Conversation Agent: What makes a blog worthwhile?

Blogging-AndyPiperAs an interlude to my Friday Five series on why higher ed institutions should embrace blogging (Part 1 posted last Friday, Part 2 will show up this Friday), here’s a terrific post by Valeria Maltoni (Conversation Agent) on what makes a blog worthwhile.

It’s a great question, especially for those of us who are thinking about how blogs add value — or should add value — to the online experience our institutions try to create for our audiences.

Valeria shares several good ideas here about what makes a blog worth visiting and revisiting. But the key, to me, lies in Valeria’s suggestion that bloggers should consider the needs of their customers as a top priority.

I would broaden that a bit for the higher ed crowd and suggest that our audiences’ needs are pivotal. (Or if you prefer to think of customers as audiences, that’s fine by me.)

I try to keep the audience in mind here — although I admit that on occasion I will veer into realms beyond the stated mission of this blog. Maybe that’s a luxury a “personal” blog like this one can afford. But if you’re blogging primarily for your business or your college or university, you should probably retain more focus.

Some of my favorite higher ed blogs stick very closely to their areas of expertise, and that is both enjoyable and reliable. I can count on Dave Olsen to stay on topic with his Mobile In Higher Ed, and the .eduGuru gang is pretty consistent on sticking to web-based higher ed stuff. Likewise, Karine Joly keeps College Web Editor homed in on higher ed and the web, and Andy Shaindlin focuses on alumni relations topics on his Alumni Futures blog.

Yet some of my other favorite higher ed bloggers skip around a bit. Over at Inside Tim’s Head, Tim Nekritz will crank out a series on location-based social media services or share a social media inventory, then the next thing I know he’s writing about roller derby. I read the blogs of Chris Syme, Georgy Cohen and Ron Bronson for the same serendipitous experience. I never know what I’m going to get, exactly, but I know that it will likely be a good and enjoyable, thought-provoking read.

This was one of the points in my post from February 2011, In praise of open systems. As much as I love the reliability of bloggers who stay consistent in their focus, I also love the fact that the web is a place where I can find interesting topics on subjects beyond my realm of expertise.

Which ties in to another point Valeria makes in her post: “[T]he most interesting content is the topic you like.” I guess it goes back to that adage for wannabe novelists: Write what you know.

What makes a blog worthwhile? A combination of focus, dependability and serendipity. That’s my take. At the moment, anyway.

What do you think? What makes a blog worthwhile?

Photo credit: Andy Piper via Flickr

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Author: andrewcareaga

Higher ed PR and marketing guy. Communications director for Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) in Rolla, Missouri, USA. Slow runner, mediocre guitarist, lover of music and puns, and an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan. I blog and Tweet about #highered, #music, #gocards and #random stuff.

4 thoughts on “Conversation Agent: What makes a blog worthwhile?”

  1. Agree totally on the “what interests me” factor. I read an eclectic mix of blogs–my RSS reader looks like my Pandora–all over the place sometimes. I think I like commenting almost as much as writing a blog. I am interested in what other people have to say about what interests and befuddles me. And I appreciate people who write well, content aside. That’s what makes me drift away to lifestyle blogs every once in a while (like Pioneer Woman).

  2. I appreciate the fact that you like to comment, Chris. I should be more active as a commenter, too. I think twitter has made me less focused on interacting with blogs via comments and more focused on interacting with the bloggers via Twitter. But blog comments have more of a sense of permanence than the more ethereal Twitter exchanges (even though they too are archived).

    Thanks for commenting. ;)

  3. I agree! The reliability of topics is great. And all of the blogs listed above are all written by one person which makes it easier to focus the topic.

    But it also depends on the relativity of the word, focus. The blogs above are great and I read them religiously too, but how is focus determined. Many of those above speak to a specific to a specific niche, while other focus on a specific genre or general subject matter and written by several people like marketing department blogs in higher ed or a web unit at a college (like U of Michigan Flints University Relations blog). These multi-person blogs tend to focus on a larger genre and bring in a wider range of topics in a general topic.

  4. Aw, thanks Andrew! I’ve created a whole separate blog for my roller derby education, but I thought that one topic also touched on the kinds of things I write on the other blog. And sometimes I slip in musical reviews too … but you’re OK with that, I’m sure. ; )

    Great series! I’m enjoying it!

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