6

If you’re blogging, there’s a reason why you write a blog post when you do. The reason you pick a certain topic when you write a blog post may be strategic and linked directly to your audience persona. Many times, though, the reasons aren’t so well-aligned. They may be based on convenience, silliness, frustration, or simply running out of other ideas. Thinking about this got me wondering about why I write a blog post on any given day. Going back through the Brainzooming blog during the last few months, here are 28 reasons that have prompted me to write a blog post:

1.  I have something to say.

2.  Something occurs to me.

3.  I made a commitment to publish every day, and I need to publish a post.

4.  I’m hoping you’ll be interested in the subject matter.

5.  Enough tweets on one topic have built up to fill a blog post.

6.  There aren’t any guest blog posts to run.

7.  I want to share an idea with you.

8.  It’s an attempt to attract new readers.

9.  The topic interests me.

10. I’m trying to improve the blog’s search engine optimization (SEO) strategy performance.

11. To create a new reference piece for you.

12. To create a new reference post for me so I can return to the information later.

13. Sharing what I learned at a conference or event.

14. It’s a way to complain about something.

15. I’m inspired by a topic.

16. I’m uninspired creatively.

17. The topic doesn’t require a long post.

18. The post is easily adapted from something I’ve already written.

19. It allows me to pass along advice to someone without having to say it directly.

20. It’s an experiment.

21. To thank or show appreciation to someone publicly.

22. Because somebody asked me to write about it.

23. It’s all I can come up with at the time.

24. I want to make sure a specific person sees the post because they need its lesson.

25. Somebody did some really cool work that needs to be shared.

26. There hasn’t been a social media-related post for several days.

27. It’s an opportunity to provide additional information related to a presentation I’m doing.

28. To see if I can twist an off-the-wall topic to be about strategy, creativity, or innovation.

So along with the idea that any subject can be a blog post, it’s clear that there are scads of reasons for writing a blog post.

If you’re on the fence about blogging or you write infrequently because you’re not feeling the creative motivation, realize you don’t have to have a single motivation to blog.

For those of you blogging already, what reasons spur you to take on the blog topics you write about? Let me know in the comments! 

And for all the reasons TO WRITE, there are also reasons to NOT WRITE a blog post. One of them is that I don’t run a post on Good Friday, so the next post will be Monday.  –  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 can help your organization make a successful first step into social media.

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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10

Collaborative blogging isn’t how I started out writing the Brainzooming blog. It began as a creative outlet before leaving corporate life behind. Doing it was creative, but pretty solitary. Since then, I’ve written for several multi-author blogs, which are still pretty solitary experiences too. While there are multiple authors and fewer deadlines (since you don’t have to write as frequently yourself to maintain a steady flow of content) there hasn’t been any meaningful content coordination or planned interaction among authors. Contrast these multi-author blogs with writing collaborative blogs. They take the benefits of having multiple writers and add to it with planning, strategy, and editorial calendars to actively create and manage content.

The stark differences don’t end there. The two blogging approaches differ materially in at least seven ways.

The typical multi-author blog has:

  • A vague sense of who the blog’s target audience is and what’s of interest to them.
  • Only rough blogging guidelines governing the authors’ efforts.
  • A mix-and-match approach to writing styles among the authors actively contributing.
  • No editorial plan - so subject matter coordination happens by accident, if at all.
  • Challenges in coordinating content submissions for timely publishing.
  • Potentially uneven editing, with it being done individually, by an ad hoc editor, or not at all.
  • A blogging platform intended for individual efforts being forced to fit with a multiple contributor environment, often with publishing responsibility heaped on one person.

Contrast this with a strategic, collaborative blog which features:

  • A well-developed persona (or potentially multiple ones) to guide audience-based content creation.
  • A team inside the organization is trained in blogging and contributes to the collaborative blogging effort’s strategic direction.
  • Individual writing styles are arranged and balanced for a better reader experience.
  • Subject matter coordinated to deliver a more strategic mix of content.
  • A planned calendar with posts in reserve to ensure a consistent publishing schedule.
  • A designated blog admin and review process ensure the content is strong, compelling, and well-written.
  • A collaborative blogging application which facilitates reminders, content management, and multiple contributors actively participating.

Rather than simply writing and publishing stories, collaborative blogging can be a powerful, cultural unifier internally, and provide a way to share compelling stories with an external audience. It can be the primary engine in telling the rest of an organization’s stories – the stories which don’t fit in a brochure or a press release.

