5

I’m excited to see “Trust Agents” co-author Chris Brogan present in person for the second time this year at the BMA Engage conference tomorrow. Having seen him earlier at the Kansas City IABC Business Communications Summit in February, his innovative presentation style is one unlike I’ve never seen, and I really can’t imagine anyone else pulling it off successfully.

Speaking from what seemed to be a handwritten “set list” on a folded up piece of paper, Brogan spent an hour sharing his strategic perspective on how people behave, interact, and expect to be treated. Quite frankly, he struck me like the smart, quiet guy you see in a corporation who observes everything, sees the strategy gaps the big business so obviously misses, and figures out all the answers while hardly ever getting the chance to share them.

Through a patient strategy of freely sharing insights and perspectives from his innovative viewpoint, Brogan has created the opportunity to share his strategic wisdom in increasingly rarified venues. For all the “GET MASSIVE FOLLOWERS, BE A SOCIAL MEDIA ROCK STAR QUICK ” scams floating around the web, Chris Brogan has transferred a consistently, strategically constructed online platform to an IRL business where he routinely gets the chance to share his much sought-after answers.

Among the great strategic insights at his Kansas City presentation about better cultivating and growing customers with the help of social media:

  • A company can best help its people understand what it means to represent the brand by providing some level of media relations training to every employee.
  • The best social media people come from customer service. They’re used to talking with customers and representing the business across many situations.
  • The first steps in social media strategy should focus on prepping for crisis communication, marketing at the time of need, better addressing customer service, and conducting research on customer needs.
  • Don’t spend so much time on yourself. Brogan tries to communicate 12 times more about others than about his own stuff (a remarkable strategy considering some of the authors who pound relentless tweets and Facebook updates all about themselves).
  • A brand lives or dies by its database and how the company cultivates it between the times it is marketing to people.

His most important statement? The importance to Brogan of keeping people who matter to you when you don’t need anything at all from them. It’s an important life lesson, irrespective of whether you use social media or not.  – 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 can develop an integrated social media strategy for your brand.

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

Last week, I attended a Kansas City Media Mix luncheon featuring Scott Jones, the CEO of ChaCha. ChaCha is a free, text-based question answering application; simply text a question to 242242, and you’ll receive an “answer” to your question, along with some type of targeted ad integrated into the text-based response.

Jones shared that the predominant audience for ChaCha is 17 to 23 years of age, reflecting the intense texting activity in this age segment. He cited a recent study showing 68% of teens identified texting as their preferred communication channel. In fact, based on the age distribution chart Jones showed, I might be the oldest known ChaCha user as it has become my trial application for a couple of weeks.

After asking several questions of ChaCha, you get a four-question text-based survey to understand your age, location, gender, and phone configuration. This set of questions allows ChaCha to start profiling you, and along with your question history, provide targeted advertising opportunities. This is where it appears ChaCha is generating its revenue, since competitor KGB charges 99 cents per question. Interestingly, Jones reported that ChaCha had a large spike in usage about 5 minutes after the Super Bowl ad KGB ran. He attributed this to people trying KGB while teens in the room suggested using the free ChaCha service.

Texting is obviously an area of interest for marketers, especially those trying to reach a young audience. Of 280 million mobile phone subscribers, 233 million have text capabilities, and 70% of marketers are currently using or plan to use mobile within marketing campaigns.

It’s a long holiday weekend, so if a question comes up and you’re stumped, text a question to ChaCha and see what you get. The answers I’ve received so far have been in the ballpark, but often miss the mark relative to the desired level of detail. But, hey, it’s free.

And just in case ChaCha doesn’t know when Brainzooming will publish a new post again, it will be Tuesday. See you then! – Mike Brown

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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10

A recent post highlighted strategies for creating an informal social media team within your organization to help carry out social media strategy.

Debra Feldman was nice enough to tweet a link but gave it the frown emoticon for not being applicable to solopreneurs. I promised to create a comparable list for individuals in business for themselves. Hopefully, these twenty strategies, based on experience with Brainzooming, will help those building their small businesses (or personal brands) more effectively manage social media.

