collaborative blogs

Collaborative Blogs, like Vampires, Suck

By Communications

For years, I  have been recommending that companies collaborate on a corporate blog. The thinking, of course, is that if there are more people shouldering the responsibility of the business’s online presence, then each contributing person will have to invest less time, individually.

Well, I was wrong about how collaborative blogs work in practice. Sure, in theory, I’m right — if there’s a team regularly and consistently contributing to a blog, then it can work and really rock. In reality, it rarely happens and if it does happen, there’s some arm-twisting involved, for sure.

Collaborative blogs, though, suck time from people who feel like they don’t have any to begin with; they suck energy out of people who were once enthusiastic contributors and writers, when they end up having blogging as an item on their “to do” list. They suck the fun out of a company that otherwise, and in other places (e.g. in person, on the phone), enjoys telling the stories of the organization. They suck for the people left holding the leash and feeding the beast because it exists and is important, but there’s no accountability (stick, carrot, or otherwise). In short, they suck.

I’ve contributed to collaborative, multiple author blogs of several types. They work best when there’s absolute buy-in from contributors. They work when contributors are contributing because they want to and get out of it what they want (money, accolades, satisfaction, engagement, the thrill of writing, etc.) They work when contributors are very passionate about their topic. They work when contributors always have a lot to say or share.

They DON’T work, or do particularly well when there’s no clear manager or leader. It’s difficult to maintain a collaborative blog unless, in reality, the blog is restructured to have one main voice or contributor and others who function as guest bloggers, with appearances so infrequent that name and voice recognition does not exist among the blog’s readership. Another model some have adopted is a rigorous schedule, e.g. Alex posts every Monday. Bob posts on Wednesdays. June posts on Thursdays. Fridays are a combined-effort post containing social bookmarking links of what the team read that week. It works, but only if Alex, Bob and June clearly understand that this blogging thing is PART OF THEIR JOB. And often, the only way they will understand this is if their blog participation is part of their review and impacts their compensation and/or job performance rating.

Have you seen a truly collaborative blog model that works? What is happening behind the scenes?