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This afternoon, I’m leading a three-hour Brainzooming workshop on creating branded content marketing at the Social Media Strategy Summit in Chicago. While it’s nice to be able to stretch with more time (typically these content marketing workshops are two hours at the Social Media Strategy Summit), I still feel as if there will be a lot of material that we won’t have time to fully cover.

Chicago-Image

In the branded content marketing workshop, we’ll look at generating appropriately branded content from multiple directions.

As a resource if this area is something you are struggling with in your organization, here are links to some of the topics on branded content marketing we’ll cover . . . and some that we won’t:

Taking an Audience-First Perspective

Staying True to Your Brand without Overdoing It

Experience and Interaction-Based Content for Your Brand

Expanding Brand-Related Content Options

Coming at your branded content marketing from these four different directions will open up all kinds of new possibilities.

Here’s the intriguing thing: having rearranged the content into these four groups (which don’t sync with the seven lessons in the workshop as it stands right now), I’m thinking (as I write this over the preceding weekend) that I’m going to rearrange the entire branded content marketing workshop. That’s how much I like this approach!  – Mike Brown

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What a strong first day at the Brand Strategy Conference in New York. There were lots of great ideas and very little free time!

The kickoff presentation on the first day was from Kodi Foster, Vice President – Data Strategy at Viacom. Kodi’s presentation focused on fusing creativity and data innovation to drive brand growth.  His discussion on the need to integrate science and art was on the money.

Five Things Your Content Marketing Strategy Should Deliver

While Kodi Foster presented lots of great ideas, that whole very little free time necessitates focusing on one item: this photo which details five things Kodi says audiences expect a brand’s online content marketing strategy to deliver for them.

  1. Education – Delivers systematic instructions or provides an enlightening experience
  2. Information – Delivers facts or knowledge about something or someone
  3. Inspiration – Stimulates the audience to do or feel something
  4. Entertainment – Provides amusement or enjoyment
  5. Utility – Provides a useful or beneficial function or capability

Content-Marketing-Strategy

His five-points form a strong checklist with which to assess your content marketing strategy. How many of these areas does your content touch? And what are you doing to tackle content that doesn’t address ANY of these five areas? – 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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I presented a solo social media presentation at the February 2016 Social Media Strategies Summit in Las Vegas. For folks in and around (or willing to head to) Chicago, I’ll be presenting a workshop on creating fantastic content at the April 2016 Social Media Strategies Summit in the Windy City.

SMSS_Graphic

These events are always treasure troves of great learning and networking with such varied and smart marketers from around the country. Coming out of the Las Vegas event, I have several articles in queue.

14 Top Content Marketing Quotes from the Social Media Strategies Summit

Here is the first of the articles from the Social Media Strategies Summit, with fourteen quotes on content marketing, social media platforms, and standing out from the event’s great speakers.

Content Marketing and Community Engagement

“Credibility silences noise.” @BevJack MGM

“We time lapse everything around here because things are always moving.” @BevJack MGM

“Many brands miss the opportunity to create stories around the role they play in their users’ lives.” @mdeziel

“In the end, storytelling comes down to two things: connection and engagement.” – Ryan Mathews as shared by @RMMAGEDDON

“There are B2B opportunities in viral video because so few B2B companies have tried to do it.” @JereMarketer

Being Distinctive with Content Marketing

“A good piece of content shouldn’t need music. The visual scroll should be enough to get people to stop. “ @BevJack MGM

“There is a lot of crap and average people out there on social media. It’s much harder to stand out when everyone can start doing things and claim to be an expert.” @PhilPallen

Making the Most of Social Platforms

“You should be able to perform at a B+ or better level on any platform or kill your time spent on it.” @JereMarketer

“It’s two thousand sixteen; I don’t want to see pixels or eggs (on Twitter).” @PhilPallen

“Pinterest is a catalog of ideas” not a social network. “If Facebook is selling the past & Twitter the present, Pinterest is offering the future” @ChristineCassis @Pinterest

“The Bellagio Fountains are the nineteenth most Instagrammed place in the world.” @BevJack

Bellagio-Fountains

“Rather than be mediocre on 10 social platforms, be a rock star on 3.” @PhilPallen

Let Me Tell You about Myself

“I like to go on tangents. And I f’n like to curse a lot.” @RMMAGEDDON

“I’m opinionated, but I’m honest and I’m sweet.” @PhilPallen

Mike Brown

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When should a brand create content itself versus outsourcing content creation to an outside agency?

