2

We are closing in on four years of the Brainzooming blog, with more than 300,000 words written. Coupled with original business-oriented guest posts on various websites, two other personal blogs with nearly 560 other posts, and 25,000-plus tweets along the way, that is a lot of social media content.

It’s content I would never have thought was possible to create in the four years BEFORE I started Brainzooming.

I will be sharing some lessons learned in creating all that social media content in two social media presentations this week. Today, it’s a live presentation in Kansas City and a business blogging webinar Friday, October 28 you can all attend (Click on the link to get to the sign up. It is for an association, but it is open to non-members. The sign-up is a bit cumbersome, but I would love to have you join the business blogging webinar!) Our objective is to help attendees do a better job of creating fantastic social media content.

In updating my social media content strategy material for these two social media presentations, I uncovered a variety of blogging lessons never shared here. While these social media content lessons are oriented toward bloggers, for those of you not blogging, each lesson includes a special spin for how it applies to you as well:

  • The order you write a post doesn’t have to be its final order. The original end might be the beginning. Or vice versa. Play with rearranging a list post for the best flow after it’s written. (If you don’t blog: No matter what you’re creating, if you hit a dead end, start working on a different part. Things don’t have to be created in the same way they’re presented.)
  • Similarly, when writing a list blog post, do not get stuck thinking you have to start with the list’s topic. You can start with scrap bullet points and figure out the connections among them. From there, create a list topic encompassing all the items which originally looked disconnected. (If you don’t blog: This concept applies to any set of items or ideas. Find a creative, strategic connection among whatever you have.)
  • Don’t use pronouns if you can insert the actual word or phrase you are referencing. This will help with a stronger keyword-based post. (If you don’t blog: If you’re not writing for online currently, take advantage of it to learn basics on search engine optimization and keywords, because you WILL be writing for online publishing some day.)
  • You can benefit from printing what you’re writing and reading a hard copy. (If you don’t blog: Same thing applies. You’ll see what you’re writing differently on a page than on-screen.)
  • Run your post through the grammar checker in Microsoft Word to gain a sense of the grade level, reading ease, and prominence of passive sentences in your writing. I’ve discovered people don’t know about this buried feature. Turn it on by clicking the Windows logo in the upper left of Word and select “Word Options.” Click proofing and under “When correcting spelling and grammar in Word,” check “Show readability statistics.” Now whenever you run the grammar checker, you’ll get the real story on your writing. (If you don’t blog: We all benefit from coldly analytical perspective on our writing.)
  • Because of the grammar checker, write in Word then paste copy into your blogging platform. If you do modify things after they are in the blogging platform, paste your post back into Word to double check typos you might have introduced. (If you don’t blog: Don’t be too beholden to applications you typically use. Explore other applications which might help you better convey messages.)
  • A blog is never done – you can tinker forever. If you are inclined to tinker, make rules for yourself so you’ll leave a post alone at some point. (If you don’t blog: Knowing when to close down options and when allow them to remain open is critical in managing any project.)
  • If you use WordPress, take advantage of  the editorial calendar and SEO Scribe plugins. They make a difference in effectiveness, efficiency, and insights about your blogging. (If you don’t blog: Go get some grounding in WordPress. WordPress is the content management system behind some big websites, so it’s not just for blogs.)
  • If you’re guest posting for another blog, create your own brief persona for who you’re writing to on the blog, even if the blog owner doesn’t provide one. (If you don’t blog: The idea of thinking about and describing your target audience member is beneficial no matter what the writing application.)  – Mike Brown

 

If you’re struggling with determining ROI and evaluating its impacts, download “6 Social Media Metrics You Must Track” today!  This article provides a concise, strategic view of the numbers and stories that matter in shaping, implementing, and evaluating your strategy. You’ll learn lessons about when to address measurement strategy, identifying overlooked ROI opportunities, and creating a 6-metric dashboard. Download Your Free Copy of “6 Social Media Metrics You Must Track!”

