Posted by Brian Kelly on December 21st, 2010
About this Guest Post
Blogging, why bother?
Following a couple of recent posts that I’ve written for Kew’s Digital Adventures blog (run by the Digital Media Team), Ann Chapman from UKOLN got in touch to ask if I’d share a little bit more about why we set this blog and what we (the team) get out of it.
Why we set up Digital Adventures
We originally set up the Digital Adventures blog to document the re-launch of Kew’s website and create a space for the Digital Team to write about things that interest them and share information and knowledge with each other and the broader sector.
To date member’s of the team have written behind the scenes posts about trips to the Herbarium and the Queens visit as well as more digital focussed posts that reflect on knowledge sharing events that we’ve attended, such as Top hints and tips for making great audio slide shows for the web (our most popular post to date) and Why open data projects are here to stay.
6 reasons to start a team blog
There are many reasons why people get into, and enjoy blogging. The most important thing to remember is the delicate balance at play in terms of blogger motivation. From personal incentive on the one side (what am I getting out of it) and knowledge sharing on the other (what am I giving back). In the context of my work at Kew, here are some of the reasons that I share when talking to people who express an interest in blogging.
Blogging is great because you can:
- Build interest in your work and inspire others
- Take part in conversations that are happening online around your area of interest and establish a profile within these communities
- Invite comments and feedback from readers to increase your awareness of their interests and views
- Be generous and share knowledge about the things you know so others in your industry can learn and benefit too
- Provide your peers and interested audiences with unique access to your work, regular updates and exclusive behind-the-scenes insights
- Use writing as a way of thinking things through and working things out.
Encouraging others to get involved
Over the last year, as well as setting up our own blog, we’ve also developed a growing network of bloggers who represent different areas of Kew’s work. One year on, Kew is now the proud host of 11 blogs spanning the Library Art & Archive, the Tropical Nursery, the Herbarium, the Alpine & Rock Garden and the Economic Botany collection.
If you’re considering starting up a blog network in your organisation, as well as being supportive and encouraging, the three pieces of advice that I can give you when you’re starting out are:
- Have a strategy, but start small. Be content to grow your blog network over time.
- Focus your energies on supporting and encouraging colleagues that ‘come to you’ with a proactive interest in blogging – other people and departments will follow in time.
- Develop shared and agreed guidelines for blogging and dealing with comments as soon as you are able. This helps your colleagues feel more confident in managing their blogs proactively and coming to you for support.
What’s next for blogging at Kew?
There are two (and a half) things that I’m interested in developing in the context of blogs at Kew in 2011. The first of these is growing our blog network to cover even more areas of Kew’s work. The second is improving Kew’s profile online and becoming part of the wider blog network.
In terms of the first point, this is really about extending our reach internally and continuing on with what we’re already doing. I’m happy to say that since we launched Kew blogs, colleagues from around the organisation regularly get in touch with us to open up dialogue about blogging at Kew.
The second aim is much more of a challenge, but one that I’m incredibly excited about. To raise Kew’s profile across the blogosphere and become part of a wider blog network we need to start extending our reach outside the walls of www.kew.org too – in a more strategic and proactive way. This includes promoting our blogs on other platforms (such as blog aggregation and partner websites) and encouraging bloggers ‘out there’ who write about areas of shared interest (such as gardening, plant science, botanic art, nature photography, biodiversity and conservation) to get to know Kew better and write about our work.
And if you’re wondering what ‘the half’ refers to
One of my own little aims for 2011 is to further encourage the Digital Team at Kew to get more consistent in our posting. We really do have interesting stories to tell and useful things to share and it would be great to get to a place where we can genuinely say that we’re leading by example…
Here’s to next year!