Blogs are “short and frequent posts of information and analysis” (Lipschultz, 2018). In my role as a technical editor, I wrote blogs aimed at teaching the best practices of technical writing, as well as English language usage. Many of the technical writers at our global organization are novices and/or non-native English speakers, so blogging was a friendly, informal way for us editors to provide continual professional development. We also used the blogs to reinforce the learning that we provided in web-based and in-person training.
The use of informal communication such as blogs can help increase employee engagement by promoting dialog, employee empowerment, co-creation of meaning, and, ideally, employee ownership of organizational identity (Cornelissen, 2017).
Training is just one example of blogging for employee engagement. There are many ways blogging can help you create an open communication environment with coworkers and leadership. What topics are appropriate for internal blogs? Almost any communication you would normally distribute by another medium is good blog fodder. Here’s a sample:
- Informative communications, such as customer acquisition announcements and benefits enrollment
- Instructional content, such as new software or procedural training
- Promotion of organizational identity and goals, such as a new Corporate Social Responsibility initiative or a brand ambassador program
So, blog posts are a great way to connect with employees, but remember —their time and attention are precious. Additionally, people appreciate communication that treats them as the knowledgeable professionals and organizational assets that they are. Consequently, your posts must provide clear benefits. Organize and write your posts in a way that protects employees’ time, clearly and efficiently promotes information transfer and retention, and stimulates open dialog.
Here are a few tips for writing engaging blogs for your fellow employees.
Stay on brand.
Make sure your posts align with your organizational identity. Audiences may be quick to jump on inconsistencies. An example fail came from McDonald’s in 2013, when the company “had to kill its McResources employee blog, which among its helpful hints advised staffers to avoid fast food because ‘it is hard to eat a healthy diet when you eat at fast-food restaurants often’,” (“Golden Ouches”, 2013). Such a disconnect from the company’s mission did not promote faith in its internal communication!
Use informative and interesting titles and graphics.
People are busy at work. Sometimes, a quick glance at the title or image are all they can spare before deciding whether the topic is worth their time. Make sure your title reflects the content of your post and shows how the post is relevant to your audience. Choose a dynamic image that clearly relates to the subject matter and is congruent with the organizational image.
Get to the point.
Again, peeps are BUSY! Most people will only invest their time in a few hundred words, at most. Be succinct. If possible, reduce paragraphs of text to a listicle or captioned graphics to speed up the comprehension process.
Q: What did the reader say to the long-winded blogger?
A: [Deletes notification].
Your post might be informative, or educational, but boring prose can cause brain fatigue. Inject some humor, if you can, and use informal language. Stay away from inappropriate humor, and make sure any jokes are comprehensible and inoffensive to all of your audiences. You can also center your topic around a theme that people relate to. My fellow editor wrote blogs with superhero themes that fellow comic book fans loved.
Adopting new software is like rebuilding the same house with different tools! See how I did that? Specifically, analogies help learners relate new information to existing knowledge. This speeds up the comprehension process and stimulates retention. If you can relate new information to something that is already familiar to most people, it’s like you’ve already done half of your audience’s homework!
Use specific, work-related examples.
If your blog is instructional, make sure you provide “real-world” examples that your audience is likely to use. According to Adult Learning Theory, adults need to understand how instructional content relates directly to their work (Rutgers Online, n.d.). Examples will help your audience understand how to apply what you’ve shared.
Give food for thought.
You can promote co-creation of meaning by asking open-ended questions that encourage people to think about how they might apply the principles in example situations, or how their experiences relate to what you’ve written. Like a conversation starter, this practice opens the door for further, two-way symmetrical discussion.
You can also learn from responses to your questions. Your audience might share examples, solutions, or complications you weren’t aware of, and which you can address in future blogs.
Provide an easy way to respond.
I always like to end my posts by inviting readers to email, chat, or leave a comment, question, or topic request. Open forums and direct access to the author transform a blogging exercise into a two-way asymmetrical conversation, encouraging the audience to share and interact. In this way, bloggers and readers can co-create meaning and organizational identity.
Be clear about what readers can or cannot share outside of the company.
Keep in mind that internal blogs can become source material for external communication, so be clear about what is for internal use only.
These guidelines can help take a blog from passed over to talked about. If you have blogging tips of your own, or internal blogging experiences to share, let me know in the comments. I always enjoy hearing and learning from you!
Cornelissen, J. (2017). Corporate Communication: A Guide to Theory & Practice. Los Angeles, CA. Sage Publications, Ltd., 213.
Dawson, V. (2018). Fans, Friends, Advocates, Ambassadors, and Haters: Social Media Communities and the Communicative Constitution of Organizational Identity. Social Media Society, 4(1), Social Media Society, January 2018, Vol.4(1). Retrieved from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2056305117746356
Golden Ouches: No wind beneath McD’s wings; employee blog backfires. (2013). Advertising Age, 84(45), 5.
Lipschultz, J. H. (2018). Social media communication: Concepts, practices, data, law and ethics. New York (N.Y.): Routledge.
Rutgers Online. (n.d.). The Principles of Adult Learning Theory — Rutgers. [online] Available at: https://online.rutgers.edu/blog/principles-of-adult-learning-theory/ [Accessed 23 Mar. 2019].