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9-diagnostics-cover

As we meet senior executives, it’s clear there are still many unanswered questions on social media strategy, especially for those companies early in social media strategy implementation or those that yet to even develop a social media strategy.

How Strong Is My Organization’s Social Media Strategy?

Among the most common questions senior executives are asking include:

  • How can a social media strategy meaningfully contribute to business objectives?
  • What metrics are relevant for measuring the impact of a social media strategy?
  • How do you determine the right staffing for a social media team?
  • Are the brand’s messages being appropriately represented through social media content?

To assist senior executives in evaluating both performance and opportunities in these and other social media areas, The  Brainzooming Group has created a new ebook: “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy.”

Free Ebook: 9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy

This latest free ebook from The Brainzooming Group takes a sampling of the strategy exercises we use with clients and offers them in a format suitable for performing a quick self-diagnosis of a brand’s success with social networking. In a relatively brief amount of time, you’ll have a sense of where you need to concentrate your efforts to ensure you maximize the benefits of your organization’s social media efforts.

Securing your free ebook copy is easy: simply click on the button below and you’ll be taken to the sign-up page to download it. You’ll soon be identifying where your organization is missing vital business opportunities in social networking. – Mike Brown

 Download Your Copy

 

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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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cmworldCheri Tabel of The Pert Group and I are presenting at one of the Industry Summits added to this year’s Content Marketing World. It’s fun to be presenting with a client about learnings from their collaborative blog. It’s also wonderful to return to Northeast Ohio where I honed much of the Brainzooming methodology back in my corporate days. Additionally, since Content Marketing Institute founder Joe Pulizzi is the most orange-loving guy I know (next to me) and paints the town and conference orange, being at Content Marketing World feels just like home before even getting there!

191 Tips and Tools for Better Content Marketing

Cheri and I will be presenting on “191 Tools and Tips You Can Use Tomorrow for Content Marketing & Social Media.” Yes, you read that right. ONE HUNDRED NINETY-ONE tools and tips in 45 minutes. I guess you could say it is going to be a very fast-paced presentation. While event attendees can download the presentation directly, I wanted to share links to a variety of Brainzooming posts underpinning the content for the 191 tips and tools presentation. Beyond our catch-all What to Blog About and How –Blogging Content Primer and the Brainzooming Social Media Strategy Framework to Maximize Social Networking Impact, here are several other posts with content featured in our Content Marketing World session:

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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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In July, Sean Ryan, Director – Social and Mobile at J.C. Penney spoke to the Social Media Club of Kansas City about the company’s social media efforts during a topsy-turvy period that’s been rocky again the past few weeks (but more on that tomorrow).

7 Success Factors from the J.C. Penney Social Media Strategy

Sean presented an insightful overview with real world examples of strategic concepts we view as integral to a brand’s successful social networking and content effort.

1. Create an audience persona as a focal point for social media content.

The audience persona of the “new” J.C. Penney (modeled after Tina Fey and others) helped focus the personality, voice, and editorial content decisions for the brand’s social media implementation. In Sean’s words, the Fey Roniston (as the persona was named) personality represented who the brand is, her voice is how the brand talks, and her sensibilities shape what subjects and events the brand covers.

Sean-Ryan-Visual-Resume2. Strong social media people represent a combination of business person and reporter.

Sean was a reporter in the first half of his career before transitioning to Target and then J.C. Penney. His career path suggests a strong social media profile: a reporter’s ability to ask questions and distill information along with a business person’s knowledge and sensibilities. Sean highlighted the two halves of his career with an intriguing concept: a one-slide, visual resume.

3. Reach into the organization to develop a social media editorial calendar.

Since many people outside Sean’s team (i.e., buyers for one) have early visibility and potential content on stories of interest to the brand’s fans, regularly reaching out for leads (as a reporter would) helps ensure timely, meaningful content on its social media editorial calendar.

4. Conduct weekly meetings with anyone touching the social strategy.

No one department “controls” all aspects of the social strategy so planned checkpoints among stakeholders enhance integration, provide visibility to developing stories, and ensure people with responsibility for key touchpoints are well-coordinated.

jcp-facebook5. Be willing to pick up your strategy and move it.

The original J.C. Penney Facebook page was mired in a seemingly unrecoverable Facebook Edgerank situation, savaged by fans complaining about the retailer and its Facebook content (which was being recycled from other media).  It was typical for negative Facebook fan actions (marking posts as spam, hiding some or all of the brand’s posts) to surpass positive actions (likes, shares, comments) on a regular basis. Rather than try to reverse the Facebook Edgerank perspective on its page, J.C. Penney moved its presence to a new Facebook page built around its updated strategy. The new Facebook page started demonstrating positive results immediately.

