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I’ve just signed on to speak at the 2016 Social Media Strategy Summit in Las Vegas. The topic will be an update to the “Staying Sane as a Solo Social Media Professional” workshops I’ve delivered at previous Social Media Strategy Summit events (and elsewhere). The challenge is, however, it’s just a 45-minute presentation. That’s going to necessitate some judicious trimming to highlight the very top tips for a solo social media professional to focus and enhance a brand’s content marketing strategy!

Solo-Social-Media-Cover2

2 Ways to Decide When to Write What with Your Content Marketing Strategy

One of the new solo social media tips  under consideration involves this tip I used to help shape the Brainzooming content marketing strategy for this year.

The only thing about this content marketing strategy tip, however, is it requires two things:

  • At least one year (and ideally two or more years) of blog content published at a fairly regular frequency
  • Several blogs on your core topic areas that are generating ongoing search traffic throughout the year

Granted, those two content marketing strategy hurdles, depending on where you are blogging from, can seem either easy or incredibly challenging.

If you have met both of these hurdles, however, take a look at the month-by-month visits for your posts with the most robust ongoing traffic.

The big step is to compare the percent of yearly traffic you receive each month for a specific post to a typical standard for visits. There are two options for the standard you use:

  1. That standard could be 1/12 of your annual traffic (i.e., you’d expect to get an average share of visits each month).
  2. Alternatively, your standard could be the percent of total annual traffic your overall blog receives each month throughout the year.

No matter which standard you choose, for each month divide the percent of visits the post received by your standard for that month, then multiply all the results by 100.

What this will show is that for any month whose resulting number is over 100, there is greater than average interest in the topic that month. When the number is less than 100, it indicates disproportionately less interest in the topic.

This content marketing strategy approach helped prioritize nine of our most frequently-covered topics for the year. It highlighted that “innovation” is a popular topic throughout the year, and confirmed that “strategic planning” is most popular during the late summer and early fall months.

Never having used this approach to shaping a content calendar, I can’t report what it does to grow visits. The approach will, however, definitely help in keeping a focus throughout the year on what topics should be more popular at any given time. – Mike Brown

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You start writing blog posts, stick with it nearly every day, repeat that for nearly eight years, and suddenly, you have two thousand blog posts.

At least that’s what has happened with the Brainzooming blog!

Today, based on the post counter in WordPress, is our two thousandth blog.

MM, 2K, 2000

The blog started on the Blogger platform in November 2007 after seeing Jessica Myers (who was at Garmin Industries at the time) speak at a conference about being able to start a blog for free in just ten minutes. The first two years, I was writing the blog while still at YRC Worldwide. I would come home Friday nights and stay up until all hours on Saturday morning writing Brainzooming plus five humor blog posts and one spirituality blog post for other blogs I later created.

Yes, you can do too much of a good thing.

While having a daily deadline has become less stimulating creatively over the years, I shudder to think of how much experience and the number of strategic thinking exercises that would have come and gone without any documentation if not for the Brainzooming blog.

While the Brainzooming blog serves multiple functions, one of the most important for me is as my own professional reference source.

  • If we’re headed into a client session or a meeting and need a few creative thinking questions, I visit the blog and grab suitable questions from one of our compilation posts.
  • In preparing a strategic thinking workshop or updating a presentation, I search for new Brainzooming articles and images since the last update to freshen and expand content.
  • When we have a call with a prospective client to cover questions about our process and approach to strategic thinking exercises, I’ll open multiple browser tabs, each containing a previous blog post that answers a likely question.
  • In creating a new eBook or Fake Book, the blog provides the starting content we can arrange and share in new formations.

Thank You!

So, thanks to Jessica Myers for her first suggestion.

Thank you to YRC Worldwide for its support of the blog’s early years, Seth Simonds for handling the free conversion from Blogger to WordPress, and to Mike Whaling of 30 Lines for his help making tweaks during the years, especially when a server attack put us on the Google bad website list a few years ago.

Thank you to all the guest authors over the years, especially Woody Bendle, who has to be at the top of the list based on the number of posts with his insightful writing on customer and brand experience (and other topics) over the past several years.

Thanks to our Brainzooming clients since our start around this time in 2009 for their support and work with The Brainzooming Group. It’s our client engagements and workshops on strategy, innovation, creativity, social media, and content marketing (among other areas) that keep the lights on and the computers going to be able to share our strategic thinking exercises with you.

Clients-Oct-2015

Finally, thanks to all of you readers around the world – whether you are a new reader, read our content sporadically, or have been a faithful reader since the blog’s earliest days! – Mike Brown

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People ask me frequently about why we give away so much of what The Brainzooming Group does on our website.

The conventional wisdom is you give away “what” you do as part of content marketing, but not “how” you do what you do. We, however, routinely share how we do things via our methodology, tools, and learnings from Brainzooming strategic thinking workshops.

