9

We’re back . . . sorta.

The website – and others at our web host – were hit by a hacker on September 4. Suddenly, we made the Google “don’t go there because it’s a bad place” list. That notice effectively brought an end to the Brainzooming blog, creating a blogging exile  for nearly two weeks until we could get the issues cleared up, thanks to Mike Whaling at 30 Lines, whose expertise got us back up and all Google approved.

It was the longest break from blogging since I started the blog in November of 2007.

What did I learn during my forced blogging exile?

  • I enjoyed not having the pressure to publish a post daily. This was especially true when I had 8 hours in the car that was effectively dead time driving to and from a client strategy session.
  • The time away made me think about what a different approach to our social media strategy might look like. I even published a post to Google+ when the urge to write something became too strong! Though I thought about the list of guest posts I owe folks, none of those got written.
  • Potential blog post topics kept occurring to me, but few of the ideas were ever written down, so they’re lost . . . unless they pop back up in the near future.
  • The traffic declines on the website were dramatic. When Google tells people to not go to your website, people really get the message. Yet once Mike Whaling got everything moved to a new host, visitors came right back. I think all of you for your support in returning!
  • While it was a distraction to know what was (or wasn’t) going on with the website, it couldn’t afford to be my central focus. With other changes going on, there was too much travel and too much client work to get moving on getting the website fixed any sooner than it was.
  • Since much of what I share on Twitter involves links to new and previous Brainzooming articles that appear relevant for questions people are posing any given day, my other social media activity dropped dramatically as well. When I was unable to readily share content in an effort to be helpful, my enthusiasm for social media waned . . . in a big way.
  • Finding the blessing in the curse, I typically have to be forced out of something major to start something new. It seems like this may be the “something major” when it comes to social media . . . or maybe not.

And to paraphrase Forrest Gump, when it comes to my blogging exile, “That’s all I have to blog about that.” – Mike Brown

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.

 

Taking the No Out of Innovation eBook

Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic ideas! For an organizational creative boost, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans to efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

1

One Google search that frequently lands people at the Brainzooming blog is, “What to blog about.” Not surprising given how much content we’ve published on what to blog about here. Plus there’s the social media-related work we do helping brands mine their knowledge, expertise, and experiences to match them to what audiences want to read about from them.

As I tell audiences when speaking on content and editorial strategies, I’m a big believer in the “George Costanza” blogging strategy, which is (to paraphrase a scene from Seinfeld) anything can provide the creative inspiration for a blog topic.

Brainzooming Creative Inspiration – What to Blog About

Photo by: skaisbon | Source: photocase.com

To offer proof for the George Costanza blogging strategy and suggest more creative inspiration regarding what to blog about for your organization, here are the inspirations behind the thirty Brainzooming blog posts before this one. There are thirty posts and twenty-eight inspirations since two creative inspiration ideas generated two blog posts each.

If you’re stuck on what to blog about for your brand, take a look at the creative inspiration ideas listed here and see how they might apply to your own organization.

You can write a blog post because:

1. You notice something is like something else – kind of (Fuel Mileage Project Management)

2. A friend just had a birthday and you think about how they influenced you (Skepticism)

3. You see a behavior many people in your audience do that doesn’t help them, but they don’t realize it (Social Media humility)

4. You offer advice to a potential client that could benefit others (10 Permissions for Small Business Blogging)

5. There’s a solid business practice you recently used that’s been in your repertoire and working forever (Finding agreement in adversarial situations, also #20 – Level 5 decisions)

6. Someone suggests a topic to you (on Facebook) that could work for your blog (Over deliver or not)

7. You have written something for another purpose that can be edited into a blog post (7 quick decisions)

8. There’s an opportunity to explain and invite people into using a business approach that’s worked for your organization (2 line visual thinking)

9. You want to offer advice to someone and something you see on TV provides a way to turn it into a more broadly applicable topic (Personal brand consistency)

