The Advocates Dilemma: To Blog or Not To Blog?

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To blog - or not to blog? Advocacy organizations of all scopes and sizes struggle with this question. On the one hand, a blog can act as a catalyst for your advocates. On the other hand, upkeep can take a considerable amount of time and investment.

Ultimately, it boils down to this: the value of a blog depends on what you can put into it. At the same time, the return on your investment can include increased visibility for your mission, amplification of your voice around your advocacy topic, and a reputation that will solidify your organization's position as a thought leader.

When seen through that lens, the question becomes: what can you do to start a blog?

Here's how you can start:

  • Start with why. Ask yourself questions like: Is anyone else already writing about the policy issues we care about? Could we tap into existing blogger networks? Do we have the resources to sustain a blog? Is there an interested audience for the topic? Could we make a difference on a policy issue by sharing our voice? If you can't answer this question, you may want to consider holding off.
  • Make a plan. At the start of the process, get the whole team together to gather input. Don't forget to consider asking your legal team, your policy shop, and your colleagues in fundraising, marketing, and communications. Get everyone involved early to share your vision and get the buy in you need to build a sustainable digital presence.
  • Set the tone! In blogging, how you say something matters just as much as what you say. Tone becomes an expression of your organization's identity, and creating a familiar tone can help build trust. Are you fun and quirky, serious and thoughtful, or some mix of the two? When figuring this out, think about the type of person you want to reach, and be sure to design your site, tone, and content with that audience in mind. At this point, you can start mapping out a content calendar and plan for your first 2 months.
  • Write for the web. Keep your prose clear and simple - and make it visual! Visual content helps drive engagement, with posts with videos attracting 3 times more inbound links than plain text posts.
  • Keep it consistent. You don't have to be the most frequent blogger on the block to have a great impact, and posting irregularly can lose you a lot of your audience. If your organization only has time to blog twice a month, set up two times every month that you'll post. By setting and meeting audience expectations, you can build a following that will regularly check back in at those post times.
  • Share it. You've spent all this time creating great content - so make sure it gets the attention it deserves! As a general rule, you should spend twice as much time sharing content as you did creating it. From adding share buttons to building a library of social posts, check out this article for pointers on how to integrate social media and blogging.

A blog can become one of your most valuable tools in an advocacy campaign. Interested in learning more? Consider joining the Digital Advocacy Institute.