Blog Best Practices
Blogs are a useful resource that can be used by anybody to post articles, information, opinions, advice and reviews. The person writing a blog can be a citizen content creator or a professional journalist. Many times, companies will hire people to write blogs about their company or with information surrounding their business in order to grow brand awareness.
If an individual, either working independently or for a business, is writing a blog, they need to be cognizant of appropriate writing styles and formats for a blog. There are many blogs available, and a blogger wants to make sure her blog is captivating and a source of value to the consumer. The key to success is being consumer centered. Bloggers need to use a style that will engage audiences and show up easily on search engines (DM Consulting services, 2016). That includes straightforward writing style and direct language. This includes using an “inverted pyramid” writing style (DM Consulting, 2016). In this style, the blogger starts with the most important point first and follows with additional data. This style works because consumers want to be able to find the information they are searching for easily (DM Consulting services, 2016). Having a clean, professional looking page with visible links to other resources enables the ease of use and keeps the blog consumer centered.
Consumers may use blogs because they believe they are an independent source of information from an individual. It is important for a blogger to give opinions but not be too promotional (Rowse 2014). This should include the blogger mentioning any bias they may have about what they are writing. That way, the consumer can read the blog with an idea who wrote it. It helps if a blogger has knowledge and passion about the topic they are blogging about. The passion should be apparent in their writing style (Rowse, 2014).
Having a blog shared on social media is an excellent way to drive novel consumers to the blog. The best way to do this is installing a social media sharing widget (Chelidonis, 2011). This widget will make it easy for consumers to share the blog on social media. Of course, the content needs to be engaging enough that the reader wants to share the information with their friends and colleagues.
Analyzing a blog about pet health demonstrates the use of some of the blogging best practices. The blog is called Lifestyle Pets (Gentry/Woonten, 2016 ). The blog is written by a veterinarian, Dr. Sarah Wooten, and another author, Pamela Gentry. They clearly state the mission of the blog is to be a source of information about pet health and wellness including pet food reviews, training animal information, adoption information and veterinary advice.
The Lifestyle Pets blog meets many of the blogger best practices concepts. The layout is clean and professional. The home page is easily navigable and searchable. There are clickable tabs at the top of the blog with links to specific information such as pet food and veterinary questions. There is also a box right on the front page with a large search area. In searching several terms, it worked and well and quickly found relevant information. Anybody could get to this blog and easily find what they topic they are researching.
It is obvious the blog’s authors were hoping readers would share the content on social media. There are several links to social media sites on the home page and then on each individual blog. The authors wrote descriptive, engaging titles for the blogs and have good visual images with each blog that would be easy to share on social media. They even have their own newsletter one can subscribe to listed on the homepage.
The one thing that could be improved is the writing style of both authors, but in particular the style of Dr. Wooten. She writes in a scientific style, and does not have the main point listed first. In other words, she does not use the inverted pyramid. One has to read through the article to find the main points. At times her language may be too complex for the web. For example, in the article about lumps in dogs, OMG a Lump, she uses terms such as infiltrative which may not be understood by pet owners (Woonten, 2016). She also has the main point of the blog that lipomas are usually not cancerous discussed toward the end of the article.
There does appear to be some bias. The Lifestyle Pets also serves as on-line pet store. Many of the products, especially the pet foods that are reviewed on the website are carried at the online store. They advertise the store on the homepage. It is not a hidden agenda. One does wonder about some of the pet food reviews. For example, there is one brand that has multiple issues in the past several years that they give a favorable review.
This blog could be recommended by veterinarians to pet owners as a source of pet health advice. Dr Wooten obviously has medical knowledge and her articles are based on scientific fact. The only slight bias is a favoring some products they carry at their online store, but these topics are mostly unrelated to the veterinary advice. The veterinary profession needs some good on-line resources and this blog is a good addition.
This blog written by Heather Puchalski is written for academic reasons for a Communications course. All the blogs posted to date have been researched and based on facts. From this standpoint, this blog is informative, but if the goal of this blog was to engage consumers, several changes would need to occur.
The layout of this blog is not consumer friendly. It needs to be made more consumer oriented. There is no place to search this blog and it doesn’t contain easily visible links to other sources of information. An improvement would be adding searchable tabs at the top, and adding more visuals would improve the consumer experience.
The content of this blog is probably something people would not share on social media. There are no visually engaging photos and the blog titles are descriptive, but not catchy. There are no widgets installed to link to social media.
Probably this blogs biggest drawback to engage consumers is the writing style. It is being written in an academic style. The inverted pyramid technique is not leveraged as much as it should be used. The language needs to be simplified and more passion needs to come through in the writing style.
Even with these drawbacks for consumers, this blog does suit its need as an academic resource and blog. One can see what course the blog was written for, the subject of each blog and a complete list of references.
Some food bloggers have proposed a “Bloggers Code of Conduct” (Burton/Greenstein, 2011). In this “Bloggers Code of Ethics” they propose that blogger admit bias, when they are given samples and research what they are writing. They did get some negative feedback on this concept but it is a valid idea that would help media consumers. If a consumer knows that a blogger adheres to standards and has established any bias they have when writing a blog, the consumer may accept the blog as more fact based. If researching items such as a product to purchase or a vacation location, this becomes very important. In a blog such as this one here, it would be important for the author to read and adhere to this code. If this blog is to serve as a source of facts and information, consumer needs to be sure that the details are researched and presented without bias.
Blogs are an important way to get messages to media consumers. Using blogging best practices will insure that a blogger’s site is successful and viewed by many people. When a blogger adds value to a consumer, they have succeeded.
Burton, B and Greenstein, L. (2011) Food Blog Code of Ethics Retrieved on February 1, 2016 from https://foodethics.wordpress.com/
Chelidonis, I. (2011) 12 Steps to Writing a Successful Blog Retrieved on February 1, 2016 from http://www.dailyblogtips.com/steps-to-successful-blog/
DM Consulting (2016) Writing for the Web Retrieved on February 1, 2016 from http://www.uakron.edu/webteam/docs/dm_webwriting.pdf
Gentry, S. and Woonten, P. (2016) Lifestyle Pets Retrieved on February 2, 2016 from http://www.lifestylepets.org/
Rowse, D. (2014) Beginner Week: My 43 Do’s and 23 Don’ts of Blogging Retrieved on February 1, 2016 from http://www.problogger.net/archives/2014/03/05/beginner-week-my-43-dos-and-25-donts-of-blogging/