10. A news event can be summarized and learnings shared (London Olympics)

11. Someone asks you a question you’ve never been asked before (18 organizational culture cues)

12. You’re standing in line witnessing the good and bad of a brand experience (Legoland)

13. A client-related frustration can be explored in a non-threatening way (Too smart for strategic planning)

14. You’ve read an interesting article that can be summarized and presented in lesson format (Unusual creativity)

15. You have a bunch of little thoughts that can be grouped together (10 ideas for thinking and action)

16. There’s an opportunity to reorganize and recap what you’ve written before so it’s easier to use (188 creativity tips and #26 – 50 extreme creativity ideas)

17. Sharing a previous case study relating to current news is once again relevant (Sponsor bomb the Olympics)

18. A business situation isn’t working and you’re trying to make sense of it (5 signs someone doesn’t want help)

19. Someone sends you a snarky tweet, but you ignore the snark and look for the hidden question in it (Twitter audience growth benefits)

20. See number 5

21. You had an opportunity to participate in something others didn’t, and they’d benefit from learning about it (Google Fiber announcement)

22. You see potential clients doing things that don’t make sense – and that others do as well (Social Media Personality)

23. Someone makes a statement that sticks with you for a month because you’re still thinking about its implications (When everything is in the cloud)

24. You have something to promote (Gigabit City summit)

25. Someone expresses frustration with a situation they can largely change (8 signs a creative project is done)

26. See number 16

27. You’re voicing a frustration you think others may share (Misleading blog titles suck)

28. You’re facing a challenging situation and working it out in public (Are we this far apart?)

29. Someone is willing to guest post (Metrics and branding)

30. You have relevant pictures to share (Pictures of creativity)

What creative inspiration does this list trigger regarding what to blog about for your brand?

– Mike Brown

 

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming email updates.

 

If you’re struggling with determining social media 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 social media  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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

3

Social Media HumilityA recent article titled “Are We All Braggarts Now?” by Elizabeth Bernstein in the Wall Street Journal immediately caught my eye. Bernstein surveys the phenomenon of how social media sharing trips up humility and creates pressure (real or imagined) for people to play up their personal accomplishments and those of their families.

Think of it as “social media bragging.”

We’re all familiar with bragging blog posts and status updates where Facebook friends and Twitter followers are ostensibly sharing what they’re doing currently (or just did or are just about to do). It’s clear many times these social networking updates about personal accomplishments are a thinly veiled blurb whose real message is, “Look how special I AM and consider how special YOU AREN’T.”

At one point I was saving online bragging examples from Facebook friends and Twitter followers as examples for a blog post on the bad ways to use social media. I never wrote the blog post because of my struggle with sharing the actual social media status updates as examples and calling out individual people for online bragging. While I know plenty of people who wouldn’t hesitate to make a negative example of someone on social media, it’s not an approach I’d want to follow. My previous compromise was running a Dilbert comic strip on social media bragging and humility juxtaposed with a saying from Proverbs: Don’t brag about yourself let others praise you (Proverbs 27:2).

To get the point across about how to better use social media for sharing personal accomplishments with humility in the “Are We All Braggarts Now?” Wall Street Journal article, Elizabeth Bernstein shared a sidebar listing five ideas for how to “Shine without Being a Braggart.” From my reading, though, her examples would STILL sound like online bragging if they showed up from Facebook friends or Twitter followers in my social media streams.

7 Ways to Share Accomplishments Online with Humility

Instead of pointing out online bragging offenders, here are 7 lessons from Facebook friends and Twitter followers  who share personal accomplishments without online bragging and are clearly tempering the instincts we apparently all have to derive pleasure from talking about ourselves.

1. Consider every good thing that happens to you as a blessing, i.e., you weren’t completely responsible for the good thing that happened to you, so don’t take all the credit.

2. Approach your personal accomplishments with a sense of sincere appreciation not a sense of entitlement.

3. Be self-deprecating. Poke fun at yourself in areas where people tend to assume/think/know you have strengths and talents.

