Creativity | The Brainzooming Group - Part 65 – page 65
6

I attended an excruciatingly long 2 hours of a conference recently; the conference had all the potential for creating event magic, but it failed to deliver.

The conference experience, however, made me recall the Big Ideas in Higher Education conference hosted at Rutgers University earlier this year. That conference was all about creating event magic. Big Ideas set out to create a different type of educational conference, and it succeeded wildly through the venue, production, and content. The kudos for that success go to the two primary forces behind the Big Ideas in Higher Education conferenceTony Doody, Director of Programs and Leadership at Rutgers University and Courtney O’Connell, Assistant Director – Leadership Training.

Creating Event Magic at the Best Event I Attended this Year

My recent conference experience strongly suggests at least one event production team (and likely many more out there) don’t understand the types of strategies Courtney and Tony brought together to create event magic.

As a result, it’s worth revisiting seven lessons in creating a disruptive, magical conference experience courtesy of the whole Big Ideas in Higher Education conference production team:

1. Disruption doesn’t happen close to home, so go on your search

Rather than simply produce another higher education conference, the Big Idea team looked to other types of conferences outside education for disruptive ideas. Big Ideas wasn’t going to feature an endless string of higher education professionals presenting, even though that is what a higher education conference is expected to be. The conference format was assembled from inspiration outside higher education, including the idea of having varied presenters addressing non-higher education themes still applicable and valuable to educators.

2. If you can’t get someone to let you join them, then borrow, modify, and go

The Big Ideas in Higher Education team approached TED about creating a TEDHigherEd event, but was told TED owns all subject-focused events. Not wanting to be TEDxRutgers since that would be too narrow, they borrowed elements of TED-style presentations (20-minute presentations, no podium, varied topics) and adapted (having a host conduct interviews and Q&A, Jimmy Fallon-style games at the end of certain presentations, less pretense than TED) to fill the first day of Big Ideas. Because Big Ideas wasn’t part of TED, it likely provided much more freedom to customize the event to the audience needs.

3. Get your cool factor right so people want to join

Early on, the Big Ideas website clearly conveyed it would be radically different than any other higher education conference and dramatically more exciting than most other conferences across industries. Since the Big Ideas website contained a manifesto and used buzz-worthy images and language to create a cool brand impact, it was easier to bring additional speakers on board who wanted to be part of the event.

4. There are many assets and resources with value other than money

Tony shared a budget number with me that was incredibly low. Having created many expensive looking events on less than shoestring budgets, I was in awe of how the Big Ideas team did it. They took advantage of in-kind arrangements, trade-outs, relationships, and already-available assets to create an event that COULD have cost at least an order of magnitude more than it did.

5. An event’s physical setting has to support the brand experience promise

Rather than a standard meeting room, Big Ideas used an “arena” concept. The organizers first experienced the look when a Rutgers meeting room in the Livingston Student Center served as a TV studio for Anderson Cooper 360. Pipe and drape were used to shorten the room and create a black box atmosphere unlike any conference I’d ever attended. Seats on risers put the audience into the action of the presenters, with no opportunity to sit back and not engage.

6. Showcase emotional impacts throughout the event

At various times, Big Ideas was funny, heartfelt, dramatic, surprising, and sincere. And that was just my starting list of emotions thinking back on the content. Rather than fight or wrongly use the emotion of the event, Big Ideas applied a nearly perfect mix of presentations, interviews, and brevity (with a willingness for longer segments if appropriate) in its format to create a strong emotional line through the whole conference – without one panel discussion (at least that I saw).

7. Let your talented people shine

There were many people involved in making Big Ideas happen, but although Courtney O’Connell and Tony Doody were leaders, they were in the background for nearly the entire event. Instead of being front and center to grab the spotlight, they put a whole range of talented team members and presenters front and center. That’s what a true leader does, trust me.

This is just a starter for Big Ideas lessons

I love events because incredibly produced events intertwine strong strategy and rigorous execution from start to finish. Having produced events, I know these seven lessons don’t even begin to cover all the lessons from Big Ideas. But if you’re on the hook to deliver a great event, if you follow just these seven, your event has at least a fighting chance at being magical, too.

And if you’re still struggling with developing a unique conference experience, call us to put together your event strategy and creative platform. We’d love to help you create event magic; it’s a big part of what we do for clients all the time. – Mike Brown

 

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Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic new ideas! For an organizational creativity boost, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans to efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these innovation benefits for you.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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16

There is clearly tremendous value in having diverse, positive creative thinking skills on your creative team. What you might be overlooking, however, is the value of having access to creative thinking skills that might not typically be considered particularly constructive for a creative team’s success.

