If your team won't blog, maybe you need a new approachHow to spur reluctant bloggers

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"Why won't they blog?"

That's a lament I hear from community managers, social media practitioners and communications directors who are begging, cajoling, coaxing and wheedling coworkers, trying to get them to post something to their organization's or company's blog.

It can be tempting to throw your hands up. "If your team hates blogging, you need a new team," suggests one post. The author adds, "They don’t really hate blogging. They hate their job: and that’s a problem beyond the fact that you can’t get them to blog."

True, someone who hates their job is unlikely to blog about it - at least, not in a way that would make their employer happy. But that isn't the only reason that people say they hate blogging. Here are a few others... and some ways you can respond before you give up on your coworkers:

Do they hate blogging... or do they hate the time it takes?

If your workplace is like many others, employees have seen their workloads grow, with less support for getting the job done. If you're expecting them to crank out blog posts, but you haven't taken anything off their plates to compensate, you may want to look at some adjustments.

Do they hate blogging... or do they hate the kind of blogging you're asking them to do?

Are you expecting detailed, lengthy posts from busy people? Consider starting off by asking for contributions that have a much lower footprint on their time and attention. Are you asking them to write puff pieces about what a fantastic organization they work for? Give them the latitude to be more authentic, and to talk more about their own work passions without having to pump up your brand.

Do they hate blogging... or do they hate doing something they don't think they're good at?

Have you offered training - not just in the technical details of your blogging platform, but in how to write blog posts quickly and easily? Do you encourage them to start out small - for instance, with one-paragraph contributions to a longer post - and work their way up? Have you considered an informal peer mentoring system, group workshops, or assigning a communications specialist to help them write their first few posts?

Do they hate blogging... or do they hate being exposed to the public?

Some people love being in the public eye (cough). Others find the idea intrusive, or even terrifying. Try finding an area of their work they feel more comfortable sharing with the world. Give them the option of starting out by blogging on the intranet, where their exposure is limited to their coworkers.

Do they hate blogging... or do they hate doing something they think is pointless?

More to the point, something that's pointless to them. Look at it from their point of view: maybe you're asking them to put their urgent work on hold so you can get some content for a trendy blog they suspect will be a flash in the pan. You can - and should - talk to them about the blog's significance for the organization. But you should also figure out how the blog can advance things they care about, like a professional passion, their profile within the organization, or a cause they're committed to.

Do they hate blogging... or do they hate being the first on the dance floor?

You'll often find it harder to get contributors to a new communications vehicle than an established one. And even if the blog has been around for a while, people may not want to be the first ones from their department or job function to post. But there are still ways to break the ice - for instance, by writing a series of posts based on brief interviews with a few of the kind of individuals you'd like to see contributing. That can be the spark they need to jump in.

Do they hate blogging... or do they hate, well, you?

Okay, not hate. But could your relationship be stronger? Do you have bridges to build with other departments before you can start asking for their help? Have you worked as hard to understand them as you would with an external audience you want to reach?

Do they hate blogging... or do they hate what it means in your workplace's culture?

Is yours an organization that welcomes honest conversation, or are people legitimately worried about inadvertently saying the wrong thing? Do you have a "tall poppy" culture where it's safer to keep your head down and blend in? If you're having trouble getting one or two people to participate, then maybe - maybe - the problem's on their end. But widespread resistance to blogging may alert you to deeper issues. If that ends up spurring your organization to make badly needed changes, then that refusal to blog may turn out to a valuable contribution after all.

Comments

Rob Cottingham says

November 2, 2011 - 9:55am

By the way, this was spurred by Maddie Grant's pointer to the blog post I linked to.

That's one of the reasons I'm loving Google+: I discover lots of thought-provoking stuff there, from some great people.

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