Gifts-Strategic-Thinking-Ex

Why Do We Give Away So Many Strategic Thinking Exercises?

My response is the more we share the Brainzooming methodology with you, the more you can improve your own strategy work on a daily basis in situations where it would NEVER be practical to engage us for help.

This is why we run compilation articles frequently to help you find a comprehensive set of resources, exercises, and tools. These compilations are organized to be easier to use than combing through individual blog posts.

And by the way, here are the most frequently referenced compilations:

As I describe it to readers and workshop attendees, these compilation articles are akin to having recipe books for Brainzooming. And just as someone new to cooking might grab a recipe and fix a small family meal with one, they are unlikely to open a restaurant using the recipe without any prior experience.

Similarly, it’s easy enough to take one of the Brainzooming strategic thinking exercises in the blog and experiment with it among your department team in a safe environment. But taking that same exercise and trying to use it with your entire organization in a high stakes setting? That’s a completely different matter!

That’s why when we work with large groups and involve facilitators less familiar with the Brainzooming methodology, we create “Brainzooming Facilitator Guides.” These facilitator guides provide a deeper level of detail on how strategic thinking exercises work and the success factors for them working well. This level of detail is rarely shared here on the website. These facilitator guides reflect the value of our combined experience in translating questions and strategic thinking exercises into incredible in-person and online collaborations.

Strategic-Thinking-Guide

One additional benefit of giving away so much of the Brainzooming methodology?

When you experience the impact in productivity and results from trying Brainzooming yourself, it creates fantastic opportunities for us to work with clients that are stronger and more attuned to a different was of approaching collaborative strategy and innovation.

And that works better for EVERYONE when we are actually able to work together! – Mike Brown

 

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(This is another in a week-long series on forming oneself as a Catholic business person.)

While social media and content marketing strategy ideas benefit from new thinking and approaches, you can also incorporate offline best practices that make sense, even if they may seem old.

For example, one client expressed challenges in refreshing and featuring seasonally-based story ideas year after year. In answer to this challenge related to content marketing strategy, I realized something from my spiritual life demonstrates a great lesson applicable to developing an editorial calendar to take advantage of recurring content opportunities.

An Offline Way to Plan Online Content Marketing Strategy

Lectionary

Attending mass on a daily basis has helped reveal the underlying calendar that plans which Bible passages are read at each Catholic mass. An approved lectionary (in essence, an editorial calendar) sets the direction. For weekdays, some readings are assigned to annual cycles and other to biennial ones. During special liturgical seasons, all daily readings are the same each year. For Sunday services, readings rotate every three years. Specific feasts and holidays during the year may cause the replacement of that day’s passages with other related Bible readings instead.

The end result, beyond emphasizing different messages with varied frequencies, is simple: over the course of the daily and Sunday calendars, approximately 95% of the Bible’s books are included through at least some passages.

If your organization has many stories to tell and needs to reinforce key messages at different times (with varying rates of repetition), adopting a comparable editorial calendar approach could make sense for you. Employing a similar strategy for content marketing strategy requires answering critical questions. These include:

  • What’s the full range of content we want to cover for the organization and target audiences?
  • What content priorities need more frequent reinforcement, and which can be addressed less regularly?
  • What are special events that need coverage and should rightfully interrupt the editorial calendar?
  • What options can be provided to content creators (either in topics, style, etc.) to allow creative flexibility?
  • What strategic links exist between content areas and associated SEO and keyword strategies?

The questions may seem daunting. There is incredible upside in the content marketing strategy opportunities generated from implementing a strategic editorial calendar that reflects both repetitive topics and new twists on old stories.

If the prospect of creating an editorial calendar and collaborative blogging plan seems overwhelming, let us know. We’d love to help streamline developing and implementing your social media and collaborative blogging strategies.

Has your organization done anything like this? Have you tried a similar approach for a smaller organization? How has it worked, and where, if anywhere, have you struggled?  – Mike Brown

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Spending the week at the Hubspot Inbound15 conference was intense – for various reasons. The experience could yield a month’s worth of Brainzooming posts filled with content marketing strategy ideas from Inbound.

Inbound15-ClubInbound

Nine Time-Saving Content Marketing Strategy Tips from Inbound15

As a start, here are nine time-saving tips for content marketing strategy I took away from Inbound15.

Some are credited to specific speakers; others were general takeaways from the conference.