6. Build the trust needed to operate in social time.

When asked about differences in the review process for day-to-day vs. crisis communication-oriented social media, Sean said former CEO Ron Johnson commented that he trusted Sean’s team to edit and make solid decisions about what to share. This reflects a previous Brainzooming post on social networking critical success factors: real-time social media response depends on a level of trust from senior management in the judgment of those running the operation.

7. Produce weekly social media metrics linked to business performance.

If social media wants to be taken seriously as a business function, it has to deliver metrics at the pace the line organization does. It’s also imperative to provide a bridge to how social media contributes to making the numbers that move the business. One regular feedback loop among the J.C. Penney social media metrics involves reporting trending topics for marketing & merchandising to see what customers are talking about online. – 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 media strategies with these nine diagnostics. Download Your Free Copy of “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy.”

 

 

 

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Learn all about how Mike Brown’s social media strategy development workshops can boost your organization’s success!

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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Umbrella-nivoa-photocaseIt seems from hanging out with entrepreneurs (to the extent I do), there are two entrepreneurial types:

The Serial Entrepreneur

One entrepreneurial type loves the cool factor associated with being known as a serial entrepreneur. The badge of honor is starting a bunch of things, even if (and this is typically unspoken) many of them never come to fruition. A serial entrepreneur gains advantage in that each new project, effort, or company is positioned separately, which allows greater clarity in how they are marketed and discussed.

The Umbrella Holder Entrepreneur

The other entrepreneurial type develops an umbrella business model and puts a variety of things underneath it. While an umbrella holder entrepreneur may not be doing quite as many different things as the serial entrepreneur, the volume of activity under the single umbrella makes it seem substantial. There are administrative advantages to this (i.e., you don’t have to mess around with forming all those LLCs), but the messaging isn’t nearly as clear since the umbrella has to morph to accommodate what might be disparate ventures.

Which of these two entrepreneurial types suits you?

I don’t know that either one is generally better than the other, although I have my preferences. What’s more important is to know which entrepreneur type best suits you, how you work, and how you want to talk about the work you do?

This is one you definitely have to decide for yourself.  – Mike Brown

 

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Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic creative thinking and ideas! For an organizational innovation success 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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Customer experience and innovation expert Woody Bendle  is back today with his big, big, big, big strategic insights on big data analytics. Here’s Woody!

Strategic Insights – Much Ado about Big Data Analytics by Woody Bendle

Big Data is HOT!

Look at this Google Trends search on “Big Data” from this past Saturday (August 08, 2013).  You don’t have to be a statistician or a Nobel Prize winning macro economist to see Big Data has been on an AMAZING upward trajectory since 2011!

Big-Data-Trend

 

There is no denying Big Data is in vogue right now. Some might even say it’s pretty darned sexy!  But, as someone whose been tackling ‘Big Data’ for more than 20 years, I have to ask, “What the heck’s the big deal?”  We’re just talking about data – albeit, more of it.

Look, Big is relative; and as long as you know what you’re doing, data size should not be an issue given the current state and price of computing technologies today.  This leads me to think there is something more to all of this ‘Big Data’ chatter than simply terabytes.

Perhaps all of the hoo-hah surrounding Big Data analytics has to do with the different types of data out there.

Big Data encapsulates A LOT of different data types ranging from good (accurate and reliable) to bad (wrong and inconsistent).  Big Data can also be structured (numbers, etc.) or unstructured (a video posted on YouTube with someone railing on your company).  Also, some Big Data reflect location (latitude and longitude or a check-in on FourSquare) as well as things happening over time.  WHEW!

And for good measure, I even have my own classification for the different types of data (Big or not) I regularly encounter – these are Woody’s data ABCs.

  1. Attitudinal – what people are thinking, feeling and saying (or trying to say)
  2. Behavioral – what people are doing, where, when, and how often
  3. Crap – no explanation needed here

So sure, I’ll admit it, Big Data can be pretty complicated and complex. But this is what data analysis has always been about – for years. This leads me to think there is still something more to this whole Big Data thing than just data size and data complexity.

This is something I’ve been thinking more about lately, and I tend to believe the big deal has to do with the confluence of a number of technological trends that surprisingly snuck up on a lot of people, as well as the fundamental laws of demand and supply.

Our New Hyper-Digital Era

On the technology side, we now live a new hyper-digital era where due to advancements in computing capacity and speed, data capture and storage in conjunction with rapidly decreasing costs, virtually every move we make throughout every living moment of our lives is registered digitally.  Billions of people all doing hundreds (or thousands) of different things every day – all captured and memorialized in some digital form in the cloud.

In addition, the Internet revolution has enabled all sorts of technological, consumer , and social innovations which now allow people to create and share more data in one day than many companies used to generate in a pre-digital era year!

Think about all of the data each of us create every day through emails, text messages, Facebook pages, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Vine, Yelp, WordPress, Blogger, etc.  And, not to mention the continual digital wake we leave behind with the GPS transmitters in our smartphones and cars.  All of these things individually and in combination generate more data than most of us can fathom – and certainly way more data than most in the business world are prepared to use.  And by use, I mean actually utilize in such a manner as to create new value for consumers, society, and businesses.

So, technological innovation is enabling the creation and storage of exponentially growing mountains of Big Data.  But this wouldn’t be happening if there weren’t market forces driving it.  That is, demand for Big Data led to the supply of it!

It always seems to come back to economics doesn’t it . . .

On the demand and supply side of things, we’re dealing with at least two different phenomena.  And this is where I think the real Big Data frenzy is stemming from.  The first is a case of being careful about what you wish for (because you just might eventually get it!); and the second is gross deficiency in the supply of analytical talent in the US.

You Asked for It

In terms of being careful about what you wish for, my sense is a lot of the Big Data issues many are living today probably involves a narrative similar to this:

1)     For years, the lack of data (or the costs associated with obtaining data) has been used as an excuse for not knowing (or being able to answer) something – if we only had more data

2)     Many, for whatever reason, erroneously believed that simply having more data would mean better and more valuable (insightful) data  –  these are probably the same people who believe you need to remove all of their blood in order to have a reliable blood test

3)     Over the past 15-20 years it has become amazingly cheap and easy to create and house A LOT of data.  As a result, there are now massive mountains of Big Data “out there” all over the place  – making the people using the old “if we only had more data” excuse pretty nervous

4)     Many (bosses, shareholders, government leaders, etc.) naïvely believe since Big Data is now relatively easy to capture and house, it also should be relatively easy and inexpensive to analyze  –  these are people who think Microsoft Excel is all anyone could ever possibly need to analyze anything – they also happen to be the same people who slept through their business calc and business stats courses and don’t know the difference between a T-Test and a T-Square (hint – one is used in carpentry)

5)     Very few people (in decision making capacities) have actually spent much any time thinking about the types of questions they want to be able to answer with Big Datalet alone how someone would actually go about answering them

6)     Even fewer people have spent much time thinking about how all of this Big Data should actually be configured.  That is, how it should be structured in order for it to be analyzed; thus enabling it to help answer all of these yet-to-be-defined business questions

7)     Many leaders are now nervously sitting on tons of Big Data and have come to the realization that they don’t have the right tools and/or the right talent within their organization to leverage their unwieldy Big Data asset

8)     Meanwhile senior leadership, boards and shareholders continue to wonder when all of the Big Data magic is going to begin! – I mean come on all ready would you! You’ve got all of this data that you’d been asking for; so do something with it already – and make us tons of money!  NOW!

In Search of Big Data Ninjas

This leads me to the second, and more problematic demand and supply issue surrounding Big Data – There simply aren’t enough well-trained Big Data analysts in the US labor market do anything of any value with all of this Big Data!

According to the US Department of Education, only about 10% of the 1.6MM undergraduate degrees conferred in the 2009-2010 academic year were in areas such as Computer Sciences, Engineering, Math and Statistics, and the Physical Sciences & Technologies.

Tech-Undergrads

 

These are the types of degrees Big Data analysts will have; and unfortunately for organizations needing to hire Big Data analysts, this is down significantly from nearly 13.5% of all degrees awarded in the 1980-1981 academic year.  If you are on the demand side of this Big Data equation, this is not the sort of trend you want to see in the face of the surging Big Data Tidal Wave! (Affiliate Link)

While I’m spreading all sorts of sunshine on our Big Data parade, here’s something else to keep in mind.  Only a small fraction of those who have graduated with analytic or technical degrees in the past twenty or so years are actually in the Big Data analysis business, and very few of today’s technically-oriented undergrads are aspiring Big Data ninjas.  The bottom line is an interesting reality where we are dealing with the rapid growth in demand for competent Big Data analysts in the face of a woefully insufficient supply.  I suspect it will take a good number of years before natural market forces arrive at equilibrium – that is, when the supply of Big Data slayers will equal market demand.

