6

I was in Lawrence, KS yesterday for the latest SocialIRL program created by Ben Smith and featuring HARO-creator, Peter Shankman. The day’s underlying theme was customer service in the age of social media. That’s actually a bit of a misnomer though, because so many of the principles Peter Shankman shared are solid customer service and communication strategies even if social media weren’t around.

As opposed to a lot of presentations you see, Tuesday’s Peter Shankman SocialIRL session was more about storytelling, entertainment, engagement, videos, and technical glitches. You probably couldn’t have a better translation of what happens in social media to an in real life setting. From that standpoint then, the day definitely fulfilled the event theme!

As a recap, here are 11 take-aways from SocialIRL:

STRATEGY

1. “Embrace the concept, not the brand.”  - Peter Shankman

Absolutely. Brands (in this case, social media platforms) may come and go, but underlying concepts (i.e., mobile marketing) have more staying power and can be the strategic foundations for marketing plans.

2. “Social media is all about quicker, faster, and better. People do the quicker & faster, but forget about the better.” – Peter Shankman

If you’re not getting attention for your content, then you have to look at what you’re creating and how to make it more relevant and meaningful to your audiences.

3. “If you don’t listen to your customers, someone else will.”

Even if you can’t sell-in a social media program in your organization, you have to start listening to understand what customers, prospects, and others active in your industry are saying about you. Social media listening is both the source of opportunities and the way to head off more serious problems.

4. “Let us not underestimate the power cool has. Any time you can make your customers feel cool, they will do your PR for you.” – Peter Shankman

Give your audience things that make them seem cool and cooler than the audience they’re sharing your content with online.

CUSTOMER SERVICE

5. Good customer service kills online problems before they become problems online.

Finding links between brands with strong customer service and successful social media efforts (i.e. Southwest Airlines) isn’t a coincidence. A cultural orientation toward understanding customers and going out of your way to meaningfully engage with them translates from offline into the online world much easier than trying to create a new attitude in social media.

6. There are 3 critical steps in addressing customer issues online.

Relative to customer issues, the three key steps are to listen, analyze, and personalize your reply. The analyze step is especially important. While there’s a need for a timely reply (Shankman claims 1 to 3 hours response time on Twitter is adequate), your person responding should understand the service recovery options available and know what steps they’ll be using to address the customer issue.

7. If legal concerns are an issue for social media in your organization, use the 80-20 rule to be able to interact more effectively online.

When it comes to having a two-way conversation, many organizations, especially regulated ones, can look at what customer service issues come up most frequently and craft 5 or 6 messages which answer a majority of questions and point people in the right directions.

SOCIAL MEDIA MISTAKES BRANDS MAKE

8. In answer to a question about what he sees brands doing wrong in social media, Peter Shankman offered these:

  • Not acting quickly enough – This is a result of fears from legal implications or other potential issues, or the need to get more people involved. By the time everything is ready to go, opportunities are lost.
  • Afraid to offend anyone – Lots of humor isn’t being used because brands are afraid of it. When a brand uses humor, the humor needs to tie to the brand and its audiences. As Shankman puts it, “Funny stuff equates to viral.”
  • Not learning from mistakes – He suggests Googling the top social media mistakes and learning from what mistakes others have made in social media.
  • Not listening enough (or well enough) – Peter Shankman recommends more listening and less talking. And when listening, brands need to do a better job of responding.

COMMUNICATION SKILLS

9. The killer social media skill is writing.

Peter Shankman’s stat was that we have 2.7 seconds (or essentially 3 sentences) to reach our audiences. Doing that successfully depends on knowing how to write, and knowing especially how to write headlines. He encourages his employees to take as many writing classes as they want to continually improve.

10. When you have a speaking element that works, repeat it often.

One of Peter Shankman’s most effective speaking approaches is drawing comparisons to yesterday’s world by linking it to things people under 30 are familiar with. Examples: “The radio is like Pandora before the Internet” and “Madonna is like Lady Gaga with more kids.” Not only are these similes effective for all age ranges, the familiarity of hearing them throughout his talk added both impact and anticipation.

