Webinar – Intro to Blogging for Nonprofits and Libraries – 2009-08-06

Webinar – Intro to Blogging for Nonprofits and Libraries – 2009-08-06


…the slides and all of the resources discussed
today. And you will receive this also in an e-mail after we end. So there is no need for everybody
to scribble down URLs throughout the meeting. If you are talking about this event on Twitter
— which I know Twitter is down this morning, so I’m not sure if it is back up yet
or not — but the hash tag is #tstblog. We’ll also have a forum discussion that will
take place afterwards if there are questions that you didn’t get a chance to ask, or that the
presenters didn’t have an opportunity to answer. And we will send that link out again in the
follow-up e-mail, and it will also be announced at the end of the webinar one more time. So welcome everybody to Intro to Blogging for
Nonprofits & Libraries. I am Becky Wiegand, a staff writer here at TechSoup, and blogger,
and manager of our blog for the TechSoup blog. We will be joined today with
presenters Allyson Kapin from Care2 and Jason Griffey who is the
author of Library Blogging. Just to give you a little bit of background on
the two speakers, Allyson is the blogger and chief for Care2’s nonprofit blog, Frogloop. She also
blogs for Fast Company’s Radical Tech blog. She’s the founder of Women Who Tech,
and the Executive Creative Director of the Rad Campaign. Jason Griffey co-authored the Library
Blogging book that I mentioned previously, and he is also authoring the soon to be
released Mobile Technology and Library. He writes and blogs regularly for Pattern
Recognition which is his own blog, the LITA blog, and for ALA’s TechSource blog
for the library community. So just to go over really quickly
what our agenda is going to be today, we will hopefully be able to get to all of
these objectives where we go through and define kind of what a blog is, and what its
benefits are for both the nonprofit community and the library community. Hopefully you’ll
have an opportunity to answer any questions, address considerations that you should think of
before you start, give some overview of tools, talk about best practices and tips, and share
some of our favorite blogs and resources. And then at the end we will save some
time for some questions and answers. So hopefully we can get your questions
in. And again, if we don’t have time to get to everyone’s questions, we will be
having that follow-up discussion in the forums. So Jason, you have a great definition that
you use in your book. Could you start us off with giving us an overview of what is a
blog for those who may not be familiar? Jason: Sure thing. One of the problems in
defining a blog is in the book Library Blogging, I say it’s kind of like trying to define a book.
You can have different shapes, and sizes, and colors. Some books have thousands of pages and some
only have two, but they are still books. Blogs are largely the same way. It is definitely
a webpage. And there are a lot of “usuallys” in this definition. It is usually
written in a programming language, although the first things that we
called blogs were just straight HTML. The content of the site is normally stored
in some sort of metadata-rich format. This is all invisible to the user.
And the presentation of the content is usually reverse chronological. That is one
of the hallmarks of kind of the blog format, is that you have the new stuff at the top, and then
it trails as the older stuff trails off the screen. Usually each piece of content or post
is the product of a single author. There are lots of blogs that have multiple
authors, but usually the post itself is not normally co-authored by multiple
people. And a big deal is that the content is updated regularly on a blog.
Usually again, the page has some sort of social networking component whether it
allows comments, whether it allows track back, or some other sort of feedback
mechanism for the community in question. Becky: That’s great. And can you talk a
little bit about what the difference might be from a regular website? And can a blog be a
website? I’d imagine a lot of organizations and libraries might be interested in using
a blog tool to actually create a website if they don’t have one, or it would
be easier to update a site if they do. Jason: Yeah, some of that actually comes down
to a distinction between what I’ll call code and content. You can have a blog engine
that is a tool that is designed for blogging that does many things besides blogging. So
the code that underlies the way the website is put together whether it
is WordPress, or Blogger, or a more fully featured content
management system like Drupal or Joomla, those that the underlying engine,
what we would call blogging software, could easily run a website in a myriad of
ways. WordPress is really pretty heavily used when it comes to running kind
of what we would call a website as opposed to what we would call a blog. But the content really is what sets a
blog apart in that it is regularly updated, that you have what are called posts. You
have consolidated pieces of information that are news items or some other kind of
temporally interesting piece of information that then gets linked to a
time and scrolled through, so a little bit different than a
traditional website in that kind of manner. Becky: Thank you for that help in defining
what a blog is and what a blog tool can do. We will have more about the blog
tools later on in our discussion. But before we get to talking about the
nitty-gritty of the different tools, Allyson maybe you could talk a little bit about what
the benefits of blogging might be for nonprofits. Since you work consulting nonprofits, blogging
for nonprofits about using social media tools like blogs, it would be great to share a little
bit about why blogging can benefit a nonprofit. Allyson: Are we jumping
into the slides now? Becky: Sorry. Yep, I hadn’t advanced it. Allyson: Sorry, I’m just waiting
for it pop up on my screen. Becky: Sorry, It took
a second to catch up. Allyson: So one of the things that we use
blogging for is really to communicate our message and really standout from our competition
or our opposition. So we really use it as a communications tool with our base of
current supporters or potential supporters that we want to reach and recruit, and of course
reaching out to the press, and influentials, and decision-makers such as political
representatives like hill staff or state representatives. And it can
even go down into very local targeting. And then of course you don’t want to get lost in
the shuffle, because blogging is so huge today. I think that there is a stat out there from
Technorati. I think there are over like 75,000 new people that are blogging every day.
