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5/17/2011
01:00 PM
Jamie Pappas
Jamie Pappas
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5 Executive Blogging Questions, Answered

Your executives should be blogging. Answering these questions will help them get started the right way and on the path to posting with passion, commitment, and authenticity.

Your company executives should be blogging. There's no question about it.

They have a tremendous insights and information to share. Those interested in the company, and even those who work for the company, are interested in the perspectives of the people running it. The audience is there. It's time to grab it.

Whether your top execs will be sharing company news and information, asking for feedback, positioning themselves as thought leaders, or just blogging because "everyone else is doing it," getting them started is half the battle. Here are the most common questions (and my answers, based on years of experience working with executives) that execs ask about blogging:

1. How much time is blogging going to take me?

Executives are busy people. They are in high demand and work on many things at once. Everything they choose to participate in comes at the cost of giving up something else. So don't over-commit.

Start with a reasonable schedule of posts, such as one per month. Block out time in the calendar to make it a real deliverable. If it turns out that blogging more often is doable, then fantastic. It's better to undersell and over-deliver.

2. For how long am I signing up to do this?

Starting a blog doesn't necessarily mean that it will continue in perpetuity. The notion of not being able to sustain a blog long term can be a hindrance to getting started in the first place.

Start with an open mind and do it for only as long as it works and feels like a good way to communicate. When contributing to the blog is no longer fun, it's time to take a break or reset expectations for frequency of posts. Don't automatically hold to the standard of another blogger who posts more frequently.

But also know that blogs, just like communities, are not an “if I build it, they will come” experience. It takes time, passion, and compelling content to build an audience. So don't throw in the towel too soon after getting started.

3. How long do my posts have to be?

Posts don't have to be long to be effective. Some of the most interesting, affecting, and conversational posts don't demonstrate everything to the reader; rather, they leave a few things open for discussion and debate. The best blog posts are between 500 and 1,000 words--just long enough to pull readers in, but not so long that readers feel like they must dedicate a lot of time to reading them.

Posts also don't have to contain wholly new content. A commentary on a book, article, TV show, conference, or interview can add a completely new dimension to readers' experience because they can explore another perspective.

4. Should I allow comments?

Absolutely. End of story. Blogging is about having a conversation. Depending on the likelihood of inappropriate commentary, it may be prudent to moderate comments--and I highly recommend stating that this is your approach, if you choose to go this route. It will set the expectation for readers from the outset, and they will value your transparency.

Whether comments are open or moderated, be prepared to answer questions. Nothing will kill readership faster than a slew of unanswered questions, which indicate the author isn't really interested in conversing with his or her readership.

5. Can't someone else just write my posts?

No. No. No. Blogging is about conversation and authenticity. It's not about ghostwriting. When questions come in, the answers can be tricky. Who is responding? What if the ghostwriter doesn't answer as the named blogger would? What if he says something wrong? What if someone asks the author about a response she didn't draft or doesn't agree with? If the person who wants the blog can't commit to creating the posts, then don't bother.

The most successful blogs are about passion, commitment, and authenticity.

Jamie is VP of social media at AMP Agency, which inspires brands with integrated digital and experiential marketing, where she leads the development and execution of strategic social media solutions for clients across a range of digital and social channels. Jamie is a founder and member of the board of directors of the Community BackChannel, a community for and by community professionals. She also serves on the board of directors for the Social Media Club, Boston Chapter, and the Enterprise 2.0 Conference. You can connect with her online at her blog, Social Media Musings, or via Twitter @JamiePappas.

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Jamie Pappas
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Jamie Pappas,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/7/2011 | 7:01:49 PM
re: 5 Executive Blogging Questions, Answered
I totally agree on the commitment to doing it regularly. I also think that sometimes things may seem harder than they really are. For example - the fear of having to "come up with new ideas" is an objection I hear frequently. The reality is that there are tons of people who blog and don't generate net new content or ideas, rather share their perspective on current news, events, trends etc.

The other thing I hear often is the worry of length of posts...to which I respond, 250-500 words isn't a bad blog post length. After all, you shouldn't be trying to tell everyone every detail about the topic, rather sparking a conversation to engage your readers.

There's a lot that can be accomplished to increase adoption by simply understanding some of the common (incorrect) assumptions and educating on those to clarify and ease the idea into being.
Jamie Pappas
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Jamie Pappas,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/7/2011 | 6:53:46 PM
re: 5 Executive Blogging Questions, Answered
Great point, Deb! I think there's a whole other set of questions for getting found, once they pull the trigger and start writing! Thanks for your feedback! Definitely something to think about!
Deb Donston-Miller
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Deb Donston-Miller,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/5/2011 | 7:21:06 PM
re: 5 Executive Blogging Questions, Answered
I would add a Question No. 6: How will people find what I have written? Unless a site is especially highly traveled, work will have to be done to expose executives' content. The judicious use of keywords, targeted headlines, and a purposeful plan for sharing on social networking sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter is key.

Deb Donston-Miller
Contributing Editor, The BrainYard
Alex Dunne
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Alex Dunne,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/1/2011 | 4:49:30 PM
re: 5 Executive Blogging Questions, Answered
Blogging is such a simple, easy way to communicate company info. At our company we use Jive SBS, which has built-in blogging features. So inside Jive we have a company blog where updates about new hires, new products, company results, etc. are posted by various execs in the company. It's a great way for people to stay up to date with what's going on (particularly for those people working in remote offices or home offices).

We're also doing more live teleconferences (using Livestream.com, and embedding the player onto a page in Jive). People at our company around the world can log into Jive, see the live video, and then interact and ask questions by IM'ing or emailing someone in the room where the speakers are, and the person monitoring the IM chat forwards the questions to the speakers. It's simple, and super effective. You could even do a "live teleconference" using a laptop's camera and WebEx/Skype/Readytalk, etc.

The takeaway here for me is that execs need to be using today's collaboration tools to communicate, but that the tools don't have to be fancy. It's the commitment to doing it regularly that I suspect is the hard part!
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