Managing Your Presence

  • Select several social media platforms supporting your business strategy and objectives; concentrate your presence on these alone. You might have one location for content (i.e., a blog or micro-blog), a second for networking (maybe Twitter or LinkedIn), and a third for community interaction (Facebook or LinkedIn).
  • Divide social media time into 3 roughly equal parts – reading and monitoring social media in your topic area, commenting and participating on other peoples’ sites, and creating content for your own site. From this framework, decide how much time weekly you can invest on social media. Really work to stick to your time expectations.
  • Before blogging, determine how many times monthly you expect to blog. Pre-write that many posts to see if the frequency is viable and to build a month-long content cushion for when time is limited.
  • Choose creating and consistently delivering less content over wild swings in activity. Faithfully writing one blog post weekly and three tweets daily is better than three posts your first week with lots of Twitter activity then going silent for weeks.

Generating Content

  • Exploit your best communications talents aggressively in your social media effort. These might include article writing, headline writing, shooting video, illustrations, photos, etc.  Design a content strategy allowing you to use these talents to be as efficient in creating content as possible.
  • Write down at least two potential blog topic ideas daily where they’ll be available later as idea starters.
  • Cut your writing time and keep it short. You don’t need to (and probably shouldn’t) write thousand word blog posts. Stick to one idea in a couple of hundred words.
  • Save tweets and comments you make on other blogs to use as the basis for blog posts.
  • Solicit material from your audience, providing a brief description of what type of content, topics, and format you’re seeking.
  • At a minimum, set up Google Alerts on relevant topics to create readily available content for sharing online.
  • Find an intern from a local university to assist your business in its social media strategy.

Promoting Your Presence

  • Use common hashtags and keywords to increase visibility and pass along mentions.
  • Place social media buttons on your blog to make it easy for readers to share your content within their own social networks.
  • Sync your various social media sites so one item feeds multiple platforms (i.e., send your tweet about a blog post to LinkedIn and Facebook automatically).
  • Offer simple, fun give-aways to your audience to incent participation in commenting, retweeting, social bookmarking, etc.
  • Take time to write a brief bio and company overview for use on every social media site. Use a service such as KnowEm.com to secure your identity on many platforms, with links back to your main sites.
  • Create an informal network of friends (onine and IRL) with relevant networks and agree to tweet about each others’ work.

Continuous Improvement

  • Attend in-person or webinar training on effectively and efficiently using social media applications to build business.
  • Identify someone within your network who is more knowledgeable or efficient at social media than you. After figuring out how to use your best talents to help them, offer to trade for regular help (i.e., tips) on your social media effort.
  • Do at least an informal ROI assessment – is your social media effort generating the type and volume of business results that make your time investment worthwhile?

There are certainly many other ideas and technical approaches you can use to be more efficient in your social media implementation. What things have you tried that are working for you?  – 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 can develop an integrated social media strategy for your brand.

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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“Be interactive” is certainly popular advice for brands right now. Engage with your audience. Get them involved to build a relationship.

All great strategy advice. WHEN it makes sense. But many times, how it’s implemented makes NO SENSE at all.

A great example from this past weekend was ABC’s Good Morning America trying to find the best breakfast in the US. And by “best,” they mean “highest calorie.” After narrowing it to four choices, the TV audience was offered brief vignettes showing how each breakfast is prepared followed by a segment where we watched the show’s cast eat the four breakfasts.

Then, because interactivity is great and we all want to be engaged and have a relationship with Good Morning America, we were encouraged to hurry to the GMA website to vote for our choice for the best breakfast!!!

Huh?

The breakfast that looks the best? The breakfast that the hosts drooled over the most? The one with the most interesting recipe?

Last I checked, food mostly is about taste. So while this might have been an engaging interactive experience for fans of the 4 restaurants who might have actually EATEN one of the delicacies, it’s stupid for everyone else. That’s especially true since clicking the vote link on GMA’s website took you to a list of the breakfasts, with none of the “additional information” promised on the show.

