A group of us met today for a session about better blogging – a forum for sharing ideas and best practice, rather than an expert presentation approach. The members of the group all worked for the library service, in a variety of roles, and some (but not all) were responsible for maintaining subject liaison blogs.
We started with some small-group discussion on the following topics:
What do I want from my blog?
Responses included: a communication channel, an alternative to email, a place to communicate less formally, a mechanism for reaching both students and academic staff, a platform for publishing instructions/FAQs. In general, the tone aimed to be informative and friendly.
What type of content do I post?
Some examples were: news, events, instructions (e.g. logging in), recycling of content from the library website (e.g. learning spaces, opening hours), special campaigns or promotions. Some blogs had static pages as well as the usual dynamic front page (and this was used like a LibGuide).
How effective is my blog?
This was a question that elicited further questions rather than definitive answers! As well as quantitative statistics (whether obtained via the blogging platform itself, or Google Analytics), we talked about the importance of qualitative feedback and value. Furthermore, even if the stats are good, are the ‘right’ people reading it?
Strategy, planning, and evaluation
In order to evaluate the effectiveness of our blogs, it’s important to start with a strategy (why am I doing this?), back it up with a plan of action (when, how?), and then look at impact (what, and on whom).
Use a diary approach to plan posts – this helps to get good mix of different types of content, and means that you don’t have to spend time every week thinking of what to post.
Over the year, block in specific campaigns or publicity drives, and seasons such as freshers and dissertations. You can auto-schedule posts to publish on specific days to cover periods when you will be away, or busy with other projects. Get ideas by following other blogs.
From time to time, review your blog to assess its total impact, and its specific effect on your target audience. Use this information to decide which approaches/content to keep and which to abandon, and see the effect of trying new things.
We then condensed our ideas about aims, content, media, and measurable outcomes. Here are some ideas for each:
In combination with your annual plan, you can inject some variety by choosing an item at random from each column to come up with a fresh approach for one of your blogging strands.
See also: Social media strategy (2010)