4. Make sure you’re online sharing reflects a balanced view of your life:

  • For every incredible vacation or trip photo, share something mundane from your daily life.
  • For every windfall you are celebrating, share a moment of challenge, concern, or self-doubt you’ve faced.
  • For every personal or family accomplishment you trumpet, share when things didn’t work out as you expected – and that’s not, “Instead of winning the $200 million Powerball, I only won $600,000 : ( ”

5. Share and Like many more great experiences from other people than great blurbs you share about yourself.

6. Congratulate others; don’t self-congratulate yourself. Even if you think you’re self-congratulating with humility, chances are you’re not.

7. Before you share your update about what’s going on with you, re-read it and think about if whether you’d perceive the same update as online bragging if it came from a loved one? How about from a casual friend?

Are you put off by social media bragging or are you unphased by it?

Do you have some egregious examples of bragging on social media you’d like to share courtesy of Facebook friends or Twitter followers? Or maybe suggestions of people who seem to apply these lessons (or others) to share personal accomplishments with humility? – Mike Brown

 

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming email updates.

 

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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

3

One advantage (and also potential downfall) of social media for freelance and small business people is the opportunity to jump in and get started blogging with less forethought because its costs (both real and opportunity) CAN largely be incurred as-you-go versus before you start blogging.

Blogging and Traditional Marketing Communications Tactics Are Different

There is a contrast between blogging and most traditional marketing communications tactics where significant creative, production, and media costs HAVE TO be incurred before starting, often making small scale efforts or experiments cost prohibitive.

This fundamental difference of social media versus traditional marketing communications is vital for freelance and small business people to remember when considering blogging. It is easy to apply the same hurdles you would use before starting a traditional marketing communications effort when it comes to blogs. Instead, there is an entirely different set of rules for blogs.

When It Comes to Social Media, Give Yourself Permission to . . .

It is vital for freelance and small business people to give themselves permission to:

  • Tell your version of whatever your story is; that is the story you are the most expert at sharing.
  • Reach out to other bloggers and ask questions about blogging; that is how you will short cut the hard knock lessons of blogging.
  • Not fully develop the case for your point of view; that is what future blogs are for.
  • Experiment with varied writing approaches; that is the only way you will learn what writing approach works for you.
  • Not elaborate on every proof point you can imagine; that is where reader comments come in.
  • Not perfect the prose of every post; that is what editing and republishing a blog post is for.
  • Not redo a blog post until you think it is perfect for your audience; that is when what your audience thinks is most important.
  • Write a post that falls flat; you are not writing Huckleberry Finn.
  • Start telling people about your blogs in every way possible; that’s the start of building an audience.
  • Begin publishing posts; that is what blogs are for.
Just think – you have all those permissions. You just need to accept them!

Have you hesitated to get started blogging?

If you have a freelance or small business, have you hesitated to get started with blogging until it is just right? If that’s the case, how are you wrestling with these (or other) social media permissions?

So how about it, small business people – are you ready to cut yourself a break now and get started with your blog?- Mike Brown

 

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming email updates.

 

If you’re struggling with determining social media 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 social media  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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

5

What impact does social media audience building create and is it really worth it to increase the number of Twitter followers you have?

Twitter Followers - Social Media Audience GrowthOver the weekend, a Brainzooming blog reader tweeted congratulating me on how many Twitter followers we enjoy for the @Brainzooming Twitter profile and hoping “they generate lots of work/business.”

There is certainly a common expectation of spending time on social media being able to DIRECTLY generate business. The view is fueled by SO many tweets, blog posts, webinars, etc. promising to tell you how to make this phenomenon happen. It is not, however, the reason I started investing time building a social media audience.

In fact, I created a Twitter profile well before The Brainzooming Group started. Social media paved the way to to build a social media audience and get the business going even though revenue generation wasn’t an initial element of our social media strategy. Instead, the number of Twitter followers and other people in our social media audience provided a platform and additional external credibility to launch The Brainzooming Group.

All of this is to support why we talk about whole-brain social media metrics, recognizing there will be both quantitative and qualitative benefits from a social media investment, and each type of social media metric can be important from both a business and/or a personal perspective.