And so probably your opposition is blogging, and your competition is already doing it.
So you want to have that blog presence too. And also, blogging gives you a chance to
tell your story with your unique voice. And as Jason was mentioning, blogging
is a really easy and cost effective way to share the latest news in your organization,
to tell your story, to solicit feedback from your community, and to really
foster a great discussion and dialogue. And it gives your nonprofit a really
distinct voice within your movement, and can really distinguish you from other
nonprofits that are working on similar issues. And you can see in this example I used
Greenpeace, which I think is a great example. There are a ton of other environmental
organizations, but Greenpeace has done such a great job with their
blog. It really caters to their activists. You can tell by reading their blog in terms of
their tone and messaging. It is also a great source of information for their activists that are
looking for the latest news on their issues. It’s just a great example of how to really
define your voice within your community. So blogging also helps you really brand
your mission with your organization, with your constituents, and
of course with the press. And I used the Amnesty International example.
I think that they’ve done a really great job. They’ve actually called their blog Human Rights
Now, and I think that is a great, great example of Amnesty International. They have done such
a great job in branding themselves in general, including their online social networks. They have
a really active presence on Facebook and Twitter. And their blog is just
another representation of that. Also you can use your blog to really
freshen up information on your homepage. And here I used the Save Darfur example. And if
you can see, I know this is a small screen shot on your right-hand side, but there towards the
bottom of the screen it has the Save Darfur blog. And basically what they’ve done is they’ve
integrated a blog feed onto their homepage. And it is just a great way to really freshen
up your homepage and make it look dynamic for web visitors that are coming back
to your website on a constant basis. And they have also actually used it.
It’s the same thing. It’s an RSS feed. If you look over to the left side of the screen
they have also done that with Darfur Daily News. And it is the same idea of using an RSS feed
to really just keep that content really fresh and updated for the users when they
are coming back to your website. Becky: That’s great info. The other great
thing about RSS is that you can not only use it to keep your own site and information fresh and
active, but it’s available for anybody to use. Once you have that RSS feed other people in
other organizations, other bloggers can also use your feed on their own site helping to further
syndicate your information around the web. Before we move on to some of the library
info that Jason is going to offer, I would love to have folks raise their
hand if they are calling in and joining us from a nonprofit today. So you will see a raise
hand a button. If you want to raise your hand if you are from a nonprofit that would be
great just to let us know who’s joining us. I see a lot of yellow on my screen
which is what happens on the back end. We see a lot of yellow raised hands. It
looks to me like about half of the folks, maybe a little more than half of the
folks on the line are from nonprofits. So if you want to go ahead and put your
hands back down that would be great. Now that hands are down for the
nonprofits, I would love to see, before we get into Jason’s section
about why it matters to libraries, I would love to have folks raise their
hand if they are calling in from a library or a friend of the library. Lots
more hands going up. That’s great. So it looks like we have quite a bit more at the
moment, nonprofits on the line than libraries, but these tools are equally relevant I think
to both audiences, and Jason is going to tell us a little bit why. What are the
benefits of blogging for libraries? If you still have your hand up you are
welcome to put that down at this point just by clicking the
same button again. Thanks. Jason do you want to tell us
about some of the benefits? Jason: Sure thing. I kind of picked out three things
that I think blogs are really good at for libraries. And the first of these is —
waiting on the slide. There we go. I’m hoping everybody sees that.
The first is building an audience. Every library, whether it is public, academic,
corporate, other sorts of special libraries, school libraries, all of them are in
some way answerable to their patrons. In the same way that a business
is answerable to its customers, libraries have a duty to their patrons
to serve them in the best way they can. And you can’t serve anyone if you don’t
have anyone. One of the biggest problems for public libraries and academic libraries
too, is trying to increase your patron base, trying to figure out how you can
get more and more people interested in what it is that you are doing. And blogs are
marketing, and outreach, and problem solving, and potentially patron feedback all in one.
It’s a single kind of communication channel that is flexible enough to allow for a lot of different,
what I think are very interesting communications between you and your patrons.
So building an audience, reaching out to underserved audiences, all
of that sort of thing is really easily done when it comes to blogging.
Blogging is a nice tool for that. The next thing that I think is important for
libraries to think about when they think about blogging is when I said share your secrets. And that is
every library has these amazing collections — that’s a little too far there
on the slides. There we go. Share your secrets. Whether it is the
smallest public library in a small rural town, all the way up to major academic
libraries, every library has something, some things in their collections that are
vastly important to someone in the world. The problem is connecting the reader and
the object. It’s similar to marketing, but I think that simply putting out your
information in a way that is easily re-shareable — you mentioned earlier that RSS
makes things kind of re-shareable. You can get your message out more easily.
