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Secrets of successful group blogs

4 min read

Marketing Strategy

Launching a blog these days is simple. Publishing quality content on a consistent basis, however, is a challenge for many companies. Stuck with limited resources and a clear directive for growth, company often find themselves helpless and hapless. So who do you look to for help?

The answers may very well lie with three of the most successful group blogs on the Web. Mashable, Social Media Examiner and Nuts About Southwest (Southwest Airlines’ company blog) all utilize multiple authors, showing how colleagues, networks and readers can help generate great blog content.

At BlogWorld 2010, a panel dedicated to managing group blogs delivered some tactics to help any blog leverage multiple voices to build an online presence. Here a few to help you (and your company) get started:

Get senior leadership buy-in with a hot-button issue. According to Christi McNeill (the voice behind @southwestair), the idea for launching Southwest’s popular blog began when the reality series “Airline” ended its run on A&E.  Recognizing that the transparent look at the airline benefited their image, Southwest started to pull together a team to blog. But what about leadership? Were they sold on the idea? Not until Gary Kelly, CEO of Southwest, penned a blog post asking for input from customers on whether to keep Southwest’s unique approach to seating. Kelly was so impressed with the response and the quality comments on the issue, that the blog became central to communications strategy of Southwest.

Leverage your network. Mike Stelzner, founder of Social Media Examiner, shared insights on how he built a wildly successful blog in just a year. Leveraging his existing network and targeting social media’s leading voices, he asked for just one post per month. Initially, he didn’t worry about having one post per day — simply focusing on quality. Fast forward one year– and Social Media Examiner features 57 distinct voices and a waiting list of those trying to get access to the growing community.

Target. Recruit. Reward. Repeat. Both Mashable and Social Media Examiner watch metrics associated with guest posts to determine whether they will continue (or expand) the relationship with the contributor.  Adam Ostrow, editor in chief at Mashable, says the editors look at the social influence of writers, as well as their activity  to determine whether they are someone they can trust the Mashable brand with.

At the launch of their blog, Southwest recruited 30 bloggers from within the company — all were initially expected to post two stories a month on any subject they felt they felt comfortable with. That number has shifted over time, and new voices have come in and out of the blog — presenting sometimes serious, and often fun blog posts on life at Southwest. The team is often treated to pizza parties — and come together for quarterly outings to reward and refocus their involvement on the blog.

Scale to new heights. Mashable, the gold standard for social-media news, is an impressive model of scale. Sure, they get a good chunk of their content from guest bloggers, but most of their writers started as guest contributors. When they’re brought on as staff writers, their production skyrockets. According to Ostrow, Mashable’s staff writers are expected to publish four to five stories per day. In fact, Ostrow explained, Mashable looks to publish a piece every 30 minutes between the hours of 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST.

Here at SmartBlogs, we’re learning that connecting with influencers, readers and even our own staff  for content is an incredibly useful exercise that we plan to further explore. Are you sitting on gold mine of content?

Image credit, parasoley, via iStock

Both Mashable and Social Media Examiner watch metrics associated with guest posts to determine if they will continue to run stories from the author. Mashable also looks at influence of writers, as well as their social presence to determine if they are someone they can trust their brand with.