11 Benefits from a Growing Social Media Audience

With that backdrop, here are eleven of the wonderful things the very kind Twitter followers who are part of the @Brainzooming family contribute to our business.

Twitter followers:

1. Help build the @Brainzooming target audience – Through recommendations to friends, sharing Brainzooming content, and #FollowFriday tweets (among other ways), @twilli2861, @marketingveep, @justcoachit, and others have increased @Brainzooming Twitter followers to reach part of our target audience we might never have reached as quickly.

2. Create credibility – Holding and growing a base of Twitter followers over multiple years is an indicator of the value of the social media content and interaction we have with each other. This credibility from our social media audience has helped open doors for social media strategy work and was integral to being named to the Innovation Excellence list of the Top 50 Innovation Tweeters.

3. Provide opportunities for additional exposure within the target audience – Twitter followers have provided a variety of new opportunities to increase exposure for Brainzooming among their target audience members. @ToddSchnick has provided multiple ones just by himself, including radio interviews and appearing in his new Kicking Fear’s Ass eBook.

4. Allow Brainzooming to be “seen” with them – Through tweeting with @Just_Stacy recently, a friend of hers was introduced to the Brainzooming Twitter profile and contacted us about developing and delivering innovation training for her company.

5. Introduce the brand to new people – It was an online introduction and follow-up that led to meeting @BobFine and the opportunity to write for his award-winning magazine The Social Media Monthly at its launch.

6. Help define and position the Brainzooming brand for our target audience – One of the metrics I find most rewarding is the number of Twitter lists on which our account is listed in relation to the number of followers. Additionally, through the names of these lists, we get an understanding of how people group and view the brand. (If you have not reviewed the list names of which you are a member, you need to look. It is tremendously instructive.)

7. Share motivation and encouragement – There are a few friends (including @amyrnbsn) who will reach out if my tweets seem “down” to cheer me up. You cannot put a price on that!

8. Point me to intriguing content – I look toward the people on Twitter to point me to great content online. They send me places I would never find for myself.

9. Offer counsel – These conversations usually happen via direct messages and have helped me think through both personal and business issues more effectively. @EAlvarezGibson has been the dispenser of much of this beneficial counsel.

10. Offer creative inspiration – So many people to point to here, but a great example is @DoseofCre8ivity and her 30 Days of Creativity project in the summer of 2012 that was a daily inspiration to for so many people.

11. Help us understand what social media content resonates with people – Retweets and responses to Brainzooming content are tremendously helpful in shaping our social media strategy. Retweets while I was sleeping were an early indicator of active engagement from the Brainzooming Twitter profile global audience, prompting a move to a 24-hour sharing schedule.

What impact do followers have for you or your business?

As I finish this list, I realize I forgot to include all the Twiter friends who have written guest posts, of which @WBendle has clearly been the most prolific, and meeting new people in my hometown, i.e. @JordanEM.

So in response to this weekend’s tweet, this is a PARTIAL list of benefits I get from the great Twitter followers @Brainzooming has for its Twitter profile!  – Mike Brown

 

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming email updates.

 

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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

4

Seeing painful examples this week featuring social media completely devoid of real brand personality means it’s time to create a simple social media personality audit.

Social media content with no brand personality?

Social-Media-Personality-AuditExample 1: The Financial Institution

There’s a TV advertisement running in Kansas City for a financial institution’s new blog targeted at women. The TV advertisement features five women in a kitchen, supposedly talking and sharing in a very “it’s just us girls” way. Apparently by “just us girls” though the financial institution means “in a very stilted, formal, artificial, and awkward” way.

When you check out the financial institution blog, the “stilted, formal, etc.” sentiment carries throughout its site. The five women in the ad obviously represent five personas for the blog. But instead of depicting real people, the five women are characters with phony descriptive names tied to each persona’s life stage and some variation of the financial institution’s signature color.

Let’s just say the dearth of activity on the financial institution blog suggests nobody feels like hanging out in the virtual kitchen to talk and share with these phony personalities.

