Bev Perdue Embraces the Idea of Blogging, But Misses the Spirit

January 15, 2009

Social media and web 2.0 are the buzz of every industry nowadays, especially politics. After the success of online campaigns in 2008, every candidate and officeholder wants to appear forward thinking by having a social network, a YouTube channel, a blog, and other web 2.0 elements.

However, in the rush to have these features, many politicians haven't taken the time to understand and embrace the concepts behind them.

Bev's Site

The latest example is North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue's blog. As soon as it was launched, the blog was greeted with suspicious glares from legitimate bloggers such as RDU Doin. RDU points out that the blog falls short in some very critical elements, such as allowing comments and giving the option for an RSS feed. These are definitely two of the most important parts of a blog.

One of the main reasons a politician should start a blog is to spark conversation.  How does Gov. Perdue expect to have any dialogue with constituents if other people can't respond to posts and if there isn't an easy way to stay updated on the posts? Judging from the blog, it looks as if the Governor is not interested in actually communicating with constituents openly. That is the wrong approach to take when using a blog or other web 2.0 concepts.

Gov. Perdue is not alone -- many organizations that launch blogs make mistakes up front. That's why one of the most critical steps in launching a blog is actually engaging in the blogosphere for some time before publishing your own. Get a feel for the norms and standards of blogs and how they can help you interact with visitors.

While it's great to see politicians taking the next step and embracing the web, I hate to seem them insist on doing it on "their own terms." Joining a community (like the blogosphere) means exactly that; you giving up some of your autonomy in order to become a part of a group with whom you can interact. That's a scary concept for politicians who are used to always being in control, but it's a necessary step to be truly successful on the Internet.

The potential payoffs are far greater than the drawbacks. Did some crazy people comment on Obama's YouTube channel or MyBo site? Sure, they did. But that didn't slow the campaign down from breaking every online fundraising record ever established. He embraced all of the web, the good and the bad, and that unflinching adoption philosophy earned him the respect and dollars of the community.

Governor Perdue still has time to turn it around, but the changes better come quickly or else this blog will quickly do more damage than good. Here are some quick changes to right this social media wrong:

  • Allow comments so people can actually engage in a dialogue.
  • Make an RSS feed readily available, so constituents can easily keep up with blog updates
  • Categorize the different posts, so visitors can quickly jump to the categories that interest them
  • Have each post also be a separate page that can be opened when the title is clicked on. That will help with SEO and linkbuilding from other sites.

These are just some blogging basics that the Governor's office would have been more likely to have been aware of, had they spent some time interacting in the blogosphere before starting their own blog. However, these would be a great start to changing this uninspiring page they call a blog into a conversation-starting platform. Are there other organizations that have totally missed the boat on blogging? What are other ways for the Governor to improve her blog?

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