Look for more on collaborative blogging as we continue to develop and refine them for clients and move the Brainzooming blog in that direction too. –  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

I frequently invite intriguing people I meet (online or offline) to write guest blog posts for Brainzooming. The first follow-up question is usually on what to blog about for the Brainzooming community. My somewhat general answer is, “Anything you want relating to strategy, creativity, and innovation.” While this broad description works for me in writing the blog, it’s clear from the number of people who never actually write a post that more direction could help prospective guest bloggers figure out what to blog about:

What You Could Blog about for Brainzooming

Here are 15 potential topics in answer to the, “What to blog about for Brainzooming?” question:

1.    How you express creativity in your career or areas of personal interest

2.    What you do for creative inspiration

3.    Your perspective on strategic moves within an industry or team

4.    How you’re employing innovation and innovative techniques in your business

5.    An innovation or strategy lesson you’ve learned in your career

6.    Reactions to a conference or presentation on strategy, creativity, or innovation-related topics

7.    Reactions to marketing-related events or developments

8.    Creative places or creative work environments you’ve experienced

9.    Ways you keep your innovation or creative perspective sharp

10.  A strategy example or innovation lesson from daily life

11.  Your reaction to an article already appearing in the Brainzooming blog

12.  Your reaction to a relevant article appearing elsewhere

13.  Reviewing a book on strategy, creativity, or innovation (let me know on this one, I may have a standing request from someone to get their book reviewed)

14.  Guidelines for how you approach being more strategic or innovative in your career

15.  An appropriately-targeted rant (keep the language clean!)

Remember - your post doesn’t have to be written. It could also be a video!

Some More Topics You Could Blog About

These subjects are also all really relevant for Brainzooming, but for a variety of reasons, they just haven’t been covered adequately:

  • Search engine optimization strategy
  • Creative, visual depictions of analytical data
  • How business models are having to become more innovative based on social networking
  • Profiles of cool, innovative people making an impact outside the spotlight
  • Remarkable displays of creative expression
  • Calling BS on the hype of social media (and social media rock stars)
  • What will develop to replace the important roles publishers and editors have played in making sure information is reliable
  • First-hand accounts of innovation and strategy lessons learned in businesses and organizations
  • Counterpoints to things I’ve written

Meet Tom – The Brainzooming Blog Persona

We’ve talked before about the importance of a persona to focus creating blog content. To help guest bloggers, here’s a brief recap of the persona I’ve been using for Brainzooming. You can always think about “Tom” and what might be of benefit to him:

  • Tom is 35, married, and has two children. He has an MBA in marketing from a well-known university. From his schooling, he has built a strong network domestically, and to some extent, internationally. Currently, Tom works as a corporate brand manager, although with the downsizing that’s taken place the past few years, he has had to assume broader and non-traditional responsibilities in his corporate role.
  • While Tom has traveled extensively previously, he’s more geographically stable right now as his attention turns to raising his family. Tom is an interesting mix of traditional professional objectives and eclectic personal interests, including extreme sports, alternative music, sustainability, etc.
  • Tom’s become active in producing social media content through his own business-oriented blog and Twitter. Tom’s audience is growing through demonstrating his expertise online. He’s making connections he hopes will pave the way for the next phase in his career. Since he’s ahead of where his company is on social media, it’s an area where his personal experience is being called upon to help shape the company’s thinking on the topic.

Please Share Your Perspective in a Brainzooming Guest Post!

This post is way too much to tell somebody in a tweet or when talking with them at Panera. I hope it’s helpful, however, in encouraging more of you to share what you know (or what you’d like to know) about strategy, creativity, and innovation with everybody else on Brainzooming! 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 can help your organization make a successful first step into social media.

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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10

Numbered list posts are popular with blog readers according to both internet discussions and my own experience on the Brainzooming blog. Analyzing recent posts with PostRank demonstrated nearly all the most popular blog posts on Brainzooming incorporate a numbered list and feature the number in the blog title.

There are some pundits who even recommend making blog posts with a numbered list as long as possible to increase the impact they have with readers.

It was this point Barrett Sydnor and I were discussing one day about whether it’s true that people really want to read long numbered lists. While I’ve had outstanding response to some long lists of strategy articles, there was a Stepcase Lifehack post I wrote with 15 steps which a commenter said was too long and should be simplified.

In answering the question, Barrett hit on two great points:

  • When it comes to a set of sequential things to do, people want short numbered lists with as few steps as necessary to accomplish a result.
  • When it comes to an array of options to pick from, people want long numbered lists with as much variety as possible.

While there are obvious exceptions (since too much variety can simply bog down decisions), these two general principles are helpful whether using numbered lists in blogging, business, or personal life. They’re also a great add on when considering the best ways to aggregate long lists to make them more usable for others.

Is there anything else you’d add to these two reminders? 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 us at 816-509-5320, and we’ll list out 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.

