Five Tips For Writing Better Blog Posts

write better blog postsHere's an interesting post by Susan Waters, publisher The Edublogger 

For those of you just getting started in the social media world, you may find this very useful.

Five Tips For Writing Better Blog Posts.

Ever had one of those days where the words just refuse to behave? Where it feels like every word you use is the wrong word? And you continuously rewrite the same sentences.

Worse Still! You finally finish the post believing it’s your best ever only to find no-one comments.

The unfortunate fact of blogging is writing good blog posts is more than just the words.

Spend time observing pro-bloggers and you’ll see they use various strategies to make each post count. If you want to use blogging for your personal learning you need to be effective at engaging and having conversations with readers. So here’s my first 5 tips for better blog posts:

# 1 Use Short Paragraphs

I can’t count on all my fingers and toes the number of posts I’ve tried to read that are just one paragraph! One incredibly long paragraph. What The? And many of these were written by educators.

Posts with really long paragraphs are really hard to read making it less likely for your post to be read and/or your readers to miss the point of your post.

Very simple:

  • Break your posts up with paragraphs

  • The more paragraphs the better!

  • Short paragraphs are better than long

  • Make the first sentence of each paragraph make me want to read the rest of the paragraph!

#2 Use Headings!

Use headings and where appropriate bullet points and number lists
to break up the post into manageable bit size chunks.

WordPress, which Edublogs uses, provides Heading Styles. Use them! Which you use will depend on your theme.

Trial each heading style to select which visually looks the best:

  1. Write a test post

  2. Use each Heading Style

  3. Click on Save and Continue Editing

  4. Click Preview to see what each looks like in a post

Heading 3 works the best with my blog themes.

#3 Remember to Hyperlink

If you write about an article or another blogger’s post link to it! Why? Because your readers often want to check it out in more details.

When you link to someone else’s post it’s good practice to mention their name, link their name to their blog, and then link to the post you’re referring to (it’s also a good way of getting people to visit your site).

Here’s an example of hyperlinking (click on each to see why I used):

Larry Ferlazzo says Scribd is a great tool for English Language Learners (he’s voted it fourth best tool for 2007 for ELL). Why? Because he gets students upload their papers and illustrations, and Scribd immediately also converts it into audio so, in addition to seeing their story, they and others can hear it, too.
Check out this example Larry created for how Scribe can be used for Talking Stories (press the play on the Listen toolbar on the bottom right hand side below categories and tags).

AVOID using underlining when writing posts because your readers expect all underlined text is hyperlinked.

#4 Always Comment Back To Readers On Your Own Posts!

If readers have made time to comment on your posts the very minimum you should do is respond back to your readers (ideally each reader) in the comments on your post. This is very important for building your blog’s community; it demonstrates that you value your readers and their input.

Commenting back also increases community interaction. Look at how Lee is interacting with her readers on “What Posts Stimulate Readers To Comment?” and while you are there make sure you leave your thoughts on what makes readers comment.

 

Commentcommunity

PERSONAL RANT!

There are well known edubloggers who almost never respond or acknowledge their readers who take time to write comments or link to them. Sorry but I have to say this! Shame on you. Not good enough! Your readers are part of your personal learning community and you should be showing you value them.

Please don’t interpret my words to imply I’m saying all well known edubloggers are like this! There are ones that do and the ones that don’t comment back. You also get to see some incredible well known edubloggers who spend considerable time helping and mentoring others!

#5 Subscribe To Your Own Blog Feed!

Always, always, always subscribe to your own blog feed using your feed reader (e.g. Google Reader, Bloglines, NetVibes)!

Your blog has two main audiences:

  1. Those who read your post on your blog

  2. Those who read your post via a feed reader

Your blog posts have to look good, visually, for both audiences. Subscribing to your own blog feed means you’ll see your posts how they are seen by your subscribers. This allows you to troubleshoot issues with font sizes, image size/alignment and removal of content (e.g. embeds like SlideShare, Voicethreads and videos are often removed by feed readers).

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What Is Social Media Marketing?