AN OBSERVATION

11. Peter Shankman may be the Forrest Gump of web 2.0.

The day opened with stories form Peter Shankman about his move from being 18 hours short of a degree in California to being at the center of a variety of online blow–ups, including HARO. He didn’t really offer any rules or strategic lessons learned for accomplishing this, other than to create strong content, have a brilliant idea, and plan for outrageous success. Absent any easy lessons, it seems to be either a numbers game (create enough content and hope for brilliance), dumb luck (Lance Armstrong RTs an xtranormal video you did), or some apparent combination of the two. – 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 atbrainzooming@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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10

It’s always helpful when someone calls you on a good intention to make sure you actually follow through on it. When I spoke last month to the Transportation Marketing & Sales Association on social media strategy, the format allowed the audience to select from among 12 topics in the social media framework to customize the presentation to the social media strategy issues most relevant for them. To provide additional background on the social media strategic topics we didn’t talk about, I promised to create a compilation of links that formed the backbone of the presentation’s content. The full compilation has been on my to-do list ever since, and a very kind email from one of the TMSA attendees late last week prompted me to get it done!

My rationalization for the delay? The list now includes several posts written in the last two weeks (after the TMSA conference), including the post on who should create content that’s generated so many rich comments here and nearly 6,000 page views in its first week on the Social Media Today blog as well.

OVERVIEW

STRATEGY

1. Integration

 2. ROI

3. Guidelines

SOCIAL NETWORKING

4. Listening

5. Building Relationships

6. Getting Noticed

INFRASTRUCTURE

7. Platforms

8. Time and Talent

9. Minimizing Risk

SOCIAL BUSINESS

10. Content Marketing

11. Customer Engagement

12. Innovation

 

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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2

The underlying green principles of reduce, reuse, and recycle aren’t just for environmental matters. You can also apply these green principles to your blogging. For those of us who create a lot of content, blog sustainability is a matter of creative survival.

Reduce

1. The number of words

Writing fewer words can save blogging time, if you start with that objective. Writing long posts and editing them to be short, however, can take a disproportionately long time. When you set out to write a shorter post (i.e. in the 100 – 200 word range), going in with a brief outline can make reducing words a real time saver.

2. Time spent writing

Get a kitchen timer, and set a limit on how long you’ll spend writing a blog post. Forcing yourself to write for only 20 minutes on a single post gets you in great practice for writing quickly AND shortly.

3. Posting frequency

If you’re struggling with the posting schedule you have, consider reducing how often you post. You don’t HAVE to write every day. Pick a less frequent schedule, communicate it to your readers, and stay consistent with the new schedule as you enjoy your new free time.

Reuse

4. Your links

Face it: not everybody is reading everything you’re posting. Plus (fingers crossed), you’re picking up new readers all the time. If you have major subject in your blog, link back to earlier pieces that expand on the points you’re making in a current post.

5. Popular posts

Look at your Google Analytics and see what readers have been reading the most. Create posts which highlight popular posts built around specific topic areas your readers enjoy.

6. Images

Just because you’ve used an image once doesn’t mean it can’t be used again. Get proficient on basic editing software – crop a picture to focus on specific, different elements within it. Add effects to it as a way to use an image for multiple posts.

Recycle

7. Popular post themes

Update popular topics or combine them into longer, more comprehensive articles. You could also build on comments readers shared and turn those into related posts.

8. List posts

List posts are often more about the list and less about the explanatory text associated with each item. Pull out a single item from a list post and expand it into a more fully-developed blog post.

9. Multiple posts

Take multiple posts on a specific subject and aggregate them into an article or ebook you can offer as a download on your blog.

How Creatively Green Is Your Blog?

