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I recently opened up one of MANY emails I get from Hubspot.

This email featured a link to the Hubspot Blog Topic Generator. It’s a fairly simple. You enter three nouns, and it generates five blog topics incorporating those nouns. If you don’t like the five possible blog topic ideas, a handy button quickly generates another five topics.

Hubspot-Blog-TOpic

What to Blog About?

We’re proponents of generating blog topics based on a brand’s strategy and its audience’s needs and interests.

That’s why we don’t talk much about random blog topic apps. I tried the Hubspot Blog Topic Generator, however, with our core topic areas: strategic thinking, innovation, and creativity.

I was greeted with five topics. Curious to see how much variation is built into the tool, I hit the button for five more topics several times. Some topics were repeated identically while others were the same except for including a different one of the noun I entered.

The repetitiveness of the topics bore out my skepticism with random blog topic apps to figure out what to blog about on a regular basis.

But heading to the DMV on a Friday afternoon and wanting to use the time to write, I brought along the Hubspot-generated titles. I resolved to write a blog post based on one of them while waiting. By the time I was first in line 35 minutes later, I’d written two complete posts and part of a third from the Hubspot idea starters.

That great productivity ultimately led me to write five posts based on the Hubspot list.

While the writing productivity was much needed, the topics did feel somewhat disjointed relative to how I usually develop topics. But if you want to push your thinking (and especially if you’re a Miley Cyrus fan . . . and you’ll see why I say that), give this tool a shot.  - 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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14

Since our start, publishing five times a week (with rare exceptions) has been part of the Brainzooming blog brand. Frequent blog publishing is integral to The Brainzooming Group business-building strategy and consistent with multiple elements of our brand experience.

The priority on daily blog publishing is dropping on the importance list for now, however.

A Change in Our Brainzooming Blog Publishing Brand Promise

My wife had surgery last Thursday and has several months of recuperation (and related physical limitations) ahead of her. I’ll be more heavily involved in taking care of her, and neither one of us is completely sure what this means yet. She has done pretty well during these first days, but I do realize that making sure she’s taken care of will require more time and have a dramatic impact on my attention through the summer months.

trike-cube

With that new priority and the importance of making sure The Brainzooming Group business keeps flourishing, the place daily blogging fits within our business strategy and priorities changes.

As a result, we’re going to move to not publishing on Fridays through at least July. There may also be other weekdays in the coming months where there won’t be a Brainzooming blog.

Trust me; I realize that’s NOT the end of the world for any of you.

But for as many people who tell me they can’t possibly read the Brainzooming blog five days a week, I have others tell me its daily appearance gets it more attention than other content they could read. As a result, I don’t make this change lightly.

From a strategic standpoint, we still stand behind the business-building benefits of frequent blog publishing. We’ve reached a great stage with our website, however, where evergreen content typically generates 90% of daily website traffic for The Brainzooming Group. As a result, we feel comfortable in dialing back blogging frequency with minimal near-term impacts.

Maybe we’ll never miss an extra day. Maybe if we do miss a day, you won’t notice right away.

But for those that do notice, we wanted you to know what was going on, and to thank you for your continued readership! You’ll never know how much I appreciate it! – 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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Yesterday we explored taking an outside-in approach to planning a blog or content marketing editorial calendar. This social media strategy helps determine the relevant length an editorial calendar should extend based on the audience’s perspective.

As you identify audience-oriented content topics, here are three important questions to ask as you consider where the topics fit on the content marketing editorial calendar:

  • Will the audience be thinking about this topic as it’s happening?
  • Will the audience also be thinking about the topic sooner and / or later than it’s happening?
  • If they will be thinking about the topic at other times, when will that be?

Beyond simply identifying audience-oriented topics, these outside-in timing questions help improve how to sync topics with when the audience is actively seeking information or related content about those areas of interest to them.

