You’ve come a long way. You convinced leadership that a blog is an effective strategic tool to achieve organizational goals; you overcame a slew of organization barriers and challenges; and you recruited bloggers and have a full pipeline of content. There’s just one more thing to cover in the last in our series of posts from DelCor’s Progress U. – Blogger Summit: let’s get some loyal readers!
Blog bot bait
We humans like well-written interesting content. Search engine bots are less discriminate; they’re obsessed with keywords. A blog has to keep both humans and bots satisfied: readers who subscribe to your blog and share its posts, and bots that push your Google ranking higher and drive more readers your way.
- Bots search tags for keywords, so use multiple tags in all your posts.
- Identify the phrases people use to search for your content. NWF uses both “climate change” and “global warming” in their posts to capture traffic from both searches.
- Blogs that publish more frequently rank higher than those that don’t.
- Write frequently about your organization’s work on specific issues to rank higher on those searches.
Before Twitter became popular, ASAE’s Acronym blog had more comments. Twitter might have drawn people away from commenting, but it’s been a great platform for promoting and sharing posts. Acronym’s Joe Rominiecki now keeps an eye on two conversations – Twitter and Acronym comments – to get feedback and engage with readers.
Add built-in sharing tools to your blog so readers can email or share posts on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus+, and other platforms. Ray says, “44% of online sharing is done on Facebook. The more Likes and Tweets you get, the more your readership will go up.”
To cultivate regular readers, add subscription options – both RSS and email delivery. NWF also puts RSS feeds on every tag so readers can select subscriptions by topic.
Maddie Grant adheres to the 90/10 rule of blog promotion on social media platforms: post 90% of the time about other blogs and 10% about your own. Shelly Alcorn recommends cultivating relationships with other bloggers in your community and sharing their posts.
It’s even possible for blog posts to lead to traditional media exposure. One of NWF’s posts had only 20 hits, but a staffer leveraged it to get a guest spot on NPR’s Diane Rehm Show. NWF also uses Twitter to pique journalists’ interest in upcoming posts.
“Publish, promote, and repeat,” says Ray. NWF bloggers announce their posts to other staff around the country on Yammer, their private Twitter-like platform. The social media staff takes it from there, sharing posts with the world.
What if someone says something bad?
Blogs are social media because they’re conversational. If you plan to engage your readers by allowing them to comment, install a spam filter.
Nervous organizations prefer to review and approve comments before publishing them, but that hinders conversation. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association requires approval only for first-time commenters, says Maggie McGary.
Other organizations allow comments to appear automatically and then delete the ones that don’t adhere to blog guidelines. Use your social media policy as a guide to address controversial comments. Lisa Junker says, “It’s not worth worrying about. In five years, Acronym had only one borderline comment.”
Engage your readers
“Always reply to comments,” says Lisa. In the early days she even sent thank you emails to new commenters.
Twitter is a good place to promote comments and prompt readers to revisit a post. People who comment and share your posts are volunteer advocates, Lisa says. “If people are talking about a post on Twitter and not on the blog, that’s fine, engage them there.” An RSS feed for comments will keep readers aware of new conversations.
NWF engages readers by embedding political action alerts into some posts. 31% of their web-based political action now comes from the blog.
Blogs are a low-budget item with one exception – time. How do you know if your blog is worth the time? Dave Sabol says “time spent on site” and “returning visitors” are meaningful metrics from Google Analytics. Bloggers also track the number of comments, reader emails, use of sharing tools, and mentions on other blogs and in Tweets.
Here’s the real measure of success: How well is your blog helping your organization meet its goals? Is it making a difference in the lives of your members and constituents?
Flickr photo by alicejamieson