Libraries when it comes right down to it are purveyors of information. We are trying
to get our information out into the world in every method that we can use to do that
is an important one. Blogging is a huge one. I think it’s important for libraries
to think about how they could get a blog into their communication streams in order to
get their content out, the actual information that the libraries are holding more fully
out into the world, into the digital realm. I think that’s a big deal
for libraries these days. And then finally, last piece, —
waiting on the slides. There we are. Remix your world. Blogging is a way of
— librarians love structured information. We are insane about structuring information
so that we can do interesting things with it. And blogging is one great way of taking
sets of information and structuring them in specific ways through RSS, XML,
Adam, and other kinds of metadata formats in order to be able to, as Allyson said,
embed them everywhere that you might want it. You can have one blog that then feeds the
information into lots of other webpages. You can feed into multiple websites all at
once. And it just gives you a lot of power on the back end. The actual technology
behind blogging gives you a lot of options for things that libraries are very interested
in doing. I think that those are the three things that I think libraries can benefit from pretty
quickly, and pretty directly, via blogging. Becky: That’s great. It seems like between
nonprofits and libraries there’s probably a lot of overlap in what is trying to be achieved.
I mean obviously building an audience, communicating with your constituency,
whether that is your local neighborhood that you want to have come out
and participate in library events, or whether it is people you are trying to move into
advocacy or action, or service for your nonprofit. So these are great tips I think
for both libraries and nonprofits. So before we start a blog, before we jump
in and try to launch into the blogisphere, I’d like to have you give us some information
about what we should consider as a nonprofit or as a library, before really jumping in.
What kind of things we need to think about? What are the hurdles that you need
to overcome before you try to start? Or is it really just go to Blogger
and open an account and start? So Allyson maybe you can talk a little
bit about what kind of considerations we need to have before getting started? Allyson: Sure. Well, the first thing that you want
to do, is you really want to define your goals upfront when you’re first starting your blog. And Jason
did talk about kind of building your audience. So you definitely want to define who is your
target audience when you are starting your blog, and who are your readers. Who do
you want to be reading your material? And then you really want to define the
unique information that you are delivering through your blog to your target audiences.
What’s going to be the most valuable information that you can give them? And possibly the valuable
information is going to be somewhat different than your competitors. So because
at the end of the day it’s all about kind of getting the most visits, and we want
to be able to provide value to our web visitors who are reading our blogs. Then you also want to think about a publishing
schedule. In terms of commitment to your blog, how quickly can you provide the
information and do this on a regular basis? Are you going to be able to — and I’ll talk a little
bit about this below in terms of staff commitment — are you going to be able to update
this blog three times a week? Or are you looking at kind of doing this more
once a week, or once every couple of weeks? Because the more you put into your blog,
the more you are going to get out of it in terms of people coming to your blog
regularly to read it, and commenting, and really feel like they
are part of your community. So in terms of staff commitment, a lot of
organizations look at blogging like a chore. And it really shouldn’t be viewed as a
chore. It really needs to be viewed as part of your communication strategy. So there
are a couple of options in terms of staffing. One if you can designate a blogger
and chief which is what we do over at Care2’s FrogLoop blog. But
we also do something once a week, we actually have guests post. And
that has worked out really well for us because there are so many experts in the
field in terms of nonprofit communications which is what FrogLoop focuses on. It’s
just a great way to keep the blog post fresh with guest posts from other experts in the
field and people really respond to that. You can also look at it, if you didn’t want
to designate one person to be the main blogger, you can have different staff contributing
different posts throughout the week. But I will say that the best thing that
you can do in terms of staffing your blog, is again, we don’t want to look at this as a chore,
but when you are having those staff contributions make sure that they actually want to be doing
this blogging, and that it is not seen as something that is burdensome on them, because it
can actually come across in the posts, that the posts aren’t full of the great resources.
