In this age of widening economic disparity, the co-operative values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity are more vital than ever. But the message is being drowned out by corporate domination of all media types. Co-operatives, therefore, need to blog for several reasons – to educate, create awareness, and, importantly, to cement their own identity. Every movement needs to publish its manifesto and a blog provides an affordable and easy outlet for co-ops to collectively do so. Leaping in to the blogoshpere without a plan, however, is unadvisable, as it is unlikely that the message will be heard over the wall of corporate noise. I recommend following these blogging best practices to ensure maximum volume and impact.
It is important to share quality content, but more so, it is critical to do so consistently. Before launching a blog, a co-op should select a host of potential topics, such as “how to’s” or “behind the scenes” posts, and set a manageable timetable for both when to work on and when to share posts. A calendar should be utilized and shared within the organization so that every can help contribute to and promote the blog.
Co-ops are a vital economic counterpoint to shareholder owned corporations and now is their moment to shine. According to Nancy Folbre, economics professor at UMass, “cooperative enterprises play an enormously important role in our economic system, one that is likely to grow in decades to come”. To help facilitate that growth co-ops need to have a plan when it comes to blogging. Posting in inconsistent spurts will lead to a muddled message. A dozen posts at the beginning of the year, followed by 6 months of nothing will have members and potential members wondering if your co-op is still active. A blog should be your co-ops pulse; it should show others you are alive and kicking and as such it needs to have a regular beat.
In addition to consistency another best practice is simplicity. According to Copyblogger, “readers don’t want abstract principles or theoretical discussions. Sure, they may be interested in understanding the why…but they also want to know what to do”. Now, co-ops’ value lies in abstract principles, so I do believe there is a place for such discussions, but the point is your regular cycle of content needs to be informative, and searchable. A potential member is unlikely to be searching for “how equity is shared in a co-op” and come across your blog. Co-ops need to answer their members and potential members’ questions. For example, a simple post about local in-season fruits and vegetables might answer questions for potential members of a food co-op. Or a post about building credit might prove valuable for members and potential members of a credit union. The hope is that someone looking for answers to questions on these topics will stumble upon your expert answers.
To help with SEO, co-ops need to come out with strong titles, hooks, and be succinct, according to Joe Hall in Copypress. But importantly, they need to have a strong point of difference. By equating your co-op with the shared co-operative values, I believe, a strong point of difference will naturally emerge. In structure and values co-operatives are unique, and that is primarily what a co-op blog should be celebrating. This will be the decade of the co-operative, so let’s start writing about it and let everyone know.