Are You Doing It Right?
As some of you know, I am getting my masters in Social Media Marketing. I have been reading a couple of books lately on blogging, which is a means of social media. They are The Tao of Twitter, by Mark W. Schaefer and Groundswell, by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff. Both of these books give excellent advice on the best practices of how to blog. There a lot of graphic design blogs out there, but as I said in my last blog post, I wonder if they are addressing the right people. Let’s go over the reasons to have a blog in the first place.
What is a blog?
According to Groundswell, a blog is either written or created as a video and encourages commentary. It is supposed to energize the reader.
It can have photos, or embedded videos, and incorporates links into the paragraphs. I always try to add good links to my blogs to show examples of what I am discussing. The Groundswell suggests that you link to other blogs out there and cite them. I also add photographs, for aesthetic value, or to show an example of what I am discussing. The more pleasing to the eye, and more engaging you make your blog, the more people will be inclined to read it.
I have not gotten into video blogging, as I just do not see the point of that for the type of information I am sharing. Although I could see value in it, if I were addressing my audience with step by step instructions for graphic design. There are lots of videos like this on YouTube such as this one made by Marzipan on how to do hand lettering.
It is good blog etiquette that if you read a blog, to leave a comment to the writer. This is a way for the writer to measure the success of the thoughts they were trying to convey and opens dialogue for discussion. It also is a good way to see if people are agreeing with your point of view.
When a design firm writes a single blog, it should have one voice to be heard, instead of many inconsistent voices. This captures the reader’s attention a lot better and will be more successful. You are establishing the brand. A brand must have a consistent message. A person reading a blog wants to make a connection with another person or the company as a personified entity, not a mishmash of people with different messages in one blog. However, it is not unheard of to encourage employees to write their own blogs about something business related, or the type of work they do for the firm, as multiple voices of one company. As long as someone of authority establishes ground rules on how this should be done, and also polices the blogs for discrepancies or problems, this can work.
It is really not a good idea for me to blog an announcement that I am this awesome graphic designer and that you should choose me for your next design project. This is considered screaming and is a big turn off. A better way for me to get people to notice me is to get them to respect me as an authority on the subject of design. I can write in my blog about portfolios and the use of social media, etc., and show that I know what I am talking about. It is best to be subtle. Never scream. The blog isn’t about you. It is about what you know, and how to solve problems.
As I mentioned, I want to write to future clients, too. So perhaps in the future, I may include in my blog content pertaining to the difference in photograph resolutions for print and web, or why it is important for the copy to be finalized before the designer creates space on a page for the copy and the client changes it. These are not rants, and should never be addressed as such. So many designers complain about failed client relationships publicly, or the assuming comments their clients have said to them regarding how work should be done. (Who wants to hire that designer for their next project?) I just think there are things that could be better explained to the client ahead of time, as I have found with the clients I have had, so that there are no wrong assumptions when I am doing work for them. I would be addressing people looking for design work. They might not choose me as their designer, but at least the information will be out there, and I can learn from the comments readers leave me.
Blogging is all about building relationships with your readers, and getting them engaged. It is about encouraging commentary.
Of Very Few Words
You can also microblog with Twitter using only 140 characters. Tao of Twitter Mark Schaefer speaks of how important it is to focus on the quality of what you are tweeting, as opposed to the quantity of your posts. You can schedule a tweet to go out about your blog using a management tool like Hootsuite. You can refer people to interesting reading on the web using links. Whatever you decide to tweet about should be something important or interesting. I took to Twitter recently when my daughter’s college went into lockdown due to a stranger breaking into the dorms a few weeks ago. I was really frightened for my daughter but was supported by my followers, who even provided a link to the police feed for the location of the school.
With 140 characters, you make it short and sweet and get straight to the point. Use hashtags to categorize your posts. If you are tweeting to someone directly or mentioning them, you address them with their twitter handle- as in mine- @KellyARaver, in your post. I actually have two twitter handles, but I use this one more. Here is an example of a proper tweet made by the American Institute of Graphic Art (AIGA), the other day, mentioning me by using my other twitter handle:
— AIGA (@AIGAdesign) November 16, 2015
Tao of Twitter recommends following the people that follow you, and to reply to them and retweet some of their interesting posts. The book reminds you to help out followers that ask for help and to thank people publicly that have helped you. It also says to be honest and authentic.
Before learning how to properly tweet in my Social Media class at Southern New Hampshire University, I would continuously just post links to my graphic design work or artwork on my website. I did not interact with anyone, retweet, or comment and I did not know I was being rude. I did not realize that the purpose of Twitter was to develop relationships with my followers. It is about engaging with others. I still think I can step up my own involvement with Twitter, and plan to do so, as it is a good business tool for obtaining new clients.
Again, blogging is all about relating to others, and being engaging. A blog is like a party you are hosting. You want to make your readers want to attend, have a great time, and go back and tell others all about how much they enjoyed it. (You hope they do not go back and tell others that they had a terrible time, but hopefully you will know from their comments if they do not agree with your thoughts.) The great thing is, the party doesn’t have to end and you can make it bigger and better with each post. That is how blogging in social media can work for your design business.
I hope you will come back next week for another exciting post. Until then, you can follow me on Twitter at @KellyARaver, and I will be polite and follow you,too.