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16

Some weeks, it’s easy to feel foolish because it seems impossible to predict what are popular topics for blog posts. That’s when I start nosing around more to discover apparently popular topics on other blogs. In the interests of sharing, here’s a completely unscientific study of what seems to work for other bloggers in creating highly popular topics:

  • Admit you’re failing or incapable of performing a task
  • Use a lot of curse words
  • Put a number in the blog post’s title
  • Express outrage for the sake of expressing outrage
  • Be outrageous for the sake of being outrageous
  • Say something ridiculously contrary to what everyone knows and understands
  • Write an opinion that’s obviously misguided and off the mark
  • If you’re an attractive woman, work your most prominent physical characteristic into the blog (extra points if it’s a pictorial reference)
  • Go out on a really shaky limb with a point of view
  • Share something intensely personal, that really is TOO much information
  • Get all preachy about how you’ve gotten screwed over (even when it’s clear you haven’t been)
  • Write about your family pet dying
  • Cover social media topics every single day
  • Promise outlandish success with very little work
  • Self-aggrandize on an epic scale
  • State the obvious – as if you discovered it before anyone else did

That’s my starting list of what makes blog topics popular on other websites.

Unfortunately perhaps, most of these popular topics won’t ever work here because they’re not things I’d experiment writing about even in a creative pinch.

For those of you kind enough to share your time with the Brainzooming blog, what types of topics are popular with you? - 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, and let you pick the blog topics that work 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.

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13

Whether outside agencies or social media interns should be responsible for corporate tweeting and Facebook updating is in the news again. Recent problems faced by Chrysler and a (now former) tweeter at a (now former) social media agency and a social media intern tweeting for Marc Jacobs both reflect situations where young, conceivably social media-savvy individuals, took a real “walk off the ranch” – as a senior executive I knew would have put it.  In the Chrysler case, it was using the F-bomb and impugning Detroit drivers. For the Marc Jacobs social media intern, it was a mini-rant blistering the CEO.

These cases re-raise the issue of what’s really important when deciding who will create and send social media status updates for an organization?

Even if you believe youth is closely aligned with preparedness in using social media, there’s much more required to be successful. Possessing a fair degree of emotional intelligence is obviously just one other critical factor.

Importantly, it’s also essential for your corporate tweeter to be a strong representative for the brand OFFline before trying to be one online. That requirement alone would suggest, “Let the intern do it,” probably isn’t the right answer when deciding who should handle corporate social media accounts.

While there are plenty of tests online for emotional intelligence, what can you do to check for the right degree of brand advocacy skills? How about a test for the offline brand attributes a corporate tweeter needs as well?

Here’s my suggestion for an “Is Your Corporate Tweeter Ready?” test.

Using a scale where 3 is “Completely trust them,” 2 is “Somewhat trust them,” and 1 is “OMG! I’d never trust them to do that!” ask yourself if you’d depend on the person you’re having (or considering having) do your corporate tweeting to:

  • Actively participate in a sales call on your largest customer or customer group?
  • Review your brand standards document not only for typos but for real strategic brand errors?
  • Speak about your brand and what it represents to a large group of employees?
  • Work a customer service shift unsupervised?
  • Credibly summarize your business, what you do, and discuss its size, scope, and prospects with a group of potential investors?
  • Have a conversation with a competitor without disclosing any proprietary or otherwise competitively damaging information about your company?
  • Be interviewed by a national (or even local) TV reporter who is doing an unfavorable profile about your company?

Total up the score. How did your corporate tweeter do?

Here’s my recommendation for evaluating the scores:

  • 18 – 21: You have a strong candidate to be handling social media updates for your organization.
  • 13 – 17: This person has real potential for social media success, but there are some fundamental brand-related areas which need development.
  • 12 or under: Maybe this person’s a blogger where you have time to edit and make sure they’re aligned with your brand, but don’t put them behind a Twitter or Facebook account….EVER!

What do you think? Are these the right situations and scoring?

And do you have the right person tweeting for you? - 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…even though we won’t tweet 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.

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2

Robert Fine (@BobFine on Twitter) tweeted a contest late last year to win a copy of his new social media strategy book, “The Big Book of Social Media.” The contest was to be the first person to answer a trivia question about one of the book’s many case study authors. As a research guy, I hopped on Google, found the answer, and tweeted it as fast as I could, winning the free copy of the book.

By the way, that’s my creative way of getting the “I got this book free” disclaimer out of the way!

Since then, Bob, who created the Cool Social Conferences World Tour, has become a good Twitter friend. And based on the diversity of smart perspectives he’s assembled within the book, it’s definitely worth taking a look at it if you’re in the midst of trying to do something real with social media for business. Going beyond the valueless chatter out there, it provides solid discussions of real-life social media strategy implementations that have truly integrated organizational objectives and delivered real metrics.

As the “Case Studies, Stories, Perspectives” part of the book’s title suggests, Bob has assembled more than forty strategy overviews organized by specific cases across a variety of segments (i.e., business, vertical industries, media, nonprofits, etc.). As a self-professed book skimmer, I love the format because it offers readers multiple ways to access the case studies:

  • Read it all the way through
  • Zero in on segments of interest
  • Focus on specific blueprints from comparable situations

“The Big Book of Social Media” is a great resource for people who are really serious about social media strategy. Check it out, if that’s what you are! -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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