Blogging aimlessly? Put some purpose behind it!

What makes a great blog experience for the author and the reader? Over the last eight weeks, I have been actively blogging for my grad class in social media marketing. I have blogged at various points in the past, though they were mostly travel-related (a trip to China and a Hurricane Katrina service trip). Those platforms were very different (Microsoft Groups and Yahoo! Geocities), but effective (at the time) in reaching my intended audiences.

The blogging platforms and experiences today are vastly different and it is helpful to survey some of the research and best practices to really make the most of your time and effort. These tips and resources are general enough to be useful across any industry, including higher education.

Consider the Big Picture
What already exists? Why are you blogging? Who are you trying to reach? Li and Bernoff (2011) share tips for successful blogging that include:

  • Start by listening
  • Determine a goal for the blog
  • Estimate the return on investment
  • Develop a plan
  • Rehearse
  • Develop an editorial process
  • Design the blog and its connection to your site
  • Develop a marketing plan so people can find the blog
  • Remember, blogging is more than writing
  • Be honest.

Blogging vs. Other Social Sharing
If you’re considering whether you should blog or merely use other social networks to share content, there are a few insights that may help you decide. According to Schaefer (2012),

“Blogs and Twitter fit like a hand in a glove. Twitter is like a trailer to the blog’s movie. Profiles, status updates and resumes may indicate that you know your stuff but blogs demonstrate that you know it” (p. 18).

Brogan (2013) likens the difference between your primary blog and Google+ to be the difference between a home and a hotel room. He is opposed to the idea of throwing away your primary blog and living primarily on Google+.

Using WordPress?
If you’ve selected WordPress as your blogging platform, then Cleary (2014) shares 15 tips and techniques for WordPress blogging. There are also 15 WordPress mistakes to avoid (Yadav, 2014). I’ve selected five to highlight here:

  • Implement filament for social sharing
  • Dramatically increase your opt-ins using OptinMonster
  • Use keyword-rich headings within your content
  • Implement Disqus for comments
  • Write regularly!

Effective Social Sharing for Your Blog
Nanji (2014) outlines a number of blogging best practices related to social sharing. If you have spent a great deal of time on your blog and want to ensure that it has the greatest reach, these tips are worth considering:

  • Best days and times to post – 87% of the blog posts examined were published during the workweek, with Tuesday and Wednesday the most popular days for posting.
  • The length of your blog post title – Around 40 characters in length on average. Those with titles a bit longer than average, around 60 characters in length, received the most social shares, but those with titles beyond 60 characters had sharp declines in social shares.
  • The punctuation in your blog post title – 95% of blog posts analyzed did not include a question mark in the title, but those that did had nearly twice as many social shares.
  • The capitalization in your blog post title – 12% of blog titles analyzed had no capitalization, and less than 1% were written in all caps. Posts with a mix of capital and lowercase letters had the most shares.
  • In terms of social sharing – Tweets accounted for 38.6% of total social shares; Facebook Likes made up 33.8% of engagement; Facebook Shares accounted for 26.7%.

Additional Blog Resources
Now that you’ve got a handle on the reasons for and best practices in blogging, you should explore additional resources that will help you optimize, promote and monetize your blog. These come from a variety of bloggers and include:

Have you found your own best practices for blogging? What advice would you give to new bloggers or seasoned bloggers?


This blog is part of my MKT-555 Social Media course and fulfills the 8.3 course project requirement.

References

Brogan, C. (2013). The Opportunity of Google. In Google for business: How Google’s social network changes everything (2nd ed.). Indianapolis, Ind.: Que002E

Bullas, J. (2012). 10 Insights on Social Media and Blogging Influence: New Research. Retrieved October 26, 2014, from http://www.jeffbullas.com/2013/03/11/10-insights-on-social-media-and-blogging-influence-new-research/.

Cleary, I. (2014, September 26). 15 Irresistible Blogging Tips and Techniques for WordPress. Retrieved October 26, 2014, from http://www.razorsocial.com/blogging-tips-and-techniques-hittail/.

Cleary, I. (2013, December 4). 5 Essential Tools to Attract a Relevant Audience and Boost Traffic To Your Website. Retrieved October 26, 2014, from http://www.businessesgrow.com/2012/12/04/5-essential-tools-to-attract-a-relevant-audience-to-your-blog/.

Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. (Expanded and rev. ed.). Boston, Mass.: Harvard Business Review Press.

Nanji, A. (2014, April 28). Blog Best-Practices and Benchmarks. Retrieved October 26, 2014, from http://www.marketingprofs.com/charts/2014/25006/blog-best-practices-and-benchmarks.

Schaefer, M. (2014, October 21). Five proven ways to get more people to read your blog – Schaefer Marketing Solutions: We Help Businesses {grow}. Retrieved October 26, 2014, from http://www.businessesgrow.com/2013/10/21/five-ways-to-get-more-people-to-read-your-blog/.

Schaefer, M. (2014, August 8). Monetizing blog comments: Why your blog is economic gold – Schaefer Marketing Solutions: We Help Businesses {grow}. Retrieved October 26, 2014, from http://www.businessesgrow.com/2014/08/08/monetizing-blog-comments/.

Schaefer, M. (2012). Making Targeted Connections. In The Tao of Twitter: Changing your life and business 140 characters at a time. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Yadav, A. (2014, April 26). The 15 Most Common WordPress Mistakes to Avoid. Retrieved October 26, 2014, from http://www.jeffbullas.com/2014/04/14/the-15-most-common-wordpress-mistakes-to-avoid/.

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7 thoughts on “Blogging aimlessly? Put some purpose behind it!

  1. You demonstrated with great certain of the need to have a purpose to your message. I also enjoyed the suggestion that Tuesday and Wednesdays are the best days to blog. It reminds me of the “conventional wisdom” that it is best to buy cars built Tues, Wed, or Thursday. There still be something to that previous logic. For me, those kinds of pieces of information are useful and I tend to remember them and apply them the best.

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  2. HI Tiffany,
    As always, you have a very interesting blog post. This being my first time writing a blog I am now going to go back through mine and make sure I avoided those 15 WordPress mistakes that some people make. I especially enjoyed your tips for effective social sharing of your blog because in my organization I’m constantly looking at analytics and I find it so interesting that capitalization, color, time of day and other seemingly insignificant changes can make a large impact on reaching your target audience.
    It’s been great reading your blog.
    Bests,
    Rick

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    • Hi Rick – thank you for the feedback! I used the “15 Mistakes” information to build my blog at the beginning of our course. I found it tremendously helpful as a newbie on this platform. Do you have go-to analytics and resources that you use to stay up to date? If so, I’d love to hear about some.

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  3. Hi Tiffany,
    The practices you included in your post of what makes a great blog are ideal for developing a successful blog. It is important that the main goal of the blog is defined. Defining the goal of the blog will allow the writer to target their audience and include content that their target audience is interested in. As you stated, a marketing plan is also vital for a successful blog. There is a significant amount of competition among bloggers as anyone can develop a blog. Therefore, it is important that marketing strategies are utilized to attract traffic to the blog.

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  4. Your posts just get better and better! You offered some great tips here and I definitely plan to use them. Having a small business that offers retail products I have been searching for “practical” vehicles to aid me in getting my brand in the market. I have found through taking this class that blogging serves a key role and it is not to push or promote your product. The role of blogging is to communicate, inform, and engage. The product promotion will come, but it comes after you have connected and formed this relationship!

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