20 November 2009

Improving our Blog Experience

I will be on travel over Thanksgiving visiting deployed Sailors to see how well we prepared them to support our CCDRs. As with this blog, getting direct feedback from the deckplates on how we're really doing has been important to me throughout my entire career. Since I will not have much opportunity to monitor my blog during the trip, I think now would be a good time to take a step back and evaluate what is, and is not, working on my blog.

Over the past five months, I have learned a lot about the challenges and rewards that come with hosting a blog. That said, while I am on travel, I would really appreciate it if you took the time to reflect on your blog experience (with mine and others) and comment on how I can improve it to reach more people and improve its value to you. Thanks and have a wonderful Thanksgiving! All the best, JCHjr


Benjamin Walthrop said...

Admiral Harvey,

Your blog has weighed in on some important topics, and the quality of the posts and issues raised provide important insight to your readership regarding ongoing leadership challenges and opportunities. The content of the replies in the comments section are also extremely valuable from my perspective.

Blogging is a contact "sport." Your blog appears to be following a pattern of a new post every 10-14 days. I believe that this dwell cycle is too long, and I would prefer to see more frequent posts.

Admiral Allen, USCG, seems to be posting every 1-2 days on average. As a new blogger myself, I understand that this is a challenging pace, but for first steps I recommend that 1-2 posts a week would add a bit more energy and dynamic interaction that the generations coming behind both of us seem to find more engaging.

Very Respectfully,

Teresa said...

As I am sure you know, it is very important to know your blog's audience and to engage your readers on a personal level. I, for one, would like to see this blog direct some of its focus pass the Norfolk main gate.

For example: you say that you are going to be meeting deployed sailors in a few weeks: take along your camera, post photographs on the blog of the sailors you meet, tell us something interesting about them. I would imagine that family members back home would LOVE to see that and would appreciate the fact that someone like yourself engaged their loved one directly.

Also, being a blogger for several years myself and blogging on several different platforms, I have developed a sense of what works and what doesn't. While your blog is fine in essentials, there are several key components that are missing.

I would recommend that you look to the bloggers that you admire and also look to the "power bloggers" with high readership. Think about adopting a few of their methods such as video & polling or take it to the next level by adding plugins and widgets such as a Twitter feed (if you tweet) or a library widget to tell us what books you're reading or would recommend. Those are just a few examples of what you can do.

Blogging is also a community activity. Link to a few more like-minded blogs, find those sailors that do blog and who have something interesting to say "us" and link to them; reach out to community leaders or media representatives that blog and link to them. There are so many possibilities.

As I said above, you've touched on the essentials; now it's time to expand and explore.

still Navy said...

Admiral, the two previous comments say it all. If you want to be successful at blogging, the subject matter needs to be "fresh" and controversial. I tend to visit and comment on the blogs that are more active and discuss matters that elicit an immediate response. I think I'd rather see a lot of smaller comments than the in-depth, comprehensive comments I see left now. Many of us do not understand the technology; never mind the minutia discussed. Your posting concerning the IA's seemed to energize the commenters, but they mostly were concerned with the lack of proper Navy digital cammy uniforms. Look at highly-successful bloggers like Jack Cafferty and others, and you will discover a common thread. They all tend to "drop a bomb" on the reader and when the smoke clears, they solicit comments on the "bomb."
Thanks for caring about the things that concern us! It is a refreshing departure from the past methods and one that will eventually yield huge benefits and information you wouldn't have normally gotten from both ends of the chain of command.

ADM J. C. Harvey, Jr said...

Thanks very much for the comments. I hope I get some others soon - good stuff to think about on the long plane rides over here in Africa and the Mideast!
I'm in Djibouti to visit with our Sailors in CJTF-HOA and will be heading to Bahrain, Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan. While in the region, I'll enjoy Thanksgiving dinner with our Expeditionary Sailors. All the best and happy Thanksgiving, JCHjr

Byron said...

Thanks for being the kind of Admiral that leaves his home to be with the sailors who are far from home this Thanksgiving. BZ, ADM Harvey!

Cap'n Bill said...

What a long and interesting trip! After you return please give this group of fans a look into the lessons of all that travel.

ADM J. C. Harvey, Jr said...

For Still Navy - the purpose of this blog is to communicate and educate; primarily for me to communicate with Fleet Forces and for Fleet Forces to educate me. "Bomb-dropping" to elicit comments smacks of sensationalism for its own sake and is not where I intend to go. My purpose is to elicit in-depth comments on issues of significant concern and use these comments to better do my job and to help me guide my staff.

Teresa - you make some good points, but they seem to be aimed more at sustaining a "Facebook-type" experience, ie primarily establishing an emotional connection instead of conducting an intellectual engagement.
My goal is not "show and tell", but "engage and learn."

For Benjamin Walthrop - I agree with you. I need to get to one post per week.

All the best, JCHjr

EM1(SS) Tugboat said...

The idea of linking to 'like-minded' blogs is good for most blogs, but the Admiral is not in a position where he can link to a lot of other blogs; this is his blog in his official capacity, and as such, he can't endorse things that he has no control over the content of. I would like to see what you're reading, or see a book list of goals for the year to come. Some links to other official blogs, as well as stuff like the CNO's reading list, etc would be good additions to your blog, I think. Also, links to things like the recently released ONI papers on Iran and China, etc... would perhaps spur some discussion.
Admiral, I want to add my approbation of your travelling to see your deployed sailors on a holiday when I'm sure that your own family would like you home. BZ, sir.