It is something that was done very quickly without a lot of thought. So you
really want that staff investment. Again, my goal in terms of working with
nonprofits is to get them to have a blog that has at least three short posts
per week to really keep that blog fresh, and to keep people coming back. And who should be blogging? That’s a really
great question that I get asked a lot. And my opinion on this is that people that
truly understand your organization’s mission, your issues, your agenda, and objectives,
these are the people that should be blogging. And that tends to be people in your
organization that are part of senior management, and middle management. You can also have
guest bloggers like I mentioned before which could be people like board members,
or allies, partners, people that are experts in your field. I am not a big fan
personally of having interns blog, or run your social networking platforms,
because it is the senior management and the middle management that actually
understand the core issues of your organization. And then at the end of the day it is all about
messaging, and do you really want an intern who is not very familiar with your organization,
that may have been with your organization for a month or two, to be the
voice of your organization. Becky: Those are great points Allyson. And I
think different organizations do it differently across-the-board. I know here at TechSoup
for our blog we have different bloggers that kind of handle a certain beat. So we have one
blogger who is a real expert on security issues, and so most of his posts are
security-related. And we have other bloggers who write about green technology, and
that is what they write about every week. So it is helpful to kind of really look within
the organization, across staff, across board, to look for where people strengths are and
whether that is something you want to have on the blog, whether you think
that voice and the contribution is really going to contribute
something valuable to your readers. Allyson: Yup, that’s great. Becky: I also know that another organization that
I worked for in the past had interns and students blogging as its primary voice because their
goal and their target audience was other students and other young college students. So I
think in some situations that can really work when you have your key audience defined, and
people of that same group really targeting them. But it did require quite a bit of maintenance
by staff to make sure that they were on message and starting some personnel
policies to really set that up. Go ahead Jason. I’m
sorry if I interrupted. Jason: No, no. I was just going to say that
one of the keys is, at least in the time that I’ve been blogging is if you are going
to separate out the roles like have somebody doing X or Y, obviously match that to
their interests. You can tell when somebody is writing just because they have
to get a blog post done for the week. You can tell when someone is really
actually interested in the subject in the same way that you can
tell when someone’s talking, you can tell when someone’s writing. So it’s
really important to match interests with the topics as well. If you have a particular
thing you want discussed on the blog, find the person in your
organization that is the passionate, you know absolute end all be all
of that topic, and let them do it. Becky: That’s a great point. Along with setting
the goals and picking the right messengers to be talking, Allyson, do you want to talk
a little bit about how to determine voice? Allyson: Sure. So the tone of your blog really
depends on who your target audience is for. So for example, on FrogLoop we write
for a pretty much a young demographic. They are typically tech savvy. They
are online communication practitioners. So we have a very professional voice,
but we definitely add some personality and spunk to it. We are also not
afraid to embrace a little controversy. But other blogs like I had on one of my first
slides like from NARAL, they actually have a bit more of a combination of an activist and
policymaker audience. So their blog tone definitely has a research-based tone to it, but
also since part of their audience is also activists, they actually also definitely have a lot of calls
to action and that has an activist tone as well. So they do a nice jo
Bof bridging the two. Another blog audience could be community
members, including teens and children. So that may take a very different approach.
Becky had mentioned one of the blogs that she had worked with earlier, they
had students blogging and college students. So that probably took on a very different
age-appropriate tone, and it probably wasn’t sarcastic, and it was pretty straightforward. So
there are definitely different tones that you can take depending
on those audiences. Becky: Right, and I would imagine that especially
for bloggers who might be working at a library who are trying to get young people to come
to events, or trying to get young people to participate in summer reading programs,
that that would be the sort of tone that they may want to take, and being
conscientious of their readership may be young, and not get sarcasm, or might not get some
dry wit, that may be a different audience would find appropriate. Jason: Yeah, it is important to be
informal when informality is needed even in professional communications. So I think
especially in the cases for young adult blogs, teen blogs, and even under K-12 blogs
that school librarians might be doing, age-appropriateness is a huge deal, tone
informality is a big deal, paying attention to voice. Becky: Right, that’s a great point. So just to
talk about some other considerations as well, Jason, do you want to talk a little bit
about some of the more nitty-gritty decisions that a blog team might need to
make, or an organization or library might need to make
before they get started? Jason: Yeah, I’ll go through a few
things pretty quickly. One is commenting. Commenting is a big deal for a lot of
library blogs again, especially either public or school library blogs where
your readership may be minors. You may not have readership over 18 necessarily.
And you want to kind of control the message a bit by moderating comments. Moderation, I’m
not a huge fan of moderated comments frankly, but in most cases it’s good to start that way.
It is good to begin by moderating the comments that come in. The way that that works
if anyone hasn’t used any blog software is that someone can leave a comment on
a post, but it doesn’t actually show u until someone approves it. So you get
a chance to read, potentially even edit, and then approve a comment before it becomes a
part of the communication stream of your blog. Anonymous comments is the other kind of
big piece of that. A lot of blogs do allow for anonymous commenting on their posts.