Consider It “Critical” Thinking

While creative instigators can be vital to the robust development of creative thinking, you can’t afford to let it coast its way toward implementation without being challenged. “Critical” thinking  make your creative thinking stronger near-term and your creative thinking skills sharper over time.

Don’t let a premature implementation push leave your creative thinking work vulnerable to critical challenges too late in the creative development process.

Select your creative team to make sure you identify the individuals who will supply five critical thinking perspectives to make your creative thinking stronger:

1. The Skeptic

The skeptic isn’t going to believe anything you tell them the first time. The skeptic will demand proof for the creative thinking you’re trying to sell to them. The skeptic making you prove everything, however, forces you to ensure you have the strategic and insight-driven support for your creative ideas.

2. The Short Attention Span Theater Fan

Certain people will not or cannot sit still for an in-depth explanation of your creative thinking. You might have only three PowerPoint slides worth of time to provide the background, make your recommendation, and show your supporting rationale. When someone on your team has a short attention span, you’ll get much better at getting to the point . . . or you’ll be talking to yourself in an empty room!

3. An Argumentative So and So

We all know people who object to everything. Everything is wrong; nothing will work. And they are ready to let you know all the things you can expect to fall short with your creative ideas. Talk about critical thinking! As a result, making your case to an argumentative person will cause you to be ready to answer all kinds of passionate, unexpected objections to the creative ideas you believe in so strongly.

4. The Dense Person

Some people simply don’t “get” things as fast as others. You can explain a new idea and see it in their eyes or in their body language: something about your creative idea isn’t clicking. Even if your dense creative team member does get the idea, he or she will not get it the next time you discuss it, so you’ll have to explain it again. While it may feel as if repetitive explanations are taking up time, repeating your creative idea multiple times will productively challenge the consistency of your thinking and your attention to strategic detail.

5. Your Narrow Minded Associate

The creative team member who has a clearly different, and markedly narrower, perspective than you can be maddening most of the time. These people do not (or simply refuse to) see the bigger picture. They also don’t have much time or respect for alternatives viewpoints to their own. Where they are beneficial as you try to sell your creative ideas, however, is when they force you to find (or incorporate) benefits to address non-believers in your audience.

Do you know who the problem people are on your creative team?

Are these “critical” creative thinking skills accounted for on your creative team? Are there other challenging creative thinking skills  you depend upon for your creative success? Let’s hear about them! – Mike Brown

 

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Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic ideas! For an organizational creativity boost, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans to efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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2

One of the most frequent questions people ask me is, “How do you come up with the creative inspiration for what to blog about five days a week?”

My answer is I pay attention all the time for creative inspiration and start to process experiences through a very specific filter: “How could this interaction, story, factoid, image (or whatever it is) fit as a Brainzooming blog post?”

When you go through life expecting EVERYTHING to provide creative inspiration for what to blog about, you see potential topics EVERYWHERE.

For me, the bigger challenge is finding the time to turn all the creative inspiration into blog content both of us (you and me) would be interested in reading.

I’m not a fast writer, and I’ve gotten even slower through distracting myself while writing and incorporating more SEO-oriented steps than when the Brainzooming blog started. The result is many ideas never make it into completed blog posts, although some will show up even a year or two later. Never underestimate the value of historical creative inspiration!

Brainzooming Creative Inspiration – What to Blog About

Several months ago, I wrote a Brainzooming post detailing the creative inspiration for the previous thirty posts. Some of the points of creative inspiration are the same, but many differ from the previous article on what to blog about:

1. You are inspired by stories and challenges others are sharing on Facebook (Being Thankful for the Blessings in the Challenging Parts of Life)

2. Something already written can be recast and made more helpful than when it was originally written (Current Clients, New Opportunities – Five Ideas to Discover New Growth)

3. You’re trying to motivate yourself to improve on things that bother you about yourself (Distracting Yourself – 19 Ways to Undermine Your Success)

4. There’s a keyword phrase generating favorable blog traffic, and it’s time to add more blog content on the topic (Strategic Thinking Exercises – 6 Characteristics the Best Ones Have)

5. Many intriguing articles on a topic are taking up space in your web browser, and it’s easier to summarize them in a blog post than bookmark the links (10 Articles on Creativity Lovers, Haters, Branding, Insights and Storytelling)

6. You’re trying to solve your own business challenge, and you use a blog post to think through your best options (Combat Client Block – 8 Ways to Beat Client-Specific Creative Block)

7. A sales call surfaces an issue you know others are contending with as well (Social Networking, Personal Relationships & 7 Content Strategy Questions)

8. There’s an opportunity to combine content only tangentially related to your blogging subject with a different angle to make it relevant (Innovation Success – Innovating, Strategy & Pissing Off People)

9. Marking an anniversary by sharing lessons learned (What to Blog About and How – 25 Blogging Lessons from 5 Years and Number 22: 25 Lessons Learned (or Reconfirmed) in Year Three Away from Corporate Life)

10. Creating a compilation of previous articles as a resource for readers and yourself (Project Management Techniques – 21 Articles to Better Manage Projects)

11. There’s an opportunity to link your subject to a current news topic (Political Concession Speeches – Why Are They the Best of the Election Campaign?)