Try these 9 ideas and you’ll be doing your part for blog sustainability. What other ways do you reduce, reuse, or recycle with your blog? 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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1

During yesterday’s TMSA social media strategy presentation, we wound up talking about 4 of the 12 business-to-business social media strategy topics the audience could choose from to discuss. Interestingly, they picked one topic each in the four overall categories – strategy, social networking, infrastructure, and social business. As I’d promised them, here are links for the overview in the presentation plus  links with more detail on each of the 4 specific topics they selected:

Social Media Overview

Strategy – Measuring ROI

Social Networking – Getting Noticed

Infrastructure – Time and Talent

Social Business – Content Marketing

The group had a number of questions throughout which should provide additional blog topics in the weeks to come. - 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 to see how we can help you define a strategy firmly tied to business yet recognizing the impact of social networking on your market opportunities.

 

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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17

I’m doing a social media strategy presentation at the Transportation Marketing and Sales Association in San Diego today. Today’s talk is a major revamp of  my social media strategy presentation, incorporating learnings from all the social media work we’ve done the past year. With much more social media content to share, I’ve prepared 12 social media topics for the audience to choose from in customizing the presentation to the issues most relevant for them. They get value from picking what’s covered, and it keeps me on my toes since no two presentations are the same!

We’ll also be highlighting social media strategy best practices from among attendees to make the talk more industry-specific and recognize smart work in the transportation and logistics industry. While looking for best practices, I found a number of social media mistakes as well. Instead of calling them out in the presentation, however, today’s post highlights seven of the (unattributed) mistakes any business-to-business (or even business-to-consumer) company shouldn’t be making:

1. Making your product/service the hero in every blog post.

In transportation industry blogs, the companies doing the blogging have their services providing heroic solutions in WAY too many posts. Using the problem-solution-result format to occasionally highlight your brand’s products and services is okay. If every blog post involves your brand coming to the rescue, however, it’s repetitive and will disaffect readers. The alternative is delivering content on what customers are:

  • Seeking information about
  • Focused on in their professional (and personal) lives
  • Challenged to accomplish in their businesses

With this approach, incorporating the Think-Know-Do perspective we’ve recommended will help you to create much greater content value for readers.

2. Only following and fanning business-to-business customers.

For business-to-business brands (and business-to-consumer ones too), deciding who to follow and fan can be challenging. While there are a variety of strategies which may be right, at least one strategy is clearly wrong: only following your customers. When you only follow customers in a business-to-business market, your customer list becomes visible to anyone checking your profile.

3. Creating an industry platform with lots of fanfare and very little planning.

One company introduced an issue-oriented portal to tackle a big, meaty industry issue. The introduction included lots of fanfare and promises of frequent updates, community, and vibrant conversations. On launch day, the company debuted several “executive” blog posts to frame its thought leadership position and then . . . wait for it . . . nothing. What does it make your brand look like when months pass and nothing’s happening on the site? If makes it look as if your brand doesn’t keep promises. When executives become hell-bent to launch this type of site, invest some of the development money into creating a legitimately implementable content plan to keep it updated and build a robust dialogue. Not sure how? Call us!

4. Featuring sharing buttons but nothing worth sharing.

Definitely make social media content spreadable by installing plug-ins to allow readers to share your content within their own social networks. Putting sharing buttons on a web page is only one part of the sharing equation. The content has to be valuable and worth taking time to let others know about it. Going through several TMSA attendees’ social media sites, sharing shows up on many pages no one would ever share no matter how easy it is to do.

5. You create all the Twitter and Facebook content you share.

Social networking is about conversation and sharing relevant content from multiple pertinent sources. The Twitter and Facebook presences for many TMSA attendees do nothing but push their own content, making it seem like just a bunch of mini press releases. You can check how you’re doing on this by looking at your last 20 tweets or Facebook status updates. In how many are you “talking” vs. answering questions, engaging in conversations with other users or sharing content from others? Target less than 20% of the content being your material and 80% from some form of interaction.

