Blogs can be tricky. They are a great asset until you realize you haven’t posted in a week. Or, one day you wake up and there are 13 blogs you have to review and approve.
An essential component to any social media strategy at a company is a good blog program. We have an open blogging system and authors are able to publish directly – this is a good thing! However, how do you manage an influx of blog requests that can impact the overall engagement and metrics of your blog?
What can you do when your blog becomes wild and untamed?
1. Start with an audit of all bloggers
When we performed an audit we realized some of our authors had changed organizations and were no longer focused on blogging and a number of the authors had not blogged in over a year. We removed the individuals who had changed focus and those who had not blogged for a significant amount of time.
2. Re-train the authors
After the audit, we noticed some of our active bloggers had another issue – blogs were written in formal, company-branded voices that read more like a press release. We wanted our blog to highlight the individual voices and share real stories. We trained over 100 bloggers in three different sessions on how to bring their own voice to their blog, encouraged them to share photos, graphics, and videos. We also reviewed best practices such as SEO for blogs, how to use the “read more” function, and create a custom tweet for each blog article. This kind of training can help even seasoned bloggers understand new trends in blogging and social media, new tools available in the blogging platform, and reinforce company guidelines.
3. Use Gamification
Cisco had recently partnered with Bunchball to create Social Rewards – social gamification and badges on the blog site for authors and subscribers to the blogs. In our training sessions, we encouraged authors to use the Social Rewards to help boost their own author profile and to support the other authors on their team. After we reviewed the program we had some very healthy competition going on who could reach higher levels.
4. Focus on Engagement, Not just Page Views
In all our training and efforts, we focused on engagement and social shares on the blog, not just page views and visits. When an individual puts their social profile behind content by sharing it on their social media accounts, they are giving you a true stamp of approval. This is a significant measure of just how well your content is resonating with your audience. As a team, we set an initial goal of a minimum number of social shares per blog to encourage authors to think deeper about what their audience wanted to hear – and to encourage personal sharing on their own account. It was a naturally occurring result that by encouraging our audience to take part in the Social Rewards program, we were also encouraging social shares.
5. Build an Editorial Calendar
We set a self-service editorial calendar where bloggers could sign up for their blog timeslot. We limited blogs to no more than two a day and limited posts on “big news” days. By having a public editorial calendar, we allow the authors to see what is being planned and if their content is redundant or something fresh and new. When conflicts arise, we leave it to the bloggers to decide amongst themselves which topic should be a priority.
6. Measure and Report
Measurement is critical. I ran a baseline for five months before we started the audit and all other aspects of the new program. Then, every month we ran reports on top blogs and the lowest performing blogs. We looked at social shares, unique visitors, and page views. We tracked month over month success and called out the areas were we did not see success.
By implementing the steps above we saw a major change in the blog content and performance. From January 2015 to July 2015, the average social shares per post increased by 40% and the average unique visitors per post increased by 555%! In addition, after May we saw zero blogs with under 50 social shares. This is our success story!