Monday, October 19, 2009

Learning from mistakes in business blogging: a short series of thoughts for library blogs, part two

We continue looking at what libraries that blog can learn from the mistakes business blogs make. This was prompted by Josh Catone's post in Mashable entitled "Top 5 Business Blogging Mistakes and How to Avoid Them." You can find part one of my musings here.

Catone tells us that the second big mistake business bloggers make is "not blogging regularly." This is something I struggle with personally. Life, as the popular liblogger saying goes, trumps blogging. When it comes to the library blog, there is always something else, and I have written about the importance of making the time for your library blogging or the other online efforts your library may have. Others have likely said it better as well. You need to create good content, and you need to do so consistently. You need to find the time to write your own posts, and you need to treat your library blog seriously. It is not something the geeky librarian does on the side after all the other stuff is done, and let's be honest, the other stuff is never really done. The library blog is an extension of your library services and a tool for your educational mission. For it to be successful, you have to nurture it. This means posting regularly and consistently. Create good content. Plan writing ideas ahead of time. You don't have to post on a daily basis, but once a month or less is probably too little. Personally, I aim for one post per week on the library's blog. It has not always worked that way, so here is the next piece of advice: don't beat yourself over it. Missed a couple of weeks? Start blogging anew, just take off with it, and work your way up again. I know life happens and that administrators have a tendency to drop nonessential stuff on your lap that suddenly becomes urgent. It's the nature of our work, so if you missed some time, recommit and blog on, working to get your groove again to keep the blog alive.

Next, Catone tells us that "not enabling conversation" is a top mistake business blogs make. I think not enabling conversation is a mistake a lot of blogs make overall. I think less of a blogger if they do the following:
  • Does not enable comments at all. In rare cases, people may have a reason not to enable comments. Leaving those rare instances aside, I think that if you blog, you should have the guts to deal with any responses you may get. Otherwise, you just have a static web page where you are just dictating to people, not a blog.
  • Makes users register to comment. This is probably my number one pet peeve (or at least in the top three) for bloggers. If you do this, you are adding another obstacle to interaction and conversation. If you feel a need to deal with trolls, use comment moderation. Don't penalize me by making me register for yet another log-in that I may or not use later. Odds are good that if you ask me to register to comment, that I won't. And if I feel the need to reply, I'll take my piece of the conversation elsewhere, say writing it out in one of my blogs. And don't try to give me a guilt trip along the lines of "he is taking his ball away." You are the one who is closing off the playground.
A library blog meant for the public really should not have a reason to disable or close down conversations. Whether academic or public, you should enable and encourage comments from your community. You should be responsive as well. If someone comments constructively, you should respond thoughtfully. This is how you build a sense of community.

We'll wrap this short series in our next post.

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