February will be a month of experimentation here on the Blog. I’m going to try a “Blog a day” format Monday thru Friday, to find out if that schedule is a) useful to you, the readers and b) sustainable (as in, can I keep up that pace?) Today's post looks at why I'm starting this experiment, what I will try, and how you can help.
CFM is largely a child of the Internet. The Alliance launched this "Skunkworks and R&D lab" at the perfect time. In 2008 social media usage was just taking off. providing us with a plethora of inexpensive, accessible ways to broadcast content.
|Graph from D. Steven White|
While I can’t claim to have even looked at all of the platforms out there, I’ve tried a bunch. Currently I’m using Blogger for text content, YouTube for video (though less frequently than when we launched), Pinterest for images and Twitter to broadcast links about news, resources and opportunities. I’ve tried some platforms that didn’t pan out. (Vine just doesn’t seem applicable to CFM content. I don’t take enough interesting, topical pictures to justify a CFM Instagram account.)
This year I will be focus on optimizing the use of the platforms CFM does use on a regular basis, as well as trying out a few new platforms (suggestions welcome).
One component of this work plan is figuring out how to optimize the impact of this Blog. I recently posted a summary of what I’ve learned about building blog readership. Now I’m trying to learn more. For example, I found this article, which concludes the optimal number of (good, relevant) posts per week is four. So I’m going to try the following schedule in February:
- Monday Musings—a short commentary on something I've read in the news (possibly an item from the previous week's edition of our Dispatches e-newsletter), sharing thoughts on the significance of the article to museums.
- Tuesday reserved for the featured essay—by me or by a guest blogger.
- Wordless Wednesday—a format I’ve seen, and liked, on other blogs. This will share an “image of the future” from CFM’s Pinterest boards, hopefully though provoking in and of itself, with a link to the source if you want to read more. (Since this is wordless, I’m not counting it towards the “4” post optimum.)
- Throwback Thursday—another format I’m borrowing from other blogs. Readership of blog posts tails off really fast, even if the content is still relevant. A lot of the CFM Blog traffic is driven by Dispatches or Twitter, and those referrals drop off very quickly—generally within a few days. (Here one blogger’s advice on using Twitter to drive blog traffic.) I am going to pick the “best of” old posts, with a brief note on how they relate to current events.
- Futurist Friday—a post featuring recommending reading, viewing or listening resources to expand your thinking and fuel your forecasting.
I’ve experimented with most of these formats already: you can catch up with past Monday posts (which I’ve variously called Musings or Musing) and Futurist Fridays. I especially like the Friday posts--they are a fun way to end the week.
What’s my motivation for this experiment? Build traffic, for one—both increasing the number of readers and cultivating the consistency with which they check in with the Blog. As the Blog is one of the major ways for CFM to spread news, research, thoughts, and opportunities, I want to extend its reach as much as possible.
Second—bolster the Center’s economic viability. I am hoping that, with enough traffic, I can convince a sponsor that having their name associated with the Blog would be good value for their money. That would help supplement the income Alliance members provide to support CFM (here is a post on the CFM business model, if you are curious.)
My metrics will be page hits per month (compared to February 2013, when we had 8,347 visits, 6,272 unique visitors and 11,699 page views), and ripple effects on other social media, such as the number of CFM Pinterest followers (I hope Wordless Wednesday hooks some new users on this format). I’ll report out on these numbers at the end of the month, when I decide which of the formats to retain on a regular or occasional basis, and whether I can keep up this pace of posting!
Your comments about what you value on this Blog would be much appreciated, as well as suggestions regarding content, guests bloggers and format.
Yours from the future