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Feature: The Blog Buzz for Not for Profits


Thursday, 20th May 2010 at 3:26 pm
Staff Reporter
Although blogging has been used in various forms for about 10 years, it is only beginning to be used by the Australian Not for Profit sector as a viable means of communicating with stakeholders. Pro Bono Australia intern Judie Gade reports.

Thursday, 20th May 2010
at 3:26 pm
Staff Reporter


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Feature: The Blog Buzz for Not for Profits
Thursday, 20th May 2010 at 3:26 pm

 Judie Gade, Pro Bono Australia Intern

Blogging is not new and has been used in various forms for about 10 years. Yet, in Australia, it is only beginning to be used by the Not for Profit sector as a viable means of communicating with stakeholders.

The blog, or weblog, initially started as a form of online diary, or journal, as early as January 1995. It quickly became a way for people to communicate opinions.

Newspapers worldwide ask journalists to blog their stories and views, especially after the effect 9/11 and the London bombings had on citizen journalism. The bombing of the World Trade Center is a defining moment for the internet.

Many journalists attribute 9/11 to the re-birth or “birth of the blog” according to the Robert Andrews of Wired.com. While survivors and spectators shared their thoughts, whereabouts and feelings on personal weblogs, phone networks and major news websites struggled with intense traffic.

The London bombings had a similar outcome. Posts were raw, honest, interactive and content rich. Video and images were uploaded. First-hand accounts, within minutes of the explosions, were posted online providing footage before news services.

Australian-based blogging expert, Eddie Harran, says Not for Profits’ core values are based on the ideals of authenticity, trust and engagement that blogging represents. Yet, many Not for Profits miss the point of sharing a blog – to be personal and open with stakeholders, donors, and subscribers.

Harran is sought after by international organisations in the Not for Profit sector. He says where marketing is about controlling the message, blogging is about people talking and interacting. Everyone is a broadcaster and sharer at the same time.

Captain Danielle Strickland, Social Justice Director for the Salvation Army, has been blogging for three years consistently with various blogs. Initially the first blog was set up without the ability to upload videos or images. However, since including multi-media capability, readership and subscribers has increased. Captain Strickland says Facebook updates the blog content, resulting in increased interactivity & comment frequency; she feels original thoughts create more frequent response and resonates with people more. Blogging creates connectedness with readers, informs them of issues and promotions, is cost effective and allows her to flex creative muscle.

Social media applications, such as blogging, are about community engagement which is the basis of Not for Profits. They enhance social capital and increase brand awareness. Harran says blogging allows personal interactions by the stakeholder and increases organisation loyalty.

The Socialnomics blog claims, currently, there are approximately 200 million blogs. Universal McCann’s study on social media trends says 73% of active online users have read a blog.

Harran also says the act of blogging makes the author, and any person contributing to a post by commenting, a brand advocate. While Australia may be not as advanced in the principles of blogging, Not for Profits, in Australia, can take advantage of the mistakes already made by their international counterparts and learn from them.

International blogging expert and social media pioneer, Beth Kanter, specialises in training Not for Profits in social media techniques. She has been described as being one of the most influential women in technology and has been blogging since 2001.

Kanter, states that Not for Profits, when considering developing a blog, need to set a goal, a perceived outcome and why they want to do it.

Considerations include:

§     Communication goals – the audience demographic.

§     The purpose of the blog?

§     Planning content – a group, CEO  or individual blog

§     Schedule – how often it is written and if the resources are there to dedicate to maintenance

§     Measuring the success of the blog

§     Establishing a pilot blog before investing time and finances in a purpose-built blog.

§     Skills and capacities the blogger has, such as html coding or CSS skills.

§     How much control over the blog design is wanted?

§     Other social media that will offer ongoing support to the blog.

§     Where do supporters gather – is it online?

 

Essentially, blogging creates an environment that involves its subscribers, engages and listens to them. Blogs create ownership of a blog, by subscribers, when commented on.

Blogs tend to be more conversational in style, have character and personality. They are content rich and support multi-media content inclusion such as images, video and audio.

The difference between traditional news and blogging, is that news is lengthier, has some links and is corporate in style. Blogging is often shorter, opinionated and has a personal message.

Both Harran and Kanter say blogs also help organisations increase their organic rankings on search engines.  Organisations can set up different blogs for different campaigns whilst still linking back to other campaigns and the main website.

 

TOP TEN REASONS TO BLOG

  1. Inexpensive to set up or pilot.
  2. Increases branding & loyalty.
  3. Increases community awareness and education
  4. Supports fundraising, events and initiatives.
  5. Different platforms for different blogger capabilities. Something for most computer and internet skill levels.
  6. Mobilises community action and volunteerism.
  7. Links to Youtube, Facebook group/fan pages & Twitter
  8. Supports the organisation website.
  9. Increases database.
  10. Supports donor websites.

 

http://bethkanter.org/ Beth Kanter is a professional blogger, coach and consultant in the area of effective technology use to support Not for Profit goals.

http://www.edwardharran.posterous.com/ Edward Harran’s blog

http://diary.carolyn.org/index.html One of the first blogs started in January 1995 by Carolyn L. Burke.

http://www.armybarmy.com Captain Danielle Strickland, Social Justice Director for the Salvation Army, reflective blog.

 

Free blogging sites:

www.edublogs.org Uses the WordPress platform. Good ‘how-to’ sections for newbies.

www.typepad.com Paid-for blogging platform and a favourite of Beth Kanter.

www.wordpress.com Free bogging platform

http://wordpress.org/ Download WordPress blogging software for free to incorporate into you website.

http://www.ning.com/Allows groups to build their own social network & allows each member to blog within the group  

 

 

http://www.wired.com/techbiz/media/news/2006/09/71753 9/11: Birth of the Blog

http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/completelist/0,29569,1879276,00.html Time & CNN 25 best Blogs 2009

http://socialnomics.net/2009/08/11/statistics-show-social-media-is-bigger-than-you-think/ Socialnomics – Social Media Blog.

  



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