Anonymity doesn’t always bring out the best in people. On the other hand, anonymity is
necessary especially for a lot of libraries. We value anonymity of the reading process in
a big way. So there is a really tough balance to be sought there where you give enough
freedom to allow for people to comment freely, but you don’t give them enough freedom so that
they feel like they can get away with anything. So some combination of anonymity and
moderation can find that balance pretty quickly once you see what people are
doing, and see how that is going. So comments are something that
will always be challenging. Any time you have an open communication
stream, it’s going to be a challenge to try to keep those in
the topics that you want. If you are doing
– anonymity also goes to the blogging, the blogger side of the world. There may be instances in both libraries
and in nonprofits where if you are dealing with a particular controversial topic, you
may want the identity of the blogger themselves held back. You would not want an actual name
attached to that. That is absolutely allowable I think, especially in instances where you are
attempting to protect identity for, potentially for legal reasons. There are many, many reasons
that this might come up. It is not as — it’s good for people to know who is
writing, because often readers want to be able to connect to that person again, or find
other things that person has written. But if the things that you are trying
to get across are of a sensitive nature, anonymity in blogging is
something that is very common, and definitely is not a
taboo in any way across blogs. How can you ensure your blog doesn’t get
hacked? Well, a lot of that is going to depend upon what kind of blog you choose to set up,
how you choose to interact with the software that is actually running the blog. The biggest
decision there is, do you as the nonprofit or library have web servers that you are
going to actually install software on to, or are you going to rely on an outside service,
and outsource that particular bit of it. If you yourself are hosting the blog, then
there are measures that you need to take for any kind of web hosting, fire walling and
things like that, to try and keep the hackers at bay. If it’s outside of your organization,
and it is being hosted by someone else, a large part of the choice of who that
someone else is, needs to be how secure is it? How do I follow up with the person? You
expect for instance, if you host a blog with a mom-and-pop hosting service down the
street from you, you need to be able to talk to them about security issues. They
need to communicate with you clearly that they are patching their software
and keeping their servers updated. If you go with something like
Blogger that’s hosted by Google, there is certainly a different level
of communication that you can expect or not expect from a
major company like that. And then disclaimers, and how to
allow for some freedom of opinion, but still protect your organization in some
way. Most blogs, most professional blogs that I am a part of and that I am
aware of have some form of blogging. Whether it’s a code of ethics, or whether
it’s just a set of blogging guidelines, or something that is published that says, this
is the topics that our blog is going to cover. Here are the sorts of things that we talk about.
And if we go off topic it is the individual that is responsible for that and
not the organization as a whole. And that certainly is a standard sort of
disclaimer to put on pretty much any group blog especially, if you have multiple bloggers
that are all contributing to a single blog. It’s important to give them a little bit of freedom,
but also to warn your public that the opinions and such, if you are allowing kind of unmediated
blogging, and free selection and things like that, that you need to warn the public that it is
possible that the blogger may say something that you don’t like. It is their opinion
and not the opinion of the larger community. Becky: That’s great. And I think that
there are probably a lot of examples that are able to be found by Google or Bing
or whatever your search engine of choice is these days, samples of content guidelines
and blogger disclaimers. We have one that we use at TechSoup as well, where we talk about the
audience that we are writing for and the tone, as well as some of those more no-no things.
Especially as a nonprofit, it’s something that there are legality issues if you work on
political issues around endorsing a candidate, or denouncing a candidate, or a specific
political party. So there are some things to be careful about, and it does help
to have some written policy of some type especially if you are recruiting guest
bloggers to help, or board members who may not know some of
those no-no things to avoid. And I think there are great examples of
disclaimers that are pretty easily Googleable, and you see them on a lot of the different blogs,
some of the blogs that were in the screen shots earlier for sure. I know NARAL has a
pretty good disclaimer on their site. And when you were talking
about controversial topics, I know that they have to pretty
heavily moderate a lot of their comments just because they work on women’s rights issues.
And it is a really heated topic frequently. So they get a lot of what we call trolls, or
people who are there just to kind of create trouble and aren’t necessarily the audience
that they are aiming to reach. They are there to sort of
sabotage some of their messaging. So that is really terrific. We’re a little
bit off on time as far as our schedule, so what I’d like to do is talk about some of
the tools, and we are going to go over them pretty quickly here. We’ll just show some
screen shots and talk about some of the benefits, and we can follow up with more in the
Q&A if you are needing more detail. And we will also send some resources
afterwards that list out some of the best uses for some of these tools, so you can find
which ones really will suit your needs. So Jason, do you want to go
through any of these tools? Jason: Yeah, I can snap through
them pretty quickly I think. Blogger.com is owned by Google and its a
hosted solution. That is the blog typically — and you can actually do a couple things
with it — but typically the Blogger blog sits on Google servers. And you have
an address that reads something like “YourBlogName.BlogSpot.com.” Blogger does
give you the freedom to publish the blog to your own space if you have some server
space. So it does have kind of a dual role, although most people that use it do use it as
the Google hosted solution; very easy to set up. You can literally go to Blogger.com and have
a blog up and running in about 35 seconds. It’s very, very fast. So let’s go to the next. There we go. Another hosted solution that is another solution
where the information lives on some server out in the world is WordPress.com.
WordPress.com is probably the second most popular. Blogger is by far the
largest of the hosted solutions in the world right now. World press.com is
probably second, maybe third, but I think it is probably second these days.
It is similar in that you sign up like signing u for a web mail account. You sign up. You
give it a couple of pieces of information. You hit go, and you’ve got a blog. There
are limits to these sorts of hosted services in that you can’t really tinker, because
the software lives outside of your control. So if you want a ton of control on look and
feel, and on plug-ins, multimedia ability and other things that come
with having a localized install, these may not be exactly what you want.