That was one content marketing strategy question attendees asked in the solo social media workshop I presented at the Social Media Strategies Summit.

SMSS_Graphic

We have a significant bias toward handling content creation inside a company as part of its integrated content marketing strategy. Unlike typical marketing communications, press releases, brochures, direct mail, etc., content creation for social media platforms necessitates an authentic sense of the brand personality, IF it’s going to be successful. Being so intimate with the brand personality and what it represents in every dimension isn’t something an outside communicator can easily do. Additionally, an outside communicator often isn’t present to capture the video, images, and interviews in the moment as robust content sources.

Having said this, there are instances where outsourcing content creation can make sense. This can also extend to outsourcing curating and sharing content in some situations as part of a brand’s content marketing strategy.

7 Situations for Outsourcing Content Creation

Here are seven situations where we think outsourcing content creation and other related functions is viable:

  1. Adapting internally-generated content so it fits with targeted social media platforms.
  2. The brand is willing to invest resources in an outside communicator to become immersed in the brand both initially and on an on-going basis.
  3. Individuals inside the company are the face and/or voice of the content an outside communicator edits or rewrites, videos/photographs, or translates into social media-appropriate formats.
  4. Designing the strategy and platform for a brand to communicate content via social media networks.
  5. Curating content that fits the brand’s strategy.
  6. Scheduling the brand’s content across channels, in effect becoming the DJ for internally created content.
  7. Conducting social media listening for the brand.

One outsourced social media situation you don’t see listed is a brand farming out 100% of its content creation.

There may be other situations that make sense, but this is where we stand on this content marketing strategy question.  – Mike Brown

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We’ve written and presented about what to blog about along with other content creation opportunities and conference organizers can pursue.

At the Social Media Strategies Summit in Las Vegas, however, an attendee asked the question about how, as an attendee, one can create valuable content for blogs and other social channels?

27 Content Creation Opportunities for Conference Attendees

His question prompted this list of 27 ideas for both what to blog about from a conference and for other content creation and sharing opportunities your audience might find valuable.

In generating the list, I thought back to the two most recent events I’ve attended in Las Vegas: the Specialty Equipment Market Association event with tens of thousands of attendees and the Social Media Strategies Summit, which is a tremendously intimate conference by comparison.

What to Blog About at a Conference

  1. Create a blog post featuring the top quotes from the conference.
  2. Profile specific presentations as blog posts.
  3. Record video interviews with presenters and attendees that your audience should know more about.
  4. Go the conference with a specific list of questions your audience would like answered and record short video interviews with the right presenters or attendees answering the questions.
  5. Get permission from presenters or conference organizers to link or share specific presentations with your audience.
  6. Put together a series of photos of key slides or infographics from the conference that your audience will find beneficial.
  7. Feature the top trends or future developments in the industry that your audience needs to know about and understand.
  8. Give a behind-the-scenes look at the city or venue where the conference was held.
  9. Provide your tips for attending the conference if your readers were to attend in the future.
  10. Review a book one of the presenters wrote.
  11. Spend your evening in your room and write a daily recap of the conference that is ready before any other online source.
  12. Live blog presentations and share “raw” notes throughout the day.
  13. Share links to pertinent articles and blog posts from presenters.
  14. Complete a conference “scavenger hunt” with fifteen or twenty meaningful items from the conference that would be of benefit to your audience. Examples might include: Biggest insight, Most valuable presentation, A Speaker You Need to Learn More About, Most Intriguing Quote about the Future, etc.
  15. Ask a presenter if he or she would guest blog for your audience.
  16. Transcribe your written notes and publish those in one or more blog posts..
    Audience-Conference

Other Content Creation Opportunities for Conference Attendees

  1. Tweet conference presentations using a hashtag that you have let your audience know ahead of time.
  2. Turn video interviews you completed into a podcast about the conference.
  3. Video your impressions throughout conference (a daily end-of-the-day video) and put together a recap video from that.
  4. Do a Periscope video of a keynote presentation.
  5. Put your top photos of presentation slides into your own presentation with notes and make it available to your audience.
  6. Capture big ideas from the conference and share those.
    Conference-Matrix
  7. Visually capture your conference notes (if you have the capability to do that), and share those with your audience.
  8. Create a Pinterest board of products (or speakers, or exhibitors, etc.) you thought stood out at the event.
  9. Interview exhibitors at the event and string together one-minute product and service overviews your audience would find helpful.
  10. Curate content that other attendees are creating about the conference.
  11. If you have multiple attendees at the event, create a mini-content marketing strategy to make sure your people are deployed across the event (instead of all in the same sessions), grabbing the content you’ll want to share with your audience later.

