Archives for September 2010

Blog Hygiene

A friend I’ve known since college has a very strict bedtime preparation routine that he’s followed for many years to help him manage his chronic insomnia. He calls these rituals “sleep hygiene” — hygiene in the sense of consistent practices conducive to health.

“Blog hygiene” is never going to catch on as a social media meme — though heaven knows I’ve tried — but the metaphor is still useful. A few simple blog maintenance measures practiced consistently can make the difference between hosting a vibrant hub of ideas, or a dark and lonely terminus.

The basic components are simple:

  1. A regular rhythm of posts. Daily, twice daily (a.m./p.m), weekdays only — more is not better if it impacts the quality of the content or interferes with higher priorities.
  2. An editorial calendar. Unless you are a professional blogger or community manager whose job it is to ride the “trending topic” wave, focusing on real-time, same-day turnaround posts is too onerous and disruptive. That’s what Twitter is good for. Planning a week’s or a month’s worth of blog post topics, plotting them into an editorial calendar and maintaining that lead time keeps you focused and ensures you have solid, thought-through anchors. You can always add impromptu topics interstitially.
  3. An inventory of completed posts. Time is a tyrant if you’re continually writing for a deadline, or missing one because you don’t have anything in the hopper. Make sure you have three or four “anchor” posts from your editorial calendar queued up at all times. That way if you’re traveling, ill or just too busy to write, you don’t get in the weeds.
  4. Keyword performance monitoring. SEO hygiene warrants its own full discussion, but for the purposes of this post suffice it to say that regular checkups on your keyword performance, then adding, deleting and modifying accordingly, helps keep your SEO humming in the background while you focus on content development.
  5. Brevity. Confining your posts to a few key ideas makes them easier to write and easier to read. If you have a complex topic, or a lot to say on the subject, break it into a series.

Healthy blogs are happy blogs.

Wit and Wisdom: Communicating Your Brand Through Visual Style and Tone

In Amber Naslund’s recent cri de coeur post on 9 Social Media Topics that Need to Die, “Content is King” is #6 on her hit list:

“Like hell. Creating content is not what wins you the prize. It’s not enough to write something, or populate a blog, or create a video. Content is worth precisely ZERO until it’s being found, consumed, and then used to do something. It needs to drive people to action – sharing, buying, building, interacting.”

Stated like a true marketer 🙂

My one corollary to that axiom is that meta-content like style, tone and brand relevance is subject to the same imperatives.

Marcus Roland’s Twitter profile describes his firm, Roland Legal PLLC, as “A virtual Lexington, Kentucky based workers’ compensation law firm — a different kind of law firm for a different kind of world.” The meaning and impact of that positioning statement is immediately evident when you land on the home page of Ouch!, the firm’s blog.

From the logo/title graphic treatment in the banner — part slapstick, part Apple “silhouette people” ad — to the clean, straightforward layout and content, the impression is witty, smart and accessible. Whether you read its posts or not, just scanning the blog makes a distinct impression, fully expressive of the firm’s brand. In this case, the “action” that it “drives” people to is a gut-level decision about whether this is a firm you want to learn more about.

What I admire about Roland’s approach to the blog is that, in addition to its uniqueness, it conveys a clear, integrated approach that animates the firm’s positioning. We’re all familiar with the “we’re tough…we fight for you…we’re passionate…we demand justice” approach to plaintiff law marketing common to most TV ads. Roland’s blog tells AND shows how the firm is different.