KM on a dollar a day

Musing on knowledge management, aid and development with limited resources

Differences between internal and external blogging

with 4 comments

Over the past few months since taking up my new job, I’ve been running a little comparison to see how sharing the same content in different ways can get different reactions. In particular I’ve been comparing the reactions I get to blog posts when I share them within the UN system via UNDP’s Teamworks platform, and by sharing them externally via my personal blog (Teamworks helpfully includes page views on contributed content which allows for this).

Here’s a quick comparison for three recent blog posts:

1. Social networking lessons from Booz-Allen Hamilton a blog post which summarizes a presentation I attended organized by UNDP’s KM team (so one for which you would assume there are a fairly large internal audience):

Teamworks: 39 views, 1 recommendation, 4 cross posts (other than by me), 3 comments

External blog: 378 site views, 17 tweets, 2 facebook shares, 1 comment

2. Write it down! a blog post about the importance of writing down and sharing lessons learned.

Teamworks: 44 views, 2 recommendations, 5 cross posts, 2 comments

External blog: 292 site views, 22 tweets, 7 comments

3. The heart of co-ordination on UN co-ordination!

Teamworks: 42 views, 1 recommendation, 4 cross posts, 1 comment

External blog: 309 site views, 9 tweets, 6 facebook shares, 8 comments (including some from current and former UN staffers)

The results would be similar if I had taken other older posts. What do I conclude from the comparison?

  • External blogging reaches a larger and more diverse audience (i.e. people outside the organization). Based on comments and subscriptions this does however include a number of current and former UN staffers, including some who are users of our internal systems.
  • Generally speaking there is a greater level of interaction through commenting and cross posting externally than internally – but this isn’t always the case.
  • The nature of the comments is qualitatively different. This is harder to characterize, but my general impression is that external comments are more likely to be critical, bringing in more diverse perspectives whereas internally we seem to be mostly more polite about expressing disagreement.
  • If you want to reach professional peers or like-minded individuals from beyond your own organization (but mostly the tech-savvy ones), or to promote your and your organization’s work externally, and also to get critical feedback then external blogging is the way to go. It’s also a good way to build your personal online brand and build external professional networks.
  • If you want to reach colleagues to learn from and also influence them then internal blogging is the way to go. While you might reach a larger audience through an external blog – your contributions might well have a more direct impact internally where it might be easier to directly apply learnings from the discussion into our work. The main challenge at the moment might be that consumption of content on our internal tools is still relatively low  – once more people are regularly reading and contributing then this effect could be much greater.
  • It’s possible to write content that serves both channels and purposes without too much adaptation. I therefore think it is worthwhile to share content both internally and externally (noting that some content might only be suitable for one or the other) – it can be very satisfying and open you up to different points of view you might not come across as often if you stay within the house – although it’s still a challenge to persuade many staffers to do either.
  • Another thought that occurs to me is about building networks – I’ve been blogging for just over a year now and am also active on twitter whereas I’m new in my current job and just starting to build networks there so the people I can reach and their interest in engaging with me are different.

Any thoughts from others who blog internally and externally on how they are different?

(Note: this is an adaptation and update of a blog post I shared internally to try to stir up some discussion about why we might need to also share externally not only post things on our internal systems)

Written by Ian Thorpe

January 9, 2012 at 8:58 am

4 Responses

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  1. Hi Ian, the first thought that came to me was that it is also linked to your reputation..and the habits of your colleagues. Do you have a process in place to make sure the external feedback is also feeding into the organisation?

    Joitske Hulsebosch

    January 10, 2012 at 3:15 am

  2. […] 2. Internal personal/professional blogging – this is what a lot of organizations start out with and what we had in UNICEF and what UNDP has with UN Teamworks. It’s a good introduction to get staff to share their experiences with each other, and doesn’t require editing or training. It’s a good “safe” starting place to get people comfortable with blogging – but it isn’t as good as blogging to the outside world  – here’s why. […]

  3. […] the internal dialogue with the real development conversations taking place “out there” (see here for a comparison of internal and external blogging I did some time […]

  4. […] We were able to get a rough blogging platform up on our intranet using  Lotus Notes (back in 2005/2006), so a few colleagues and I started blogging about interesting developments in aid for an internal audience. But blogging regularly is a challenge – and doing it externally is even more daunting (see how infrequently I’ve been posting these days!), while my experience with blogging internally made me wonder if I was mostly talking to myself. […]


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