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At its core, The Brainzooming Group helps organizations become more successful by rapidly expanding the range of strategic options they consider. We then help them prioritize and plan for implementing the strongest alternative. Since many organizations are challenged right now in determining what social networking means for them, we’re doing lots of work on social media strategy.

We apply our strategy development methodology to social media to help clients get a quick handle on smart moves into social business. How quick? One client, after a full-day, multi-organization planning session said, “What we did today would have taken us six months on our own.”

That’s what we want to hear!

Adapting the Brainzooming methodology more specifically to social media strategy has triggered a lot of development and writing in this area. To make our strategic thinking more accessible and valuable to you, here are 50 Brainzooming articles on multiple aspects of social media strategy. These posts will help you better address it from a broad, organizational perspective.

You won’t find an article on “How Do I Set up a Facebook Page” for my business.

What you will discover are very adaptable principles on how social media can work (or work harder and better) for your organization and its audiences. If you’d like to discuss specifics on what these ideas mean for your organization, let us know. We’d love to work with you! – Mike Brown

Core Strategy

Social Media Metrics and ROI

Social Media Listening

Building Relationships with an Audience

Content Marketing

Improving the Productivity and Impact of Your Social Media Implementation

Customer Interaction in the Age of Social Media

Social Media Policy and Guidelines

Using Social Media to Drive Innovation

Incorporating Social Media into Event Marketing

Rants – Don’t Believe the Social Media Hype

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we’ve developed  integrated social media strategy for other brands and can do the same for yours.


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Here’s a personal branding question worth considering:

  • How do you describe yourself to others?

Seems like there are three options. You can primarily describe yourself based on:

  • Who you are
  • Who you were
  • Who you’re going to become

This personal branding question struck me after looking at the Twitter profile of a writer formerly at a well-known business publication. She had been downsized along with many others as part of a cost cutting move. In her 19 word personal Twitter profile, 5 words described her interests, 5 stated where she’s working now, and 9 dealt with her former job.

Nothing’s wrong with that necessarily, but it makes it seem as if she’s a lot more invested in what she had been doing than what she’s doing now or where she’s headed in her future.

When I describe myself to others, it’s primarily about where I am, with a little bit of what I was, and really nothing of what I hope to become. In fact, using my “Brainzooming” Twitter profile to judge, only 4 words talk about where I am now, with the other 8 words pointed toward what can be found at this website.

That doesn’t really cut it.

My challenge is creating a new description that incorporates where I’m headed along with more personal sharing about who I am as a person, not just a business.

How about you? How do you describe yourself?Mike Brown

If you’d like to add an interactive, educationally-stimulating presentation on strategy, innovation, personal branding, social media or a variety of other topics to your event, Mike Brown is the answer. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how Mike can get your audience members Brainzooming!

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Yesterday, I gave you my top 10 favorite Brainzooming blog posts for 2010. It prompted me to look at the most viewed articles for 2010 on Brainzooming.com. Here are those which received the most page views throughout the year:

1. 7 Extreme Creativity Lessons from “Cake Boss”

2. Social Media Productivity – 13 Tips to Maximize Your Time

3. Creative Block? 26 Ways to Get Your Brainzooming When Creativity Is Blocked

4. 6 Social Media Metrics You Should Be Tracking

5. 16 Creative Ways to Supercharge Presentations

6. 16 Social Media Tactics for Building an Audience

7. Innovation Metrics – A Whole Brain Strategy

8. The Value of Brainstorming for Innovative Business Ideas

9. 20 Strategies for Making Your Solo Social Media Effort More Successful

10. “Taking the NO Out of Business InNOvation” 10 NO’s Blocking Business Innovation

A couple of notes about the posts:

  • 8 of the top 10 are list posts. This provides support for the oft-heard advice that putting a number in a blog title increases the attention it gets.
  • 4 of the 10 are social media-related. That’s significant, but somehow, I thought it would be an even higher number.
  • Six are related to innovation or creativity. I’ve been concerned that the blog may be veering too far from its original subject parameters of strategy, creativity, and innovation. This suggests to me it hasn’t strayed as much as I’d suspected.
  • Finally, only one of the top 10 (#4) made my list of favorites, and it would have been number 10 if I’d ordered them by preference. Interestingly, my favorites always tend to be story-focused. This list looks a lot more like the lesson oriented and how-to based posts I consider the heart of Brainzooming.

