Notes from #blogchat – Community Development

Tonight, Ann Handley guest hosted #blogchat – so I’ll warn you right now, these notes will not be complete. Ann’s a prolific tweeter and a very engaged person, so I’m not surprised at all that the chat went swimmingly, and was very busy.

So, here’s a little background. Ann is Twitter’s front-person for Marketing Profs, a marketing resource concern. She writes her own blog at, of course,, and is publishing a book later this year with CC Chapman called Content Rules.

That said, here we go!

The official subject was “Creating and Managing Group Blogs” which is fairly hot-button these days, given corporate blogs, and massive news blogs like HuffPo, Engadget, Mashable and so on. Getting started is often easier than staying started – so it was good to see the advice come out on this.

First: Creating a Group Blog

First question from Mack Collier – How can a company tell if they should have a single-author blog, or a group blog?

Ouch. Good way to start. A lot of the discussion here reflected last week’s chat about developing a voice, or identifying authors on company blogs. The real killer term from Ann herself was (to paraphrase) “Frame of Approach” – which speaks volumes about her own approach to content. Consensus follows; there’s a big (BIG) gap between directed writing and the general approach of a group blog from an editorial point of view.


I asked what “top three” steps a group should take before setting up a blog and launching. Got some fairly good responses;

from @PushingSocial – @ianmrountree – #1 decide problems to solve, #2 identify perspectives to offer, #3 assign perspectives to the champion in the org #blogchat

from @jb140 – @ianmrountree I’d say first & foremost you need to have a writing strategy of what keywords you want to use if for in SEO #blogchat

from @pheffernanvt – @ianmrountree 1. platform/blog description 2. agree on categories/topics per blogger, 3. editorial calendar with schedule, process #blogchat

An interesting range, actually – I think I was expecting more planning, less perspective. Still, I agree with most of it; content strategy IS planning IS SEO, IS so much of blogging.


When I got back from my jaunt into reply-ville, the chat was talking about editorial mandating.

@Nedra – Daily Fix is a community – how did MarketingProfs manage that?
– By being a part of the community.

Next: Managing Groups in a Blog

@MarketingProfs: Cultivating community: By IDing people who are active. One of my best tactics is to lurk in the comments, see who’s already there.

Who’s “already there” is a big deal. We’ve seen how important this is all over. Ann also mentioned “Social Prospecting” which is such an awesome idea – tapping active commentators to contribute, finding out where else people are active – looking for the good writers and asking for the join is a big deal and can be aided by simply making yourself available.

On making it easy for them to contribute:

@MarketingProfs: At the risk of name-dropping, that’s how Arianna Huffington got George Clooney to blog. (Made it super-easy.) #yesshetoldmethat #blogchat

Sound notation, given the crowd.

Finally, a personal note. Communities cannot become echo chambers. There has to be discussion and collaboration in groups, not sycophancy; without like perspective, communities cannot function. Riddled with sycophants, there are two options; spiral of descending quality, or sudden enigmatic explosion of popularity followed by a spiral of descending quality. Playing into the curve of praise is a bad idea for one person – even worse for groups.

I’ve missed things – I know I have. What did I miss? Share your thoughts, by all means. We’re in this together, right?

Participants’ List: TweepML Participants’ List for #blogchat July 11th, 2010 – @marketingprofs

What the Hashtag: Transcript for #blogchat July 11th, 2010


Mack shared this list of tweetchats and it’s dreadful and awesome. Bookmark it!

  • Sue Anne Reed

    Great recap. I have a policy of not reading yours until after I write mine :)

    • Ian

      And I read yours as soon as it comes up! (And will link to it as soon as I get a moment!)

      I’d ask what you thought of the night’s festivities – but you’ve said. :)

  • Barbara Segal

    Thank you @IanMRountree! You uncovered “Top threeā€¯ steps a group should take before setting up a blog and launching. I so enjoyed your recap!

    • Ian

      Glad you liked it! Will we see you on #blogchat next week?

  • annhandley

    Great wrap-up Ian! I had a great time on #blogchat. As a newbie, wasn't sure what to expect. Was fast and furious and fun, for sure!

    The part about “voice” is tricky. I do think (as I said last night) that the notion of voice is a bit squishy and amorphous to bloggers. It's not as scary as it sounds, however: Really, it's not just about how you “sound” when you write; but it's really about how you express your brand. In other words, it's about figuring out who you are, and your unique perspective. (I talk about this in “Content Rules,” my book with CC Chapman linked above.)

    Thanks again for participating. Hope to bug Mack into letting me do it again.

    • Ian M Rountree

      Having had word from Mack – yes, I can't wait until the next time you're on!

      Perhaps Voice is the wrong word to express the notion. UVP (Unique Value Proposal) is too business-like, though. Like so many things dealing with creativity, there's just no way to properly lexiconize every portion. Voice is one of those things that I don't think can be mandated – but there's got to be a better way to guide writers through the process of developing their digital body language.

      So tricky! But so important!

      Thanks so much for stopping in to comment, Ann!

  • Marjorie Clayman

    I thought it was interesting how the topic of voice came up yet again. Seems to really give people pause, whether they are blogging individually or as part of a team effort.

    • Ian M Rountree

      Voice is one of those perennial topics that bloggers seem t focus on very heavily. Tone is as important to your unique value as a writer as your niche, your basic topic is.

      Thankfully, discussions on voice are more productive usually than SEO for blogs – but SEO for blogs is another one of the perennials. I'm sure there are really only four topics people write about concerning blogging as a practice; voice, community building, SEO, and external involvement. Everything seems to come back to these. Not a bad thing, just interesting to notice.

      So the question becomes – what's your voice? And, how intentional was the building of it?

  • Mack Collier

    Great recap Ian! And thanks again for all your participation and help in growing #blogchat!

    • Ian M Rountree

      Glad to help! #blogchat has such an awesome community around it, you've really done a wonderful thing for blogging as a whole. Who couldn't want to help such great work?