Defining the Role of a Blogger

April 20, 2009
By Lisa Barone in Content Strategy

Okay, let’s all take a breath. It’s a new week and I have something I want you to read. It’s a tweet I Favorited last month from Michael Gray.

Michael’s really good at tweeting sound bytes that stop you in your tracks. And that was one of them for me. Because that’s how I view my job. That’s what I think my role is on this blog: To make it interesting.

Truthfully, I think that’s the role of any good blogger. To make the conversation interesting and to challenge you each time you visit. It’s to invoke something in you and do my damnedest not to jump off the cliff in the process, even if I maybe, sometimes walk the edge a little.

It’s funny; I get told a lot that I’m “just a blogger”.  You saw it happen in the comments of Friday’s post. And make no mistake, it’s meant as a derogatory statement. It means that I’m irresponsible and a bottom feeder. It means that all I care about is causing controversy for the sake of comments. It means I’m only after attention and links. And as offensive as I find that to me personally, I think it’s even more offensive to you, the readers of blogs. Because it makes some assumptions as to your intelligence and your inability to recognize bait from substance.

I don’t buy into that. I never have. I don’t think that’s what blogging is.

I wonder a lot what other companies have in mind when they start a blog and elect someone to be its caretaker. I wonder if they want real conversation, to rally the troops, to put out their own fires, or just to regurgitate the news in a safe way that gives the illusion that they’re participating. I’ve come to the conclusion that most blogs want the latter. They want to speak in soft, soothing tones so that they get credit for blogging without taking any of the risk. Even if they won’t admit that’s what they want. But that’s not me. And, in my opinion, it doesn’t bring value to anyone or anything.

I think good bloggers find ways to constantly challenge you. They find ways to constantly be opening up that dialogue. And that’s what their role should be. There aren’t any rules to being a blogger (not really, anyway) or any definitions as to what it really means, but if I were to write an abbreviated blogger code of conduct, it’d look something like this.

As your blogger,

  • I will try to offer up viewpoints that perhaps you hadn’t thought of in order to get people talking and open a conversation.
  • I’ll do my best to be useful, creating resources worth your bookmarks. (See last week’s post on how to launch that small business Web site.)
  • I’ll tie events together to create a story you perhaps didn’t see.
  • I’ll take a polarizing stand if it’ll get you to think about things differently and question yourself for good, not just because I’m bored or because I can.
  • I’ll craft posts in a tone most appropriate for the subject matter, even if it means I’ll be written off as “sensational” for my choice of language. I’ll use my language as a tool to open people up, not a weapon.
  • I will never make links or fake debate my end goal.
  • I’ll bring attention to causes, issues and news that I think are important or that will benefit you.
  • And I’ll do it while being responsible and accountable for my words.

In a nutshell, that’s what being a blogger is about to me. It’s about being interesting, being useful and to respect your readers enough to challenge them when necessary.Or at least that’s the role I try to fill.

Corporations need to identify the role they want their blogger to take before launching them into the blogosphere. What do you want your blogger to do? You need to create yourself a road map so no one gets themselves into trouble. Are they a publisher? A news gatherer? Social media pusher? Conversation starter? Link getter? Fire starter? How should they respond in heated situations? Or should they respond?

Corporations are going to define the role of a blogger differently. It’s important to know how your business does and what your objectives are in that job. This way, when someone tells you that you’re “just a blogger”, the only response is “thank you”.

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