Blogging

Return to What tool to use and why
This page started out as the "draft" page for the Blog page on the KS Toolkit. Now I adapt it each time I run a blogging workshop!
We may also use the KS Toolkit Microblogging Page and Social Reporting Page which is still a "work in progress!" I also have a draft Social Reporting
page on this wiki along with a Twitter Collaboration Stories page!

1.What is a blog?

Description: A blog (shortened from weblog) is an easy-to-publish web page consisting primarily of periodic articles, usually in reverse chronological order with the newest entry at the top.
  • You don’t have to know any special computer programming to write or read a blog.
  • Blogs often have tools that allow readers to comment on a blog post.
  • Blogs often have RSS feeds (Really Simple Syndication) that allow people to subscribe to new blog posts.
  • Blogs can have one or many authors.

Blogs in plain English: http://www.commoncraft.com/blogs

blackboardblogging.jpg
From http://whiteafrican.com/2009/03/12/the-blackboard-blogger-of-monrovia/
History:

People have been publishing their journals online for many years, but the advent of blogging meant it was easier. Blog software allows anyone to create a blog without having to know how to program or write in computer code. Blogging celebrated it’s 10th anniversary in December, 2007. If we think beyond technology, there are examples of blog-like things that people have created offline... so there is precedence for this practice. The image of the blackboard blogger of Monrovia is from a great blog post - take a read at
http://whiteafrican.com/2009/03/12/the-blackboard-blogger-of-monrovia/

Who can participate in a blog as writers and commenters?

You can create a blog on your personal site, blog on behalf of your organization, or as part of an site that hosts blogs (such as http://www.shareyourstory.org ) The person who creates the blog is the primary author. You can add other people as authors, or you can let others participate by commenting on your posts.

  • Project blogs: project participants share frequent updates, reflect, ask questions of the larger community and create a "learn as we go" record.
  • Leadership blogs: leaders share their ideas, reflect, pose questions and concerns to their staff, and model knowledge sharing.
  • Social Reporting from Events so those who can't be at the face to face event can still learn what is happening. See http://rightsandclimate.org/
  • Thematic blogs like this one on desertification http://desertification.wordpress.com/
  • Public Community blogs: community members invite partners and stakeholders to add their voices to an organization's work.
  • Blogs are less formal than reports so people can offer quicker, less polished communications if that is desired.
    Blogs allow readers to respond, giving feedback. So you might ask a question on your blog and get answers that others can read and benefit from as well.
  • If you get into a regular blogging habit, you can increase others’ knowledge of your work and make useful connections with others. If you find other blogs useful, you can subscribe to them to easily know about new blog posts.
  • Organizational benefits of blogs (from http://intranetblog.blogware.com/blog/_archives/2005/10/24/1318816.html):
    • Improved internal communications (77%) – If it is easy and quick to share and read information, people will be more informed.
    • Replacement of other exiting work processes (41%) – Reduce the amount of time spent in meetings “reporting,” support ongoing reflective practices that can help in M&E
    • Replacement of email (39%) – instead of sending emails to everyone, publish news to a blog. Be clear what blogs are “must read” and which are “if they interest you.”
  • Institutional blogs. Readers can immediately sense the distance and lack of personal commitment that come from ‘ghost writers’ and politically-correct writers/ bloggers who use blogs as a channel to give out information that can already be found in websites and newsletters. It is advisable to create a zone of blogging comfort for new 'institutional' bloggers:
    • Blogs allow several means for communicating your ideas. People who aren’t comfortable with writing may find it easier to record a podcast or a video and post that in their blog with a short summary.
    • When leaders in an organization are asked to blog, a good way to get the juices flowing would be to ask them to ‘tell a story’. It sets a more conversational tone to the blog, cutting out the formal-speak, making it more appealing.
    • Encourage frequent, short updates that aim to keep in touch.


Examples of blogs in international NGOs


See also:

2.Why use a blog?


  • Blogging software makes it easy for anyone with internet access to publish.
  • Blogs are less formal than reports so people can offer quicker, less polished communications if that is desired.
  • Blogs allow readers to respond, giving feedback. So you might ask a question on your blog and get answers that others can read and benefit from as well.
  • If you get into a regular blogging habit, you can increase others’ knowledge of your work and make useful connections with others. This builds your/your organization's social capital, visibility and reputation.
  • If you find other blogs useful, you can subscribe to them to easily know about new blog posts.
  • Organizational benefits of blogs (from http://intranetblog.blogware.com/blog/_archives/2005/10/24/1318816.html )
    • Improved internal communications (77%) – If it is easy and quick to share and read information, people will be more informed.
    • Replacement of other exiting work processes (41%) – Reduce the amount of time spent in meetings “reporting,” support ongoing reflective practices that can help in M&E
    • Replacement of email (39%) – instead of sending emails to everyone, publish news to a blog. Be clear what blogs are “must read” and which are “if they interest you.”