Remember, before pursuing many of these ideas, you want to make sure you get the proper authorizations and copyright permissions, whether those need to come from the conference organizer or the presenters. – Mike Brown

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We’ve had the occasional guest article, but for the most part, The Brainzooming Group runs with as a solo social media department.

Because of being a solo social media department, I’m always looking for productivity and efficiency tips to extend our content marketing success. Some are implemented right away, and others aren’t.

The 8 Smartest Solo Social Media Tips I’ve Yet to Try

Eight-Tips-Crop

Here are eight of the smartest solo social media tips I’ve yet to try, but should!

1. Weave presentation and workshop outlines into the content calendar

This would stimulate more content directly tied to presentations to keep them fresh. It would also quicken workshop and presentation updates.

Why haven’t I done this? Right now, writing to fit overall blog themes and audience targets is easier than writing to a comprehensive master content calendar.

2. Link blog content to presentation and workshop outlines afterward

Even without using presentation and workshop outlines as mini-editorial calendars, you can categorize blog content afterward.

Why haven’t I done this? Once content is published, I tend to look forward, not backward. Instead of regularly linking blog content to presentations and workshops right after it’s published, I search recent blog articles when it’s time to update a workshop.

3. Anticipate breaking longer content into multiple social formats

Author Pam Didner was the first content marketing expert (affiliate link) I heard talk about consciously creating an eBook’s content with an eye toward short form content (i.e., blog posts, tweets, images, Facebook status updates) it will yield.

Why haven’t I done this? I tend to be a content aggregator.  I typically generate short content and piece it together later into eBooks.

4. Heavily integrating major content launches

Hubspot emphasizes launching new content in a comprehensive, integrated way. When launching eBooks, we typically tie launches to major speaking engagements and publish related blog posts and landing pages, but that’s about it.

Why haven’t I done this? A lack of time and patience are barriers. Integrated launches take advanced planning and time. For some speaking engagements, I have created a new eBook the morning of the workshop. That doesn’t leave time for planning!

5. Hiring freelancers to handle some tasks

There are various ways to reach out to freelancers to complete some ideas mentioned here. That’s something we’ve only done sporadically.

Why haven’t I done this? I tend to handle editing and graphics in-house and save the dollar outlay. The downside is things happen more slowly or NEVER. I also spend valuable time doing lower-value tasks instead of activities to more aggressively grow the business. Pam Didner suggested Upwork as a potential resource for finding freelancers; the next task is picking a project.

6. Blog less and publish an email newsletter

I paid for a webinar where Chris Brogan covered blogging less and putting more emphasis on an email newsletter (affiliate link) as part of a business-building strategy. He shared how he varies content between the two; the blog is to attract search traffic, and the email newsletter is for sharing deeper information.

Why haven’t I done this? I’m trying to unwind my long-term thinking about the blog and its role for our business. Quite honestly, the blog is a professional diary and reference tool. I’m actively considering how to vary content within the current format and potentially more dramatically change its structure.

7. Not including “hows” in blog posts

This tip is years old. Experts say to write “whats” and “whys” in blogs, but not “how” to do what you do. I get it, but find it difficult to get away from “hows.”

Why haven’t I done this? Maybe my mentality is too teacher-like. It’s challenging for me to NOT share how to do things when our primary audience persona eschews fluff and seeks information on HOW to do things.

8. Hiring a Content Producer

This tip is front and center for me. A producer would take my ideas and shape them into more and varied types of content. I even know who my first choice to take on this role would be.

Why haven’t I done this? Our content generates indirect revenue. You can’t “pay” us for anything currently other than strategy, innovation, and content engagements, plus presentations and workshops. We don’t sell other content (i.e., books, on-demand training courses, merchandise, etc.) currently. It’s tough to justify the investment for a full- or part-time producer on an on-going basis without direct revenue impact.

Those are our smartest solo social media tips plus a little dirty laundry on why we haven’t tried them.

What do you say solo social media professionals? Are any of you using comparable tips to expand your organization’s content reach? – Mike Brown

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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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