Before leading my workshop the first afternoon of the Social Media Strategies Summit, I participated in the day’s earlier workshops. This is something I try to do whenever I’m speaking at an event. Doing this provides new ideas, reference points, and potentially frees up topics I needn’t address as completely because an earlier speaker has covered them.

During these workshops, for whatever reason, I found myself thinking about how I process information shared during conference presentations. I began jotting down the strategic thinking questions (below) I was asking myself. It struck me that these questions tie to integrated listening. Whether the speaker’s topic is familiar or unfamiliar, and whether the speaker’s perspective agrees or disagrees with my own, I’m looking for what to incorporate from the material to adapt my perspective.

5 Strategic Thinking Questions for Integrated Listening

Within an integrated listening objective, these strategic thinking questions are ones that run through my head during a presentation:

  1. What of this material agrees with my world view?
  2. What parts challenge or contradict my world view?
  3. In what ways does this content enrich my current understanding?
  4. What should I consider doing differently (whether that’s doing something new, stopping something, or altering a current practice) based on this presentation?
  5. What are the parts of this material I don’t understand? If so, why is that?

These questions work, at least for me, to stay open to new information without completely abandoning what I think in favor of too eagerly embracing an expert’s point of view during a presentation.  – Mike Brown

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Recently, we asked solo social media professionals to share their strategies, ideas, tips, and tricks for how they perform dual social media strategy and implementation roles as one person solo social media departments.


8 Solo Social Media Professional Success Tips

Based on the responses for our survey,  here are eight ideas solo social media professionals can adopt to improve their performance as they function as one person social media departments.

“Always carry a second admin in case you are struck by lightning and have the only keys to your organization’s social media kingdom.”

This is a wonderful reminder to make sure someone else in the organization can get into the brand’s social media presences if you can’t for some reason.

“Make sure you are included in meetings/receive the editorial calendar from your marketing and communications department (if your job title isn’t attached to this department) which will allow you to schedule content that is part of the campaign or event.”

It’s vital to create the appropriate strategic presence in the organization that social media gets brought in on the front end of strategy development and isn’t considered an afterthought.

“Learn to say no.”

If you can’t say, “No,” you’re always subject to having your social media strategy altered (perhaps dramatically) by someone else who may not have the right insights or understanding to be setting strategy. The key is YOU need to be solid in your strategic thinking or your “No” can be arbitrary.

“Create a content calendar.”

If you’re on your own, it may be easy to slough this social media strategy idea off and simply create content. A content calendar, however, keeps you honest and intentional about what you’re doing with social media.

“Gather all tools, graphics, sentences etc. before starting campaign – think about it before posting.”

This is another one where it might be easy (but definitely isn’t wise) to simply create content as you go if you don’t really have to coordinate with anyone else on a team.

“Utilize the best social media management available for your situation.”

Based on the responses to most beneficial tools, Hootsuite is the go-to social media management application for these respondents. Canva received multiple dimensions for creating graphics for various social platforms. Other mentions included: Aviary, Buffer, PicMonkey, Flipboard, and multiple Twitter cleanup tools (Justunfollow.com, Unfollow.com, Untweep.com).

“Schedule in advance” and “Set aside time for certain tasks throughout the week – schedule it on your calendar as if it were a meeting.”

There’s so much value in these two suggestions. It’s smart to shift as much content creation out of real time as possible; doing so provides valuable thinking and review time. Additionally, if you don’t schedule time to get work done (as opposed to just scheduling meetings) you won’t get the essential social media work completed.

“Have your social apps on your phone so you can review/respond to interaction anytime you have a down moment.”

Great advice. You never want to be away from access to your social presences if something explodes.

Are you a solo social media professional asking yourself, “Where should I prioritize developing my company’s social media strategy?”

9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy

IF you are a one person social media department, you need quick answers and ideas on where to prioritize your work? In less than 60 minutes with the new FREE Brainzooming ebook “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy,” you can explore your online presence from various angles and determine how to best set your priorities.

You can make a thorough yet rapid evaluation of nine different dimensions of their social business strategies with these diagnostics. Download Your Free Copy of “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy.”



Mike Brown

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What do you do if there are multiple, separate audiences your brand needs to reach, but you don’t have the time or resources to deliver content in multiple, separate social media streams?

