But should all organizations have a blog? No, they should not.
At best, a blog can be an incredibly powerful tool for brand expression and audience engagement. At worst, it’s just a huge waste of money and time. Luckily, the worst-case scenario can be avoided by asking a few pointed questions before starting an organizational blog.
Why Are We Doing This?
This may seem obvious, but after many (many) conversations with both for- and non-profit organizations, we’ve come to realize that it’s not always an easy question to answer. Maybe it’s to demonstrate expertise on a sector or subject, maybe it’s to recruit, maybe it’s a part of a growth or donation strategy.
Whatever the answer, just make sure there is one. And beware; if the answer is, “well we want to look like we publish content and are active,” dig deeper because that’s not a real answer. If you “look active” but don’t produce anything anyone wants to read, it’s not a good use of time.
What Will We Write About? (and Who’s Going to Care?)
What’s your angle? Let’s say you work for a wildlife rehabilitation center, and you’re in charge of running a blog. What do you write about? What is your focus? Maybe it’s conservation, maybe it’s science-focused, maybe it’s an eyewitness, story-centric blog. Or maybe you’ll choose to focus on the care and release of animals into the wild.
The more specific you can be with your focus, the easier it will be to (1) present your organization as a unique authority, and (2) appeal to your targeted audience(s).
Speaking of which: never forget about your target audience(s). Who is your key target audience? Be as specific as possible, and target an audience that will help you reach your organizational goals. Once you know who these folks are, you’re in a good position to write to their needs. Pro tip: always write to someone, not at someone.
What Does Success Look Like?
Set concrete goals that mean something and evaluate the results by measuring their success. In other words, don’t just say, “we want increased page views.” Page views likely don’t map directly to an actionable goal. Instead, think of key strategic organizational priorities and consider how your blog can support them.
For example, if your goal is to increase donations, measure a reader’s path from a blog post through to their actual donation. If your goal is instead to simply establish authority in your sector, track mentions on social media.
Can We Afford It?
Successfully starting and maintaining an effective blog is certainly not free. Valuable content takes time to produce, revise and maintain. At a minimum, you need to invest in someone to lead the charge; someone who can be an effective project manager, editor-in-chief, copy editor, and post writer. Depending on your organization, this role may be broken out amongst a team of people playing a number of roles.
Regardless of your investment, be sure the return is high enough by continuously measuring the success of your goals, and making sure they are effectively met over the course of the first year.