What's involved? For the small staff of the American Evaluation Association, finding a way to let members connect with one another was a top priority when it started AEA365: Tip-a-Day Alerts, says Susan Kistler, executive director of AEA. Launched on January 1, 2010, AEA365has delivered daily blog posts that share expertise, lessons learned, and resources from staff and members. The blog is open to the public, and its subscriber base has grown from 760 in the first six months to 2,234 current followers.
A volunteer group of four to five members manages the blog, which includes working with contributors to develop posts and editing entries as necessary. Last year there were more than 280 contributors.
During the blog's first few months, staff struggled to get even a few days ahead of schedule for posts, but in year two "we're in the other direction, where we have plenty of content. Next year we need to think about managing the content flow."
What are people saying? Kistler says AEA staff has learned that the blog has been a good tool for external outreach, and many members who write for the blog end up promoting AEA events or resources. Kistler says an additional benefit is the archive of blog posts. "Something we hadn't really thought about is that the archive is a huge resource, because it now contains 500 tips. We refer people to it all the time."
Kistler says the blog engages more diverse members to contribute. "One thing that is really cool about it is that it has given our members a voice. We have tons of people there who we haven't heard from before. It's giving an outlet for people who may not otherwise participate. … If you were just trying to set up a blog for your membership, I would say the key is to have really good content, and I think that the way to have really good content is to get it from your members. … They are the best voices."