In the last few months, I have had the privilege of becoming a regular contributor on several multi-author blogs such as Search Engine Journal, Famous Bloggers, Social Media Examiner, Search Engine Watch, and Stay on Search.
Sites like these usually have their own private groups for the contributors to the blog, which is definitely a great idea. If you own a blog that has multiple authors, regular contributors, or regular guest bloggers, here are seven ways a private blog group can be utilized for helping strengthen the blog and its community as a whole.
This should be the most obvious and important use of a private blog group. Important announcements, such a change in design, new editor, update in blog functionality, etc. are a must in making sure that every contributor knows what to expect when they are ready to submit posts, reply to comments, and promote their work.
Examples of such changes includes migrating a blog’s commenting system from one platform to another, or adding a new plugin that changes the way that posts are entered into the system.
While we all know that content is king, promotion is queen. The more that each individual post is promoted, the stronger and more popular the blog will become as a whole. Therefore, one of the most important way a multi-author blog group could be used is to encourage all contributors to help push posts on social media.
Chances are, each contributor on your blog has their own social network of unique fans and followers – therefore, if you can get 10 – 15 people to share the post to each of their thousands of contacts, each post is likely to spread like wildfire.
One way to make it simpler is to make sure that you have social bookmarking buttons on each post, such as the TweetMeme and Facebook share or like buttons, Sociable plugin, etc. Or, you can even include direct links to the post on social sites or add your preferred tweet text in the group. So your promotion announcement would look like:
Here is the latest post on Kikolani. Please share on the following networks!
Twitter: RT @kikolani Best Practices for Collaborative Blog Groups http://bit.ly/bVyoz7 #blogging
One thing to note is some networks are sensitive about where people come from to get to the voting links for a particular article, so it may be best to encourage group members to simply go to the post and use the social bookmarking links provided to share / vote up the post. Otherwise, you can include the links above, but do not make them live – this way people have to cut and paste into a new window, which makes sure that the referrer to the network is not always the blog group or forum URL.
Speaking of social circles, why not make sure that everyone is following everyone? Keep a sticky post about the blog’s main Twitter list as well as individual listings of where to find blog contributors on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., assuming that the contributors want to be found. The better the camaraderie between blog contributors, the more willing they will be to promote each other’s posts.
Along with social promotion of posts, an important way to bring in more traffic and raise the overall authority of a blog is to build links to posts. And another key to building links to each post is to build them with specific anchor text targeting keywords and phrases that you would want the post to rank for in search engine results.
One way to encourage contributors to link to posts using specific anchor text for each post is to create a list that has specific anchor text to be used with each post. For example, if I were to have a list for promoting posts on my own site, it would look like this.
|Anchor Text 1||Anchor Text 2||URL|
|HootSuite Review||HootSuite for Bloggers||http://kikolani.com/hootsuite-blogging-twitter-management-guide-bloggers.html|
|Make Money Blogging||Make Money Online||http://kikolani.com/income-blogging-guide-course-review.html|
|WordPress Hack||WordPress Attacks||http://kikolani.com/latest-wordpress-hack-symptoms-solutions-resources.html|
Of course, everyone will link to posts as they choose, but this will hopefully encourage some people to link to each post with appropriate anchor text to help boost posts in search results.
Encourage Reviews, Subscribers, & Bookmarks
There are many sites that, if you can get additional reviews, subscribers, or bookmarks, your site’s popularity will be boosted on that particular network. Creating a list that shows where members can do one of these three things for your site will make it easier for them to go in and help your site quickly and easily. For example, you could include:
|* Must register / have username.
** Reviews powered by JS-Kit comment form – accepts login via Facebook, Twitter, Google Profile, JS-Kit, FriendFeed, Yahoo, Blogger, HaloScan, or OpenID.
It’s good to include notes about whether registration is required for these sites, as some people will readily recognize them as networks they are already active in, or at least they will not be annoyed when they get there and cannot do what you requested because they have to register. And again, depending on the network and sensitivity, it may be wise to make the links inactive so they cannot be linked back to the group.
Probably one of the most important times a collaborative group could come in handy is if the blog is nominated for an award, such as the Search and Social Awards, or if a site asks for nominations for a particular award. In these cases, the group can be where the admin can start asking for nominations and votes to give the blog a better chance of making it to the top of the list.
Many groups / forums allow uploads, and this would be a great place to include some important documents for all contributors, including:
- General writing specifications and guidelines.
- A post template or commonly used codes (such as the styles that are associated with particular elements such as images or the header tags typically used and in what order) that would be helpful in making sure contributors enter posts in the correct format for easier editing.
- A case study PDF on which posts do the best every month so that contributors know what topics do well on your site.
These are just a few of many examples of documents that could be helpful for any contributor on the blog to have available to them.
Now, the question is, with every contributor working on their own projects, blogs, and jobs as well, how do you get everyone to stay active in the group? One of the biggest factors is the activity level of the group itself – kind of like the “you need credit to get credit” theory, if your group has a lot of activity, it will encourage activity. If the group is dead (ie., the last activity was from a month or more ago), it will be less likely that anyone will spark the conversation.
Another factor is incentive. You would think that having other members promote everyone’s post would be incentive enough, but sometimes it’s not. If the group administrator offers regular incentives for everyone to visit and participate in the group, it will encourage more activity. Incentives could include:
- Regular sharing of resources (like a weekly “best of the week” for the main area of interest for the blog contributors, free ebooks, etc.).
- Contest where the most active group member of the month receives a free gift (anything from cash to getting a banner ad spot for the next month).
- Members can share their own blog posts for social promotion from the group *if* it includes a link to a post on the collaborative blog.
Best Group Platforms
So what are the best platforms for creating a private blog group? Some popularly used structures / sites include:
- Custom collaboration groups with platforms such as BuddyPress, Drupal, etc.
- Groups such as Google (free) or Yahoo (free)
- Forums such as vBulletin (paid), Simple Machines (free), phpBB (free)
Just be sure that all registrations have to be verified by the administrator, as opposed to many groups / forums where anyone can join almost immediately.
Your Thoughts on Collaborative Blog Groups
Do you own or participate on a collaborative, multi-author blog? Are you an administrator or member of that blog’s private group for contributors? What other ways members can efficiently and effectively make sure of private blog groups, and what incentives do you think will encourage more activity on these groups?