Three Examples of Outside-In Timing and New Content Marketing Opportunities

Crowd-STL

1. One Event, Multiple Opportunities to Share Content

As we were developing the blog editorial calendar for a client in the market research field, it was clear their target audience operates on an annual cycle. We identified early fall as a time when the market research firm’s clients would attend the largest market research conferences. This is a natural time to talk about our client’s conference participation. Importantly, though, we also identified their clients as thinking about conferences mid-summer (“How to Choose the Best Market Research Conference”), immediately before them (“Getting the Most Value from a Market Research Conference”), and right afterward (“Top 10 Learnings during Conference Season”). Asking our three questions identified multiple related content opportunities (new content, sharing old content, soliciting guest posts, etc.) they might have otherwise missed.

2. Reaching Out Before the Primary Brand Interaction

I wrote earlier about Southwest Airlines sending me an email the previous evening saying we’d have Wi-Fi on my next morning’s flight. The night before was when I was actually THINKING about what work had to be completed before getting on the plane. The perfectly timed email from Southwest Airlines contained very pertinent information of benefit me hours before my direct interaction with the brand.

3. Shifting Timing and Content Sharing Opportunities

The Brainzooming Group has tried to emphasize strategic planning content later in the year since our experience has been many companies were thinking about strategic planning much later in the year than previously. This year, with many calls from potential clients already thinking about multi-year or annual planning processes, we’ll be shifting strategic planning content to this more traditional timeframe in Q2, even if planning doesn’t actually HAPPEN until later in the year.

Social Media Strategy from Outside-In Timing

As if it’s not clear by now, we are big proponents of external audience-driven social media strategy as the way to make a content marketing effort come alive and truly engage your audiences. The challenge, as it always is, is after looking from the outside-in, taking the resulting topic ideas and making things happen with them. - Mike Brown

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Is your social media implementation working as well as it can? In less than 60 minutes with the 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 a social media strategy with these nine diagnostics. Download Your Free Copy of “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy.

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 topic covered in nearly every content marketing or social media strategy workshop we do is the importance of developing and using an editorial calendar for a brand’s blog and content sharing.

There are various ways to develop and use an editorial calendar.

Some organizations use an editorial calendar to drive content consistency, i.e. publishing content on the same topic (or the same type of post) every week on the same day. While that helps create predictability for an audience (i.e., they know what to expect on a certain day each week), this editorial calendar structure can be too much about what the organization wants to publish on a specific day vs. what an audience member is seeking that day.

Calendar

Creating an Outside-In Editorial Calendar

The final form and detail an editorial calendar takes needs to make sense for the organization. We recommend, however, starting with a time horizon for an editorial calendar that FIRST makes sense for audience members and then fits the organization.

Using a business-to-business example, some business people’s activities very significantly over the course of the year and may go through a variety of cycles. For others, every quarter may look much like the next one. Some have an activity cycle that may be monthly with a slight variation each quarter. If you understand the relevant activity patterns of your audience, however, that is a good starting point for structuring an editorial calendar.

With that type of outside-in look at your audience’s typical time horizons, consider how it fits your organization.

How do your organization’s activity cycles compare to your customers? Is the organization’s predominant business pattern annual, quarterly, monthly, weekly, or even daily?

Ideally the time horizons match up closely, and you’re set to explore topics that match up with the frequency those cycles suggest.

If the time horizons don’t match up, however, figure out a balance between the two. While it would be great to orient completely toward the customer, ultimately the editorial calendar planning horizon has to work for your organization to keep it going.

Once you’ve identified an appropriate time horizon, it’s time to start exploring topics and matching them to the calendar. And we’ll explore some important questions to do that tomorrow. - Mike Brown

 

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Is your social media implementation working as well as it can? In less than 60 minutes with the 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 a social media strategy with these nine diagnostics. Download Your Free Copy of “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy.

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

Do you know how to tell a great campfire story?

11 Ways to Tell a Great Campfire Story

Campfire-Story

Based on various sources, here are eleven ways to tell a great campfire story:

  1. Sincerely enjoy and revel in creating and sharing your story
  2. Make the story easy for the audience to understand
  3. Choose a story based on the audiences experience, interests, and closeness to the storyteller
  4. Introduce local flavor and personal touches into the story
  5. Avoid bogging down in unnecessary information or pointless tangents, but do emphasize thought- and emotion-triggering details
  6. Bring originality to your story if it’s a familiar one
  7. Heighten the sense of anticipation by departing from the typical, i.e. start the story in the middle
  8. Cater to the audience’s emotions and senses to create engagement
  9. Have a strong sense of where you are headed with the story
  10. Don’t tell the story too fast or too slow
  11. Create a connection with the audience, including by asking open-ended questions to engage the audience and create involvement

By now, you may be wondering why we’re thinking about ways to tell a great campfire story.