But if you are just dipping your toes in and you want to kind of get a feeling for how
to blog, and get just kind of a rough start, Blogger or WordPress, and then the next
option as well, are all hosted options. The third of the hosted options that
I wanted to point out is TypePad.com. These are kind of the three WordPress,
Blogger, and TypePad are the three really substantial blog platforms on the
web. TypePad is the hosted version of a tool that we are going to look at in just a second
called MovableType. And TypePad is similar again to WordPress and Blogger. Each of them
have their own feel. So in the same way that different web clients for e-mail feel
different when you use them, each of them have slightly different controls, slightly different
abilities, different plug-ins. They treat things just a little bit different, but
overall it’s enter your information, press a couple of
buttons, you have a blog. And the disadvantages for libraries
and for nonprofits I think, for these is that you lose some control when your
information is stored out on their servers. You don’t have complete control over the
way it looks. You don’t have complete control over the way it treats media, or the way it
treats even commenting and things like that. You lose some control when they are out
there. On the other hand, they are easy, and mostly they are free. So those are
the two things that sometimes win out, easy and free over full control. The largest non-hosted, that is the
largest solution for blogging these days where you are actually installing it locally
on your machines is a piece of software also called WordPress. WordPress.org
is the website where — Whoops. One too far there,
sorry. Let’s go back one. So WordPress.org is the site where you
would go. And you can actually download. WordPress is an open source tool. It’s
completely free, completely open source, completely modifiable. You can download it
and install it locally on your own servers. When you do that you have complete control over
how it looks, what it does, plug-ins, media, how the users are treated, kind of
absolute control over the way it works. You do need both a web server and then some
IT sort of background in order to deal with getting it installed. Once its installed pretty
much anyone can use it, even nontechnical people have no trouble logging in and creating
posts and things, but the initial install is sometimes problematic. So depending on your
organization, it may or may not be a good fit. But it is both the most robust, largest install base.
There are literally millions and millions of people using this tool including two
of the blogs that I blog on. And it allows you kind of complete control.
So it is very, very highly recommended if you have the technical background and ability
to deal with it. It is the one that I recommend. Becky: We should mention that WordPress.org
also has a really large community of users that are active in the forums. So if
you’ve got some technical expertise, but you are not quite sure if you’ve
got enough to really set it up yourself, I would visit the forums that was
actually in the top of that screen shot. And then you can kind of get a feel
for whether or not you can really do it and maybe get some people to help
you set it up through the forums. Jason: Yeah, one of the advantages
of being the largest install base of open source blogging software is that there
are thousands, and thousands, and thousands of sites that will walk you through the process.
There are videos that will walk you through the install process. There are
forums where you can ask questions. There’s a really remarkable user base
that will help you with WordPress. The last of the actual blogging tools
that I wanted to point out is MovableType. MovableType was very, very popular early on in
kind of the blogging revolution in the early 2000s. MovableType was a really popular
option. It’s dropped off because WordPress kind of overtook it in a lot of
ways. But MovableType is still very popular. Lots and lots of sites are using it.
MovableType actually has two different models. One is an open source model;
they have a version that is free. But they also have a version that is paid. You
pay for the software, you install it locally, and paying for the software gets you some
support. So for a lot of nonprofits and libraries having that extra little bit of
support sometimes comes in really handy. So the model for MovableType is a little
different. With WordPress you can find support, but you normally have to do so by digging
around forums, and talking to individual people. With MovableType there’s a support
base that is built in for it. Becky:And I would add that MovableType seems
to be much more used by larger organizations with a dedicated IT team as opposed to a
lot of the more smaller grassroots groups that tend to go with a hosted
option like WordPress or Blogger. Jason: Yup. I think that’s exactly
right. MovableType does tend to be more, a larger install. You can see the screen
shot has the Obama Biden page on it, so MovableType was used for that,
and clearly a large IT structure behind that particular undertaking. The last two tools that I wanted
to point out just very quickly because I know we are running over
time, aren’t actually blogging tools, but they are related to blogging
tools. And they were important enough that I thought we should mention them. The first is a service called FeedBurner. We’ve
mentioned a couple of times in the presentation, RSS and dealing with RSS feeds, and moving
them around and all of that sort of thing. All of these blog platforms provide
an RSS feed for your readers to push in to their own aggregators or anything
like that. But FeedBurner is a service that mediates the RSS feed for you
and then gives you statistics on it. So you give FeedBurner your RSS
feed, FeedBurner gives you an RSS feed to give to your patrons,
your clients, your customers. And then FeedBurner gives you statistics on
that RSS feed. You can tell how many people are using it, what things they are
clicking through to the actual page on. It gives you a lot of interesting things that
you don’t get normally from a standard RSS feed. So for the purposes of measuring
results, we measure what we care about. And if we care about who is reading our stuff,
then we need to be able to measure the RSS as well. And FeedBurner is one
of the best tools to do that with. So I wanted to point it out separately.And
the last tool is one that probably again we mentioned early, but is Twitter.