 

 

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

Several events (handling online community management for a new organization, returning to a bar where I was a DJ in college, creating a cross-school Facebook group for kids of my era in Hays, KS after a high school reunion) have all put me back in the heart of thinking about and handling start-up online community management.

Online community management means creating a content strategy, delivering intriguing social media content (be it created, shared, or repurposed), interacting with and building an audience, and doing it all on a consistent basis to keep people coming back and bringing friends with them.

You might think you are not doing community management, but if you are on Facebook or Twitter, community management is either what you are, or should be, doing.

Thinking back on my DJ years, organizing intriguing content has fascinated me for a long time. The successful practices for being a DJ or an online community manager are very comparable. In both cases, you are bringing together and arranging the best mix of content from various sources to create an intriguing content stream. The content can predominantly originate with others, but has to include self-generated content, too.

Approaching Online Community Management as a DJ Would Do It

I’d been thinking about the online community manager as DJ model before Angela Dunn’s great post on the topic of “thought leader as DJ” last year, so these recent events prompted me to put my personal spin on the topic (that’s only a pun for those older than 30, btw).

Here are 10 ways a DJ would approach online community management:

1. Create a signature style for your content

Decide what content topics you’ll feature, how you want to intrigue your audience, and the actions and reactions you want audience members to display.

2. Develop a source list

Continually cultivate websites, RSS feeds, and people that offer intriguing content in your focus areas. It’s okay to share content from popular sources, but there’s distinct value to sharing information off the beaten path. (As a side note, launching a community outside our industry has demonstrated a value for those stupid Paper.li online newspapers: when very topic-focused, Paper.li newspapers can be a decent source of industry content to share.)

3. Have an adaptable content approach

Know what you plan to program (using even a loose editorial calendar), but be willing to share more of the content that’s working right now.

4. Listen for new material all the time

Use all kinds of searches, tools, interacting with others, etc. to listen for and find new pockets of great material to share and promote. Watch the reactions to content and new trends developing. Alter your content stream to take best advantage of what you’re observing.

5. Participate and learn from other successful online community managers

I “got” Twitter initially by observing how others we’re using it. I’m back to doing that with Google+ now. Continually pick up new ideas based on how others are using social media well.

6. Be an engaging personality

Be enthusiastic, inviting, interested in your community, and “smiling” in an online kind of way. Doing these things attracts and grows a follower base.

7. Use and share content properly

Make sure you include proper credit for the original sources. Go ahead and paraphrase and paraquote, but don’t lift copy someone else created. Link to original sources and credit where you’re finding compelling content.

8. Solicit audience feedback

Ask easy-to-answer questions and continually check on what people think about your content and community. Also, find out what they enjoy in other online communities where they spend time.

9. Pace your content sharing for the right mood and type of community

Don’t just blast content with no time for people to enjoy it. At the same time, don’t begin with lots of material, and then disappear for extended breaks. Match what you’re sharing to where the community’s mood is and where you want to move it.

10. Bring variety to what you share

Mix in your own material in the midst of sharing compelling items from others. Whether on your blog, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc., create an intriguing social media content stream that’s distinctive and special. That means being anchored in what you do well while also incorporating new areas to stretch yourself and your audience.

What guides your community management?

Those are 10 areas I’ve been pulling from in my DJ experience to manage new online communities. What guidelines from your experience guide you as your build and cultivate an online community?  – Mike Brown

 

If you’re struggling with determining ROI and evaluating its impacts, download “6 Social Media Metrics You Must Track” today!  This article provides a concise, strategic view of the numbers and stories that matter in shaping, implementing, and evaluating your strategy. You’ll learn lessons about when to address measurement strategy, identifying overlooked ROI opportunities, and creating a 6-metric dashboard. Download Your Free Copy of “6 Social Media Metrics You Must Track!”

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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5

Photo by: tobeys | Source: photocase.com

Last Friday’s Brainzooming blog post received very kind comments and attention. The irony is for as much as I try to write ahead of time, on Thursday night, I didn’t have a blog written for Friday morning. In fact, leaving a Social Media Club of Kansas City event Thursday evening, I told reader Pam Hausner  (who was very gracious in her comments about the Brainzooming blog) it was imperative I leave because I had no clue what the Friday post would be.

