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What Henry Ford Can Teach Us About Blogging

Date published: May 09, 2013
Last updated: May 9, 2013

Never again would the automotive world – or manufacturing as a whole – be the same after Henry Ford brought forth his signature stroke of genius: the assembly line. Instead of handcrafted automobiles, Ford Motor Company could now mass produce vehicles by adding parts in a mechanized sequence that sped up the process exponentially.

Ford’s assembly line for the Ford Model T came in 1913. As we celebrate that achievement 100 years later, let’s consider how the assembly line concept can apply to something completely different: blogging.

Then mend it, dear Henry

Some undoubtedly find the thought of mass-produced blog posts abhorrent. Posts should be finely sculpted things – caressed with a writer’s loving touch over the course of many hours as the writer determines what his audience really wants him to say. That’s like a newspaper reporter missing a deadline because he can’t let go of a story. Know your audience, think metaphorically and write your posts in two hours or less.

Back to Ford’s assembly line. Ford had to gather all of the raw materials for the Model T and then figure out how to line up his workers in the right sequence so they could each add their parts in the most efficient manner. Let’s consider the raw materials needed for a blog post:

  • Ideas: Creativity is a valuable digital currency. Your post starts with an interesting idea.
  • Writing ability: You’ve got to locate the writing talent in your organization. Select the best writers and get them fired up about your blog. Find others with writing potential and nurture them with training, encouragement, and incentives.
  • Subject matter experience: You can’t fake this. If you’re writing about inbound marketing, you need to immerse yourself in the subject by reading other blog posts, talking to your peers, and, most importantly, learning from direct experience with client marketing campaigns.
  • Promotion: Publishing your blog post isn’t the final step. You need to promote it on your social profiles like Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. Create that spark of interest by being smart in how you promote (considering factors like the time of day and which social networks might work best for a particular piece of content). Encourage employees to share blog posts and monitor your analytics to see trends in how readers are consuming and interacting with your content.

Some assembly required

Now that we’ve considered the raw materials, let’s look at the assembly line process in terms of efficiency. How can you keep your blog filled with quality posts that are interesting to your audience?

Internal champions: Create a group of internal champions for your company blog. This group of bloggers and would-be bloggers should meet once a week to talk about topic ideas – challenging and encouraging each other to produce relevant posts that readers will want to share. Encourage each other to take risks and then don’t be afraid to do postmortems to see what posts worked, what posts didn’t, and why. Get someone from your marketing department to attend these bloggers’ club meetings and add upcoming posts to your company’s content calendar.

Vertical integration: Vertical integration in blogging means having an appropriate degree of control of the entire process from approving the writer’s initial idea to the promotion of the post after it’s published. It means having buy-in from as many people in the company as possible to contribute writing ideas, write blog posts, and encourage others to write or help promote published posts. It means knowing what’s in your pipeline of blog posts so that you can spice up the mix with guest blog posts from experts outside your company. And it means having the guts to say “No” to an idea or piece of content that doesn’t meet your standards.

Co-authorship: Sometimes writers get energized by working together. Encourage your bloggers to co-author pieces or divide up the work in another way such as one person writing and another providing research and editing. Sometimes people don’t want a byline, but they might still have subject matter knowledge and be willing to work behind the scenes.

Eyes on it: Make sure your company is serious about editing blog posts before they’re published. Most bloggers will edit their own posts before they submit them, but it’s still important to get more sets of eyes on the posts before publication; otherwise, you risk damaging the writer’s (and your company’s) credibility with silly mistakes. Also, errors that slip through can erode a writer’s trust over time and potentially make them less willing to contribute.

Do you agree with these ideas about blogging? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

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