In my niche strategy I outlined the purpose of the blog:
“To serve the business community in Cardiff, to highlight the political consequences of the spending cuts on the public. To map job losses and provide a platform for discussion on how to grow the private sector.”
Initially, I set out to achieve this by blogging about protests over spending cuts, starting a geo-tag google map of job losses and discussed issues such as business growth, entrepreneurship and online revenue. Gradually, however, I have found it beneficial to reflect on macroeconomic events and take a Cardiff angle on them.
I took an experimental approach to the blog, which has involved interviews, video coverage, weekly round-ups, data analysis, discussion and media scrutiny.
Over time, this approach resulted in a varied product, which did not conform to one particular style, although I found I particularly enjoyed interviewing Business in the Community (BITC) director Simon Harris and covering live events. The most successful posts tended to be about current affairs that affected people such as the heavy snow fall in December.
Snow brings Cardiff City Centre to a standstill
The blog site was used as a hub to incorporate the course blog and niche area as the two did overlap to a certain extent. I managed to post twice a week in the first term as planned, but have averaged around a post a week since the Christmas break. This change is mainly due to the fact that the niche blogs stopped after the end of the first semester.
I used self-generated videos and photos, but also some uploaded from youtube, embedded maps and links. The best results were achieved from uploading unique video content. I would hope to use this more in the future, as will be discussed below in the hit count analysis. Flikr was used sparingly, but Twitter was important in attracting an audience. Facebook was also useful, but attracted a different audience. SEO was important throughout as many of the posts attracted people searching for topical issues such as Egypt or the Celtic Tiger in Ireland.
The number of hits increased as momentum was maintained. A quiet period would see the number of views drop off. So I have learnt it is important to keep the blog updated on a regular basis, the more often the better. Embedded video in conjunction with facebook was successful in bringing a larger readership. One problem I found was that the readership on facebook is less business minded, and I would receive higher hit counts for articles that were more personal and less business related. Over time, the challenge would be to connect more with the business community, bringing more debates in the form of interviews to the site, to spark a string of comments.
Judging by the number of hits, self generated video content was the most successful in bringing an audience, but I found it a challenge to tap into the business community directly. More exclusive interviews would be needed to build up a larger following. A weekly business round-up would work well to provide a regular service, like an economic bulletin. Focusing on macroeconomic issues were interesting to write about but less effective in drawing readership from the business community. The analysis of macroeconomic issues was a useful exercise to explore the effects of global trends and explain them in an engaging way, but it ultimately it did not attract as many views as did raw content from the business community in Cardiff.
I think the initial proposal was ambitious and more time would be needed to build a blog to adequately serve the business community in Cardiff, although I do believe there is room for a rival to the recently launched Wales Online portal. A video based blog might work best for this.
Creating a blog has been enjoyable, and I hope to continue the project. The most effective blogging strategy, however, I think would involve gaining more exclusive content to complement reviews and reflections on financial media. This approach could be used as a template to bring to other cities to create a hyperlocal business community, maximising the use of twitter, but ultimately stemming from a well established business network to serve business people, covering the issues that affect them most.