This social media strategy question surfaced more than once the first day of the Social Media Strategies Summit in Las Vegas.


The first instance was an agency trying to reach client prospects who are CMOs in addition to marketing talent as potential employees. In another case, it was a startup organization without the existing content or current bandwidth for multi-channel social media. In a third case, it was a national travel and tourism organization catering to potential travelers in multiple countries speaking multiple languages.

Each is currently handling this social media strategy situation in varied ways.

Are my tweets bothering you?

Based on responses across all these discussions, here are ideas for how to approach this social media strategy challenge.

Step 1 – Have you determined if the audiences are complementary?

The days of thinking you can communicate in different ways to different audiences and keep the messages and audiences segregated are gone. If your brand is saying one thing in one place, you can figure you’re saying the one thing in multiple places, whether you like it or not.

A first step then is determining whether the messages targeted at one audience are going to be appropriate, complementary, or miss the mark with other audiences.

In the digital agency’s case, the separately targeted messages seem complementary. A CMO hiring an agency wants to know the agency is hiring smart, talented, and highly skilled people. A potential new hire for a digital agency wants to know he or she will have the opportunity to work with cool clients having innovative projects. Looking at this case in a simplified manner, the brand message to one audience is a complementary brand cue to the other audience. There doesn’t seem to be a downside to each audience seeing messages more directly targeted at another audience.

Step 2 – Can you test how similar the audiences are?

The situation with the travel and tourism organization is more complex. They address content in at least four languages (Spanish and English are primary) and audiences on multiple continents.

The current strategy involves repeating the same posts in different languages, typically on each social media channel. They appear to have duplicate content on each social platform much of the time, especially because of the heavy use of photos, which DO translate across languages. They suspect / know, however, that various country populations respond to different aspects of their country’s culture and seek out different content accordingly. One downside of the current approach (same content on each channel) is they train their audience to only follow them on one channel.

For them, social media strategy step two involves various “tests” of their suspicions about the need for multiple channels:

  1. Look at the audience demographic information available on each group (country and language) to see how they compare based on what is known about them.
  2. To the extent possible, examine quantitatively how each group engages with content.
  3. Set up and implement trials over several months where each group receives the same content at the same time. The objective is to compare the results and see how similarly or differently each group engages with identical updates.
  4. If emails are available for a representative cross-section of the audience, test their reactions in a more controlled setting (with an online survey) to various types of content.

While there is no one formula to answer the questions about how many channels they need in these situations, this social media strategy development approach should provide a basis to understand how complementary or disaffecting content intended for another group is when another group receives it.

Then they’ll have a better sense of the answer to the question, “Are my tweets bothering you?”  – Mike Brown

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“How strong is my organization’s social media strategy?”

9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy

Is your social media implementation working as well as it can? In less than 60 minutes with the new FREE Brainzooming ebook “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy,” you’ll have a precise answer to this question.

Any executive can make a thorough yet rapid evaluation of nine different dimensions of their social business strategies with these nine diagnostics. Download Your Free Copy of “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social  Strategy.”

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Is your brand STILL struggling with the right approach to deliver business results from its content marketing and social media strategy?

If so, today is a perfect day to download our free eBook, “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy.”

If you have direct or indirect responsibility for social media strategy in your organization (or even simply question whether your brand is maximizing every opportunity it can with social business), download “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy.” You’ll get answers on what to do next in less than an hour.


Social Media Strategy – 20 Reasons to Download “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy”

In case you need more convincing, here are twenty reasons why you should download this free eBook and take advantage of its quick, thorough assessments of your brand’s social media strategy effectiveness.

  1. It’s free.
  2. There are Brainzooming diagnostics that appear exclusively in the 9 Diagnostics eBook.
  3. You can complete the exercises within an hour and have a strong strategic sense of your overall social media strategy effectiveness.
  4. You can match your current approach to proven social media opportunities organizations adopt and find successful. (page 2)
  5. Your potential opportunities to adapt your social media strategy to better address important business objectives will be clear. (page 2)
  6. Each exercise features a related strategic objective and suggested uses to ensure you’re applying the social media strategy diagnostic correctly.
  7. There is a next step associated with each diagnostic so the actions you can take with the results are evident.
  8. If social business hasn’t taken hold in your organization as it should, you can assess which of a dozen potential roadblocks could be at work. (page 3)
  9. It will become quickly apparent whether your current social media metrics are robust enough to support and shape social business success. (page 4)
  10. Going deeper into the value of developing whole brain metrics is as easy as downloading another free Brainzooming eBook.
  11. You can determine whether your multi-author content marketing strategy is taking advantage of all the opportunities available to be truly collaborative. (page 5)
  12. There is a fast way to assess whether you should trust the members of your social media team to manage the “corporate microphone” social media represents. (page 6)
  13. Your can assign a letter grade to how well your brand’s personality translates to social media channels. (page 7)
  14. You’ll get a sense of how your brand stacks up on creating and sharing content relative to how a wide variety of B2B and B2C brands are them. (page 8)
  15. The lists associated with each social media strategy diagnostic ensure you are exploring the appropriate range of strategic variables.
  16. In an age when brands have the opportunity and need to become outstanding content creators, you can test your performance against an industry built around delivering engaging content for audiences. (page 9)
  17. The eBook includes a link to the Brainzooming social media strategy framework that organizes tons of content on your best strategic options for content marketing and social business. (page 10)
  18. By exploring your most recent status updates, you can see whether your brand is delivering a beneficial mix of content for your audience. (page 10)
  19. You can prioritize the diagnostics based on whether your brand is just introducing a social media strategy or has had one in place for some time.
  20. These nine social media strategy diagnostics can be applied collectively or individually depending upon where your brand places strategic priority.


Convinced that taking a moment to download the “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy” book is something you need to do today?

If not, here’s just one example of how quickly it will help you. One content marketing workshop participant took just two minutes to complete diagnostic number 5 on whether the right people are managing your social media sharing. As soon as he completed it, he blurted out, “I knew we had the wrong people doing handling this, but I never knew why until now!”

That’s a great insight in just two minutes.

Start growing our social media strategy insights today!

And if you’d like more help with developing your social media and content strategy, let us know. We’re here to help! – Mike Brown



“How strong is my organization’s social media strategy?”

9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy

Is your social media implementation working as well as it can? In less than 60 minutes with the new FREE Brainzooming ebook “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy,” you’ll have a precise answer to this question.

Any executive can make a thorough yet rapid evaluation of nine different dimensions of their social business strategies with these nine diagnostics. Download Your Free Copy of “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social  Strategy.”

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Is your brand engaged in global content marketing?

For US businesses, statistics show a relatively low percentage of them export globally.

Based on that, your answer is likely that your brand has no role in global content marketing.

If that’s your answer, however, you’re probably wrong!

That’s why I’d encourage you to get a copy of Pam Didner’s book, “Global Content Marketing,” and go to school on it, even if you think you don’t need a global content marketing strategy.

Why, you might ask?

Because it will make you a better content marketer no matter how close or far you think your content audience is located.

      (Affiliate Link)

If You Have a Website, You May Be a Global Content Marketer

Pam-Didner-Book-PhotoNear the start, Pam Didner (who is a former Intel executive, a great friend, and co-host with me of an attendee dinner at the Social Media Strategy Summit this week) relates the story of Bumps for Boomers, an Aspen, Colorado-based, four-day ski program. Its objective is to get competent skiers in the baby boomer generation to take on more expert-level skiing. Its founder, Joe Nevins, developed hundreds of pieces of informative content on the topic, placed them on the brand’s website, and his small company now caters to skiers from multiple countries. All this even though his website is only in English.

As Pam points out, “as long as a company has an online presence, and as long as its products can be shipped and services performed remotely or virtually” or its audience can come to the brand (as in the Bumps for Boomers example), it is in the global content marketing strategy game.

I’ll admit that when Pam first told me about writing book, I was disappointed it wouldn’t apply to The Brainzooming Group. In the course of the conversation, the figure “fifty-two percent” popped into my mind.

Fifty-two percent represents the share of Brainzooming blog readers outside the US from more than 180 countries.

So, yes, the Brainzooming blog is a part of global content marketing too.

What to Look for in “Global Content Marketing”

I have a tremendous respect for authors and speakers who offer strategic frameworks that come from actually having done the work instead of appointing themselves experts and simply writing and speaking about a topic they have read about only.

