https://beisdigital.blog.gov.uk/2013/01/07/bis-and-blogging/

BIS and blogging

People in and around BIS have been blogging in an official capacity for some years now.

Screenshot of BIS blogs

There have been some successes including Science and Public Attitudes and occasional posts from ministers, but on the whole we've struggled to deliver sustained, effective blogging.

The blogs that we have been managing are way behind those of our partner organisations in terms of traffic and engagement. I am not sure that one-off posts on a generic corporate blog are the best use of anyone's time, and we've drifted away from personal, conversational posts.

On a more positive note, the presence of corporate blogs has meant that people in the department are comfortable with the idea of blogging in general, and there is a willingness to produce content.

With all this in mind we have archived the BIS corporate blog, and a couple of others that were not performing as well as we might have hoped.

Our aim is to get colleagues thinking about credible and consistent digital engagement. This approach also means that when people inevitably move on, they take their blog or social media profile with them, and we start afresh with a new author. The danger with corporate or team blogs is that when a regular contributor leaves, the blog often falls by the wayside.

The best blogs are:

  • useful - is there an appetite among the target audience to read about this subject?
  • credible - will the author be a credible voice: an expert, senior responsible figure, or a thought leader?
  • authentic - posts are written by the attributed author, and in their own style
  • frequent - the author has the time to blog regularly, and will help promote their blog with the purpose of generating more discussion
  • engaging - comments will be responded to quickly

If the need to blog doesn't match these requirements, then we'll look for an opportunity to publish a guest post on an existing blog, or use a social network or forum to engage the same audience.

Alternative channels might include:

  • Tumblr (for quick-and-easy diary-style blogging)
  • microblogging on platforms like LinkedIn or Google+ (more than 140 characters, but without the pressure of writing 'substantial' posts every couple of weeks)
  • Storify (for curating different types of content)
  • Contributing to established forums and commenting on relevant blog posts elsewhere

What do you think? If you have examples of great blogs from other organisations, please let us know.

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7 comments

  1. Comment by Steph Gray posted on

    Good calls, Tim. I think the value of great-and-the-good corporate blogs is pretty limited, but I don't underestimate how tricky that kind of thing is in a corporate environment.

    I've been collecting examples of interesting (not necessarily all stellar) blogs over here: http://www.digitalengagement.info/section/examples/?topic=blog

    The one thought I'd add would be to consider thinking more laterally about blogging tools, and blending some of their strengths (visual design control, your own domain, hosting/archiving security, functional control) with the best bits from social media services. For example, enabling people to quickly share links with commentary on a blog via a bookmarking tool or vote on priorities as Anthony, Ade and the team do on http://openpolicy.demsoc.org (or making the blog homepage more of a newsfeed, as that site does). And as Shane Dillon was just saying to me, maybe considering how to enable more timeless posts with a longer shelf-life, as Medium does.

    Full disclaimer: The Open Policy site is something I've worked on with Demsoc/Cabinet Office on a paid basis.

    Reply
  2. Comment by Stephen Hale posted on

    I completely agree with your analysis of what makes good blogs work, and I recognise the reasons that a central corporate blogging platform the organisation hasn't really worked. We try to build pretty much all of our digital engagement work around personal content, attributed to individuals (blogs+), so it is useful for us to have an owned place to put it. But I've always been v wary of official blogs that are launched as platforms for occasional posts by lots of different people. I can think of a few good examples of this type of blog, but much more that just whither away. I remember us being quite hard line about this in the early days of FCO blogging - we refused any request for "an embassy blog", preferring to nail all blogs to an individual, and we avoided calling one-off articles blogs at all. This fairly puritanical approach wasn't always welcomed, but I do think it helped develop a culture of proper sustained blogging. We've been a bit more creative about how to make the most of personal content at DH recently - for things like the Dementia Challenge (http://dementiachallenge.dh.gov.uk/), we've mixing personal blogs by the clinical leader, with tagged content from elsewhere and news posts - so it's blogging, but far more campaigny. I think you're probably right to ditch the catch-all corporate blog, in favour of more focussed blogs (like this one, which I assume you're keeping).

    Reply
  3. Comment by Matt Goolding posted on

    Good article Tim, thanks. We've recently started a corporate blog and are trying to make it as fresh & informative as possible to build credibility and establish a good following. People forget that corporations are made up of individuals with interests and tastes, so despite being a B2B IT company, we want to appeal to individuals. It's tough to get the exposure and the ROI is difficult to measure, but I genuinely think that it can help businesses dramatically if they engage with readers in the right way.

    Reply
  4. Comment by James Devenish posted on

    Thanks Tim,

    I found the following link written by a student for the Cabinet Office:

    http://digital.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/2013/02/04/constant-revision/

    Hopefully this is also useful.

    Reply
  5. Comment by James Devenish posted on

    Tim,

    I have also found the FCO blogs to be particularly good: http://blogs.fco.gov.uk/bloggers/

    Really helpful to see blogs broken down by country as opposed to just one corporate blog.

    Reply

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