Blogging for Business and a Great Campfire Story

The connection between business blogging and campfire stories is this: When I conduct blogging for business workshops, I counsel business executives and marketing communications professionals to view a brand’s blog as its “campfire.”

Don’t buy it?

Revisit the eleven ways to tell a great campfire story and substitute “blog” for “story.” Suddenly, these tips lead you to crate stories when you are blogging for business that are better than most of you see, especially among business-to-business brand blogs.

One other point to drive home why you’d be better served to think about telling “campfire” stories instead of the standard corporate fare around your business blog?

Nobody tells boring corporate press releases as campfire stories. In fact, as SmallBusinessTalent.com host Stephen Lahey put it, “People crumple up corporate press releases and use them TO START campfires!”

And that, my friends, says it all! - Mike Brown

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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.

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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During a “Creating Fantastic Content” workshop I was presenting, we were discussing what to blog about and the opportunities associated with compilation blog posts.

A compilation post brings together links to a variety of previous posts related to each other in some fashion. While you can feature links to external content, compilation posts can be a great way to showcase evergreen content from your own social media site.

Compilation-Blog-Post

6 Benefits of Compilation Blog Posts

What are some of the other benefits of creating compilation blog posts?

  • They highlight content gaps (i.e., subjects you should have addressed, but haven’t for some reason) where you can create new content and add new valuable content.
  • Compilation blog posts put older content back in front of longer-term readers who may have new needs for it but would struggle to recall and find it otherwise.
  • You can apply an easy-to-remember URL to the compilation (i.e., yourcompany.com/successfactors), making it easier to communicate, share, and find the compilation.
  • They can be handy resources and references for your own employees to use as training tools.
  • They create new, valuable destinations prospects (whether at sales calls or presentations) can first access at your website.
  • A compilation blog post is an interim step to a longer compilation (i.e., an eBook, training course, etc.) that you can offer as downloadable content.

It doesn’t take hundreds of blog posts to create valuable compilation blog posts.  Once you have created seventy-five or a hundred posts on your brand’s blog that are on topic, you should have a variety of options for creating compilation blog posts delivering these benefits! - Mike Brown

 

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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.

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

If you’re looking for ideas on what to blog about, how about spending a few minutes looking at the blog topics in your social feeds?

9 Blogging Ideas from Blogs in Your Social Feeds

When you’re feeling creatively stuck coming up with blog topics, the answer to what to blog about might be to write an answer post to a blog in your social feeds. If the topic fits your blog’s content strategy, you can use the original blog’s subject as a point of departure by writing a blog post in response to any of these nine questions:

  1. What would someone need to know before reading the original blog?
  2. What would someone still need to do after they read the other blog?
  3. How can you go into more detail with more steps?
  4. How can you simplify the topic to feature fewer steps than the original blog?
  5. How might you extol the author’s smarts since you agree with him/her so strongly?
  6. What would you talk about as the opposite point of view (i.e., you don’t HAVE to do any of these steps)?
  7. What links can you feature to previous stories you’ve written on the original blog’s topic?
  8. What links can you share to stories other authors have already written on the topic?
  9. What would it look like to rewrite the article with the same subject but a different headline and your own point of view in the copy?

Remember that your blog post can be a “secret” answer post. Using all but one of these questions (number 5 is the exception) your blog post doesn’t HAVE TO make a big deal out of being an answer post.

9-Ideas-Two

An Efficient Answer to What to Blog About

Nine potential blog topics is a wonderful set of possibilities from simply scanning your social feeds.

And if you have created a list, column, group, board, or feed filled with content related to your content categories, it’s even that much more efficient!

Other Brainzooming Blogging Links

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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