I repeat: Interactivity, engagement, and building relationships are incredible strategies, when they make sense. When they don’t? They’re just stupid strategies and a waste of time, with or without social media. Agreed? – Mike Brown

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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3

Introducing a coordinated, vibrant social media effort into an organization depends on more than an “official” group creating content. Ideally multiple and varied people throughout an organization are functioning almost as beat reporters and sharing their individual perspectives on topics relevant to targeted audiences.

How do you get do-it-yourself (DIY) social media support from people already contending with more than full job responsibilities?

Here are 15 tactics you can use to pave the way for success in implementing your social media strategy:

  • Develop a role description for what a social media team member does in your company.
  • Provide realistic estimates of how much or how little time a team member will have to use to participate on the team.
  • Develop and share a social media policy for your company.
  • Create an internship and recruit a university student to participate in the effort.
  • Ask people what their talents and areas of interest in social media are and give them appropriate assignments.
  • Provide step-by-step instructions or basic guidelines to encourage new social media participants.
  • Have more experienced social media practitioners mentor those just getting started.
  • Develop your own wiki, blog, or social network community to post reference materials, FAQs, and other relevant information for the team.
  • Offer some type of simple, fun give-away to team members to incent active participation.
  • Provide a team list with contact information, areas of expertise and focus for each member, and who to call to report on successes and challenges.
  • Offer in-person or webinar training on effectively using social media applications and your brand standards.
  • Provide a thorough list of articles on how to excel at various aspects of social media.
  • Share links to free webinars focused on social media how to’s.
  • Brainstorm and share a list of suggested blog topics.
  • Use an approach that allows participants to smoothly rotate on and off the social media team at reasonable intervals.

What innovative strategies have worked for you to generate broader participation in social media within your business or organization?  - Mike Brown

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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In social media ranks, there are lots of people who portray themselves as bigger than they are and incredibly cool in what they think and know. And with all the readily available tools for self-promotion, it’s never been easier to draw attention to oneself than right now.

For wannabes and immature business people, all the apparently easy possibilities for creating attention are a very attractive nuisance. It can appear highly desirable to vie for attention from social media rock stars. A retweet or brief exchange can feel as if you’ve made a personal connection with one of them. A cause gaining attention via social media can easily take on the appearance of an important or broadly popular issue. That’s the case even when it’s grounded on a shaky premise without any strategic thought.

So right now, despite suggestions that social media will change everything around us, one important fundamental hasn’t budged even a little: GENUINE is MORE important than ever.

By genuine, I don’t mean the standard “be transparent online and reach out to your followers” line that’s in every social media overview presentation (including my own).

Instead, I mean real people who have a rich life offline. People who are morally centered. People who truly care about serving others and their ultimate welfare.

I’m talking about genuine people; not people who excel at attempting to appear genuine online.

If you find yourself repeatedly sucked in by the prospect of chasing social media stars, do yourself a favor. Find some real people you can actually meet and know in real life. Talk with them in real life. Share your experiences to try and benefit them. Treat them with kindness. Be a genuine friend to them.

Trust me; you’ll be a lot better off for having done it. – Mike Brown

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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7

It’s always interesting to learn about what you do through someone else’s eyes. When there’s an opportunity for candid feedback, use it to refine your business strategy and look more innovatively at your performance.

The Brainzooming™ Group had a wonderful opportunity to get reactions to our strategic planning process last week from Nate Riggs. Nate started Social Business Strategies to help mid-sized & large organizations develop social media strategies and build internalized Human Business Teams.

Last Tuesday, The Brainzooming Group facilitated a large (35 person) social media strategic planning session for a four-year university. Nate Riggs was invaluable for his experience in working with other higher educational institutions on social media approaches.

We modified several Brainzooming strategy-building exercises to facilitate the large group and came away with great learnings. Nate’s first-time reactions to how we efficiently and effectively manage strategic conversations were also helpful in continuing to refine our process. You can get a quick sense of Nate’s views in this video and in his follow-up blog post on the strategic planning session.

Take a look, and let us know any questions you have on the approach, either for large groups or for developing social media strategy. – Mike Brown

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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