Again, thanks for reading and let me know what thoughts you have on this list or future content directions! – Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

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I didn’t create a personal top ten favorite Brainzooming blog posts list in 2009. That’s probably because it takes longer than you’d ever think it should to prepare one. Yet it seemed the right time for one in 2010 since this year has been filled with so much change, learning, and growth.

My approach in selecting these posts was no more scientific than making several passes through every post from 2010 to narrow the list to those having the most memorable impact on me.

It was only after the list was narrowed to ten posts that the general themes of “connections” and “new types of friendships” were evident to me. In thinking about 2010, however, no themes could have been more appropriate. Here’s a walk back through 2010 from a Brainzooming point of view:

1. Whenever I Call You FriendJanuary 11

This early 2010 reflection touches on how social media has changed my view of what a friend is. Little did I know then, it would set the stage for my favorite posts throughout the rest of 2010. The connections to truly remarkable people around the globe that have developed through social networking would have been hard to imagine 10 years ago. For that reason alone, I’m glad 2010 finally arrived.

2. In Praise of a Holistic Team StrategyMarch 29

One of my favorite things about long-time friend and strategic mentor Chuck Dymer is his incredible ability to take every day events and highlight the lessons they reveal. Chuck emailed me after this post remarking about the connection I’d drawn between reading a part of the Palm Sunday passion narrative and the importance of team members practicing every part of their team’s activity. That email recognition was a huge compliment coming from Chuck!

3. Two Lessons and Two Goodbyes May 10

This post was intensely personal, written the night Coco (“my cat”) passed away after a protracted illness. I tried to pull some Brainzooming-appropriate lessons from her adoption story to justify publishing it, but the accompanying video is what I keep coming back to in the months since. Our remaining cat Clementine (who Twitter friends have named “Director of Enthusiasm” at The Brainzooming Group) spontaneously reacted to a video of CoCo I was watching by pawing at the screen. After she walks off, she then walks into the previously shot video to see Coco. There’s no way to plan this stuff out!

4. 6 Social Media Metrics You Should Be TrackingJuly 14

There are a whole variety of metrics for tracking blog traffic. And there are those stories of blogs reaching stupendous follower numbers very quickly because of dynamic content. When you’re in the midst of slowly growing an audience, however, it’s tough to know whether you’re on the mark or not with your content. This post, based on a slide in my social media strategy presentation, was picked up and published by Social Media Today. It’s had nearly 26 thousand views by the end of 2010. It was a reassuring confirmation that this post (at least) connected with a large audience!

5. Is a Smart Presenter Always Better?August 19

This story is a great example of how you can connect and mutually benefit others through social media. When I expressed frustration with a MarketingProfs virtual event presentation, Lauren Vargas of Radian 6, one of the presenters, reached out to initiate a conversation. We emailed perspectives back and forth, learned from one another, and have established a stronger connection which has certainly benefited me, and I hope, Lauren as well. Here’s to the new, smart friends social networking can help you develop!

6. Is Blogging Worth It?August 31

This is an instance of a much-appreciated respite from the solitary nature of blogging. Having a week where a number of people made the effort to reach out to let me know the blog had touched them in some way was perhaps my most blessed week of 2010. If what I’m writing isn’t helping someone, it’s not worth doing. You can’t necessarily put a quantitative measure on that principle, but it’s the most vital blogging metric for me.

7. Creatively & Interactively Shaping a Customer ExperienceSeptember 15

This video post shows some pure fun at a Hilton Hotel in Minneapolis, where new washrag animals appeared daily during my stay. It’s an example of a lasting connection where familiarity and bonding were created without benefit of direct, in-person contact. This story has easily earned a place in my creativity and innovation presentations as an example of a frontline employee taking the initiative to create a high-impact customer experience in a memorable, fun way.

8.  Humor and the Impact of Memorable ExperiencesOctober 6

Lynn Keenum always makes me laugh. Watch this video of him telling a story about Tom Peters. You’ll laugh too…especially if you’ve seen Tom Peters speak. This is one for my all-time smile file!

