Admit it, you like reading blogs, don’t you? You subscribe by email or RSS feed and you get valuable and interesting content delivered daily to your computer. How convenient! You receive tips and advice, read about hot issues and learn about resources that help you do your job or get ahead in your profession. Wouldn’t your members like that?
A blog provides news, information and thought-provoking ideas – a professional development trifecta. It’s the ultimate content marketing tool – engaging your readers with valuable information that holds their attention and strengthens their loyalty. A blog educates policy-makers, journalists and other influencers about your legislative and regulatory issues. A good blog establishes your association as a thought-leader in your industry.
Google loves blogs and their keyword-rich pages. Because of their dynamic fresh content, blogs rank high in Google indexing. Blog posts are sharable. They’re sent to colleagues via email, or shared on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. Your association’s reach and influence expand via Google and social media platforms.
Blogs are social. Your members participate in the conversation you start by commenting back to you and each other. Blogs have more personality than websites. They have a real person’s voice, or many people’s voices. You can play it straight by providing serious information, and also be entertaining with lighter posts and videos.
Can you manage a blog?
Even a small staff association can manage a blog by publishing repurposed and curated content in addition to original content.
You can get content in several ways:
- Create original content. Don’t worry, you have access to more content ideas than you’d expect. Trust me, the more you write, the easier it gets.
- Repurpose existing magazine, newsletter, educational session, blast email and political alert content.
- Ask members to contribute a monthly post. Look for bright members who want visibility. If they don’t write well, edit their work or outsource the editing. If their writing is hopeless, film them.
- Ask industry bloggers to contribute monthly guest posts.
- Outsource content creation to freelance writers.
- Do a mix of all of the above.
Content can also be collected from other sources, reviewed and curated (filtered) to find the most valuable and interesting posts for your members.
- Subscribe to industry blogs using a RSS feed. Review the feed daily to find the best of your industry’s blogosphere.
- Follow industry thought-leaders and others on Twitter. Review the posts that they’re sharing.
- Publish posts that share the week’s best reads.
How do you begin?
Start by regularly reading industry blogs to get a feel for the community and issues. Also read social media blogs to learn more about managing and marketing a blog.
Put together a staff team, or a team of members and/or industry thought-leaders overseen by staff, to develop an editorial strategy. Review your communication, marketing, professional development, membership, advocacy and public relations goals. How can your blog help achieve those goals? Don’t operate your blog in a silo. It must be an integral part of all those association programs.
Discuss how you will handle negative or critical comments. Censoring is only an option for extreme cases – spam, libel or vulgarity. Socialfish recently shared an excellent social media response triage flowchart.
Create an editorial calendar so your posts enhance other association efforts.
Always have a full pipeline of posts so you can at least publish weekly.
However, blogs need daily attention. Even if you don’t post daily, someone must review comments and reply back, share your posts and posts from other sources on social media platforms and, ideally, comment on other industry blogs. Like content creation, this can be done by staff or outsourced.
If staff sets the blog’s strategy and calendar, content can be created and collected using a combination of talents. The effort required to oversee this educational, community-building and marketing tool will be well worth it.
(A version of this post was originally published on Splash: Refreshment for Your Small Staff Organization)