Mirror mirror on the wall I’ve become a blogger after all! Blogs by their very nature are reflective. A weekly (in the case of this assignment) view of a topic that shares thoughts following a conversation or something read. So reflecting on the past three months as a whole, what have I gained from the overall experience? One, a healthy respect for bloggers, it takes dedication and perseverance to maintain a sustained flow of information over a period of time. Secondly, recognising the value of blogs as a form of two way communication. Particularly compared to intranets where regular news updates are pushed out without the comment facility to create dialogue. The biggest challenge going forward is creating a culture where people are willing to comment online in the same way as they might to any offline conversation. If we are to believe Jakob Nielsen we will only ever get about 10% of users to generate content and a mere 1% doing the lions share. I’d like to know what you think. Will participation grow with generation Y? Why don’t a greater proportion read and write?
For students taking up the social media assignment, the practical hands on experience in addition to theory is a powerful combination. Do read Richard Bailey’s advice, in addition to that my tips are:
1) Choose your theme with care: The theme of this blog is Twenty Ten I was happy with this until in week two or three when I tried to add sharing buttons (twitter, digg, facebook, stumbleupon etc). The just put a tick in the box beside ‘Show sharing buttons on this post’ does not work with this theme. Even when you set to view only one post at a time. In themes like Vostok and Black Letterhead this simple action works perfectly. Some theme’s default to Times New Roman others to a more screen friendly font, they can be changed by adding HTML code but it is extra work. So you need to experiment, then…
2) Quit procrastinating and dive in: The best way to learn about something is to jump in and do it. Don’t get hung up about your name being ‘out there’. After all, as a professional you should not be saying anything that would personally embarrass you or the company your work for. Although it is a wise to state that your opinions are your own and do not reflect the position of your employer.
3) Plan: One of Richard Bailey’s best pieces of advice is “Do your communications plan for your blog like you would any other campaign”. Yes, it does take you out of your comfort zone to send your work to friends, followers, colleagues, ex colleagues. The first time you click send is the hardest. As an unexpected bonus though, ex-colleagues you have not spoken to for ages come back with support and encouragement. The ones who end up commenting are not necessarily those you might think!
4) Routine aka time management or get organised: Set yourself a weekly calendar appointment to post your blog like you would any task. Set up a spreadsheet with dates and add ideas as they come to you. You don’t have to use them but one week you might have a couple of ideas and then you can push that book review over to another week you don’t have anything. The saying that when you are not actually writing you are thinking about writing is true, so when you have a moment of inspiration use a notebook in your pocket or send yourself a text.
5) Fuel the Passion: If you are not writing about a topic you are interested in sharing or learning more about then my advice would be don’t bother. If you are interested but just happen to have hit a block, then network with people who are their enthusiasm will rub off on you.
6) Most importantly give something back: Make the effort whenever you can to comment on the blogs of others in your cohort and further afield. The most enjoyable part of blogging for me was receiving comments, some were serious, some were humourous, but all were appreciated. It is the two way process that makes blogging come alive, that creates the conversation and the insight.
Dissertation beckons, if you have any tips you would like to share. Blogging for the forseeable future will be some pro-bono work for a local charity. My heartfelt thanks to all the ‘non-lurkers‘ who took the time and effort to comment. For those still working up to it here’s your virtual nudge and a well known brand tagline – Just do it!