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Data about your website is great.

Data patterns related to your website are even better.

Having big data to tell you how people react to different scenarios and situations on your website is the best yet.

When you are just launching a website, however, you may not have any data.

When that’s the case, either you can design something that fits a design aesthetic, or you can take what you know, answer sound strategic thinking questions, and design a website that makes strategic sense.

Strategic Thinking Questions – 3 Questions for New Website Design

We were looking at a new website the other day designed for the user to “scroll, scroll, and keep scrolling.” The nagging strategic issue was, “Why in the world would an audience member want to keep scrolling?”

To help the website creator through the strategic thinking to answer this question, we put together the strategic thinking exercise below. It lists each of the main pages of the website down the left column. Across the three columns to the right are three strategic thinking questions, all asked in the voice of the user:

  • “Why should I stay interested?”
  • “Why should I keep looking for more information?”
  • “Why should I buy something now?”

We used these three questions to quickly review the copy and design of the new website. Our objective was to have a solid, compelling answer to at least one of the three questions based on the first look at each of the website’s main pages.

Strategic Questions to Improve Design and Copy on a New Website

Website-Tool

We used the three strategic thinking questions on a first pass review of the website. The questions helped us strengthen copy, make decisions on where to place key features, and changed perspectives about whether certain functionality made sense or not.

Our decisions weren’t data-driven because we don’t have any data on the website. The three strategic thinking questions definitely proved to be hard workers, however, for checking whether a brand new website offers compelling reasons for users to engage.

If you’re in a similar situation, grab a copy of this strategic thinking exercise and see how hard it can work for you! – 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.”

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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Does it matter if your business has a blog or not?

And if your business does have a blog, does it matter how often you update it?

While you’re thinking about the answers to those questions, peruse these dates and see if you can spot a pattern?

  • November 23, 2013 and November 8, 2013
  • September 29, 2014 and August 5, 2014
  • June 30, 2013 and January 31,2013
  • May 16, 2013 and May 16, 2013
  • September 3, 2014 and July 25, 2014

Can you guess what connects these dates? Read on.

Brand Experience Strategy – From Online to In Real Life

I was invited to a networking event the other evening. The organizers for the event were so well organized, they provided an Excel workbook in advance listing all confirmed invitees with an email address and a LinkedIn profile. I took advantage of the organizers’ beneficial jump start and reviewed the websites for most attendees.

Going through the various websites, the state of their blogs was quite surprising and signaled multiple brand strategy mistakes.

Networking-Event

Brand Experience Strategy Mistake #1

I was surprised at how many of the networking event participants didn’t have company blogs on their websites.

Not having a blog translates to less website traffic, fewer situations to connect with and deliver value to customers and prospects, and multiple missed sales opportunities.

Brand Experience Strategy Mistakes #2

Of those networking event participants that did have company blogs, most of them were sporadically updated. In fact the list of dates above is the most recent and second most recent blog update for a number of companies present at the networking event.

If your business is going to introduce a blog, the blog becomes part of your brand experience, whether YOU act like it is or not. Yup, it’s part of your brand experience strategy along with all the other elements that have comprised a brand for a long time.

Think about what these dates might mean for other brand experience elements:

  • Imagine not handling a customer service call since November 23, 2013.
  • Imagine not making a sales call since June 30, 2013.
  • Imagine going from early August to late September of this year without ever monitoring the quality of your product or service.

Yet, when you put a blog on your website, you are making it a very visible part of your brand experience. And if you hardly ever update it, it says volumes about your brand experience, especially to prospects that don’t have any REAL experience to judge your brand.

  • If you mainly share valuable info on your blog, sporadic updates convey you don’t have much of value to share.
  • If you mainly share your CEO’s ideas, sporadic updates convey your CEO doesn’t have many ideas.
  • If you mainly share company news, sporadic updates convey there’s not much going on at your company.

And so it goes.

A Brand Experience Strategy Gift

So rather than connecting on LinkedIn or meeting for coffee, the best thing I have to offer my fellow networking event attendees is this:

If you’re going to have a company blog, update it regularly and with valuable content. If you aren’t going to do that, delete your blog so you just look like a brand that’s behind the times and not one that ignores its brand experience! Or better yet, let’s get together for coffee and talk about how to fix your blog strategy!!! – 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.”

