Why would I want to blog?
As audiences increasingly demand authentic perspectives and viewpoints from universities, blogs become an attractive platform to add to Dalhousie’s communications efforts. They allow us to share our university’s news, events, research and community with one another and with the outside world, using a different writing style than our traditional communications. Less formal and more conversational, blogs can provide a window into Dalhousie life with a personal touch different from institutional websites and publications.
Other advantages to having blogs as part of your web presence: they’re popular with search engines, they add personality to the work we do as a university in a format attractive to readers, they’re significantly quicker and easier to update than traditional websites, and they’re ‘sticky,’ meaning that engaged readers keep coming back for more content.
Do people actually read blogs?
Studies have shown that anywhere from 40 per cent to 60 per cent of Canadians read blogs, and that number is rising each year. Comscore, a marketing research firm, found that Canadians had the highest percentage of blog readership in the world as of 2007. In many fields, engaging blogs are replacing static websites as go-to destinations for the latest and most relevant information.
What kind of things could I do with a blog?
Here are some broad ideas for Dalhousie-related blogs:
- Faculty blog: university professor(s) writing about their area of expertise for internal or external readers. Faculty could comment on their work or write about current events that impact their studies. Extends their expertise from the academic sector into the broader digital world.
- Student blog: student(s) writing about life at university with content often targeted towards prospective students. Provides an authentic look at student life, and provides an opportunity for our best and brightest to share their voices with a broader audience.
- Administration blog: university staff writing about departmental business, upcoming events, etc. Can provide for a more human look into the operations that keep Dalhousie up and running, along with a way to send out information on new developments and initiatives.
- Theme blogs: a number of university writers examining a multidisciplinary topic of interest and writing ongoing commentary. Demonstrates the cross-channel learning and study that takes place at Dalhousie.
How complicated is it to blog?
Not very. Blogs.dal.ca runs on the multiuser version of the popular WordPress open-source software, one that we’ve customized to our purposes with Dalhousie-branded templates. You’ll find that writing a blog is as simple as putting together a word processing document, as it runs on a similar interface. It’s easy to add pictures, link to YouTube videos, and include a whole host of other features to make your blog more engaging.
How can I customize my blog?
The Dalhousie templates we’ve built allow a number of ways to personalize. Every blog has its own title and subtitle, and the right hand sidebar – full of blogroll links and useful widgets – is yours to customize as you see fit.
How are the blogs moderated?
While Communications and Marketing monitors all blog content on a regular basis, content at blogs.dal.ca is produced and managed at the local level. It is up to each department or faculty to manage its blog(s) and their content. Some allow authors to upload their own posts, while others prefer to have them posted by a single moderator.
The same policy applies to comments, which is why you won’t see them on every blog. Some administrators allow for free and open commenting, others moderate them first, and some prefer not to have comments at all. We strongly encourage bloggers to allow comments in some form but recognize that they’re not for everyone.
While the goal of the blogging platform is to allow new, honest voices to enter the university’s communications mix, it operates under the same guidelines and policies as the Dalhousie website in general. In other words – if it’s not appropriate to live on the Dalhousie web, it’s probably not appropriate for the blog platform. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have questions about this.
How can I feature my blog on my department website?
All blogs sit at their blogs.dal.ca address, but there are a number of ways you can link it to your webpage. You can provide a prominent link to it, or you can use the optional content zones on your front page to provide an RSS feed to the latest posts.
I’m already blogging as part of my work, but I’m doing so on a third-party website. Why should I relocate to blogs.dal.ca?
Using blogs.dal.ca forms a stronger link between your work and the university – and enhancing the reputation of both parties. The Dal Blogs team is also available to field any questions, concerns or suggestion you may have. In the months to come, we’ll be building a blogging homepage that colleges tags, comments and other features from across Dalhousie blogs that will allow users to search and link to content from all ends of campus. We even make switching over easy for you by importing all your existing posts into the WordPress system.
How do I contact you?
Drop a note to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.