Caron Mason says the folks contributing to her association's multi-author blog don't really get it. They aren't receiving comments, they want her to republish old magazine articles, and they've given her some off-the-wall suggestions that she won't share. Sadface. I'd really like to hear these unusual suggestions.
Organizing a multi-author blog (MAB) is not totally unlike writing your own blog, but it does present some very different problems. Here are some of them and potential solutions.
First, be careful who blogs for you. Let's face it: Some people just shouldn't blog. Here's a warning sign: People who ask to write for your blog. Usually the ones who ask if they can blog for you are precisely the wrong people. I've had the most success asking established bloggers to join our association's MAB. People who write for magazines, journals and newspapers aren't necessarily good bloggers, you should know. I've found the the ones who ask to write usually wind up doing one of three things:
- Writing one or two posts and then fizzling out.
- Writing bad posts, requiring me to edit them (sometimes extensively).
- Writing inappropriate or really boring stuff.
But even if you had managed to create a discernable voice for your association's blog, and even if you had documented how it was to be implemented, could you realistically expect unpaid volunteers to abide by it? And since blogging is often considered a raw and personal form of expression, imposing editorial or voice standards on those you've recruited can be a real turn-off to some bloggers. I've experienced this first-hand.
What to do? I've seen a few good approaches to overcoming this problem:
- Create a visual voice. Ensure all posts are formatted in the same font, all posts use the same paragraph styles, blockquotes, imagery, headings, etc. This is less of an imposition on your authors and creates a certain consistency, even if the authors have different writing styles.
- Limit authors to staff or paid freelance bloggers. With compensation comes cooperation on style and voice standards.
- Feed your bloggers stories that are likely to elicit a response. I'll be the first to admit I have very little idea on what kinds of posts will get comments, and why others get zip. (Compare these two. What's up with that?) But I know better than a newbie. You too will get a sense of what gets comments, what what doesn't, even if you're only right part of the time.
- Keep your bloggers connected to what's going on with the blog (i.e. stats, what's getting the most comments, new bloggers, blog initiatives) and they'll feel more connected. (I'm doing a terrible job of this on my association's MAB right now, so do as I say, not as I do, alright?)
And don't be afraid to try comment contests. For example, all comments received in September are thrown into a fishbowl and the one drawn out wins a fancy paperweight emblzoned with a fancy logo.
Finally, remember that comments are a good bellweather for how successful your blog is, but pageviews, time on site and other statistics are just as revealing, if not moreso. Don't judge your lack of success on comments alone.
Tagged: Association Management; Associations; CAE; Certified Association Executive