Join us in Boston for the best tactical B2B marketing conference on the planet. Get your ticket by August 31 to save $$$

A guest post by Tom Diederich of Ninety Five 5.

Organizations launch blogs for various reasons---and building them is simple from a technology perspective.

What’s hard is managing a blog program lasts beyond a few weeks or months. To avoid the fizzle and ignite a sizzle, set up and manage your blog program like a newspaper.

Newspaper Sections = Blog Categories

Whether in printed form or online, a newspaper's true form is that it has sections. And your blog has categories. Think of them as one and the same. For example:

  • The Front Page:  This is the place to explain company news in English. No one reads traditional press releases because they are filled with gobbledygook. (Trust me, I was a reporter for 10 years.)

  • The Business Section: Focus on talking about success stories, upcoming products and services, support-related issues, etc.

  • The Entertainment Section: Promote events and trade shows (both before, during and after), local meet-ups … and fun things, too like the company picnic---whatever you want!  It’s a great place to show your company’s culture.

Start small. You can add categories later. Keep the names of the categories interesting yet easy to understand.

4 Quick Tips for Blogger Management

A newspaper has reporters. A blog program has bloggers. The tough part here is that reporters get paid for what they do---bloggers are volunteers and must set aside time from their already busy schedules.

It’s the job of the blog program manager (the managing editor) to recruit, coach and continually coddle (and occasionally kick) bloggers to keep them on track. But also make it as easy as possible for them to contribute.

Please note:  This post doesn’t address recruiting and training bloggers… or who should be blogging; that’s a topic for another day. Today, I'm talking about the mindset and tools blog program managers need to succeed. This is based on what I've learned, through much pain, at what does and what doesn't work.

Here are the management basics in a nutshell:

  • Create and maintain an editorial calendar. Ensure it aligns with each section and every blogger.

  • Have a blogger boot camp. Train your recruits on the basics of blogging and include an introduction to social media. It’s a starting point.

  • Set up regular editorial meetings. This is where you’ll assign stories (many of the bloggers will have topics of their own in mind already). It’s also where you review metrics and examine what’s working and what’s not working. (There’s more to the meetings but that’s the gist).

  • Devote plenty of one-on-one time. Some people are natural bloggers from the gate. Others need coaching---some more than others.

Also, be prepared for the following!

5 Common Mistakes

  1. Ghostwritten blogs. These are usually for the CEO or executives. They come across as fake (because they are).  Instead, grab 10 minutes with executives who want to blog and interview them. Record the conversation, write it up (or use video), and there’s your post.

  2. Using fictitious characters as blog authors. I know one company that invented a persona for a cooking blog. It was popular and she got invited to many events and television programs – embarrassing!

  3. Heavy-handed editing. Bloggers aren’t journalists. Don’t change their copy too much – correct typos if you must. Do coach them weekly, however, on how to write tight copy. (See my last post on that).

  4. Comment pre-approval. Make it easy for readers to comment. Use tools like CAPTCHA to prevent spam, and moderate the comments that violate the community guidelines---but let folks vent, too.

  5. Regurgitating existing company collateral verbatim. How fun is that to read? You can, however, get some great post ideas from existing collateral. For example, interview the product team that developed that cool new doohickey that was just released.

I look forward to reading your comments!

One of Computerworld’s first online reporters, Tom Diederich made the jump to social media in 2000, building and managing internal online communities for SGI, Palm and Intuit.  Since then, he has built and managed B2C and B2B customer-facing online communities for Symantec, Cadence Design Systems and Ninety Five 5 as a community manager/social media strategist.

Sign up for free to read the full article. Enter your email address to keep reading ...