How We Blog - Behind The Scenes of the Arkus Blog
At Arkus we are a huge Google Apps shop. We use it for almost all of our document management needs and as a quasi-intranet. The beginning of the blog posting process is the Arkus blog calendar which is a Google Sheet. The sheet has the blogger’s name and topic along with a due date and a publish date. The due date is typically the week before the post is due to actually go live on the website. The calendar itself is actually planned out for the entire year with major timely events already filled in such as Salesforce releases and Dreamforce. It’s feasible that as a blogger you already know what you will be writing in August (in the middle of February). There is also a tab within the sheet for any ideas anyone within Arkus might have that they would like to blog about. As a matter of fact, this blog post was a suggestion from @forceDotMom. It was captured and put on the calendar months ago and now here it is.
The blog of course is first written in, you guessed it, a Google Doc. The doc provides the most flexibility when it comes to collaboration and sharing while also allowing for a rich writing experience. It’s recommended that the blogger starts writing their blog post a few weeks before it’s actually due since the calendar allows for planning with at least six to seven weeks in advance. We also try our best to write to web standards and keep to good SEO by linking to things we are writing about such as Ideas in the IdeaExchange, or helpful resources around Salesforce features. After all, the blog is primarily about Salesforce, even though some Gettings Things Done (GTD), as well as general technology and productivity do seem to creep into the topics from time to time. (Like in two weeks)
Once the blogger finishes their draft and has done their own editing they invite others from Arkus into the document utilizing the Google Docs Commenting feature. The team has at least three to four days to go into the doc, use the Suggestion feature to suggest changes to the post or use the commenting feature to point out certain changes that make sense. This is a truly collaborative writing effort seamlessly facilitated by Google Docs. For the most part the main structure of the bloggers post doesn’t change but it’s good to get more eyes on the post before publishing it to the world.
Publishing & Promoting
When a post has been completely signed off on by all the reviewers the blogger takes the post and moves it from Google Docs to our website Content Management System (CMS) called Plone. Every blogger has an account on Plone and has the ability to post new blog posts though they don’t have the ability to make them public. This is the job of a select few “webmasters”, myself included, who do the dirty work of clicking a button to make it live. Prior to sending the post for final publishing to the webmaster the blogger has a few tasks within the CMS.
- Find an image that suits the blog post and edit it to the proper size
- Tag the post with relevant tags that describe the post including the all important tag called “blog” which makes the CMS magic work
- Relate prior posts (generally the last three) that make sense to have within the related content section of the blog post
Once the post is public and made available on the web the Webmaster (Also king of social marketing) publicises it on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. The blogger takes the responsibility of posting it on the Salesforce Success Community and topics it and mentions all the right groups including the Blog Group (all these topics and tags are identified on the Google Doc prior to posting).
The following week on CloudFocus Weekly we use the blog post as content to talk about as our first topic. Seems like a lot but at this point it’s a really smooth and seamless process which has been working for a few years now and we very rarely if ever miss a week of getting a new blog post out and into the community.