9.  The @MallofAmerica Is All Over Social Media ListeningNovember 8

You’d think I spent all my time in Minnesota this year since this is yet another Minneapolis-based post. Suffice it to say I’m a Mall of America fan, both for its in-person experience and the online connection they established with me by listening, reaching out, and interacting. Lisa Grimm, pr specialist at the Mall, has gone out of her way to solidify my fandom, confirming this story’s place in my social media strategy talks.

10.  All in God’s Time – A Christmas Look Back – December 23

Even though I was confident in leaving the corporate world when I did in 2009, there were still moments of apprehension about both the present and certainly the future. This account of a big confirmatory moment in early 2010 was testament to my most important lesson learned in 2010: everything’s connected to something, even if it isn’t apparent the moment it’s happening.

Summary

That’s a look back at 2010.

One additional recap comes from Joan Koerber-Walker and her #BeOriginal hashtag on Twitter. Joan has collected #BeOriginal tweets, and is sharing them. I’m flattered that the first one she published was a listing of some of my tweets. I’m so appreciative of it, because even I don’t remember a bunch of them!

With that, I better get started on 2011. Hope you’ll be there with me! – Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we’ve developed  integrated social media strategy for other brands and can do the same for yours.

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For those celebrating, it’s Christmas time! And if there’s a blogger on your Christmas list, here are 11 social media-related gift ideas in case you’re still wondering what to get them. Trust me, any blogger would be happy to receive any one of these great presents (hint, hint, hint).

What’s wonderful about the list too is that many of the gift ideas for bloggers extend beyond Christmas to provide joy and happiness throughout the coming year for your favorite writers! And most of the ideas don’t cost anything either!

And to make it even easier, there are links to many of the ideas in case Santa is wondering where to go or how to do them.

Hope this Christmas list helps you show your favorite bloggers how much you appreciate them all during the coming year!

Merry Christmas!

Mike

A Blogger Can Always Use More Readers

Sharing Your Perspectives

  • Comment on a post at least once a week during the coming year.
  • Pick a topic, set a date, and write a guest post.

Helping Spread the Message

  • Set up a Twitterfeed link to automatically tweet a link to the latest post published on the blog.
  • If you don’t want use Twitterfeed, retweet links to the blogger’s posts on Twitter. You can also share links to blog articles through other social sharing avenues (through all those little icons usually at the top or bottom of a post).

Connecting IRL

The Ultimate Support

  • Buy/use the services or products offered on their website.
  • Recommend their products or services to others who might benefit from them. – Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we’ve developed  integrated social media strategy for other brands and can do the same for yours.

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This Christmas reflection on God’s time is adapted from another blog I write called Aligning Your Life’s Work. The blog covers much of the same territory as Brainzooming, but from a decidedly spiritual perspective. I start nearly every business day at church because my faith is the most important thing in my life. It is truly an incredible way to start the business day. This year, it’s helped me better understand that in every circumstance, things have to all unfold in God’s time:


It can be difficult to understand when and how God is actively working in your life. As a result, I pray often to be open to participating in whatever divine plan should be guiding our lives. Despite the inherent challenges, something happened early in 2010 where the bigger picture was so clear, even I could see it.

Leaving a big corporate job in the fall of 2009 was a major test of faith. I firmly believe God created the situation and asked, “Are you willing to make the right decision for others and surrender your will?” Through prayer and consideration, the opportunity for my departure to allow several people to keep their jobs became clear. There was no choice but to leave if I wanted to be true to my life’s core purpose.

Since then, despite challenges, I’m at complete peace with the decision. In so many ways, God has placed signs along the way signaling, “I’m watching out for you. Believe.”

Early in 2010, even with the progress on the business at its start, it was clear we needed to secure a significant project. At that same time, Lent was approaching. During this period, we are called annually to a life of greater prayer, sacrifice, and giving to others. For part of our Lenten giving, I committed to donate a certain portion of a new project’s fee to EWTN, the Catholic television network, which has been a tremendous blessing in my spiritual life for years.
Sure enough a potential project in the works for months came to fruition as Lent started. True to the commitment, Cyndi and I made an online donation to EWTN of $500. While it would have been comforting to keep the money, it was a vital promise to fulfill.

