If you want more responsibility with no extra pay, personal reward mixed with times of borderline mental breakdown, and the obligation to a living thing that would starve without you, have a kid.
Alternatively, you can start a blog.
The dime-a-dozen self-proclaimed social media experts found on every corner in America will suggest that companies dipping into the web for the first time start a blog. “It’ll increase search engine optimization,” they’ll tell you in fancy online terms, motioning for you to reach for your checkbook. They’ll say a blog will keep things fresh, and help establish you as an expert in your field.
And they are right. Blogging is, truly, a great way to do all of those things.
Blogging, however, is also one of the last recommendations I’d make to an organization desiring to move into interactive media (still, many companies will insist that they “must” have one). I’ve seen very few companies blog with success, and keep up with it over time. At most (and I have no statistics, just personal observation) a company blog has a life expectancy of between 1 year and 2.5 years, at most, before a precipitous decline in postings. Check out any small or mid-sized business’ website that has a blog, and you’re probably going to see posts that publish either once or twice every month, or ended publishing sometime in early 2010. It’s a digital law, much how the online comments section of a news site will almost always contain a reference to Hitler.
Blogs are also insanely hard to make popular. At this stage in the game, the major blogs have their followings (Mashable, TechCrunch), and whipping up a popular one has the same barrier to entry as starting up a new airline. It’ll take a lot of money, time, and maybe even some jet engines.
For a company (or person) that wants to start a successful blog, it is important to think – to really, really think – about what they are doing. A blog, in essence, is an electronic monster that will always be hungry for more content. And good content. And if the content well runs dry, the blog begins to starve and shed readers who likely won’t come back and find another blog that offers similar stuff.
Content is essential. As a matter of fact, the term “content” isn’t being stressed enough these days, as the industry focuses on platforms or social network advertising or mobility. None of this stuff can work without good content that people want. Everyone can draw, write, or take pictures, but not everyone is an artist, writer, or photographer. You must have these types of creative-minded people to manage a blog.
So how does an organization blog with success? Two tips. I’d offer more, but, well, I can’t give away all of my trade secrets.
1. Divvy up the responsibility. If you create an editorial calendar and divide posts among employees or managers, you have created something with multiple authors who only have to blog once a month, possibly less. You also create a chorus of different voices with unique perspectives and knowledge.
2. Build a content engine. If the organization has what I call a content engine, then a blog – or a website’s news section – is a great choice. One client we work with, a trade association, receives multiple press releases every day from its members, which are then turned into blog blurbs. That blog is now one of the leading sources of news in its industry, simply because news is being fed to it on a constant basis.
We’ve been hearing about the end of blogging for years. That’s likely because blogs are always dying, their owners simply running out of coal to shovel into the furnace. I’d imagine, though, that this time is different, as the rise of social networking and mobility has given way to content creation in a variety of different places, in real-time, and in shorter bursts of byte-size information. From Crain’s Chicago Business:
Some [bloggers] have simply switched to another blog-like medium, say, Twitter or Facebook. Others have faced unpleasant facts about blogging. It’s cheap to do but usually doesn’t pay. Having a platform may be fun at first, but building a following takes much more work than simply typing and posting.
And millions of them go virtually unnoticed, despite the occasional breakout sensation like the humorous “Stuff White People Like” and the Julia Child-inspired “The Julie/Julia Project.”
When “people see these, they say, ‘I can do that—it will be easy,’ “ says Raanan Bar-Cohen, vice-president of media services at San Francisco-based WordPress, which hosts 16.5 million blogs. “If you’re looking for fame and fortune, blogging has as good a chance as any medium,” he adds.
Well, perhaps it’s a better chance than winning the lottery.