Blogging has grown from being a novelty in political communication to a vital tool for candidates, campaigns, and organizations. This post is designed to guide Young Democrats chapters in developing their blogging strategy.
Why is blogging important?
- Blog posts drive traffic to your chapter’s website.
- Blogging enables a two-way conversation with your visitors.
- Blog posts can show that your chapter is active and give prospective members an idea of what to expect if they get involved.
- Blogging allows you to promulgate your message quickly and repeatedly.
- Blogging, especially when linking to other blogs, builds your relationships with your online community and internet influentials.
- Mainstream media gets story ideas from blogs.
- Popular blog posts will improve your site’s search engine rankings.
How do we do it?
The most important piece of advice I can give a chapter that is starting to blog is that they need to designate someone to be in charge of it. Without a single person with the responsibility to ensure that the blog is active, the blog will fall into disuse and posts will become too sporadic to be useful. Discipline is important. The blog needs to be posted on regularly with quality content. This is not as easy as it may seem. Whether there will be a single blog writer or many, there needs to be a blog manager that is making sure posts are being written according to your plan.
Coming up with quality content on a regular basis can be a challenge. Your posting schedule is up to you, but try to keep it consistent. If you want to post every weekday, make sure you post every weekday. If you want to have 2-3 posts a week, then keep to that schedule. You can always change your schedule, but be conscientious of it. Readers will come to expect posts based on their past experience with your blog. If you go too long without posting people will stop coming back or will unsubscribe from your feed.
What do we write about?
There are a number of things that you can write about in your blog. Here are some ideas to start with:
- Announce upcoming chapter events, conventions, and meetings. (Click here for an example from the Georgia YD’s blog).
- Write recaps with pictures of your past events. (Click here for an example from the Virginia YDs).
- Write about the candidates and the races that your chapter is working on. (Click here for an example from the Young Democrats of Arizona).
- Write about the youth vote and youth issues. (Click here for an example from the California Young Dems).
- Highlight mainstream media press coverage of your chapter and its members. (Click here for YDAZ example).
- Embed videos your chapter has created, or videos about your chapter. (Click here for YDG example).
Those are just a few suggestions for your blog posts. You can really write about anything, as long as you stay on message. (Sorry, I’m a campaign professional, if I don’t mention staying on message in any tutorial I write they will take away my political hack membership card for not staying on message). A great way to get ideas for posts and to find places to comment and therefore increase your chapter’s exposure is to find and read all the pertinent blogs that you can. Specifically look at the blogs that you already read, the ones that you would freak out if they disappeared, and think about what makes that blog so important. (Here is where I suggest Future Majority, which should be required reading for all of us).
A few more tips:
- Link to other blogs generously. This helps build your relationship with other bloggers and increases exposure to your own blog.
- Create an account for your chapter on DailyKos and crosspost some of your best stuff in a diary.
- Create a flickr and a YouTube account and use them.
- Submit your blog to LeftyBlogs.
- Have an RSS feed with an easy-to-find subscribe button.
- Use analytics and see which of your posts are the most popular.
- Ask a question and the end of certain posts and ask for comments.
So there you go. A little overview on blogging. I’m sure there is a bunch of stuff that I missed, so if you have any other ideas or best practices, or even just questions about something in the post, leave a comment.
Addition: Don’t forget to get your chapter’s blog feed added to the YDA Local Chapter Blog Feed. Just send an email with the link to firstname.lastname@example.org and it will be added.