Here’s a question I never even thought to ask: How do you
train a blogger?
Isn't blogging just a conversation starter you type instead of talk? Something that's kind of natural - like writing an email or posting a Facebook status?
Wait, in what world did these things become natural? I've got to shake up my digital comfort zone and think like people who haven't spent their entire careers on one long anthropological online dig.
We’re getting a couple of team-sourced blogs up and running
here at GSW. There’s a lot of interest, but also a lot of uncertainty.
The sponsors/editors worry:
Will people really submit content?
Will it be on brand?
Will it be something people want to read?
The contributors worry:
What’s the right way to do this?
How will I fit it in my workflow? (i.e. how will I have time for this?)
What topic should I talk about?
The truth is, they're totally understandable concerns. John Cass wrote an interesting article recently about the
four operational models companies use to adopt social media. They largely focus on getting people like me (digital junkies) to use their habit for the good of the brand.
I'm trying to add a whole new model. One that's pretty uncomfortable at first.
I'll call it: Corral the conversation
Find the people in your organization who have great,
shareworthy ideas and give them new kinds of tools to share them. Fast track
the digital adoption process by making technology work like they work.
Basically help your curious, chatty people climb onto a soapbox they wouldn’t
have been inclined to build up on their own.
Yeah, that’s harder, right? But, it’s one of the few way to
get past the early adopters and tap into that larger, smart conversation going
on in your organization. To have your social media investment really be authentic to your organization.
Now the question makes sense. How do you train bloggers? How
do you help people feel comfortable in an environment that is totally foreign
First, pick the right people. Or, better, let them nominate
themselves (that's right, people, a call to blog. Complete with job number!).
Good bloggers are energized by the conversation. They share
three things in common:
They’ve got a comfortable, recognizable voice. Both spoken
They’re naturally curious. They’re the ones who send you all
the links to the new studies, the breakout creative, the industry trends.
They’re good synthesizers. They read a couple of disparate
things and draw a new conclusion. They tag their ideas with memorable phrases.
They make it all accessible with analogy.
Ok, now you’ve got your core group. How do you make them successful?
I'm still thinking about that question: How do you train a blogger? I don't know the answer, but I know some things I recommend to writers to make it easier:
Scribble an outline: Blogs are definitely a back-of-the-napkin kind of business. Just jot an idea down when it comes to you. It will be much easier to fill in the details later (vs. stopping everything to blog or trying to come up with an idea cold.)
Call yourself: Blog writing is best when it sounds natural, like something you'd actually say. If you're having trouble writing that way, stop. Call your voicemail, turn on your iPhone's voice recorder - talk it out. Then go back later and type it up (Or try that nifty Dragon Dictation app)
Take a POV: A lot of bloggers get caught up and trying to report on something. Covering every angle, citing sources, etc. It doesn't have to be that hard. Don't try to tell the whole story; just share a unique insight or POV on part of it. (Link to news story the media paid someone to write)
Embrace the bullet point: Short is better (that's true even though I'm terrible at it!). Don't worry about big complex thoughts and compound sentences. Just give me the highlights.
The biggest opportunity, though, is probably for the editor.How can she use tools and technology to make blogging work the way people work:
Make it doable: Set reasonable expectations. Start with two posts a month. And, do the proofreading for them.
Use email: Wordpress, Drupal and other platforms now enbable post
by email. How much better is that for contributors? Type your email
with your pictures and bullets and bolding, send it to a custom email
address, and (like magic) it's in the blog queue for publishing.
Create a clear filter: Tell bloggers (and readers) what the blog is about. That crisp statement of purpose that helps them know what to write about (and what to save for the water cooler)
Provide examples: Show, don't tell. It's a lot easier for most people to work from a pattern.
Accept lots of formats: It's not all about words. A great picture, a podcast, a video - take them all!
Share results: Bloggers want to connect with readers. To be read and be valued. Make sure to pass results back to them - how many people have visited the blog, where the content was shared, what posts were most popular.
We're trying a little of all those things. Keep an eye on our progress.
I'm teaming up with Alaina Sheer next month to give area marketers the opportunity to upgrade their social media initiatives. Laptops and logins in hand, we'll spend two days working together on ways they can better engage their current and future customers on Facebook, blogs, YouTube, Twitter, and other social destinations.
This workshop isn't about talking, it's about doing. So, each participant will leave with tangible changes to both their social strategy and social presence. There are great breakouts for beginners and intermediate users. Check out the agenda.
The SWAY social workshop is April 22 - 23. I hope you'll join us.
You probably thought I'd fallen off my blogging again, right? Just another one of those distracted hiatuses I take every six months or so until David Griner's insistent pestering prevails and I start typing away again.
Not this time, dear reader. Instead, I've just been spending a few weeks getting another blog going: What's Your Digital iQ
WYDiQ is a blog devoted to exploring digital advancements that will shape the future of healthcare marketing. (It's not all about healthcare - just about cool digital things that might impact it). It’s written by my delightful team at iQ, the digital lab of GSW Worldwide.
This weekend was a beautiful one in Columbus. Out and about with dog leash (and poo bags) in hand, I ran into Columbus's cutest couple - KR and PK. They asked me the question I'm hearing from all over: SO, how IS the new job?
When I first announced my move from the downtown branding boutique to the far-flung healthcare empire, some of my friends tried to talk me out of it. They called it corporate and conservative and painfully slow moving. They said I'd be bored and underutilized and fall behind. In short: this choice was not a match for the entreprenuerial Leigh brand.
They said this up until the day before I started. Intimidating stuff.
I'm happy to report that following my gut paid off. I'm two months in and I'm doing some of the most interesting work of my life. I'm part of an alpha test team on this innovative customer insight tool that was cheffed up, built and funded right here. My clients are open to bold new ideas and my bosses are all about making them happen. I've got one group of bloggersup and ideastorming online and two more groups right behind them. I've never seen multidisciplinary work the way it does here - respectful, collaborative teams building on ideas (without any of the usual hangups about creative vs. account or insight vs. media).
It's not the place I would have guessed I'd end up, but it's an excellent place for me right now. What I thought I knew about this culture was totally wrong. It's creative, not corporate; liberating, not limiting.
But, that doesn't mean you'd have the same experience here. A girl friend of mine was here a few months before me and wasn't inspired by it at all. Not the right place for her - not then, maybe not ever.
I think about that when I talk to ad people who are new in town or even colleagues looking to jump to places I've been. There's no promised land. No one perfect agency that we're all trying to get to (no, not even you, Resource).
The shop I call a testosterone-driven train wreck is the same one I've heard other people point to as an awesome place to make a name from yourself working on national consumer brands. Maybe you say mom-and-pop; I say entrepreneurial and flexible. Sweat shop, award winning; old school, stable; design-driven, design leading. Who's to know where you'll fit in.
At least in this town, the employment marketing in this industry is opening back up again. Talent is on the move. When you think about whether to stay or go, here are three signs that tell you you're in the right place:
Do you feel:
Energized: Instead of that Sunday night dread about the approaching work week, you actually feel good about heading into work every - ok, most - mornings
Asked: You're valued for your ideas and perspective, not just your hours or super-human Flash tricks
Involved: You have a personal stake in your work and you believe in the good of both your brands and your clients