See also:

3. What are my alternatives and when should I use them?

Blog weaknesses

Like any tool, just because you can have a blog doesn’t make it always useful.
  • Blogs can waste time and attention if they are poorly written, unfocused or not updated regularly. If you have a blog on a workspace and no one is posting to it, remove it.
  • Blogs put the most recent information in view but are less useful when you have to dig back and find something. If you want to organize often-used data, use a wiki, a library or a database.
  • Blogs can be a good base for a discussion, but the blog author tends to have more influence and power which can disturb the dynamics of a conversation. You might want to use a discussion instead.

Alternatives to Blogs?

Is a blog a discussion forum? People often ask about the difference between blogs and discussion forums.
  • Blogs focus on the blog owner as primary author so they are useful for sharing ideas. Since they are chronological, they are useful for time sensitive news, or to track the progress of something over time.
  • Discussion forums focus on the group and their conversations. The focus is more on the conversation while in blogs there may be more focus on the primary author.
  • Libraries allow you to organize information any way you want. You are not limited to chronological order and the emphasis is on the data, rather than the author.
  • Wikis focus on the content, rather than the date or the author. While blogs are good for publishing, they would not be useful for co-editing or simply update a web page when a wiki would be quite useful.


 http://www.teachandlearn.ca/blog/2007/10/27/how-to-grow-a-blog
http://www.teachandlearn.ca/blog/2007/10/27/how-to-grow-a-blog
4. Key principles & practices of blogging


Starting a blog


  • Decide the purpose, topic or focus of your blog.
  • Don’t duplicate unnecessarily. Scan for existing blogs and look for an unfilled niche.
  • Get inspired. Search the Internet for similar blogs. Check the blog search site, Technorati. See what others are doing. Get ideas.
  • Start posting and continue to post regularly.
  • Focus your writing
  • When people comment on your blog, respond with your own comment.
  • Link to related blogs - cross-links help readers learn about useful related resources and create another way of sharing knowledge.
  • Tagging and categories

Tips for writing a blog post

  • Blogs should be updated regularly
  • The tone should not be too formal
  • Ownership: give blogs a personal voice with perspective
  • Link to what other people say or do
  • Answer each comment

Policy and Ethics


Adding Visuals to Blogs


Blog "Listening"

  • Blogging at its best is rarely one-way. Who are you "listening to" and how do you engage with them? Who is listening to you?
  • Reciprocal links or "link love" - when you link to others, others link to you bringing more traffic and better search rankings.
  • Who is blogging about IFAD? http://en.wordpress.com/tag/ifad/
  • Related to marketing your blog!
    • From Matt Cutts at Google, advice for search engines finding your blog posts:
      • Think carefully about the keywords you want to rank for in your title tag
      • Keywords should be well placed on the page
      • Excellent content about the subject you want to rank for on the page
      • Fresh content posted in a blog
      • Links from other sites that recommend your site as an authority on that subject
  • More tips for combining blogs with other social media tools, particularly with Microblogging

5. Blog Technology

Blogging Platforms

RSS

Widgets and Stuff

  • Widgets are pieces of code that you can include in your blog that bring in external content (such as RSS feeds, Twitter streams, persistent searches, Flickr pictures, page counters, social network tools, etc) that can complement your blog. They can also slow down the page loading so in low bandwidth contexts, be careful with widgets.

6. Metrics

  • Track traffic to individual posts – find out how many times a blog post has been viewed by using your blog software or a tool like Google Analytics.
  • Read any comments you might get when you post entries that specifically ask for feedback. People are more likely to respond to open-ended questions.
  • Monitor incoming links to your individual posts. You can monitor traffic sources (i.e. referrers in your traffic analysis reports) and keep an eye on the sites that link to your blog, simply by leveraging the search engine indexes. For example, you can set up a Google Alertto check who has linked to a specific URL or to your site, as their pages are registered with the Google index. You can also use Yahoo Site Explorerto monitor incoming links.
  • Analyze those blog posts that are more popular and, accordingly, adjust your posting style, choice of topics, areas you want to focus on, etc.

A great starting guide for measuring traffic generated by social media can be found at HOW TO: Track Social Media Analytics. Another article about reputation monitoring focuses on the tools you might want to set up to find out what is being said about your organisation, project or initiative so that you can participate in the conversation. (From: Social Media: how do you know it’s working? by ICT-KM)

7. Other Blog Resources

English


Spanish


French


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