Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Blogging: who decides what's interesting?

This week, 78 new Creative Communications students at Red River College will launch blogs -- many of them for the first time. (They'll be posted on the CreComm Blog Network by the end of the week.)

Blogs, blogs everywhere

NM Incite, a McKinsey/Nielsen company, tracked more than 181 million blogs by the end of 2011.  There is a blog on just about any topic you can imagine -- from the view from the White House to cooking in a kitchen the size of a closet to unnecessary (and inappropriate) quotation marks in signage.

What makes a blog successful?

For a budding professional communicator, a successful blog attracts readers beyond your circle of friends and family, and specifically, within the public you're hoping to reach. If your blog attracts readers for reasons other than that they like you personally, you've likely hit on something: your blog provides content that is interesting.

Of course, determining what's "interesting" is never really objective -- what's interesting to me might not be interesting to you. But in professional communications, employers look for people who understand how to create communications that appeal to the specific publics they want to reach.

How do you do that? Logically, to be able to appeal to a certain group, you need to:
  • recognize the make-up of the group;
  • understand what interests that group;
  • be able to create communications that attract and retain their interest, and motivate them to share them with others with common interests.
This calls for more than simply creating an online diary in which you report on your own observations of the world around you, unless your observations of the world around you are very compelling to your intended public. For example, are they entertaining? Are they unusual? Do you see the world from an uncommon perspective, which could be interesting to your readers?

Choosing the right topic

The best blog topic is targeted to a particular interest group, and serves up regular helpings of information that group is interested in. 

That group doesn't have to be huge, and it doesn't have to include a single person you already know (nor do its members need to know each other). But if you can write a blog these people with a common interest come to find interesting -- and they begin to return regularly and bring others along with them -- your blog can build a loyal following. 

If you can achieve that, you have a measurable (and therefore provable) accomplishment you can take to a communications job interview for a step ahead of your competition.

It's not rocket science... but it's not easy.

To attract people to something, you have to give it characteristics they find attractive. To motivate people to do something (e.g. read your blog), you have to give them a reason to do it.

Writing a successful blog takes a great deal of careful thought -- both about your publics' needs/desires and about your ability to generate a regular stream of content that'll keep them coming back. It has to be informative, or entertaining, or both.

So, who decides whether your blog is interesting?

Whomever you write it for, of course. If it interests them, they'll read and they may return; if it's not, they won't.

Happy blogging!

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