On the way home, I was thinking of what type of list post I could write, since list posts can be quick blog posts to create. The result was grabbing a variety of tweets on giving yourself a break and publishing it for Friday along with a fun link to Stickman.

The other list post topic idea was this one: what are easy blogging topic ideas, i.e. quick blog posts for when you need to create one in a hurry? To answer that question, here are my top-10 quick blogging topic ideas:

How about it you bloggers? What strategies do you fall back on when you need a quick blog post to meet a publishing deadline? – Mike Brown

 

If you’d like to add an interactive, educationally-stimulating presentation on social media, content marketing, and blogging to your event, Mike Brown is the answer. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com  or call 816-509-5320 to learn how Mike can get your audience members Brainzooming!

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

I had a great opportunity to participate in a panel presentation Wednesday at the Association of Fundraising Professionals, MO, Mid-America Chapter along with Dave Svet of Spur Communications and Patrick Sallee of the American Red Cross, Greater Kansas City Chapter. The topic was “Can Your Smartphone Be a Smart Fundraiser? Mobile fundraising and other “Smart” Strategies.” Short story, we all approached it from a social networking and mobile strategy angle, with insights applicable to nonprofits and for-profit businesses both.

The Other Speakers

Patrick Sallee covered actual case studies of “text to give” from his career. Patrick addressed the upsides (significant impact opportunities when tied to an attention-getting event) and downsides (set-up and ongoing costs, long payment processing cycles, challenges in reaching sufficient scale). The net of his remarks was that “text to give” yields on average about $1000 for a charity, which makes pursuing this social networking strategy not widely viable.

Dave Svet provided a solid overview of the technical opportunities and challenges of mobile giving. He covered smart phone trends that will make mobile giving more seamless domestically in a few years. Near-term, Dave underscored the importance of a mobile-enabled website and the opportunity to develop app-like features within a web environment at significantly less cost than creating custom apps.

Mobile Content Marketing Strategy

I presented on content marketing strategies for nonprofits before fund raising even starts. The mobile content marketing ideas were tied to a social networking impact model The Brainzooming Group uses. The social networking impact model is focused on maximizing audience interests, how to create compelling communication within a mobile strategy, and methods to employ social networking most effectively in sharing an organization’s stories with its key audiences.

Here are five key social networking points from my section on mobile content marketing:

  • It is no surprise that spouses, relatives, friends, and experts are more important to consumer brand decisions than having a Facebook or Twitter page. Two big opportunities exist for brands in social networking, though. These opportunities are to share content and a personality which moves a brand into a friend or expert role and to provide content to individual social network members they can readily and credibly share within their own social networks.
  • Develop relevant personas for important audiences to improve addressing audience needs and interests with your content. Write content for individuals (not for the masses) about what your organization thinks, knows, and does.
  • In a mobile environment, compelling communication requires brevity, direct calls to action, integrated messaging, a mobile-enabled website, and easy ways to invite people to deeper information.
  • When making the move from solely traditional communication vehicles (annual reports, quarterly newsletters, events, etc.) to include social media, take advantage of the opportunity for greater frequency to share a more complete organizational message. Quarterly Facebook status updates do not cut it.
  • In addition to sharing stories of the people and personalities associated with your organization, make it easy for your audience to share your content via social sharing.

What Questions Does this Prompt?

Beyond the talks from Patrick Sallee, Dave Svet, and me, there were some intriguing questions from the group on social networking, technology, and content marketing. Look for a future post addressing audience questions from the Association of Fundraising Professionals session on social networking and mobile content marketing strategy. Do you have any questions you’d like to throw in the mix before that post? – Mike Brown

 

If you’re struggling with determining ROI and evaluating its impacts, download “6 Social Media Metrics You Must Track” today!  This article provides a concise, strategic view of the numbers and stories that matter in shaping, implementing, and evaluating your strategy. You’ll learn lessons about when to address measurement strategy, identifying overlooked ROI opportunities, and creating a 6-metric dashboard. Download Your Free Copy of “6 Social Media Metrics You Must Track!”