The Path Forward

There is absolutely no doubt that Big Data is finally here, and that it is truly here to stay.  There is also no denying that there are a lot of Big Data challenges that need to be better understood and dealt with.  However, if we make the proper investments in Planning, Preparing and Organizing  for Big Data, we can begin to realize the value that is promises.  I, by no means intend to trivialize or undersell the time, effort, and resources that will be required along the way.  This will be a big effort – after all, we are talking about Big Data. However this dilemma is a bit like the question about when is the best time to plant a tree. The best answer of course is yesterday and the second best answer is today.  Regardless of your current Big Data state, better Planning, Preparation and Organization today will ensure a better Big Data tomorrow.

So what do you think?  Are we really in the midst of a Big Data dilemma?  Or, is all of this Big Data stuff much ado about nothing?

And hey – on the bright side of things, if you happen to be a budding Big Data ninja…  Your future’s so bright, you’d better get shades (cue up Timbuk3)Woody Bendle

 

       (Affiliate Link)

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Here are two recent examples of opportunities for more effective audience-driven branding, if one is paying attention and thinking from the audience’s perspective.

A New Audience Member Doesn’t See Your Ho-Hum

Schanee-AndersonAt the Kansas Green Schools and Environmental Education Conference, I attended a discussion group on “Thinking Outside the Box about Community Partners & Resources,” facilitated by Schanee’ Anderson of the Sedgwick County Zoo. Schanee’ covered the importance of not presupposing what your audience will find intriguing about your brand experience based solely on what YOU find intriguing.

Just one of her great insights on audience-driven branding was to take people unfamiliar with your organization on a tour of your operation. When an unfamiliar audience member “oohs” and “ahhs,” take note: that is an audience-driven branding element that is special. It is something to feature, no matter how long ago you started taking it for granted.

Other audience-driven branding insights Schanee’ shared included:

  • Not just asking the usual suspects to participate in your non-profit’s activities. Look for people with no apparent ties to your cause who might have intense interests in your cause that are not readily apparent.
  • Continually provide your audience members with the inside scoop on your organization. This builds relationships through giving them he inside scoop even when you do not have a specific ask to make of them.
  • If the people in your organization need training, identify an organization whose people would grow by educating your organization on relevant topics.

Question: What kinds of opportunities could a more audience-driven look at your brand experience create for your organization?

Not Jumping the Gun on the Ask

I was talking with a fund raising executive about his organization’s newsletter. The top section of the newsletter, filled with links to news about the organization, its people, and their activities drives significant website traffic whenever they distribute the email. The newsletter section immediately following the newsy/personal links is a very direct ask about finding out more about wills, trusts, and estate planning. Not surprisingly, the number of clicks on the features in the estate and wills section is much lower.

We discussed the awkward shift between news and estate planning that makes it seem as if the organization is jumping the gun on its ask. As an alternative, we discussed developing a persona to represent his target audience: people in their 40s and 50s who are creating wills who rarely change their wills and trusts after they are completed.

Since his audience is connected to its youthful days as part of the organization, I suggested instead of featuring articles on estate planning, his more in-depth section should recap memories of his organization when his target audience was directly involved. These stories of yesteryear would actually engage the target audience. The associated links for these stories would focus on familiar people to the target audience who have actually engaged in planned giving. So now instead of jumping the gun to the ask, the organization uses two sets of stories of personal interest to the target audience to create engagement.

Question: How would more audience-driven stories open up possibilities to engage audience members wary of a direct ask? – Mike Brown

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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 info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your strategy and implementation efforts.

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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Same-Old-IdeasThere’s always value in creating the greatest impact from the resources most readily available to us in organizations (which I learned just yesterday can be described with the much more impressive phrase: physical eolithism).

This is especially true when the people, financial, and other resources we need to get things done aren’t what they used to be or that we would want them to be. Talking about this with a client the other day for an upcoming creative thinking and innovation workshop I’m presenting, I blurted out, “It’s all about doing new with less.”

If you feel as if you’ve wrung everything possible from what’s available to you to produce creative and innovative programs, yet you still need to keep going or even do more, what are your creative thinking options for doing new with less?

Doing New with Less – Creative Thinking and Innovative Programs on a Shoestring

Here’s a collection of Brainzooming resources to help you in doing new with less through being more strategic, simplifying things, and sprucing up experiences on the cheap:

Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle Your Current Creative Ideas

Coming Up with New Ideas

Throwing Away What You’ve Done Before

Change Expectations

Shifting Roles Around

New Ways to Implement

Have fun diving into this list of creative thinking resources for improving your programs – even if you have to do it on a shoestring. – Mike Brown

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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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