Internal Blogging

Last October my team worked with our Internal Communications colleagues to develop an internal blogging platform (WordPress) to allow our new 14 Heads of Service to share thinking and updates about the council’s direction as well as updates from within their services areas.

We have had experience of internal blogging before – the chief executive used to blog, but that essentially faded away and was replaced with an internal email newsletter from the chief executive.

I remember having conversation with people back then and many said that they did like and value the chief executives blog but many thought that a more localised view from their head of service would make more sense….so here we are a few years down the road and we are now in that position.

So in the 3 months that they been going, my personal view is that they are successful – ok, not all heads of service are actively blogging yet, but we didn’t create or set any expectations for any of them. BUT and this is the good bit a good number of them are actively blogging and in my view are doing a great job.

So I thought I’d share some interesting high level stats in the short time they have been going – The stats are from 13th October 2011 to 12th January 2012.

  • 4,482 – visits
  • 1,850 – unique visitors
  • 18,733 – page views
  • 4.18 – pages a visit
  • 3 mins 09 secs – average time on site
  • 61% – returning visitors
  • 26 – comments

In my view – this is fantastic, really good. The kind of stats we couldn’t have actually hoped for initially. My only concern is the number of comments, but this is a cultural thing really as well as the content in the blog posts…not all are written to encourage comments, some are purely information only…so we will be looking to add a “like this post” option so we can get a sense as to whether or not people are finding the posts valuable.

What we will be doing with our internal comms colleagues is providing some individual reports for those heads of service who blog to help them understand the details of their blogging pattern and style, for example which posts received most visits.

The most successful writing style is one which brings in elements of humour as well as the personality of the individual themselves…i guess a natural style…so our challenge is to encourage and support them to write more consistently like this when appropriate.

It is great to see and be part of a team (the wider communications team) who are making such great progress.

My first year blogging

Today this blog is one year old, I have to admit that i am surprised to some degree that i have managed to keep it going for this long and that i have actually found it to be a excellent resource for myself as a way of exploring new ideas and gauging opinion from people. Never underestimate the value of “drafts” in developing your thinking..

I have used it on the whole for work related discussions but did use it for a period last year to share my thoughts and reflections of my wife’s and my family’s journey with Thyroid Cancer. Taking the decision to share those personal experiences with potentially so many people, wasn’t taken lightly, but i felt i needed to get “stuff” off my chest and in doing so i made some great connections not just for myself but for my wife.¬† It also proved to me the benefits of allowing people in to your personal thoughts and feelings sometimes and gaining a very different kind of support which i cherished and valued so much.

In terms of work, my blogging has enabled me to feel supported when on occasion that wasn’t happening internally. It also (along with twitter) gave me a new network of colleagues and peers. You all add value by sharing your insights and thoughts. Without these tools i don’t think i would have felt supported, in touch, networked and accessible.

Now i didn’t set myself any measurements or targets for my blog, i just did it for me and hoped along the way what i wrote would also offer value to someone else.

Some statistics about my blog’s first year

  • First year visitor numbers (June 2008 to June 2009) – 13050
  • Average visitors per day
    • During 2008 – 33
    • During 2009 – 39
  • Posts and Comments
    • Total Posts: 181
    • Total comments: 226

Reflections

What i found interesting about these stats was that it really does help to connect the multiple channels and multiple networks to enable a wider audience to participate or at least read the content.

I was also really pleased with the numbers. I never expected anything huge and was thinking something like 10-20 visitors per day would have been good¬† – considering the most logical audience base is in local government and that is where “access to social media” is such a challenge.

If others could have access and start similar blogs and share experiences in this way, i wonder what impact that would have on the pace of change in our local councils. It would be like attending a conference everyday and gaining insights and lesson from other people trialling new ways of doing things and all for FREE.

I have many personal highlights over the last year for my blog, here are a just a few of them;

  • starting it in the first place – huge step, and no cost to the organisation or resources in ICT
  • getting my chief executive supporting social networking on camera and available via the blog
  • sharing and developing my councils social media policy and guidelines through the blog
  • connecting with many new friends and colleagues

Some connected benefits and i’m not entirely sure if these are connected to my blog or twitter or both, but in the last 12 months i have also spoken at a number of events on the lessons we have learned and ideas etc. That has also enabled me to connect to more and more people as well as get challenged by people, which is also a really valuable process.

What next?

So many things have happened in the last year and the next 12 months will be even more exciting. I haven’t set any targets as such as i’m not yet in a position to think that my blog is a marketing medium for me. Maybe in the future i will enter the consultancy arena (as do many others) and will re-evaluate my online presence and align it with other channels to get the maximum benefit.

In the meantime, i am keen to continue to share the lessons i learn here and my thoughts on the ever expanding area of social media and social networking in local government and i want to connect to many more people who are also doing excellent things as well as those making mistakes.

There are a few events i am speaking at or involved with via panel sessions this year and i have listed them below. If you are going to any of these or are speaking then i look forward to meeting you. Do stop me and let me know what you are doing.