gather News Program. Today, Leslie is the blog site owner for The Educated Emotion www.lesgo4it.blogspot.com) and Tru Story (www.trustorysuccess.com), which is featured on over 22 sites and was recently included on the 2014 Best of the Blogs list by the Southeast Michigan Media Lab.
This post is the third in our series on blogging. To read additional posts in the series check out:
Blogging for Beginners
What is a blog? Why blog?