Social media is a phrase being tossed around a lot these days, but it can sometimes be difficult to answer the question of what is social media. If MySpace is a social media site, and Mag.nolia is a social media site, and Wikipedia is a social media site, then just what is social media?

Is it social networking?

Is it social bookmarking?

Is it wiki?

What is Social Media?

The best way to define social media is to break it down. Media is an instrument on communication, like a newspaper or a radio, so social media would be a social instrument of communication.

In Web 2.0 terms, this would be a website that doesn't just give you information, but interacts with you while giving you that information. This interaction can be as simple as asking for your comments or letting you vote on an article, or it can be as complex as Flixster recommending movies to you based on the ratings of other people with similar interests.

Think of regular media as a one-way street where you can read a newspaper or listen to a report on television, but you have very limited ability to give your thoughts on the matter.

Social media, on the other hand, is a two-way street that gives you the ability to communicate too.

A Guide to the Social Web

Is Social Media and Social News The Same Thing?

It is easy to confuse social media with social news because we often refer to members of the news as "the media." Adding to the confusion is the fact that a social news site is also a social media site because it falls into that broader category.

But social news is not the same thing as social media anymore than a banana is the same thing as fruit. A banana is a type of fruit, but fruit can also be grapes, strawberries, or lemons. And while social news is social media, social networking and wikis are also social media.

What Are Some Social Media Websites?

Now that we have answered the question of what is social media, we can move on to social media websites. Because social media is such a broad term, it covers a large range of websites. But the one common link between these websites is that you are able to interact with the website and interact with other visitors.

Here are some examples of social media websites:

  • Social Bookmarking. (Del.icio.us, Blinklist, Simpy) Interact by tagging websites and searching through websites bookmarked by other people.
  • Social News. (Digg, Propeller, Reddit) Interact by voting for articles and commenting on them.
  • Social Networking. (Facebook, Hi5, Last.FM) Interact by adding friends, commenting on profiles, joining groups and having discussions.
  • Social Photo and Video Sharing. (YouTube, Flickr) Interact by sharing photos or videos and commenting on user submissions.
  • Wikis. (Wikipedia, Wikia) Interact by adding articles and editing existing articles.

And these websites are not the only social media websites. Any website that invites you to interact with the site and with other visitors falls into the definition of social media.

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Why Engage Your Customers Using Social Media

Engaging with customers via social media required, or optional?

Social media is the greatest boon for business since, well, the cash register right? I mean just log onto twitter and grab some Facebook love and sit back, watch the customers start lining up and make sure your cash register is full of change. It’s that easy.

Listen to a few “experts” and they make it sound that easy. Some agencies focus on creating Facebook pages, widgets and applications and sell it to everyone who will buy it. Just change the colors and voila!

The fact is that social media is not the savior for everyone. Social media is not the silver bullet, the people behind it are. Some companies will be poised to take advantage of new forms of engagement and new ways of interacting with customers, suppliers and employees. Then again, some won’t.

Just having a tool will not make you successful, the purpose, strategy and planning you do first might. The way you integrate it into the entire campaign or initiative might. Having a clean user experience may make poor tools perform better. Even as simple as configuring the tools to support the initiative and not using the tool to define it. Understanding the science of networks, the psychology of why people participate and making that work for you and not against you is another way to make your social initiative stand out. Once again, it’s not the tools, it’s the heft of the planning and purpose behind them.

Some companies have figured out how to make television work and some are still trying to figure it out after 60+ years. For some companies, radio works great and is less expensive than alternatives. Your business cannot be forced to go social, it has to be ready for it.

Is your company ready to go social? How do you know if your company is ready to go social, and what do you use first?

Learn more about how a companies figure out their right marketing mix.

Upcoming  topics:

Topic: Is engaging with customers via social media required, or optional?

Q1: What are the circumstances when a company should NOT engage with customers via social media?

Q2: What are the organizational drawbacks to engaging with customers in this way?

Q3: How should companies modify their interactions, based on individual customers’ influence (if at all)?

 Courtesy of www.hashtagsocialmedia.com

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