3

A question at my recent social media strategy for non-profits training presentation at the Topeka Community Foundation was what steps one, two, and three should be when just starting developing a social media strategy. Interestingly, the person asking the question speculated on the answer and was absolutely correct:

  • Start by making sure your home base, your own website, is fantastic before you focus on establishing cool outposts on popular social networks where your target audience spends time.

This idea about fixing up your home was highlighted in the recent post on similarities in dating advice and social media strategy. You want to make sure you spruce up your home so that as a relationship which started someplace else advances, you have an attractive, welcoming place to invite someone to get to know each other better.

There are some who say that with the prevalence of Facebook, an organization’s Facebook page will supersede (or even replace) its home page on the web.

Maybe.

But even still, while you may want to meet your target audience where they’re hanging out, a place like Facebook won’t let you share your full story.

It’s far better to have a much more compelling online option under your control where someone can learn about you, and importantly, derive more value from the relationship than they can when interacting with you on neutral ground.

If you buy that, what does it mean for your social media strategy?

1. Make sure your online home provides the richest experience possible, delivering valuable content and interactions for your target audience. That means it isn’t just a brochure or reads like the typical corporate b.s. Figure out what potential or current customers want to know about or do, and put it in place. If they want to conduct business without lots of extras, get core business functions up and running which are quick to load, perform well, and create a rich user experience.

2. Be present and participatory where your audience is today and extend invitations to your online home. Ask for permission to keep talking to them whether they’re interacting with you on Facebook, Twitter, or some other social network. Target securing an email address to open up the possibility for richer conversations on a schedule you’re more involved in establishing.

3. Once someone’s interested in your website, don’t spend all your time trying to get them to go to your Facebook page. Invest greater effort and website geography on providing a whole variety of ways to interact: a blog, distinct RSS feeds, sign-ups for newsletters, multi-media options (video, podcasts), etc.

It’s the holidays, so while you think about being home with the ones you love, give some time over to thinking about your online home and making it a great place for the customers (and potential customers) you love to want to return to in the future. – Mike Brown

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

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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21

This Thanksgiving-shortened week’s posts all spring from something I’m thankful for: two recent social media strategy training presentations for non-profit organizations. Based on incredible turnouts for both social media training presentations, non-profit social media strategy must be a hot topic! One question from both sessions was on social media tactics for building your non-profit organization’s audience. These 16 social media tactics across 3 different areas should aid non-profits in growing a social media audience as much as they do other types of businesses and individuals as well:

Be a Good Social Media Participant

1. Be human and socially intriguing – This tactic applies both visually (depict a person in your avatar) and in interactions (demonstrate personality and let people know WHO they’re interacting with online).

2. Interact with people – Engage with people on relevant topics. Talk, respond, and initiate conversations.

3. Regularly share strong, intriguing content, especially news & interesting links – It’s easy to say, “Don’t be boring.” Work hard to make sure it’s also easy for your audience to see you really follow the advice. And don’t think you can share content once and then stop! Be consistent in your presence and sharing.

4. Share content from intriguing people – If you struggle generating enough rich content on your own, at least share and link to rich content others are creating.

5. Don’t over-promote yourself – Nobody likes an aggressive salesperson in real life or online. Cool the sales pitch and attract followers at their pace.

6. Follow first & manage your list actively – It’s okay and advisable to follow other people in your audience groups first. It’s also okay to weed out people who aren’t active. It’s especially good for organizations to have written guidelines on how and why they’re making these decisions.

7. Have a place to point people for deeper understanding - That means a blog or website that’s “your property,” as opposed to a Facebook presence subject to what Facebook decides to do.

8. Publicize your social media identity – Include links to your social media presence wherever you are online, particularly links to your home page.

Individual and Topic-Based Opportunities

9. Ask for and incent connections – Request that people connect with you by liking, following, and linking to you – whichever is appropriate for the particular social network. Also ask your current followers who they think you should be linked to in their social networks.

