What are the benefits of cause blogging? Part 3 in Introduction to Cause Blogging
This post is part 3 of the Introduction to Cause Blogging Series.
In the previous post in this series I talked about the various categories of cause bloggers. Now I’ll go into more depth about the benefits of blogging for anyone who wants to get a non-commercial message out to the public.
1. Information and Advocacy
There are many cause organizations whose primary or secondary mission is educating the public about an issue. Blogging provides a way to broadcast new information quickly.
Blog posts can reference and comment about current events and news items related to your cause. For example, say you work for a cancer advocacy group. A new report from a well respected medical organization has new research about cancer treatments. You can quickly write up a blog post with the highlights of the new item and then link out to the news source. This blog post provides valuable information to your audience. If you consistently include these types of posts in the mix, your blog could become a “go to” source for information on your particular topic.
Also because of the ease of use and quick to publish nature of blogs, advocacy efforts can be promoted quickly. For example, if your group is encouraging members to call an elected official for a vote that day, you can get that message out fast. Just publish a blog post about it and for maximum impact, send the same message out to your email list.
Getting attendees for events, launching new programs, recruiting volunteers, and fundraising drives are just a few reasons that charitable organizations seek publicity. Blogging extends traditional publicity techniques like press releases and media appearances. For example, say you’ve gotten an interview on the local television news. You can add the video clip to your blog. When an online newspaper includes your group in an article, that’s another good reason to write a new blog post.
Because blogging allows (and encourages) frequent updates, publicity efforts can be continual during the life of a campaign. Let’s use the example of a 5K run that benefits a charity. Multiple posts keep the public informed with the latest news. The closer you get to the event the more often you’d add a new blog post. Here are a few of the topics that you could cover to gain publicity for the 5K race:
- Initial announcement of the date and place of the event
- Details about the race course including certification, photos from the trail
- Reminder about the deadline for early bird registration
- Training opportunities for runners who’d like to participate
- Profiles of people who have already registered
- Opportunities for volunteering the day of the race
- Promoting/thanking corporate sponsors or underwriters
- Stories about how proceeds from the event will benefit the cause
- Information for those who’d like to raise funds via pledges or other fundraising
- Photos and videos of race day
- Race results
With this strategy you’re building momentum leading up to the event. Every time you publish an update it’s another chance for your event to be discovered by the media, potential attendees and other interested parties.
Maybe this sounds like a lot of work, but it doesn’t have to be. Blog posts can be short 100-300 words even. Entering a blog post, proofreading, and hitting publish is about a simple as sending an email. (Plus you can always go back and edit later… unlike the print newsletter with that nagging typo or misspelling of a donor’s name!)
Your time spent blogging can also be time saved when you prepare for other communication venues. Crispin of the Online Community Engagement Blog describes how content on a blog can be re-purposed:
Blogs are also an excellent way to keep your community informed about the latest information about your project. They are more flexible and much faster to produce that a traditional newsletter, but the content can be used later for those newsletters – whether online or hard copy.
Using a blog as part of a publicity campaign will pay off for months and years to come. Since pages that are automatically created as blog entries are live on your website forever (unless you intentionally delete them) you are setting the stage for subsequent campaigns. For example, if you do a toy drive every holiday season, the next year website visitors could look back on the previous year’s drive as an idea of how successful this year may be. You are also proving your trustworthiness in advance to people who are new to your efforts.
3. Website traffic
By blogging you can greatly increase the number of visitors to your website. Every time you write a blog post, a new webpage is automatically created by the blogging software. The more pages there are, the more opportunities you have to get attract visitors to your site.
Studies continue to prove that blogging brings in more traffic. A study from Hubspot showed that companies who blog average:
- 55% more visitors
- 97% more inbound links
- 434% more indexed pages
In addition to links on other websites and referrals from friends, people will find your blog posts by entering words in the search box in their internet browser or on sites like Google or Yahoo. If a post you’ve written covers that topic and comes up on the first page of results, then someone new has just discovered your website.
There are a lot of technical reasons that blogs are great at bringing in traffic, especially from search engines. However, I won’t go into those right now. What has been successful for me in getting good search engine rankings is actually pretty simple.
The golden rule is to provide high quality, focused content that readers will find appealing. Secondly create headlines (post titles) that include words that they may be searching for and accurately reflect the topic of the post. When you consistently do these things other blogs and websites are more likely to link to you (often without you asking them to). This is the other side of the search engine rankings coin: incoming links. All this to say that blogging makes getting more traffic to your website easier than ever.
In the previous two posts of this series I talked about how blogs began as personal medium, often written by one person just writing about their family or personal interests. Personal or hobby blogs are still the largest category of blogs. Why are they so popular? Not only is personal blogging attractive to bloggers themselves, but they tend to attract loyal readers. Blogs are often written in the first person, with an interesting point of view. It’s like they are writing directly to YOU.
Whether a blog is written by one author or several, they are much more engaging than traditional writing that you’ll find in press releases or static web pages. People keep coming back to hear more from these bloggers because it is interesting to read.
Lindsey of Notes for Nonprofits shares some insights about being Personal Versus Professional:
When it comes to social media, a bit of personality goes a long way. When you reveal some details about your life, it allows your audience to be drawn in. However how much is too much? Balance is the key. Only sharing news/advertising etc doesn’t show off your personality or your organization’s personality. People give to people not to organizations.
When people feel like they know you or the personality of your nonprofit, they begin to feel like you are “friends.” Yes this is an overused word these days, but it’s still true. Relationships are the cornerstone of engaging an audience, advocating for an issue, becoming effective at your mission and raising funds from supporters. So that brings us to benefit #5 of blogging, building relationships:
5. Building relationships
Building relationships with potential and current supporters has always been the hallmark of good nonprofit development work. The personal writing style and frequent updates of blogs can help you in these efforts.
All relationships go through stages :
- Initial introduction
- Get to know each other
- Developing rapport and trust
- Long term strengthening
Not every relationship goes through all of these stages of course. However with the strongest advocates for your cause or major donors this is the path that you hope they will take.
Website traffic and publicity efforts built through your blog aid in introducing new people to your cause. You get to know one another and develope rapport and trust as you continue to provide high quality information. Blogs provide a place for readers to leave comments, which is a way to have a two-way conversation with readers.
Demonstrating results that your group is achieving on its mission goes a long way in developing relationships. On your blog you can publish client success stories, photos that illustrate your stories, statistics on number of people served, and goals achieved. Following up after fundraising events or campaigns can be done via a blog. Donors appreciate knowing their contributions are going to the right place and are actually making a difference in the cause.
In this internet age it’s possible to effectively move supporters along the line of first contact to raving fans virtually, without you even being directly involved! Some of these new converts will eventually reach out to you in the form of leaving comments on your blog, sending an email, volunteering and/or making a financial donation. Though it’s possible that you’ll reach thousands of new people through your online efforts that you’ll never have personal contact with. Some of these may eventually become some of your most loyal followers.
These five categories cover just the major benefits of blogging. There are so many! Maybe you are wondering how to get these benefits and where to start. In Part 4 – How can blogging get results? I’ll discuss the how to set goals and measure results of cause blogging.
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