And Twitter is a form of blogging. It’s called micro-blogging. Twitter,
FriendFeed, even Facebook to some degree are all kind of experimenting with
this micro-blogging format where it’s just little 140 character messages
that get your voice out at a time. So it is a type of blogging. It is just a very, very
small blogging. So I wanted to at least mention it in the larger context of kind of
the blogging software and stuff so that people would think
about the two of them together. Becky: Right. And once you have your blog set
up and going, you can really easily automate so that your RSS feed feeds
directly into a Twitter feed. So if you have an organizational Twitter
feed, your blog post headline can be your 140 character Twitter update. So
it can really be synced up pretty easily, and reach out to different people
in different parts of the community. So let’s try to move on pretty quickly here to
best practices and tips so that we’ve got some time to get through to questions. So Allyson,
can you give us some of your best practices having been the blogger and chief
for FrogLoop for a while now? Allyson: Absolutely. So the
first thing that you want to do, because just like with e-mail
communications and battle of the inboxes, well it is also battle of the websites
and blogs and all online communications. So you really want to keep everything
really scannable when you are using blogs. And a good way to do that is by using
bulleted lists to display key highlights. You can also frame your post around key
sections that really illustrate your points with bold headlines. I know this is a
little bit hard to see in this slide here, but you can actually tell off to the right hand
side here where I have the arrow and circled it, the headline reads “understand what you want
to track.” And that was a really good framework to frame this post which is around the
top eight social media tracking tools that I used in this example. And you
can also use pull quotes strategically, and to highlight very good compelling
comments from someone that you’ve quoted, or a really good stat. And in terms of other best practices, layout.
You want to display several posts on the main page using excerpts and associated images, so
web visitors can really get a quick synopsis of your latest articles. If you just decide
that you are going to display one post at a time on the main page of your blog, well then
the reader is getting just one example of what you are writing about, rather than a
list of articles that you are writing about. So you really do want to use that excerpt tool.And then
the length of posts, that’s another common question. I like to say that the length of posts
should be around 500 to 750 words or less. If it is longer you can divide the post into
a two-part post which is also kind of nice, because then you kind of have a little
bit of suspense as to what the reader is going to be looking for next. And then hopefully
they will come back and read it the next day or whenever you decide you want to actually
post that second post. But definitely tell them if you are going to use that type of format, when
to expect that next post as part of that two series. So you also want to think
about search engine marketing. And basically search engine marketing allows
you to increase your search engine rankings using key words that relate to your nonprofit’s
issue, because a key word oriented blog can really increase your
chances of higher search rankings which means of course, more traffic
to your blog which is what we all want. And in terms of promoting your blog,
we talked a lot about actually RSS feeds which really gives visitors the opportunity
to subscribe to your blog’s RSS feed. And I recommend that you actually put in
RSS feed in a couple of places on your blog, somewhere near the top so that people
can actually subscribe to the blog. And then I also like to incorporated
it into the bottom of each post, something that says click here
to subscribe to our RSS feed. So I like to actually put it not just in
one place, but in a few strategic places, so that people have opportunities
to sign up across your blog. You can also incorporate something called “add
this.” And I actually included as screen shot of this towards the bottom. And it basically
encourages users to promote your blog post and share the blog through
a variety of social networks. And I believe it has about 50 social networks.
It has Facebook, and Reddit, and Delicious, and MySpace, Digg, Twitter. It’s
a really, really great tool to use. And again, I also put this
at the end of every blog post. Social networks, because at the end
of the day, all of our communications are about integrated communications. We want
to hit people wherever they are on the web whether that be through e-mail,
social networking, through the web. So you really want to promote key
articles to colleagues and to listservs and reporters using also a variety of
social networks like Twitter and Facebook. And then you also want to post comments on
other blogs who are discussing similar topics, and actually linking back to your blog, because
it really builds a nice reputation with the blogs that are actually covering similar issues. And
when people are reading the comment sections of those blogs, they actually see your
comment and your link back to your blog. And hopefully they are going to click
on that and read what you have to say about the particular post or the similar
issue that they are talking about. Becky: That’s terrific. That’s great. So what we
are going to do here with these last few slides is I’d like to get started with a few questions
and answers, so we’ll just really quickly show a couple of the slides that are on Allyson’s Top
Pick List. And a lot of these are great resources if you are looking to start your blog. These
are a lot of blogs that are talking about how nonprofits can do this kind of work
effectively. So you will receive all of these slides in the follow-up e-mail, and they
will also be archived on our site. So one that she had as an example is Beth’s
Blog. This is also a favorite of mine, talking about how nonprofits
can use social media. I threw in the TechSoup blog which we
talk a lot about nonprofit technology including social media and topics like
how to blog and which tools are best. And then we also have
some of Jason’s top picks. And here are a couple
that he has highlighted. And this is from the Skokie Library. One of
