On my Twitter feed, I recently asked the question:
What are people’s experience with their clients and organizations about incorporating blogs and/or blogger outreach to their interactive marketing plans?
I ask this because as social media knowledge expands, more organizations are looking at the concept of blogging, including government agencies. Thus, this next series of posts will revolve around questions organizations must ask themselves when wrestling with the ‘blogging dilemma.’ Or, to change the outlook and attitude, the blogging opportunity.
Question 1: To blog, or not to blog, that is the question.
The first response I usually receive when discussing blogging is a question relating to regulation. Thus, to start-off this series, this post will focus on regulation. Not all organizations desire to blog. In fact, many fear blogging because of a popular notion that it is an unregulated mode of communications…a public relations disaster waiting to unfold. These fears inspire numerous questions.
1. What if someone leaves a bad comment?
2. What if the blogosphere doesn’t approve or doesn’t view us as transparent?
3. How will we manage this logistical mess?
4. How do we even evaluate if we make any progress?
5. What can a blog even achieve?
6. What is a blog?
7. What will a blog cost us?
8. How do we control a blog?
and the list continues. These questions cover a lot of topics. In my experience, this concept of regulation most often appears with government clients. Here is a common statement:
“We can’t do blogging. It’s unregulated and you have no idea what people will say or how they’ll say it. We are a government agency, and we can’t take that sort of risk.”
This fear is understandable. For those not infiltrated in the blog arena, it appears messy – and at times, honestly, it is. However, the blogosphere doesn’t have to be completely viewed as ‘unregulated.’
Here are two examples on how organizations have approached blogging:
1. Regulate Blog Access. One organization I’m working with loves the idea of blogs, so much…(possibly a bit too much in my opinion…but hey, it’s also going to be a trial and error basis)…that their site will have 5-8 blogs. Logistically, this will be interesting. But in theory, the idea is to regulate who has blog access. The site will be set-up as an online community, so only members will see all the topical blogs. Whereas, the public will only see the one main blog. This way we can regulate what non-members have access to.
- Allow comments or don’t allow comments.
- Organizational, internal blogs only. The CIA has over 1,000 internal blogs!
- Blog Policies
- Which members get access to which blogs.
- With government agencies, due to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), children under 13 cannot leave comments.
2. Trial and Error. One consulting client I worked with loved the idea of a blog, but wasn’t sold on having the blog content being created and written by the organization. They wanted to use a blog as an outreach to their non-profit’s community as another tool of engagement. So, they started the blog, regulate it, but let their community members write the content by having the blog’s perspective be: Share Your Story. So, those wrestling with the non-profit’s illness shared their stories, could build online community and support one another.
- Event blogging
- Live Blogging
- Topical Blogging
Now, if you are working with a federal or state agency, the notion of blogging ruffles some feathers. Here is a critical case to make: blogging has been done. and can be done. Here eare some helpful sites to note:
1. Public Officials’ Blogs. Just do a quick environmental scan of the presidential candidates’ websites! This site even offers a full listing of current blogs held by public officials across the United States.
2. Increasing Government Agencies’ Blogs. Now the list may be small, especially when considering just how many agencies exist, but it’s a starting point.
3. Government Blog Resource. A great outline of what blogs are, issues to consider, blog statistics, viewpoints, etc…a great resource!
4. Research Study. “The Blogging Revolution: Government in the Age of Web 2.0,” a report by the IBM Center for the Business of Government which lists congressional, state, and local blogs.
(pic from http://www.masternewmedia.org)