A to Z of Web 2.0 for Social Change: B

This is the second post in our Web 2.0 for Social Change series.

B for blogging:

A blog is a simple website used to keep a “log” of events, thoughts, and opinions online easily, even if you are not a web programmer.

Blogs usually combine text, images, and videos; list items in reverse chronology—new items first; and allow visitors to leave comments.

Why you should blog:

Blogging is getting more popular every day. Blogs are easy to create and maintain, and they can be an efficient way to reach your target audience.

If you don’t have the will or resources to develop a website, try a blog to establish your online presence.

If, on the other hand, you are in the process of developing a website for your organization but you need something to show constituents, donors, and journalists NOW, your blog posts can be the draft for your website’s content. Developing your content “on the fly” like this can also help you gain experience with online publishing.

If you already have a website, you can use a blog to cross-promote your content and to engage more directly with your visitors, volunteers, and supporters in an easy way. Each blog post has its own web address (URL) and can serve as a “landing page” or entry point. More doors means more traffic to your website.

Also, blogs can be updated more easily and more often than a website, and this fresh content can boost your search engine ranking.

Blogs can be used as a fundraising tool, simply by linking to your online donation page or embedding a payment gateway.

What to blog about:

Blogging should be a bit informal or conversational and engaging with your visitors. You can blog to:

* Report back from an event or conference, to share the knowledge with your readers. You can read an example about the Global Voices Summit and about our Web 2.0 for Social Change workshop on our blog:
+ http://socialmediaexchange.blogspot.com/2008/06/lessons-learned-from-global-voices-2008.html

+ http://socialmediaexchange.blogspot.com/2008/07/hectic-week-means-one-thing-more.html

* Keep your supporters and visitors updated and post your latest news.

* Share some quick facts, tips and information with your readers.

* Invite experts or public figures to be guest bloggers and involve your staff, volunteers, and supporters, if possible.

How to blog:

If you use a CMS (Content Management System) for your website, like Drupal or Joomla or some others, you can integrate a blogging tool in them with a little extra effort. Also, you can choose from free and low-cost blogging platforms. We will divide it to two categories:

Developer’s hosted solutions:

You just create an account and start posting your content; they will take care of security, upgrades and backups. These solutions offer limited control and flexibility.

The top platforms are:

WordPress.com: based on their open-source application, they offer free and paid plans.

Blogger.com: owned by Google since 2003, free and all you need is a Google account.

Typepad.com: mostly paid plans, from 5$ to 85$ per month.

User’s hosted solutions:

These are applications you download and host on your own server or hosting account. You will have to take care of security, upgrades, and backups. However, these solutions offer you more flexibility and control over the design and functionality of your blog.

The most popular solution in this category can be downloaded from WordPress.org. WordPress is a free, open-source, light, and robust application, with a great support community.

You can modify the look of your blog, called the “theme,” or create your own design to reflect your brand or integrate your blog with your website. You can also add Plugins—small applications—or create your own, to extend the functionality of your blog.

Before you choose a solution, you can compare blogging platforms on http://www.weblogmatrix.org.

We will post more about how to blog and advanced blogging tips; you can subscribe to our RSS feed to stay up to date.

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SMEX is a registered Lebanese NGO that works to advance self-regulating information societies in the Middle East and North Africa.

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