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What your future employees need to know about blogging

September 21, 2015

Photo: velkr0 (CC)

Photo: velkr0 (CC)

I’m speaking to a class on social media marketing at a local college this week. They want to know about blogging in 2015, and I’ve got 40-ish minutes to talk.

What should today’s kids know about blogging that will help them in the working world? You’d be surprised how few engage in it: Most, I have found, do social, but content creation and Tumblr are unpopular.

College can be an excellent opportunity for students to learn and practice skills for that first job following graduation. Here’s a suggested path …

1. Blogging is a tool. Like other tools, it can be used for many objectives, with imagination as the only limitation. It’s a simple tool to master, but requires some diligence and experimentation to use it well.

It may stick around for 10 years or disappear by graduation. Becoming a better blogger can help in other areas, such as SEO, content marketing, audience engagement, sales and customer service. Blogging isn’t always the right tool for the job, but it helps to at least have it in the toolbox.

As a corollary to this, writing is also a tool. I’m biased as a lifelong writer, but I feel writing is one of the most important tools to learn. It is endlessly useful, no matter what career a student picks.

2. Storytelling is a trend. It’s the In thing in marketing circles, though I feel we’re moving on to the next In thing. Engaging strangers through a blog requires good storytelling skills: featuring relatable characters, identifying problems, showing how the protagonist overcomes them, incorporating emotions.

This goes deeper than mere calls to action, or identifying target audiences. This is about sharing a message through a technique as old as humanity.

Students who can tell stories — through blogs, Snapchat, Powerpoint presentations, listicles and 10-second preroll spots — will help their companies connect with audiences more effectively. Writing for the college newspaper (or public relations office) can be a terrific way to practice how to tell stories on deadline.

Who’s qualified to teach social media?

3. Connecting with people is forever. One important reason people use social media is to connect with others. That might also be the reason someone posts on a blog, or reads a blog.

Great marketing is about building those relationships with strangers quickly and authentically. We’ll always have new digital tools at our disposal, and audience habits will continue to evolve faster and faster.

A graduate in her first job may not be there long enough to see blogging pay off. Does she aim for quick results and returns, or establish the groundwork in blogging so that the next person can continue the deployment and reap the rewards?

Blogging is neither fast nor cheap, as it requires lots of time and a consistency that many find challenging. But the results can be remarkable: lifelong customers, top search traffic and enhanced brand reputation.

Let these social media-savvy students go forth and help their companies prosper online and offline.

• • •

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. September 21, 2015 9:23 am

    Good luck with your lecture.

    I was trying to teach blogging and WordPress basics and got a lot of disinterest from most students.

    Although one of the nicest notes I got when I left was from a student that I helped on numerous occasions set-up and configure her self-hosted WordPress blog (and one for her sister).

    I required blogging in several courses I taught and most did the bare minimum. If I didn’t require a certain type of heading in a post, I’d get posts with no headings. I had to specifically define “points” for various blog elements, or I’d get the minimum.

    After requiring students learn something about WordPress in a couple of iterations of social media practices, I switched to making the mechanics of WordPress optional. The last time I taught the course, I gave an optional in-depth presentation one class period on setting up a WordPress blog, the basics of SEO, how to format a post for SEO (difference between heading types, etc.) how to add UA tracking code to a theme. 3 students showed up.

    I wasn’t just lecturing about blogging and WordPress, I was actively requiring them to use a WordPress site that I set up for the course (it’s still online) and made blogging a regular part of each assignment. I also regularly gave handouts of screenshots as “how-to’s” and would log in to the dashboard of my own sites to demonstrate.

    Hope you can convince this group that it’s a valuable skill that matters.

    • September 21, 2015 8:58 pm

      Thanks for your comment and encouragement.

      With only 40 minutes, my goal is not to convince anyone that blogging matters. It’s simply to fill 40 minutes. As mentioned in the post, blogging is but one of many tools available to marketers.


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