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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0

In my on-going efforts to save readers from watching reality TV shows to glean important life lessons, I dove into a “Restaurant Impossible” marathon last Sunday on the Food Network. Hosted by Robert Irvine, the one-hour show features restaurants at the brink of failure. Robert Irvine puts each failing restaurant through a 2-day, $10,000 last chance makeover. These boot camp-oriented turnarounds got me thinking about how lessons from “Restaurant Impossible” could serve as “repair your blog” tips if yours is in need of a turnaround (or at least some significant improvements).

9 Lessons from Restaurant Impossible to Help Your Blogging

1. A restaurant has to look appealing to get people to eat there.

Repair Your Blog Tip: Does your site look appealing and do readers want to stick around to view a variety of content?

2. A successful chef has to know what ingredients surprisingly go together and which do not.

Repair Your Blog Tip: Are you using the same old ingredients on your site or are you bringing in new and unusual combinations of social media content and interactive elements?

3. Strong restaurants have a few signature dishes people remember and return for repeatedly.

Repair Your Blog Tip: What are the couple of types of topics providing dependable go-to social media content for you and your readers?

4. You have to sample the food coming out of the kitchen.

Repair Your Blog Tip: You cannot judge your site only by how it looks on the website. Subscribe to and review it via email, RSS, and all the other types of places your content appears online.

5. If you do not know your food costs, your restaurant will never make a profit.

Repair Your Blog Tip: Do you have a good handle on important metrics for your social media effort? Do you know what readers are responding to and how much time they are spending with your content?

6. Successful restaurants have a “Wow” factor at the door.

Repair Your Blog Tip: When new and returning readers hit a landing page, what intriguing, sticky content greets them?

7. When a restaurant misses the little details, it seems as if the restaurant does not care about anything.

Repair Your Blog Tip: Step way away to see what details you may be missing. Ask some people who do not read your posts everyday about their perceptions of little details you might be missing.

8. Even when you are up and running, you have to practice new things.

Repair Your Blog Tip: Are you trying new styles of designing, writing, and creating content? This may mean investing time practicing and developing new elements that never see the light of day.

9. Every “Restaurant Impossible” projects lasts 2 days with a $10,000 budget – when most should take 6 months and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Repair Your Blog Tip: If you confined your blogging turnaround to 1 weekend and only what you could do for $100, what magic could you make happen with your content and how it’s presented?

Well?

Which of these lessons and blogging tips hit home for you? Are there one or two lessons you will be working on changing this weekend? – Mike Brown

 

If you’re struggling with determining ROI and evaluating its impacts, download “6 Social Media Metrics You Must Track” today!  This article provides a concise, strategic view of the numbers and stories that matter in shaping, implementing, and evaluating your strategy. You’ll learn lessons about when to address measurement strategy, identifying overlooked ROI opportunities, and creating a 6-metric dashboard. Download Your Free Copy of “6 Social Media Metrics You Must Track!”

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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0

Suppose a collaborative business blog is part of  the right social media strategy for your business, but senior management has concerns about blogging. Not the kinds of concerns which make senior management demand, “Absolutely do not create a collaborative blog.” No, we’re talking passive-aggressive concerns where senior management will allow (or potentially encourage) a collaborative blog to be developed. Right before the blog goes live, however, they clamor for multiple review points on each blog post so management is comfortable nothing will happen (in every sense of the word, unfortunately).

What do you do?

How do you protect the timeliness, relevance, and personal feel a successful collaborative business blog should have from death through a thousand – okay, I’m exaggerating…make it “ten” – senior management tinkerers?

Determining the Underlying Senior Management Concerns

The first step is better understanding and narrowing in on the nature of your senior management group’s challenges. You can do this by probing on a variety of potential issues that might drive their concern. You have to find out if their concerns about a collaborative business blog stem from content which:

  • Violates confidentiality
  • Is incorrect
  • Damages customer relationships
  • Compromises professional standards
  • Is off brand for your company
  • Is personally inappropriate or objectionable
  • Could trigger regulatory or legal issues

Figure out which of these (or other issues) are the real pain points with a collaborative business blog. Additionally, determine who would need to review blog posts to relieve the pain for each area of concern.