With Pam Didner’s extensive experience at Intel managing global product launches, developing business building campaigns, and providing ongoing consultation on audience targeting, content development, strategic messaging, engagement, and social media integration, she’s a practiced expert on global content marketing.

As you would expect from someone actually doing the work, the book is action oriented.

It struck me while reading Pam’s 4 P’s of global content marketing that they are all VERBS: Plan, Product, Promote, and Perfect. And beyond simply the push to act that these verbs suggest, they are equally applicable for both global and in-country content marketing.

The same can be said of Pam’s focus on how the roles differ between a headquarters content marketer and those in local market operations. While she’s applying the concepts across countries, they apply to any situation where a content marketer with centralized responsibility is planning, coordinating, and implementing with team members in specific markets. For example, a content session I’m delivering next week for a multi-state non-profit based in Kansas City is completely analogous to the global situations Pam describes.

Get Your Copy of “Global Content Marketing” by Pam Didner

“Global Content Marketing” was named one of the Top 10 business books of 2014 by in Inc. Magazine. No matter that it was released in 2014, the concepts Pam shares are applicable this year and for years after.

Do yourself a favor. If your brand has a website and is using a content marketing strategy to influence your audiences, you need to get “Global Content Marketing” by Pam Didner today and put it into practice! – Mike Brown

      (Affiliate Link)

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It might seem that if you don’t know everything you need to know to get started on a strategic initiative that it’s smart to wait until you know everything . . . or at least know more.

Maybe it’s smart to wait.

But if you’re intent on creating strategic impact, waiting can kill you later on if the timing for the initiative you’re trying to implement doesn’t shift to account for the delays in knowing everything you should know to get started.

Plus, you’re never going to know EVERYTHING you want to know to get going with a major strategic initiative.


Creating Strategic Impact by Starting Now

In light of all this, what can you do to move forward with an initiative, even if there are significant gaps in knowing what the strategy is, the details are, or what you’re ultimately expected to deliver?

Even in these situations, you could be creating strategic impact by:

  1. Going all out to figure out and solve what you don’t know.
  2. Doing things that can be readily undone if necessary when you learn everything.
  3. Doing things that CAN’T be readily undone later to help force a particular strategic direction.
  4. Getting everything ready for when you know everything, whether that’s planning, securing resources, training, etc.
  5. Working on other things so you can pay less attention to them and go all out on the delayed initiative when it starts.
  6. Tackling the broad brush strokes of the initiative and save the details for when you know more information.
  7. Diving in to the little details that will get less attention at the end once you put the big picture parts of the initiative in place later.
  8. Developing the parts of the initiative that have the most flexibility and room for change later.

What else would you add to this list? When you don’t know everything you would like, what do you do to start now and quit waiting? – Mike Brown


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Download: FREE Innovation Strategic Thinking Fake Book

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookAre you making the best use of customer input and market insights to deliver innovation and growth? Creating successful, innovative new products and services has never been more dependent on tapping perspectives from outside your organization.

This new ebook features sixteen strategic thinking exercises to help you ideate, prioritize, and develop your best innovative growth ideas. Download this free, concise ebook to:

  • Identify your organization’s innovation profile
  • Learn and rapidly deploy effective strategic thinking exercises to spur innovation
  • Incorporate crowd sourced perspectives into your innovation strategy in smart ways

Download this FREE ebook to turn ideas into actionable innovation strategies to drive your organization’s growth.

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Writing a newsletter article, it struck me that for as much as we discuss the importance of diverse strategic perspectives on better strategic thinking, we don’t seem to have a compilation of our articles on the topic.

Let’s fix that!

Workplace Diversity – The Why, Who, and How of Strategic Thinking

These Brainzooming articles are arranged based on why you should seek workplace diversity to benefit strategy, who holds the important perspectives, and how you can take best advantage of them to improve your organization’s strategy.

Dilbert-ThinkerWhy Workplace Diversity Benefits Strategy

Who Holds the Strategic Perspectives You Need on Your Team

How to Manage Workplace Diversity and Varied Strategic Perspectives Working Together


Making Workplace Diversity Work for Your Strategy

This list of articles is a start to thinking about the value of having people with different thinking styles, perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds on your teams.

If you’d like to discuss how to put this all together for your organization’s benefit, let us know. We’d love to customize a strategy that delivers the best results for you! – Mike Brown

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