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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I presented both a workshop and a breakout session at last month’s Social Media Strategy Summit in Dallas. This was my second time attending a Social Media Strategy Summit this year, and conference producer Breanna Jacobs and the team from GSMI do a fantastic job of bringing together both wonderful presenters and experienced attendees together in a very interactive learning environment.

Here are a few highlights of the tweets, insights, and audience reactions to the social media strategy ideas shared at the Dallas event.

Social Media Strategy and Customer Service

Via Vanessa Sain-Dieguez (@VSDieguez) of @HiltonHotels

  • You don’t want to “train” your customers to tweet and get better attention than when you call.
  • It’s vital to listen for people mentioning your brand in multiple ways, even when someone isn’t mentioning your brand directly. For example, if the location on a tweet or Facebook update suggests a person is at your location with an issue, you want to be able to identify that and respond.
  • Hilton layered its social media-based customer services activities into pre-existing protocols between its franchisees and customer service group. This move minimized issues that might have developed if social media customer service were treated differently. That’s not to say that delivering customer service via social is simple. “Scalability is our biggest challenge every day.”
  • Successful real time marketing is about what’s relevant, not what’s trending.

Via Jeff Gibbard (@jgibbard)

  • It’s easy for customers to be rude to a logo on Twitter or Facebook. That’s not so if they sense a person on the other end. That’s why it’s important to sign your customer service social media in some way to show there’s a person involved on the brand’s end.

Social Media Strategy Insights from Adrian Parker of @Patron

Quick disclaimer – I was one of three people who won some of the new Roca Patron Tequila for live tweeting the most during the Adrian Parker presentation.

AdrianDParker2

Nevertheless, Adrian had a plethora of great strategic insights and paraquotes from his diverse career experience.

  • “Outsource your thinking, but not your decisions.”
  • “Your social strategy should be something your competitor would never do.”
  • “A best practice isn’t a strategy. It’s something you should be doing anyway.”
  • “Good strategy is inspired by, but not limited to, current customer behavior.”
  • “A good strategy should make you nervous.”
  • “Leadership is plural. Vision is singular.” Multiple people can lead against the sole vision.

An Attendee Recap

Dan Vadeboncoeur (@danvadeboncoeur) attended the SMSSummit and shared his recap on take-aways on his Media Nerds podcast. I tweeted Dan that I appreciated the shout out, especially since he sat in on both of my sessions.

Video Highlights from the Social Media Strategy Summit

In a great example of using content providers to create even more content from an event, a video crew was onsite the second day of the conference to film brief interviews with #SMSSummit presenters. There is a YouTube page with all of the videos, plus here are several from yours truly on social media and content marketing strategy.

See the video at: http://youtu.be/sOuBJzHvRBQ

See the video at: http://youtu.be/Vkf6Xu2HKWs

See the video at: http://youtu.be/MQkdKal2rtM

Wait, There’s More

This quick recap doesn’t do justice to the breadth of content at the #SMSSummit. Look for another post with additional highlights coming soon! – 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.”

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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Prior to the Social Media Strategies Summit last week, I tweeted about finishing my social media strategy workshop presentations in time. Reviewing the agenda, I also mentioned a hook included in the session description several months earlier that needed to be tied into the workshop opening. Another Social Media Strategies Summit presenter tweeted back that social media presentations should not be prepared more than two weeks before a conference since things change so quickly.

My reply was while some facets of the social media landscape (tools, terms of service, etc.) do change quickly and frequently, much of social media (i.e., the strategic side) is much more static.

Sitting through his conference presentation, I was hard-pressed to identify any of his content reflecting any important changes in the social media world from the prior two weeks.

How Quickly Does Social Media Change?

Contrast that with the mind-expanding presentation by Kansas City’s Travis Wright on marketing technology. Teedubya’s Social Media Strategies Summit keynote was an up-to-date overview of the significant number and wide-ranging functionality among marketing platforms, apps, and services. These marketing technology tools are designed, in one way or another, so marketers can better understand and target their audiences. Travis’ presentation felt like it had to be right down to the minute to reflect what’s going on now or in the very near future.