Addressing the Underlying Issues

Based on the conversation’s outcome and the breadth of the reviewer list, one of a few possibilities will likely materialize:

  • Upon discussion, you’re able to mitigate the concerns either at the start, or perhaps after some initial “learning curve” period, OR
  • The number of people who’d need to review posts is manageable within your blogging process, OR
  • The level of review is so great it will be burdensome or even crippling to the business blogging effort

If the last bullet is where you wind up, it’s far better finding out ahead of time before launching a blog hampered by its inability to function at an appropriate social media pace.

At this point, it’s critical to get creative with alternative ideas to simplify an unwieldy process, take more comprehensive steps to ally their concerns, or in the extreme, delay or pull the plug on the collaborative blog before it becomes one of those “they started it, but it died out in about two month” blogs.

And nobody wants that.  – 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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6

Along with a previous post on things I don’t understand about social networks, here are 13 personal disclosures about my behavior on Facebook, Twitter, and social networks in general. They’re not necessarily good or bad, but it felt like it was time to come clean on them.

1. My wife unfriended me on Facebook. Seriously. She doesn’t want me reading what she’s thinking about (and by “thinking about,” I mean “plotting,” and by “plotting,” I mean “already decided on and has something underway”). So her other Facebook FRIENDS tell me what’s going on in my own house.

2. The reason I don’t run a lot of videos on the blog is because I don’t like the way I look. That’s the same reason my avatar is usually a cartoon self-portrait. I’m working on this though . . . I mean my level of self-acceptance. The ship has sailed on my looks, and it’s not coming back to port any time soon.

3. Many days, my Twitter stream is more depressing than uplifting. I can’t say the same about my Facebook stream, yet. But I figure it’s just a matter of time.

4. I’m really cheap, so my smartphone isn’t the smartest. It may not even be in the top half of the class anymore.

5. I can’t remember what I used to do with the time that I now spend on social networks.

6. For as much writing as I do, it’s really challenging to consider confining myself to a few topics and keywords to maximize the value from SEO. When you’re writing daily blogs, any topic is a topic.

7. When something’s really stupid, I’ll tweet about it from an account that doesn’t have my name attached. If you don’t have such an account, I recommend you create one and have at it.

8. There are lots of reasons why I don’t follow people on Twitter. It seems like the list of reasons is growing over time. If you’re reading this, and I haven’t followed you, let me know and we’ll correct that.

9. I do persist in following certain people whose behavior on social networks continually frustrates me because it seems important to see what they’re saying.  I keep following others because the amusement level just surpasses the frustration level! For the mathematically-inclined:

If ∑ Amusement > ∑ Frustration, then @Brainzooming = Follower

10. I’ve not yet posted a question on Quora.

11. Even though I never go to the site, I do look at Empire Avenue emails to see what my daily earnings are. It’s almost always $64.13. I have no idea why this amount, how it’s arrived at, or whether any checks will ever be issued. One weekend, however, my earnings dropped in half, and in a panic, started tweeting more.

12. It’s important to me to leave trails of helpful ideas if I’m going to invest time on social networks. I expect others to do the same. And it’s always appreciated when you let me know if the ideas I’m sharing are helpful . . . or if they aren’t. Social media silence sucks, as we all know.

13. I pray for a day when social networks undergo tremendous consolidation resulting in fewer, really robust social networks to have to join and try out . . .  because I’m running out of time!

That’s my social networking confession for today. Is there any thing you’d care to share and unburden your conscience? – Mike Brown

If you’d like to add an interactive, educationally-stimulating presentation on strategy, innovation, branding, social media or a variety of other topics to your event, Mike Brown is the answer. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com  or call 816-509-5320 to learn how Mike can get your audience members Brainzooming!

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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