12. A great, frequent guest blogger has written a post (Innovation Success Through Planning, Preparation, and Organization by Woody Bendle and Number 24 Creative Thinking Exercise – SCAMPER around KC by Woody Bendle)

13. It’s possible to turn too much time watching TV into a lesson-oriented blog post (Creative Process – 5 Creative Ideas with a Twist for Product Design)

14. A bizarre situation has been staring you in the face for years, and you finally figure out an angle to turn it into a blog (Brand Experience, Glass Houses, and Naked Shower Guy)

15. A great, new guest blogger has written a post – after you made a request on Twitter (The Top Three Don’ts of Brand Building by Julie Cottineau)

16. A current event provides an opportunity to write something more outrageous than you would ever typically address (Zombies and Vampires – Strategic Perspectives on Their Popularity)

17. In the course of a phone conversation with a potential client, you list out all the items for a blog post (Strategic Planning – 7 Questions for Avoiding Strategic Management Failures)

18. It makes sense to share some behind the scenes info on a social media strategy you use (Social Media – 5 Tips to Sharing an Evergreen Blog Post)

19. You’ve developed a guest post for another blogger you can rewrite into fresh content for your own blog (Brainstorming Tools – Drawing on Big Creative Ideas)

20. A new approach to what you do is still in the creative thinking stage, and you’re interested in getting reactions to it (Strategic Thinking Exercise – Black Swan Events in Your Plan)

21. You share a lesson you don’t particularly like that you’ve had to learn to like and embrace (Creative Inspiration – Creative Ideas from Your Daily Life)

22. See number 9

23. A conference event you attend reveals a real-life factoid serves as a case study (Television Program Ideas – How Many Ideas Per Television Series?)

24. See number 12

25. A social media rockstar is pissing and moaning about something that isn’t a problem, and you want to respond in a longer format (Social Media – 19 Content Strategy Ideas from a TV Network)

26. You’re having a conversation with someone who tells you something about what they are doing, and it would be a perfect guest blog post (The Importance of a Passion Project by Alyssa Murfey)

27. Another blogger’s intriguing blog title wasn’t matched by an intriguing post, so you write the post the other blogger should have written (Brainstorming Ideas – 10 Signs You’re Done Brainstorming)

28. You’ve written enough Twitter posts to create a decent compilation (Twitter Topics on @Brainzooming – This Tweet Is for You)

29. You sit through a speech that’s so bad and lacking in beneficial information your only choice is to write about how bad the presentation is (Keynote Presenter Advice – Don’t Do These Things)

30. You’ve had to develop a new skill that your audience can benefit from developing as well (Social Media Content – 7 Ways to Repurpose What You’ve Written)

What creative inspiration does this list suggest about what to blog about for your brand?

– Mike Brown

 

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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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12

There is, not surprisingly, a lot of activity on the Brainzooming blog on strategic thinking exercises since they are vital elements in effective strategic planning. As The Brainzooming Group looks at it, strategic thinking exercises are devices to help individuals or teams imagine and address ways to advance organizations / products / programs toward important goals.

What are the characteristics of the best strategic thinking exercises?

Here are six characteristics we design into the strategic thinking exercises we create for strategic planning engagements with clients.

They all need to:

1. Allow everyone to participate – even those with little or no direct experience

We preach the importance of multiple thinking perspectives in developing great strategy. We know some people who participate in strategic planning will have less experience than other participants will. Great exercises, however, accommodate these differences in experience and do not leave anyone without a role based on what they know or have done.

2. Incorporate emotion

It does not necessarily matter which emotion strategic thinking exercises incorporate. It could be fear, angst, frustration, humor, hope, or passion. Or another emotion. Or some combination of all of those. If your strategy development only depends on logic and does not incorporate emotion, you are missing something.

3. Require people to think atypically

If everyone comes into and leaves a set of strategic thinking exercises without having thought in new ways, there is a major disconnect. There needs to be specific variables built in to ensure people are thinking along new paths and in ways they have not had to consider previously.

