Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Why would anyone want to blog with us...?

I was delighted to read Robert Niles' article on Online Journalism Review: Five steps to encourage readers to blog on your website

As my regular reader knows, we have been rolling out Community Server across many of our websites. The original intent was merely to up our game in terms of discussion forums, but we have also been using the photo gallery and blogs functionality with some surprising results.

In Farmers Weekly Interactive (our first launch) we weren't sure whether to bother switching on the blog functionality. Would farmers really blog?

The answer, it turned out, is yes, yes, yes, yes and several more in that vein.

Robert Niles explains why people might decide to blog in one of our online communities rather than elsewhere:

Anyone can start a blog, for free and in minutes, using established and popular services such as Blogger and What would entice a reader to avoid those options in favor of maintaining their blog on your website?

The answer is one word: community.

Most readers, like professional writers, want an audience for their work. Putting a blog online isn't like putting a magazine on the rack at Borders. Starting a blog on Blogger, while technically simple, does little to put a writer's word in front of a potential audience. Promoting the new blog remains the writer's responsibility, and many fall short of the challenge.

Launching a new blog within an established website community, however, gives a new blogger a head start on promoting his or her work. Within the community, bloggers become the audience for their fellow bloggers' work. And if the blogging community is part of a larger content-driven website, such as an online newspaper, non-writing readers can more easily find and become fans of a new blog.
He then goes on to provide five steps for encouraging this which I won't rip off here; read them on his article.

Co-incidentally, we've been doing a bit of work lately on encouraging the people who are blogging on our community sites to do it more, faster better etc - this article is going to help us encourage even more people to blog with us, thanks Robert.

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