One Thursday a couple of weeks later, we received an envelope from EWTN with a receipt and a note saying we’d be remembered in their prayers during the first week in April.

In the same mail was another envelope, this one was from our insurance company. It referenced a car accident we had in August 2004. Headed to an outdoor theater, our car was t-boned (and totaled) by a big, old pickup driven by a driver with no insurance, no license, no tags, and no apparent inclination to yield the right of way.Thankfully, no one was hurt, although we were stuck in a bad part of town with an inoperable car, a dying cell phone, and a need to find a ride home. Cyndi’s sister was traveling through town, however, and came to get us. As we waited, the Kansas City police officer stayed at the scene much longer than he would have had to, watching out for us. So beyond missing the show, having to find a new car, and covering the deductible because of the other driver’s lack of insurance, we were really none the worse for wear.

The insurance company’s letter let us know the pickup’s driver was now making payments. Because of his commitment to repay the debt, the letter contained a check for $500, refunding our deductible!

Okay, I may be tremendously dense, but even I could put all this together.

Think about it. We pray and expect God to answer immediately, not appreciating that God doesn’t (and doesn’t have to) act on our timing to provide for us according to His plan and His will.

In this case, an apparently random (and potentially tragic) event five and a half years previously (which was no more than a nuisance) had to occur to allow God to care for us at a time when $500 had taken on much greater importance.

This wasn’t t the first time something like that has happened since leaving my job. A number of times, just what we needed, whether financial or simply a word of encouragement, has arrived at exactly the right time.

The message?

Pray for the foresight to get out of God’s way and allow Him to direct you. Then be prepared and patient to allow the plan to unfold, even when it’s not clear what it all means. Because you know what? It doesn’t matter if you understand it; God understands it. And that’s what matters.

That’s a wrap on the “planned” Brainzooming blog posts for 2010. There may well posts next week, but I have to shift attention to a book proposal that’s been on my to-do list for WAY too long this year.

It’s also the time to put in some more thinking and planning about 2011 and where to place our priorities in the coming year. And yes, I use all the tools shared here on Brainzooming to do our own planning!

One last note though: this story I found last night about someone who received a gift this Christmas that also came at exactly the right time for them, and how they’ll look to pass on the same gift to someone else next year.

Best wishes from The Brainzooming Group to you and your families for a Merry Christmas and a wonderful holiday season! Mike Brown

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Back home over Thanksgiving, my mother and I talked about coming up with creative ideas for dealing with the collection of books I bought during high school that are still left at their house. The books include both great literature and big coffee table art books. Quite honestly, we have no room for them at our house or any interest in lugging them back to Kansas City.

Beyond my books, there are also hundreds of old books my dad bought to fill the newly installed shelves of the remodeled home when we first moved in years ago.

My best creative thinking was to sell all of them together and hope to get $15 for the whole lot. It’s sad, especially given how much money I spent on them originally, but they are, after all, simply old, used books.

Obviously though, I wasn’t being very creative with my idea.

A few days later, Cyndi and I visited C.S. Post, an intriguing store located in downtown Hays, KS that you wouldn’t be surprised to find in NYC. Started more than 10 years ago in conjunction with a restoration of downtown Hays, its owner designs furniture featured in popular design magazines and sold around the world. Go figure that this creative vision springs from a small Northwest Kansas town.

Nonetheless, it’s clear the C.S. Post folks are very creative when it comes to boosting the price point on used books.

We discovered this bin in the store. As close as we could tell, it looked as if they took old books, cut them from their covers, and soaked them in some type of liquid (maybe starch?) to get the pages to curl and stick together. Each had a ribbon tied around it and a $6 price tag since they were now “Rustic Books.”

With that kind of creative approach, my parent’s books collection could be worth thousands of dollars. Talk about using creativity to add value to an asset…or at least making a bold attempt to do so!

I personally can’t wait to hit C.S. Post over Christmas and see if the Rustic Books are selling at a brisk pace.

Whether the books are selling or not though, the folks at C.S. Post have more than earned my respect for taking something worthless and using creativity to build value and a new cache around it! Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

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