Should You Be Blogging at LinkedIn, HuffPo, Medium & More?

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This is part four of a five-part series on how you can build a strong cause (brand) presence through blogging. We’ll talk about getting started, blogging platforms, idea generation, and distribution channels in the series to help you get started with blogging.

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If you’re posting only to your own blog and social media pages, you’re restricting your discovery to people who are already part of your network, or to those that stumble upon you through SEO. And that’s not your goal, is it? You want to get in front of people who care about your cause, but have yet to learn about your organization. For best return on investment on your content creation efforts, you must get the content noticed by those who are perfect for your cause but don’t know you yet!

That’s where distribution platforms like LinkedIn, The Huffington Post, Medium and others bring your articles to a new audience while positioning you, your director, or your CEO (whoever gets the byline) as a thought leader.

As I hinted, there are many to choose from – and each has its pros and cons. Here are some you should consider – and why:

LinkedIn

I spoke in my last post about the benefits of LinkedIn for nonprofits, particularly their publishing platform and the ability to publish long-form posts to your page or profile. LinkedIn by far is where I’m seeing good quality thought leadership content, so if your organization’s messaging appeals to the white collar, business-oriented professional crowd, then that’s a great place to be.

The ability to publish long-form posts is still being rolled out, so if you don’t have access now you will soon enough. If you DO, then you should take advantage by posting thought-provoking pieces to catch the attention of LinkedIn’s editors, who have the power to feature your posts on Pulse or invite you to be an Influencer. Hint: They look for “the most engaged, prolific and thoughtful contributors.”

The Huffington Post

I’m a little disappointed in HuffPo, to be honest. For such a massive platform, they get a lot of things wrong – at least from the contributor standpoint.

Little things like having to manually redo every bit of formatting (paragraph breaks, italics, links, etc.) when you copy/paste into their editor make something that should be simple into a 30- to 45- minute ordeal.

Which would be fine if the ROI was worthwhile, but guess what? There’s no way to measure impact! There are no built-in analytics, no way to know who’s seeing your posts, or if your material is getting hits. And sharing is very one-sided:

  • When you share anything all it shows is an “H” – no content preview or image; nothing to drive more people to guest posters
  • When others share, their Twitter handle (etc.) is replaced by “via @HuffPoImpact” so you don’t know who they are to connect and say, “Thanks for sharing my post!” or to acknowledge their viewpoint and offer either additional insights or comments.

It’s a lot of work (a quarter-employee in time investment between writing and posting), for a questionable return – literally.

That being said, if your audience is very lifestyle-oriented (divorce, dating, family, celebrity chatter are extremely popular verticals) you can benefit from contributing pieces that fit within their verticals. It’s a good platform for sharing social issues – but I no longer think of them as the place to go when I’m looking for a thought leadership view.

If you do want to be seen there, check out these guidelines by HuffPo blogger William Dameron. Much of the advice will apply to any platform.

Medium

Medium has a lot to offer, including an excellent user interface and features that make reading very social and interactive:

  • Ability to comment on a particular section of a post, versus the entire post
  • Ability to ask for (and offer) help on pieces before you publish them, so you always publish pieces at their absolute best
  • Ability to recommend a story with a note about why – which people can do for you in kind
  • Ability to aggregate and curate content (via collections) and provide contributor level access to several writers with publishing controlled by the collection owner, great feature for associations and institutions

You can import posts from your main blog so they can live on Medium as well, and with immediate, easy-to-understand stats (that are also emailed to you regularly) you’ll always know how your posts are doing. It is hands down the most beautiful reading and writing experience, very clean, simple, and uncluttered!

The one drawback? Distribution is limited to your social networks – which doesn’t put you in front of bigger audiences as easily as LinkedIn does. It is currently (appears intentionally) geared towards influencers in each vertical. If you were following Twitter in the beginning, you’ll notice their expansion strategy is quite identical to how Twitter went about being mainstream by courting influencers in each of their verticals.

So if you’re a nonprofit leader who’s looking to build a strong profile as a thought leader, your best bet is to cross post on LinkedIn at the same time with your primary organization blog.

Quartz

Quartz is a bit of an unknown entity. It’s very popular in international markets, but not as much in the US. The content is great, as you’d expect from a platform created by hardcore publishers and editors, but it’s unclear how much outside content is accepted.

They did recently put out a call for freelancers and, according to Quartz, their “Ideas Team accepts pitches for contributions,” but the volume is high and competition stiff.

One cool feature that could help create connections is annotations, which Quartz describes as “a new spin on commenting that is intended to encourage thoughtful contributions and feature them prominently alongside the original content.”

It’s a great idea, aimed at bridging the disconnect between regular comment forums and the articles they reference, and Quartz plans to build out the feature based on user response.

Quartz reminds me of what Huffington Post was when they started.

Inc. and Forbes

I’m mentioning these because they might be on some organizations’ wish lists, but they’re hardly ideal as primary options for increased distribution. While getting a piece published either place would offer amazing exposure, the work involved to tryand get featured means it’s probably not a worthwhile time investment for most.

Articles for Forbes need to be longer than typical blog posts, with strong perspectives and unique angles, and cannot be published or pending elsewhere, which means writing a piece intended solely for them plus a second piece for your regular content schedule while you’re waiting for an answer (which could be three days or never depending on the editor).

Inc. doesn’t offer any specific guidance on their expectations, but it’s safe to assume that they’re likely the same. Both of these outlets are “self-help” for professionals, featuring a lot of lists based posts on leadership and professional development. If that’s your area of expertise, then head-on over to these two outlets.

About Audience

Being trendy and having a slick look are, of course, second to reaching your demographic. Finding your audience can take a little trial and error, but applying a little common sense to your social savvy can work wonders. Here are some tactics to try:

  • Submit to the platform covering the verticals that best apply to your cause; for example, Huffington Post is lifestyle-oriented, Inc. and Forbes are very business-centric, while LinkedIn offers the opportunity to connect to others in your field who may discover your posts via those common threads.
  • Search on Twitter, read Facebook comments, etc. to see who is sharing and interacting with posts similar to yours; find out where those posts are coming from and post there (and then be sure to share your posts on Facebook and Twitter too!).
  • Jump on viral topics when they happen (think #IceBucketChallenge) and post in a few different areas to see where you get the most traction.

And also – there’s no need to reinvent the wheel – check out the places your competitors are posting, and follow suit. If they’re having success, you likely can as well, and you’ll save yourself a lot of research time.

A Caveat

Be sure you know the cross-posting policies of any distribution platforms you use. Some may want exclusive rights for a limited time before the story can be shared elsewhere – even on your own blog.

A regular blog presence is key to putting your organization’s message out there, and amplifying that presence via the right blog distribution platform will put you in front of the people who care most about the issues you support, which is why you’re online in the first place.

Have you used any of the above platforms yourself? What would you add based on your experience?

 

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