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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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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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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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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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One of my guilty TV pleasures is watching celebrity entertainment news shows. You know the genre; it includes Entertainment Tonight, The Insider, and TMZ. Nothing to be proud of relative to TV watching, but they are a very efficient way to feed what remains of my once fervent interest in all things pop culture.

While watching The Insider late one night, it struck me how masterfully the celebrity entertainment news shows exploit a relatively small amount of real pop culture content. Through a variety of storytelling and content curation techniques, they stretch and morph the content they compile to fill 30 minutes of air time on a daily basis.

Hmmm. What content creation activities might you be involved in where there’s an expectation of daily content where stretching out the content you have would be beneficial? Blogging and managing a social media content effort, perhaps?

5 Strategies from Celebrity Entertainment News Shows

Here are five ways to translate strategies TV celebrity entertainment news shows use to make social media activities more entertaining and manageable:

1. Shoot and run lots of video interviews

Video interviews with employees and customers can be easy ways to add new voices and increase audience time spent on your site. If you’re at an event, use it as an opportunity to video multiple short interviews. You can also video quick reactions to other stories you’re covering.

2. Repackage previous material

When it makes sense with your editorial calendar, repackage previously published material in new combinations. You can feature it again for new audience members and as a refresher for regular readers who haven’t seen it in a while.

3. Tease stories before they run

No need to make the daily blog post a surprise. Let the audience know in advance what’s coming up in future posts by sharing a snippet of content, getting anticipation and discussion started in advance. Another variation on the tease is to announce one topic, then start with a completely different one first.

4. Space stories over multiple days

Take a story, tease it one day, and then serialize the post over multiple days. Each daily post does not have to be unique – you can re-run a snippet of what you published previously to re-set the background for the piece.

5. Take the discussion to Facebook and Twitter

Repackage blog content in platform-appropriate ways for sharing in other social media channels, making content work harder for you. You can do this in reverse also, using status updates and comments created elsewhere and curating them to use in a blog.

What Ideas Do You Have?

Will you admit to watching Entertainment Tonight, TMZ, The Insider and other shows in this genre? If you do, what other ideas do you have for how their strategies can help your social media effort? – Mike Brown

 

If you’re struggling with understanding social media-related ROI and evaluating its impacts, you’ll benefit from downloading “6 Social Media Metrics You Must Track.” The article provides a concise, strategic view of the numbers and stories that matter in shaping, implementing, and evaluating your strategy. You’ll learn about the best time to address measurement strategy, a checklist to identify overlooked ROI opportunities, and using measures linked to 3 stages of social networking activity to create a 6-metric dashboard.  If you’re getting tough questions about social media ROI, download “6 Social Media Metrics You Must Track” today!

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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I 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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