4. Introduce a strategic twist that doesn’t match expectations or reality

If you want different perspectives from your current strategy, strategy and brainstorming questions need to go beyond simply what the current situation looks like. They should incorporate an unexpected twist or thinking detour to make participants feel uncomfortable with their standard way of thinking.

5. Create new questions

The more you attempt to answer strategy and brainstorming questions, the more new questions will emerge. Strategic thinking is about exploration. If it’s fruitful exploration, you’re going to uncover strategic paths that will be laden with new questions.

6. Leave room for unanswered issues

This goes along with triggering new questions. Successful strategic thinking exercises can’t be expected to answer everything. The future isn’t certain. The objective should be to consider as many possibilities as possible, even if some, or even many of them, can’t be completely answered right away.

Want examples of our favorite strategic thinking exercises?

Here are some of our go-to strategy exercises and brainstorming questions. We invite you to look at how these could fit into your strategic planning and innovation work:

As usual, they all carry our standard disclaimer: “These exercises appear easier to use then they really are.”

If you want the best results from them, you need to call The Brainzooming Group! When we’re on the case, we’ll guarantee these exercises will be successful as part of your innovation or strategic planning! – Mike Brown

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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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1

It’s been some time since we ran a post such as this. Here are 10 intriguing articles that have been occupying tabs on my web browser for longer than I’d care to mention. Too good to lose track of; not enough time to give each one a full blog post. Even with sharing these 10 articles on creativity, I still have way too many tabs open. At least this is a start . . . enjoy the creativity from around the web!

Lovers and Haters of Creativity

The Characteristics of Creative Thinkers – Some of the most popular posts on the Brainzooming blog are about creative thinking skills and kids and creativity. Here’s another take on both topics, all rolled into one from The Seeds Network.

Creativity and IQ, Part I: What Is Divergent Thinking? How Is It Helped by Sleep, Humor and Alcohol? – Why is this article from The Creativity Post here? Did you read the title? Nuff said.

The Bias against Creativity: Why People Desire but Reject Creative IdeasJason Harper forwarded this link and suggested a blog post response. Usually, I’m all over Jason’s suggestions on these because he has great sensibilities. I may still respond to this one with a full blog posts, so I haven’t rejected it; it’s simply in the future blog file.

Creativity in Branding

You Can’t Force Love: Why Developing a Great Brand Eludes Process – From the Kaleidoscope blog, this is an ode to iteration when it comes to developing brand identities, positions, and messaging. Yup, brand development is definitely not a one and done strategic activity; be prepared for cycling through several times to get where you need to be with your branding.

Branding Events, A New Source Of Revenue For Social Networks – As an event guy at heart, a social network guy by client demand, a revenue loving guy by necessity, and a NASCAR guy (which is mentioned here) through career experience, this article has it all for me. If you’re interested in even one of these four topics, this article from Lighthouse Insights is worth a read.

Bringing Creativity to Strategic Insights

Inside the Secret World of the Data Crunchers Who Helped Obama Win – An overview from Time magazine on how big data shaped strategies and decisions for the Obama campaign. Only big data would tell you that George Clooney and SJP have the same impact, just on different coasts.

Best Buy Needs To Implement Something Like This To Stop People From Showrooming – Intriguing look at how the retail environment can be dramatically changed. It’s going to take some brands with some big you-know-whats to do this. We suggested a very comparable long-term strategy to a consumer product goods client last year. Their you-know-whats weren’t very big, apparently. Just sayin.

CVS and Ford: Putting Designers in Customers’ Shoes – literally– From Andrea Meyer’s website, “Working Knowledge,” this is a fantastic example of putting yourself in the situation of your customer if you really want to generate creative strategic insights.

Creativity and Storytelling

Dolan and Colbert talk about faith, humor at Fordham – This story from National Catholic Reporter is here because of how it’s reported (although I am admittedly a Cardinal Dolan fan). With traditional media limited for this event, NCR turned to social media coverage to construct its story about an evening of discussion with Stephen Colbert and Timothy Cardinal Dolan.

12 Imperative Must-Dos for the Serious Blogger– This SlideShare presentation from Jay Baer is packed with solid advice, including the recommendation for bloggers to check out inboundwriter.com. If you want to be all serious about your blogging, you should click through Jay’s presentation. – Mike Brown

 

Subscribe for Free to the Brainzooming blog email updates.

Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic new ideas! For an organizational creativity boost, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans to efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these innovation benefits for you.

 

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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2

Do you ever suffer from “client block”?

As I’d characterize it, client block is a subset of creative block when you are specifically challenged making progress on a project for a particular client. That client may be an external or internal one to your organization. The point is something is getting in the way of delivering what you are on the hook for as the project outcome for a specific client, rather than an overall creative block.