10. Follow back relevant followers – If someone has taken time to seek you out and isn’t a spammer, follow them back if they fit your target profile (then engage them to solidify the potential relationship).

11. Identify strong people on topics of interest and follow who they follow – If there are key influencers or experts in your audience, it’s a good practice to follow the people they follow (i.e., the people influencing their content and thinking).

12. Run searches on relevant topics and follow tweetersAlways have searches running on people active in social media talking about the topics relevant to your organization and take the opportunity to follow them. For Twitter, you can run the searches inside Twitter, do them at www.search.twitter.com (whether you are on Twitter or not), or have them going in a program such as Tweetdeck or Hootsuite.

13. List your organization on popular directories under related topicsWefollow & similar directories are structured by informational topics so others active in the same topics can find you. Similarly follow others listed in relevant categories on these same directories.

Take Advantage of Live Interactions

14. Solicit social media identities from customers and prospects – Whenever your organization touches a target audience member, request other ways to stay in touch with them.

15. Follow all attendees at events or using your organization’s Twitter hashtags – If other people are involved in events you sponsor or share the content you create, be sure to follow them.

16. Participate in live tweeting to gain disproportionate attention – Participating in Twitter chats or live event social media efforts is a great way to grow your followers among others with similar interests and needs.

These are all diligent, steady ways to build a follower and fan base.

There are certainly automated, program-based ways to build followers as well, but quite frankly, I’m a “diligent, steady” kind of guy and like growing followers organically vs. through a purely automated online program.

But if you’ve seen success with these programs or other audience-building techniques, what’s been 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’ve developed  integrated social media strategy for other brands and can do the same for yours.


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

The question came up during a recent Brainzooming innovation training session on “Taking the NO Out of Business InNOvation” about how to deal with the fear of change which can cripple efforts to introduce innovative business ideas into an organization.

One of the best ways to conquer this innovation roadblock is the widespread understanding and belief that an organization’s current path will be much worse without innovation. Think an organization’s impending financial collapse. As I paraquoted Butthead in a recent tweet, “For creating change, financial crises kick ass.”

If you don’t have a financial crisis to throw into the change mix, however, coupling an emotional appeal with legitimate customer and marketplace insights is a next best option to counteract the fear of change.

Which emotional appeals are best to use in pushing innovation? Here are five to consider:

  • Excitement – What about a potential innovation-centered future is much more compelling personally and organizationally than the current state?
  • Wonder – Are there elements of the future state which will make today’s reality pale in comparison?
  • Safety – Can a new situation deliver levels of comfort and peace of mind unimaginable without substantial change?
  • Hopefulness – Will knowing more about what is to come create a motivating sense of anticipation for the results which follow near-term change?
  • Ambition – Is there a brighter financial future awaiting those who make it through impending change and whatever pain it may bring?

Each of these emotional appeals can help drive successful organizational change strategy, but the important question is what strategies have worked for you to make change more palatable? Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you create and implement positive change in your organization.

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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18

In my social media strategy presentation, I used to open with a slide about suffering from Social Media Obsessive Compulsive Disorder 2.0, i.e. never seeing a social network I wouldn’t join. Fortunately, the need to build The Brainzooming Group business coupled with sleep and creative energy limitations have curbed my personal case of social media information overload.

And by “curbed,” I mean “slowed…somewhat.”

The other day, I followed a tweet to a cartoon video blog post illustrating the anxiety caused by expectations of always being online and accessible via email and every other known social network. The cartoon wasn’t very compelling, but I left a comment nonetheless…because I haven’t been doing enough commenting on other blogs lately.

See what I mean? There’s always an opportunity for a relapse.

