With blogs becoming increasingly prevalent in business websites, it’s only a matter of time before we need to address it, and help our clients create compelling blogs that contribute to their company’s success (remember that writing is included in my all-encompassing definition of design).
So, what’s the key to a compelling blog post? Obviously, there are some basics: good, concise writing, easy-to-understand language. Beyond that, however, there is the need to step out and say something. Take a stand and take it unapologetically. These are the posts that get people talking, responding, coming back and creating buzz. Blogs that are willing to take a stand are blogs that can become influential.
Over at the Passionate Users blog, Kathy Sierra continually reiterates her idea of the “Zone of Mediocrity”: that it’s good if readers love you, and it’s good if readers hate you. It’s only bad if no one cares.
Comment amount is an easy metric of a post’s influence.
Some blogs try to entice people to post by asking them to: “What do you think?” This doesn’t get people posting – it turns them off. By concluding with a question, the author is essentially disowning his (or her) stance – saying, “but this is just my opinion,” not “this is what I believe.”
Worse, some blogs don’t even go that far. Instead, in a misguided effort to get people thinking, they pose supposedly thought-provoking questions, but don’t provide answers. How many people want to respond to someone that’s not willing to take any sort of stand? Very few, that’s the answer.
Instead, post something that means something. Say what you (or your organization) thinks about something. Say it and say it unapologetically. If you have to be apologetic about something, you’re probably wrong and you certainly shouldn’t be writing a post about it.
The “Take A Stand” rule applies to bloggers or organizations that want their blogs to influence others in their community. There are plenty of blogs, however, that don’t intend to do that. Some corporate blogs are intended to reach out to customers and convince them that the company is listening to them, or to explain corporate decisions. It’s true that these blogs are attempting to influence a community, but it’s influence in reaction to the greater influence of the parent company.
Another exception is a blog that’s intended to get feedback, or simply facilitate discussion. These blogs will not influence the community, but may serve business needs.