Feeding the Beast

Bookmark and Share Monday, November 29, 2010

Suzanne McDonaldThe following guest post is from Suzanne McDonald, President of Designated Editor, an agency that has adapted journalism and mass communications tenets to internet marketing. With 15 years' newspaper experience, most recently six years at The Boston Globe, Sue knows how to work with teams to keep good content flowing.


Quiz: I am
A.    Planning to use blogging to boost my site visibility and engage with my audiences OR
B.    Simply struggling to keep up with the demand to keep the blog fresh and engaging

Either way, this post is for you.

If you’re “A” just launching a blog, better to confront the demand demons from the outset than have to wrestle them while you’re on deadline.

If you’re “B” already launched, congrats! You’ve already gone the distance, but you now realize you need to replenish your creativity and ideation. What do you do when you’re running dry?

hippo.jpgIt’s these exact problems journalists have faced since Gutenberg; behold Designated Editor’s clients have the same issues, just minus the sticky ink.

For example, brand identity concerns prevented a law firm from launching a blog on its site. What’s motivating the firm now? There’s an opportunity to integrate the upcoming blog with relevant platforms.

But how does the firm retain brand identity while featuring thought-leadership from lawyers who may not be in the firm in the future?

The answer, in this case, is to blog under the firm’s identity and downplay individual lawyers.

But how do we keep the lawyers interested and engaged? Similarly, how does corporate motivate franchisees to take time from their busy day to contribute to the corporate site?

In Rawn Shah’s book "Social Networking for Business":  
“Community managers help move the work toward increased productivity by guiding individuals, focusing activities … trying to get many people with individual motivations to move in a common direction. p 161

“Community managers also help relate the activity in the social environment directly to the business activities and strategy of the sponsoring organization.” p 161

How do you motivate and engage not just your external audiences, but your internal contributors as well? To quote Shah’s book: “People participate within defined structures and steps.” p 154

An internal Wiki – or even a Google doc, although it will take more effort to control chaos – helps significantly.

The carrot always works better than the stick, right? Once the Wiki is set up and organized, the lawyers and franchisees can quickly chime in with their thoughts and experiences with customers and even people who will never be customers.

And it’s these ideas and interactions that will drive your editorial calendar. Those who contribute will get more mentions, thereby encouraging them to add more stories, ideas, and queries.

When others complain about being ignored, there’s clear evidence for why that guy gets all the mentions on the blog. “So, what do you want to talk about? Here, let’s log you in so you can give it a whirl.”

But this one platform, designed by the content creators, has so many other applications and, depending on privacy settings, actually breaks down silos within traditional structures.

Your Wiki may:
Drive marketing themes,
Hone content that truly resonates with customers
Help to solve clients’ problems, which thereby increasing sales.

But shh … you may not want to overwhelm everyone with your evil plan to help customers, maybe just stick to the “I need help coming up with stuff to write about.”

Collaboration software that improves the way work gets doneHippo image courtesy of marfis75

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