Example 2: The Vet Clinic

Then yesterday, after visiting our vet to pick up the cats, the vet clinic popped up on Facebook with a status update about a new blog post. I clicked the link and scanned the last three vet clinic blog posts. All three blog posts were about products to keep away from your pet. Helpful information, without a doubt. But the information appeared (based on the blog design information) to be generated by a company specializing in on-hold call systems. As a result, the vet clinic blog posts had the personality one would typically associate with an on-hold call.

This is in stark contrast, however, to a very friendly and warm vet clinic where vets, techs, and other staff have shown us tremendous support as one cat faded and get genuinely excited and have a special nickname for our other cat when she visits the cat clinic.

10 Question Social Media Content Personality Audit

These two social media examples so devoid of brand personality sent me looking for definitions of individual personality and brand personality to spur my creative thinking.

Based on the words suggested in the Wikipedia entries and our experience with good and bad social media content, here are 10 questions the financial institution, the vet clinic, or your brand can ask to see whether you are putting enough personality into social media.

Apply this 10 question social media personality audit to see how any social media content from a brand does. Give two points for every “Yes” answer and no points for every “No” answer:

  • Is there an overriding emotion this social media content suggests?
  • Would you know the attitude employees of this brand embody from its social media content?
  • Are the behaviors your people display when they go above and beyond to help customers clearly suggested?
  • When you see this content, does it appear as if it could be shared in a genuine conversation or letter exchange with someone who knows you?
  • Is there a level of familiarity suggested that customers or potential customers would expect when they dealt with your employees in person?
  • Does this social media content have a spark of imagination and spirit?
  • Will the information shared via social media pass the “straight face” test?
  • Does the tone and delivery of the social media content treat the reader with clear respect?
  • Will a reader walk away from this social media content enriched both intellectually and emotionally?
  • Would people legitimately want to spend more time with the person delivering this social media content?

Let’s see how you did!

Grading the Social Media Content Personality Audit

Here’s how to score a brand on the social media personality audit:

  • 18 or Greater: “A” – You are delivering personality throughout your social media content
  • 16:  “B” – You’re showing more personality than most are in social media
  • 12 – 14: “C” – Social media content you produce might reflect aspects of your brand personality, but it could easily be missed
  • Less than 12: “Fail” – Your social media content probably has drab stock photos (even for what should be employee images), copy that should be on your website and not your blog, and status updates that read like short-form press releases

Who is doing it right?

If you want to see a local brand that has really impressed me of late by oozing its brand personality in social media content, check out the Kansas City store, STUFF on Facebook. It’s located on my favorite creative block in Kansas City, and in the face of a lot of generic retail social media content, STUFF shows you can showcase your brand personality in an imaginative way every day.

Oh, BTW, there is a caveat

Most of the creative questions, strategic thinking exercises, and innovation-inducing tools shared on the Brainzooming blog spring from real-life organizational situations and have been tried and tested.

This social media audit hasn’t, at least in this form. It’s all stuff I fully believe and espouse, but this attempt to share it in a new way isn’t client tested. Because of that, I’d love to see you apply it, and let us know if you think it’s appropriately categorizing the good and bad of social media content you see. – Mike Brown

 

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming email updates.

 

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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

1

Don’t you hate when a blog promises one thing and then offers something completely different? It sucks, if you ask me.

Five Blogging Bait and Switch Moves I Hate

1. A blog title asks a question, implying the question will be answered, then the post really says the question is the wrong one or completely irrelevant.

2. A blog title says there will be a certain number of items in a list, then the post either doesn’t include a list or it’s not easy to visually scan.

3. A blog title is very long, then the post is comprised of the title plus 3 additional words.

4. A blog title sounds as if the post will provide very helpful information, then the post is a personal reflection with no information a reader can directly act upon.

5. A blog title is enticing but vague, then the post is even vaguer than the title.

Careful There

As a blogger, I’m opening myself up to you all saying, “Hey, you do those blogging bait and switch moves too!” If you think I have done any of these, keep me honest and let me know.

So what blogging bait and switch moves do you think suck  that you would add to this list? – Mike Brown

 

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming email updates.

 

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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading