Thursday, February 5, 2009

Convicing others to blog - or not

I recently came across a blog post on engaged learning dot net called convincing others to blog.

I read it and I found it quite interesting.

As someone how's got four blogs already, I know that there is value to speaking about things you like and topics where you may be a subject matter expert. The time commitment to blog is not very taxing. If you know what you are talking about you can write a blog post in less than 15 minutes. This could be your coffee break for instance. If it helps your company, event better!

I know that people realize that there is something valuable for the company if the higher-ups blog about the product. After all, how can you work for a company if you are not jazzed about what they offer. It doesn't matter if this is Apple's new widget or a University's MBA program.

I tend to talk about blogging to classmates and friends (and sometimes coworkers), but I never pressure them to open a blog. I prefer to lead by example. Writing does not come natural to many people. They can sit and talk a mile a minute about something that they are interested in, but schooling has ingrained a certain type of writing in our minds, which can be a pain for most people.

People think of writing (even blogs) as something that needs an intro paragraph, and ending paragraph, at least 3 body paragraphs, and topic sentence for each paragraph, something that ties it all in, proper punctuation, citations , references and so on. This is not as easy as speaking to someone. Thus I tend to let people read blogs, and then decide how they want to create their own, if indeed they do want to create one.

One problem I have with corporate blogs is over advertising. The CEO (or other exec) may write about something interesting that they saw in the news, or some conference they went to that was of interest, but they tend to have a lot of product placement in their blog posts and that turns me off.

I read the UMass online blog for instance. I am really interested in what people have to say as professionals in learning management and in online education, but as a reader I turn off when I see a mention similar to
At the risk of overly commercializing my New Year’s message, at UMassOnline it has never been easier or more convenient to continue learning.

Testimonials are good, but sometimes, as a reader, I feel like I am being hit over the head with advertising.

So my advice?

Blog about what you love. It's OK if what you do in your day job isn't what you want to do in the evenings or the weekends. If you can't write something about your industry, don't. Also, even if you do love your industry and your company, don't beat your readers over the head with mentions about where you work - chances are the header of your blog mentions your company, and don't talk up your product unless you really use it. The hair club for men comes to mind as a good example of this principle: "I'm not just president of X, I am also a customer"
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