Teedubya-SMSS

Being that newsy and deep on a topic requires time – time many brands don’t have (or want to expend) when creating content.

That’s why we’re big fans of brands creating a healthy amount of evergreen content as part of a social media strategy. Evergreen content, which holds up long after today’s news passes, helps a brand develop a sizable online presence, paying website traffic dividends for an extended period of time.

5 Questions for Evergreen Content Success

If your brand wants to develop and publish more evergreen content, here are five questions to ask about your content. Your potential answers are Yes, No, or Not Applicable / Unsure. The more “Yes” answers on your content, the greater potential is has for being relevant for an extended period of time.

  1. Will this information be accurate well into the future?
  2. Will any techniques shared apply in future situations?
  3. Will the information shared, even when time has passed, still retain historical value as a reference source or point of comparison for the current day?
  4. Will this topic and any related issues change relatively slowly?
  5. Even if the principles shared here are varied or modified over time, will there still be value in knowing what they were originally?

News gets attention, without a doubt, but evergreen content makes your online content work much harder for you! – 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.”

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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The session I am presenting today at the Social Media Strategies Summit in Dallas is on “3 Keys to Curating Content without Losing Your Brand Voice.”

Social-Media-Strategies-Sum

Social Media Strategy and Curating Content

Curating content essentially means searching out and sharing content through a brand’s social media outlets that originated from some other source, whether that is another brand, organization, or individual.

At the extreme, if all (or nearly all) the content an entity shares online was originally created elsewhere, it is functioning as no more than an aggregator of others’ content.

As we will discuss and work with the idea of curating content in today’s session, “curation” implies a brand is adding at least some value to the content it shares even though it did not produce the original source content.

16 Ways to Add Value When Curating Content

What are some of the ways a brand can add value when curating content? Here are sixteen ideas organized in three broad areas:

Endorsing

  • Cull lots of content to the best content that’s available
  • Offer a dependable point of view
  • Develop a resource / tool list
  • Provide disinterested objectivity

Packaging / Compiling / Pointing

  • Find the undiscovered
  • Compile material others cannot
  • Organize it better, easier, in new ways
  • Provide timeliness to delivering the aggregated content
  • Provide coordinated timing in delivering the content
  • Develop an entire sweep / survey of a topic
  • Integrate the content in new and inventive ways with other content

Enlightening

  • Add new insights
  • Challenge the original perspective
  • Bring your expertise to it
  • Supply inside knowledge
  • Provide an encyclopedic, “timeless” treatment of the topic

Beyond these ideas, it is vital that a brand identify and curate content that contributes to its brand position in smart ways. We will provide a framework for how social strategists can unpack a brand’s foundation documents to generate ideas for curating content. Additionally, we will share a strategic brief format specifically to help a social media team actively curate on-brand content on an ongoing basis.

If you aren’t with us at the Social Media Strategies Summit in Dallas, but you’d like to learn more about this social media strategy approach we’ll be sharing, let us know. We’d be happy to fill you in on more of the details.  – 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.”

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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I’m in Dallas this week presenting a workshop on integrating content marketing and social media strategy and a session on strategic content curation for the Social Media Strategies Summit (at the wonderful Hotel ZaZa).

SMSSummit-Hotel-ZaZa

Integrating Content Marketing and Social Media Strategy

Today’s workshop on integrating content marketing and social media strategy is based on the strategic view that while content marketing existed before social media, the strategic combination of the two delivers the most effective results for brands. Even though this seems like common sense, research suggests not all brand marketers are taking advantage of integrating these efforts. Ineffective content marketers are 5 times less likely to create a documented content strategy and are using fewer social platforms than leading content marketers.

For those attending the workshop, and those who aren’t going to be with us in Dallas, here’s an overview of the topics we’ll cover along with links to underlying content we’ll be covering in-depth during the two-hour workshop.

9-Social-Diagnostics

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Starting with an Integrated Mindset

Tools to Develop the Content Strategy

Integrating Social Media for Its Best Advantage

 

 

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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.”

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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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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When was the last time you invested 45 minutes to check your 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 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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