6. Ignoring social media when your company is being challenged.

When a brand is under attack, it’s discouraging, but pulling back and not communicating in every social channel where your brand is getting bad talked isn’t the way to go. With the ability for anyone to essentially broadcast very creative content about your brand, you can’t afford silence. There’s no reason you shouldn’t be the most compelling communicator of your story. If you’re getting pounded in blog posts, comment and move the conversation to positive topics. If a YouTube video search shows nothing but mocking videos and doomsayers about your brand, get busy and share lots of brief, rich stories about what your company and its employees are doing to provide value.

7. Having multiple accounts and one avatar.

It can be smart to have multiple identities for your brand set up in relevant channels with content targeted to interest areas your customers have. Every presence shouldn’t have exactly the same corporate logo though. Not providing visual differentiation undermines the value of the diverse, focused content you’re sharing. When designing multiple avatars, make sure they carry a comparable feel so people know they’re all from your brand, but reflect the distinct content and perspective each is presenting.

Well?

If you’re a TMSA attendee, were any of these written about your social media presence? If you didn’t attend TMSA, do any of the problems sound familiar anyway? - 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 to see how we can help you define a strategy firmly tied to business yet recognizing the impact of social networking on your market opportunities.

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

When we do strategic creative sessions, similes are tremendously powerful tools to allow session participants to make strategic connections between familiar and potentially less familiar concepts. These strategic connections quickly open up new thinking and lead to significant innovations. Here are similes addressing aspects of social media. Some of these similes have surfaced already as Brainzooming blog posts. Others will likely find their way into future blog posts to potentially unlock new strategic thinking possibilities. Some may send younger readers to Wikipedia since the intent is to make connections more tenured business executives will remember!

What other similes would you add to the list? What’s social media like 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 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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4

Working in a large corporation, even one with a relatively small marketing investment, there was typically a wide range of marketing strategies and tools at our disposal. It was a strategic advantage that, quite frankly, became easy to overlook. Moving back to a much smaller organization, as with The Brainzooming Group, makes me appreciate the range of marketing assets I used to have available.

Last year The Brainzooming Group made some marketing moves which were conventional given what we do, and it forced us to hone our messaging, refine our short story on what we offer, and caused us to put visuals and copy to several service offerings. Without committing to something new and different, we’d still likely have each of these on our to-do list (it really is true about whatever version of the cobbler’s children story you choose).

We pushed ourselves again through participating in the launch issue of “The Social Media Monthly,” “the first print magazine devoted to the exploration and review of social media.” Edited by Bob Fine, who you may remember from a recent post about his “The Big Book of Social Media,” this was a great opportunity to contribute an article (“Brand Advocacy in a Socially Networked World”) and to run the first ad The Brainzooming Group has placed in a print magazine. While our primary marketing efforts to date have been through social media-based content marketing and personal outreach, actually creating a print advertisement prompted progress on several fronts that have been easy to neglect:

  • Incorporating QR codes in our marketing
  • Introducing a landing page on Brainzooming.com
  • Designing and creating a longer-form free article on social media metrics as part of the offer in the advertisement

Right now, you can get your hands on the launch issue of The Social Media Monthly by ordering directly from the Cool Blue Company or getting access to the online edition. Additionally, if you’re attending some of the upcoming social media conferences around the country, you’ll be getting a copy of the launch issue as an attendee. Later this summer, The Social Media Monthly magazine should be available on newsstands as well.

In the interim, we certainly invite everyone to download the updated article on “6 Social Media Metrics You Must Track” from the Brainzooming website. Targeted at one of the most common challenges business and marketing executives are challenged by with social media, it’s based on the most-viewed Brainzooming article we’ve written.

And if you need help in rapidly expanding your organization’s strategic options and creating an innovative plan you can efficiently implement, give The Brainzooming Group a call or email us. We’d love to catalyze your innovative business success! 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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