I participated in this panel at the Progressive Technology Project's REVERB training for community organizers working on issues around immigration. Below are notes I wrote before my presentation and a few jotted down quickly during the panel itself. I encourage Jane and Eric, my co-panelists, and everyone else who was there (or not!) to contribute additional thoughts, tips, and comments.
- Blogs are about STORYTELLING
- Blogs are PERSONAL and PASSIONATE
- Blogs are your organization's editorial page
- Blogs let you cover yourself - your actions, your events, your work - in the way YOU want to
- Blogs let you cover/applaud/condemn/call out others without a major campaign or action or huge effort
- Blogs are a way to incorporate and highlight the voices of many people in your org/movement - not just staff
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER
- What is the point? Is there a point? "Everyone's doing it" doesn't cut it.
- Does blogging fit with your organizational culture? Blogging when done right is more anarchic, less controlled, whether in content or comments.
- What will you blog? What's considered on topic or off topic?
- Who will write on your blog?
- What will the editorial process be? How will you regulate what people post without making people feel silenced, reined in or censored?
- Who are your audiences - intended? Who do you hope to reach with your blog? Who do you think you'll reach with your blog?
- Who are your unintended audiences? Who will unfortunately reach your blog? How will you deal with them?
- What is your tone? How do you want to engage with people on your blog? Do you want to preach to the choir / rally your allies / screw the people who disagree with you? Do you want to change people's minds, speak more gently to people who may disagree with you? Do you want to convince people of your politics, simply put them forth, or shout them from the rooftops... of your blog?
- Comments - will you allow them at all? If you do, how will you moderate? Will people be required to register in order to comment, or will you allow for anonymous comments from unregistered users? Will you put forth a detailed comments policy? What comments will you delete? How will you deal with people who claim you're censoring them? Will you feed the trolls (or allow them to be fed) or will you adamantly not do so/ask people not to? When is it time to shut down comments on a thread? Will you set your blog to automatically close comments after a certain amount of time so you don't have to deal with stale comments for eternity?
- How will comments affect the people writing on your blog? The rest of the people in your organization? Your members, your constituencies?
- Great resource: Nonprofit Blog Carnival Roundup: How to Create a Juicy Nonprofit Blog
- sharethis/addthis button - make it as easy to share entries as possible
- capacity - honestly assess your capacity to keep it fresh
- many people = many styles = many more chances that someone might like what you say
- identyfing info for bloggers? protecting bloggers
- timeliness - keep it current, don't blog about things that are stale
- guest bloggers - try them out, you don't have to commit to bringing them on permanently
- Integrate your blog into your main site - blog as part of main site, feeds, featured blog entry, etc.
- Free tools if you can't blog directly on your site: WordPress.com, DrupalGardens.com (probably overkill), Blogger
- READ OTHER BLOGS - other blogs in your field, allied organizations, big blogs, enemy blogs. Get a feel for the "blogosphere" and become a part of it.
- Keep it short! (Especially at first)
- If it's long, put it "behind the cut" - show a shorter teaser on the main blog page
- Use visuals - photos, graphics, maps, videos
- Have good bios for your contributors - let people get to know them, care about them, like them, trust them
- Link out to get links back
- Regular themed features - e.g. book review Tuesdays, great news articles Fridays
- Get hooked into blogging carnivals on your topic to reach a much wider, already interested audience. You can even try to host one round of a carnival, thus reaching an even larger audience.
- Connect with the "big" blogs that are related to your organization's work. Make sure they're aware of your blog; hopefully they'll pick up stories from your blog and expose them to a wider audience. Once you've established your blog and have built a rapport with them you might also ask for a guest blogger spot on their blog (writing posts on their blog that you can also cross-post on yours) or ask them to guest blog at yours.