The post got me thinking, however, about what strategies have helped me feel a little bit better in dealing with the reality I can’t be meaningfully active in every social network:

  • Come to grips with the fact there is information (even really cool information) being tweeted and posted which you’ll never consume. I know it’s scary, but get over it. It just is.
  • You won’t know the most current details about every topic someone asks you about. Get really good at replying to questions about an unfamiliar topic by firing back with a question of your own.
  • Scads of fringe social networks getting lots of hype will go away before you ever figure out why you’d need to know about them. They’ll be replaced by other social networks. Maybe start paying attention to the social networks appearing after that.
  • Replace “social networks” with “news” and “them” and “they” with “it” in the previous bullet point. The statement’s still true, isn’t it?
  • Invest a majority of your learning time becoming world-class at how to find information, how to learn, and how to process information topics. Use these killer skills when you really need to go deep on a topic.
  • Invest lots of your networking time creating a diverse group of individuals to keep you informed on detailed (yet relevant) topics you can’t possibly follow yourself. Ask them lots of questions – on a “when you really need to know it” basis.
  • Lots of people know much less than you may give them credit for. Surprised? Don’t be. They’re dealing with the same anxieties about information overload you are. Quit angsting about your own information capacity limitations.
  • Ask people you trust what tools they use to cope with too much information. Far better to let others be the guinea pigs for the latest apps.
  • Social media metrics and follower counts aren’t linked to your worth as a person. Enough said.

Those are my nine.

Now let me ask you a question – what are your strategies for coping with your own social media and information obsessions? – Mike Brown

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


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

I always appreciate when an organization is comfortable enough with itself to add fun or some other emotion to its service delivery. My appreciation is especially great when a business displays the willingness to carry the emotion into the most mundane, and potentially little-noticed, parts of its operation.

When scrambling to catch my plane in Minneapolis (yes, another Minneapolis post…what an incredibly rich experience for only being there 18 hours), I briefly stopped at a Caribou Coffee stand to buy a sandwich.  When leaving, I grabbed a handful of cocktail-sized napkins, shoved them in my coat pocket, and hurried to the gate.

Only when I got home and emptied my coat pockets did I notice the questions and musings printed on Caribou Coffee napkins.

How cool! It would be easier to leave the napkins blank or simply include the standard corporate message and images. But Caribou Coffee was looking to pass-along value from its napkins. What a great way to employ a routine item for guerrilla marketing value in a way most businesses would NEVER imagine! – 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, guerrilla marketing-oriented 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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6

I’ve mentioned before about writing on a regular basis for the TalentCulture blog. TalentCulture is the brainchild of the inimitable Meghan M. Biro. Meghan is a true empowerer (potentially a made-up word) of individuals (talent) and companies (culture) to truly rise to their full potential in collaboration, community, and doing all kinds of cool 2.0 stuff.

Meghan’s been a true friend and supporter in the launch of The Brainzooming Group this past year, so I’m always excited to help cheerlead for the introduction of new collaborative efforts she’s spearheading.

Tonight marks a new collaborative element in the TalentCulture oeuvre, with the inauguration of #TChat, a weekly one-hour Twitter-based chat. Taking place Tuesday nights at 7 pm central time (US), the chats will cover the core TalentCulture community topics of careers, the workplace, and innovation.

The first #TChat tonight will address emotional intelligence, and its importance to being a successful leader. You can learn more about the chats and tonight’s topic specifically at this blog post by TalentCulture contributor Kevin Grossman.

Here’s a suggestion if you’re going to participate: follow and share your perspectives for the chat using TweetChat. It does a good job of updating tweets in near real-time, plus it will automatically include the #TChat hashtag in every tweet.

One admission to make: I have a previous commitment with an adult religious education class every Tuesday night at the time #TChat is scheduled. As a result, I’ll only be participating very occasionally until May 2011. But I’ll be checking out the transcripts, so let’s see if we can generate a strong Brainzooming turnout for #TChat! – 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.  To learn how we can bring out the best innovative thinking in your talented team email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320.

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

There’s not a lot to add to this Dilbert cartoon from Thursday. It’s one thing to SAY your business strategy encourages risk taking in order to be more innovative. Punishing any mistake (and the related learning opportunities), however, will ensure you won’t really have any innovation in your organization. And that sucks for everybody involved! – Mike Brown

Dilbert.com

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement.  To learn how we can structure an innovative strategy to keep you ahead of your customers, email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320.

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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