  1. When you have older, evergreen content that has more mileage left in it, take the opportunity to refresh and optimize the posts. Then, republish the posts as new content for those readers that haven’t seen these posts previously. (Pamela Vaughn of Hubspot)
  2. Instead of launching a brand new LinkedIn Group, explore taking over a LinkedIn Group that is in your topic area that has gone dormant. Even though it might not be as active as it once was, you’ll be starting with a built-in audience that you can re-engage. (Viveka Von Rosen, Linked Into Business)
  3. When you create an eBook, think through all the other content bits and pieces you can pull out of it. These include blog posts, short-form status updates, infographics, presentations, etc. (Amanda Sibley, Hubspot)
  4. Do more curation and less creation. Save time by turning your reading and learning time into curated content posts for your blog. (Ginny Soskey, Hubspot)
  5. If you’ve written multiple posts on a related topic, combine them into one comprehensive, be all and end all post on that particular topic. (Ginny Soskey again)
  6. Use humor more, even in business content, to make your communication crisper and to help it communicate more efficiently. (Tim Washer)
  7. Instead of creating highly specific and custom slides for presentations, create fewer slides with more general messages and images. You can use these for multiple presentations, telling multiple and different stories over the top of these slides. (From a conversation with author and speaker, Pam Didner)
  8. Make sure to stay current on all the integration opportunities across social networks that allow you to seamlessly feature one piece of content in multiple places, i.e., LinkedIn and LinkedIn Slideshare integration. (Arpit Dhariwal and Taylor Greason of LinkedIn Slideshare)
  9. Incent attendees at events to share their notes and photos of presentations in order to build a content archive. (What Hubspot did with Inbound.org)

Some of these content marketing strategy tips are new, and others are simply good reminders of great ways to get more done with your content in much less time! – Mike Brown

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Solo-Social-Media-Cover2Speaking at content marketing and social media strategy conferences, I meet many individuals in social media specialist roles handling social and content marketing duties for their companies as one-person departments.

What amazes me is that these are not just people from smaller companies. Even many big brands place all the responsibility for their social and content marketing on a single social media specialist. One study reported, in fact, that 42% of individuals with full-time social media strategy and implementation responsibilities are flying solo.

When you ask a solo social media specialist about the job’s issues, they report a variety of challenges, including:

  • Trying to manage strategy and tactics
  • Being pulled between competing priorities
  • Creating social campaigns that produce business results
  • Lack of time
  • Producing enough content
  • Lack of budget

For a solo social media specialist to work effectively, it’s important to know ways to save time, increase focus, improve performance, boost efficiency, and create more productive content.

If your time, attention, and dollars are stretched thin carrying out your brand’s social media strategy by yourself, you need to download the new eBook from The Brainzooming Group, “3 Principles for a Thriving One-Person Social Team.”

Download Your FREE eBook! 3 Keys to Thriving as a Solo Social Media Professional

We’ve partnered with The Social Media Strategy Summit to make this FREE eBook available to all our Brainzooming readers. Within the eBook, you will learn actionable ideas to:

  • Use your company’s business strategy to better focus and streamline your content creation
  • Take advantage of “whole brain metrics” to more thoroughly document how your work contributes to success
  • Develop a simple, action-oriented content planner
  • Smart ways to produce and distribute more of the right content in less time
  • Extend your team to motivated, knowledgeable “volunteers” within your organization

If these sound like ideas that will let you do more with greater effectiveness and in much less time, we invite you to download our new eBook TODAY to boost your success and results as a solo social media professional! – 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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People have suggested over the years that we should take a break from the Brainzooming blog’s rigorous publishing schedule.

The advice was reiterated last Thursday by Stephen Lahey, the Smart Solo Business mastermind and self-described “number one Brainzooming fan.” The thing is through all the sharing and promotion Stephen does of Brainzooming content, his self-described title is completely true.

I updated Stephen on the upcoming Brainzooming presentations I am developing for later July, including:

Along with so much time focused on family matters the last couple of months, I told Stephen the next two weeks would be heavy with creating these presentations, let alone getting the blog written. He advised me to be realistic and take a Brainzooming blog vacation.

Blue-Sky-Clouds

Well, if the blog’s number one fan is okay with a blog vacay, maybe it is time to take a Brainzooming blog vacation.

And so, we will.

Look for the blog to return next week when I have had a chance to catch up, complete the presentations, and maybe even write a few unpublished blogs to build up my cushion of new content again. It is incredible to think, at one time, I was twenty blog posts ahead for Brainzooming at a time when I was also doing two other blogs!

How times change!

Enjoy the Brainzooming blog vacation as much as I plan to do, and we will see you back here next week! – Mike Brown

 

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Looking for Ways to Develop a Successful
Innovation Strategy to Grow Your Business?
Brainzooming Has an Answer!

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookBusiness growth can depend on introducing new products and services that resonate more strongly with customers and deliver outstanding value.

Are you prepared to take better advantage of your brand’s customer and market insights to generate innovative product ideas? The right combination of outside perspectives and productive strategic thinking exercises enables your brand to ideate, prioritize, and propel innovative growth.

Download this free, concise ebook to:

  • Identify your organization’s innovation profile
  • Rapidly deploy effective strategic thinking exercises to spur innovation
  • Incorporate market-based perspectives into your innovation strategy in successful ways

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





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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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