Why do Seth Godin and Tom Peters blog? Apparently not a simple answer – their short comments here got me thinking. Why do I blog? I have come to realize that, strangely, it’s not about marketing. We started with that objective, and the blog does generate marketing, but we have found deeper benefits.
Why might you care? Well, if you are trying to figure out social media marketing – how to use LinkedIn, Plaxo,blogs, twitter, etc – we may have similar experiences worth comparing notes on. I will go first.
I started blogging because I thought I had some ideas worth sharing (and I still think that’s true even as I am aware of the hubris of this) and that in doing so it would bring qualified prospects banging on our door (yes, a crazy idea that is easy remarkably to become infatuated with). However, I have learned that sharing ideas – articulating and debating them – makes them worthier to me – through the power of sharing and collaborating. This is actually a virtuous circle where the ideas become iteratively better and more useful for all of us.
1. Doppelgänger– creating another ‘you’ to serve as devil’s advocate
The process of iteratively rolling ideas over, re-thinking, studying, combining, teasing out, re-combining, and extrapolating against real life is a private discipline. I was finding it hard to stay with this process for long enough to make any real progress – with the distractions of life I seemed to be going over old ground repeatedly and never making it past the same quicksands (some of that analysis seemed like the movie “Groundhog Day” where every morning is the same day again – and leading change does have some similarities to being a weatherman).
The first realization for me on writing blog posts was that writing the ideas down creates a frame of reference that can be iterated! Yes, this was an ‘ah ha’ for me – the iterating that I was doing in my head was far more limiting than I realizing. Re-reading the draft blog post allows me to planting questions against parts, doing and incorporate research and just plain stand back and critique. Just getting thoughts onto paper freed up that mental ‘RAM’ to focus on an element at a time or on a model as a whole. The power of a larger canvas became a huge benefit. It allowed for a doppelgänger effect – I could write and critique. This is not to say that I have illusions of grandeur, far from it, this is about empowering one’s own journey of discovery, learning and application.
2. The pressure of a ‘public’ presence
The intention to ‘publish’ raises the bar. The awareness that you will reveal these ideas to others is a great incentive to do a better job – think harder, write more clearly.
3. Collaborating has exponential power
If one can be open and humble (and that’s a pill sometimes), one can leverage the power of collaboration. I started with a few trusted colleagues doing one-on-one peer reviews off-line, then branched out to a very small group of like-minded professionals online. (I am very fortunate to have found a couple of others online who share the same passion for the imperative of change, drive to make the processes more effective and rigor for thinking about it from different perspectives. You will find Faith’s, Garrett’s, Jim’s and Luc’s blogs in my blog roll – a BIG ‘shout out’ to you four). With those interactions has come both validation and extrapolation – compounding benefits.
There is no need to plunge into the deep end – so don’t let that hold you back. If you are remotely interested, start small. When I first began blogging I didn’t tell a soul, I just started. I figured if it started working great and, if it didn’t, then no harm done. And I fully expected that, if I did continue, I would delete some of the early posts. Most interestingly, it started to be a little irrelevant whether anyone “found” my great ideas: it began a bit like putting puzzles together, intellectually interesting.
Hmmm … what to blog?
I come from the school of thought that divides work and personal (and certainly if you are an employee you must be quite cognizant of this line). I use LinkedIn for business networking and Facebook for personal . My blog is for work – for me it is about exploring the fringes of my knowledge of change management – a place to deepen and explore concepts that go beyond what I can find in books and courses.
I don’t really have a “plan” – I write about what’s on my mind related to CM. As a result, blog posts are often casual, drafts really.
Others will take completely different, and perfectly valid, approaches:
- Many bloggers that I know will say that they have ideas burning in their heads that they just need to get out – and the process of writing is cathartic. This is probably such a common experience because we face many of the same challenges – it also means that these universal experiences are also relevant to others. I have found that it is particularly useful to have a category called “Personal Reflections” (where this is filed) because it provides a ‘home’ for these posts. Issues can be anything.
- Some write to get greater clarity – this is huge as noted above.
- And some write to collaborate.
It is probably prudent to have a concept at least – and there are many newly hatched ‘social media marketing’ consultants who will advise you on putting a plan together. Certainly as a professional services firm (delivering ideas, executing methodologies and collaborating with clients) our online marketing presence has very different objectives than many other types of organizations. Important to think about this before launching.
The exercise of writing has dramatically increased my personal capability – the analysis and collaboration is satisfying in itself. The blog is becoming a professional journal – discoveries on the career path that seemed worthy of exploring more deeply.
It is the authenticity, and sometime the raw-ness of this thinking, that is perhaps most relevant. Many of us are in the same places – thinking about the same problems. Pushing the boundaries of our partially formed thoughts, pioneering on the fringes, is where the real value lies. I believe collaboration helps us to fill in the missing pieces – it propels us all forward.
WIIFY (What’s in it for you?)
Sharing brings it alive. I am very grateful when people take a few moments and a leap of courage to comment. Let’s just pledge to discuss respectfully – so agree or disagree – it’s all grist all for the mill. Getting into the conversation is where the real fun begins – now THAT is really something. So:
- What do YOU think about blogging?
- Are you blogging now? What is your topic and url?
- What is your purpose in blogging? Is it working for you?
- What about tweeting? That’s my new experiment. I like haiku nature of it.
- What social media marketing tools are you thinking about next? and why?
- Are interested in Change Management? Please do share your favorite blogs, websites, etc. And just in case you are reading this somewhere else on the wild, wild web – my blog is here. Come on over to the source site.