Why Client Block Happens

Considering times I’ve suffered client block, it has happened because a client:

  • Has a world view that doesn’t have a lot of regard for the project’s focus
  • Doesn’t have a willingness to absorb much information
  • Isn’t open to accepting their view of reality isn’t borne out by facts
  • Isn’t interested in what they really need to know or understand
  • Knows what they DON’T want but can’t articulate what they DO want
  • Refuses to productively engage in shaping what the project deliverable they want contains and/or looks like

The result of these client block situations may be something that feels like creative block where you are unable to get started on a project. It could also simply be a lack of interest or motivation in determining how to address the specific issue a client could have with the project outcome.

Solutions to Client Block

Considering the issue the other day with someone while talking about creative block, we brainstormed a variety of approaches to combat client block. Some potential ideas to combat client bock include:

  • Creating a strategic outline that’s a mix of what the client wants and what you think should be delivered and working to get buy off on it from the client.
  • Moving ahead with what you believe is the right direction, realizing you’ll have to sell in your approach much harder.
  • Being an “order taker” and resolving to deliver whatever the client wants, whether you think it’s the right thing or not.
  • Using a previous project deliverable similar to what you need as a template or roadmap.
  • Not starting at the beginning of the deliverable but starting where you can most easily get started to fuel yourself with an early sense of accomplishment.
  • Determining the easiest way for you to create the deliverable and start using that direction, even if you modify and adapt it later.
  • Pulling someone into the project who can challenge your thinking and help identify a place to get started.
  • If you’re able, delegating or outsourcing the deliverable to someone who has a better sense of how to start and complete it.

What do you do to combat client block?

These eight ideas are a start at addressing client block. Have you tried any of them to deal with client block successfully or unsuccessfully? Are there other ways you’ve been able to work around a client block?

We (and be “we,” I mean “I”) would love to learn your solutions and give them a try! – Mike Brown

 

Subscribe for Free to the Brainzooming blog email updates.

Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic new ideas! For an organizational creativity boost, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans to efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these innovation benefits for you.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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4

For some people, it is a natural move from in real life personal relationships to social networking. Their social networking success can come from an instinctive or learned knack for what and when to share the right amount of personal information to make positive connections without boring people or seeming too self-obsessed.

Others, who take a more cautious approach to their lives and personal relationships, cannot imagine WHAT they could share online about themselves while still maintaining a professional image.

Social Networking by Sharing Kitteh Pictures

I was having this discussion with a cautious business owner recently who has social media presences established for the business, but struggles with what to share to both establish professional expertise and make personal connections via social networking. My point was even in a business-to-business setting, people buy from other people. PERSONAL relationships matter in real life business development, and they also matter when you are engaged in online social networking for business development.

You should have seen the reaction though when I mentioned the strategy behind sharing pictures of our cat Clementine (who a Twitter friend dubbed the “Director of Enthusiasm”) on Facebook.

Within a few questions, we found some topics that definitely have the potential for sharing on social networks. The issue is whether this business owner will become comfortable weaving in a more personal feel to social media content.

7 Content Strategy Questions for Building Personal Relationships

If you are struggling with integrating personal information into your social media sharing, here are seven questions you can ask yourself to identify potential personally oriented topics for social media sharing:

  • What do you think, know, and believe?
  • What are your favorite sources of compelling news and information online?
  • What do business associates and clients know about you personally?
  • What do you share about yourself when you meet someone at a networking event?
  • What is intriguing about you and your professional and personal interactions?
  • What is visually intriguing about your life – both professionally and personally?
  • What brands, stores, and places do you talk up to people because you appreciate them?

Certainly, you have answers to these questions. If you are struggling with sharing personal information via social media, the answers to these questions can start to form the basis of your personal content sharing strategy.

Social Networking – When and How Much Personal Information

The next big questions to ask and answer are how soon and how much to share personally?

You have to do what works for you, but if you are reluctant to share personal information online, the answers to these last two questions are “sooner than you think” and “more than you want.”

So now that all the questions are answered, it is time to started sharing and building personal relationships to let people get to know you better in an online professional setting! – Mike Brown

 

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If you’re struggling with determining ROI and evaluating its impacts, download “6 Social Media Metrics You Must Track” today!  This article provides a concise, strategic view of the numbers and stories that matter in shaping, implementing, and evaluating your strategy. You’ll learn lessons about when to address measurement strategy, identifying overlooked ROI opportunities, and creating a 6-metric dashboard. Download Your Free Copy of “6 Social Media Metrics You Must Track!”

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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