Does your organisation need a blog?
I assume your organisation already has a web-presence with a corporate website, so why would you want to start a blog?
1. A blog as an addition to your existing web presence
Have you ever defined the goals for your organisation’s web presence? What do you want to achieve? How do you measure that?
For a typical non-profit, I would assume you want:
- advocacy: interest people for your cause.
Metrics: amount of visitors, amount of returning visitors, depth of visit (amount of pages they read)
- activism: rally people behind your cause
Metrics: amount of participants in your online actions
- fundraising: something every non-profit needs
Metric: amount of funds donated via the website, or how many of your donors got to know your organisation via your site. How many use your website as a resource.
- knowledge base: “educate” your audience through a document and research repository
Metric: amount of documents and amount of readers
Have you also thought about how you want to achieve those goals? Sure enough, part of this is technical. You want a site that is attractive, downloads fast, that has a high use-ability where people can find information easily and quickly.
Most of all the key factor is ‘traffic’ and returning ‘traffic’, visitors and visitor loyalty. Integrating a blog into your corporate website or “connecting” it to your corporate website (with regular links to your site), can drive traffic onto it, helping you achieve your corporate web-goals.
A real life example: An excellent and popular corporate non-profit website I know well has a traffic of about 300,000 visits a month. My personal blogs have a total of about 20,000 visitors a month. If my blogs would be in function of that corporate site, imagine it would increase the organisation’s web presence by 6%. An easy gain!
2. Ease of publishing
Contents can mean a big difference between a blog and a corporate site. As “contents is master” for any web presence, a blog allows you to bring information to your public much faster than a traditional website. And typical blog readers will check their favourite blogs several times a week. Not so for corporate websites.
Typically blogs offer an easy-to-update, easy-to-work-with contents management system (CMS). Once I have written a post, it takes me no time at all to publish a blog.
One time, we did a test between a corporate site and my blog. We wrote an article with a few pictures and a video. It took us several hours before we had the “corporate” article up, and several minutes on the blog.
3. The cost of making and maintaining a blog
“Webmasters” will hate me for this, but I found the whole web development world to be a big scam. It costs tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars to bring a corporate website online. You buy the Contents Management System, hosting, a document repository system. You hire graphic designers, usability experts, make use cases, and have an army of highly paid developers working through the code. It will take you six months to bring your site online. And how often is the end result not really what you had in mind? How many compromises have you made along the way?
Blogs integrate the Content Management and the document repository systems, and offer a wide range of themes or graphical designs. They can structure and restructure your information in many different ways. Blogs make it easy to integrate different functionalities through widgets and other bells and whistles. Adding, changing and repositioning blogs is made easy, using WYSIWYG editors.
Several of my blogs, I brought online in just a few hours. One of our project blogs, I started from scratch in one hour, after dinner. The blog you are currently on, took me (including the domain registration, hosting configuration, installation of the software, definition of the layout and populating it with ten posts), one day. And you can’t say this blog’s layout sucks, can you?
Can this blog’s layout compare with the one from the BBC or CNN? Probably it could… I invested one day of my spare time (and I am NOT an expert), and something like $50 to bring this blog online. BBC and CNN must have spent hundreds of thousands if not millions. How much have YOU spent on your corporate website?
4. Community building
A blog and a ‘normal’ website have another major difference: Blogs offer the ability to build a community, to interact with your readers. Through comments, through out-of-the-box widgets, you get people to interact with you and each other.
Blogs much more than corporate sites, offer the ability to interact with other bloggers either through blog catalogs, social bookmarking sites, cross linking and cross posting, or leaving comments on each others blogs.
Community features are built into any blog platform. And communities are one thing ‘corporate webmasters’ will understand: they bring traffic. And traffic is good.
But there is more to it. Blogs can also build a community within your own organisation. It gives the opportunity for your staff members to bring out their stories, and make them feel part of your organisation’s community. And your readers will love the field stories.
5. A sense of forgiveness and tolerance
Blogs live in a different sphere than corporate websites. Anything published on a corporate site typically goes through a public relations department, and takes time for a webmaster to published. Errors are often taken seriously by those who publish and those who read.
As blogs have grown out of the personal sphere, blogs have more an air of tolerance, of forgiveness.
A text on a corporate site has to be perfect. A picture crystal-clear. Not so on blogs. And even less so on microblogs.
6. In-house blogs
Not all blogs have to be for the general public. You can restrict access to your blogs to in-house use also, running on your intranet. Once again, it will give your staff the ability to bring out their stories, to build the sense of ‘belonging’. And if you are more serious about it all, it allows the sharing of information and experiences.