their blogs, they have a whole series of blogs. This one is called The Bookshelf. And then ALA TechSource is one of the blogs
where Jason actually writes frequently. And then I will also mention that
we have TechSoup for Libraries which is all about libraries
and technology on our site. So now if you have a question that you haven’t
been able to ask yet, or even ones that you have, this is the time to do it in our chat
box. And I will go ahead and grab some that have already been asked. So the first question, Laura actually had a
question I think Allyson that you had addressed in the chat directly to her, but I think it would
be useful to answer it for the whole audience. But where can you go to learn how to
upload an RSS button or create an RSS feed to put on your homepage or
to keep your content fresh? Allyson: Well, here is what I mentioned to
Laura, that basically all blogging platforms like WordPress and Blogger offer RSS
feeds. And most CMSs like Drupal and Joomla, they offer this too. So if you are not working with
a blogging platform, you can actually write a script to pull out this information out of the database
and into an RSS feed. So that was my basic advice to her. And I think that Jason, that
you had had something to add on this too that you talked about
during your presentation. Jason: Well, I had mentioned FeedBurner which
will convert a feed that you have already existing into kind of something that’s trackable. It doesn’t
create the feed, and it doesn’t really give you buttons and things in order to do that. But there
are a lot of — for each of the different tools there are slightly different ways to kind of deal
with RSS. And all of the tools that I mentioned, and probably any of the other
tools, Drupal, Joomla, all of those, have pretty robust online discussion
communities. So if you do a little bit of looking, you will find lots of examples
of ways to get that done. Allyson: And if you have like a static site
with HTML, there are some services like FeedFire that you can use as well. And in terms
of — someone actually asked about uploading an RSS icon. Well, that is something
you can actually find on iStockPhoto.com and you can pay a dollar for it. There are
some free ones on Smashing Magazine as well. Becky: Great. And somebody actually
just asked, what is RSS again? So, RSS is real simple syndication. And it is
the little button that you see on a lot of blogs, a little orange button with what looks
like little speaker amplification waves. And that is what people can click on to subscribe
to your feed or have it come into their inbox if they have a feed aggregator or news
aggregator, so that they don’t have to come to your blog necessarily to be getting
the great info that you are blogging about. It can come directly to them wherever they want
it to arrive, whether it is on an iGoogle page, or whether it is in their inbox. So that is what
RSS is. It helps syndicate your blog around the web. So one of the other questions that was asked by
Denise was of the three different hosted tools that were mentioned, which which one would
you recommend? Do you guys have favorites? Jason: I really like WordPress, but it is limited
in that the online version has some limitations that I don’t particularly like. Blogger gives you a
lot of flexibility. You can start with a hosted blog and then kind of transition your way to having
your own domain name, and then even transition that into publishing the blog on your own site.
So Blogger gives you a lot of flexibility. Google is pretty good about enabling their
tools to do as much as they possibly can. So I like Blogger especially if you are just
starting, and just want to get a feel for it. What do you think Allyson? Allyson: Well, I mean we actually are we
Bdevelopment firm, so we actually use WordPress a lot to run blogs, but we can completely
customize them. So that is very different than somebody who actually doesn’t
come from a web development background. But definitely WordPress is probably my
favorite. But I agree with what you were saying that if you do not have development experience,
then I think what you were mentioning like Blogger is
definitely a good platform. Becky: I would agree. I
really like WordPress as well. But I think that if you are from a
big organization with a good IT staff, that I’ve had some really good experiences
with using Movable Type as well. Even though it is pretty different, it’s got
some great functionality that comes with it if you are able to
purchase it and set it up. So we are really running out of time
here, and we have a lot of questions. So I think we are actually going to have to wrap
it up. I apologize to folks who have added questions to the mix. We can certainly continue
the conversation in our discussion forums where we can take some time to answer
these questions later this afternoon. Here is some contact information
for Allyson and Jason. Again, you don’t need to scribble this down right
now, you will be receiving it in an e-mail shortly. The link for our conversation where
we can ask follow-up questions is here. And hopefully we can get to some of the
questions that we didn’t have an opportunity to answer in person. We would encourage you to visit TechSoup and
try to get the most out of your technology for your nonprofit or your library. And before we wrap up, I’d just
like to thank our sponsor ReadyTalk. This webinar was made possible by ReadyTalk
which has donated the use of their system to help TechSoup expand awareness of
technology throughout the nonprofit sector. ReadyTalk helps nonprofits and
libraries in the US and Canada reach geographically dispersed
areas, and increase collaboration through their audio conferencing
and web conferencing services. Thank you to everybody who participated
including Allyson and Jason. We really appreciate you taking the
time out to do this presentation. And thank you to our volunteer Laura
who has been manning your chat questions. You will receive an e-mail shortly after
this event has wrapped up with all the links to this presentation, the recording,
and the resources discussed. I hope you will join us in our forums.
And please take a moment to complete your postevent survey so we can
hopefully improve this service even more for future webinars. Thank you all. Thank you Jason. Thank you
Allyson. And thank you to all of our participants. Allyson: Thank you. Jason: Thanks everyone.

One thought on “Webinar – Intro to Blogging for Nonprofits and Libraries – 2009-08-06

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *