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We’ve had the occasional guest article, but for the most part, The Brainzooming Group runs with as a solo social media department.

Because of being a solo social media department, I’m always looking for productivity and efficiency tips to extend our content marketing success. Some are implemented right away, and others aren’t.

The 8 Smartest Solo Social Media Tips I’ve Yet to Try

Eight-Tips-Crop

Here are eight of the smartest solo social media tips I’ve yet to try, but should!

1. Weave presentation and workshop outlines into the content calendar

This would stimulate more content directly tied to presentations to keep them fresh. It would also quicken workshop and presentation updates.

Why haven’t I done this? Right now, writing to fit overall blog themes and audience targets is easier than writing to a comprehensive master content calendar.

2. Link blog content to presentation and workshop outlines afterward

Even without using presentation and workshop outlines as mini-editorial calendars, you can categorize blog content afterward.

Why haven’t I done this? Once content is published, I tend to look forward, not backward. Instead of regularly linking blog content to presentations and workshops right after it’s published, I search recent blog articles when it’s time to update a workshop.

3. Anticipate breaking longer content into multiple social formats

Author Pam Didner was the first content marketing expert (affiliate link) I heard talk about consciously creating an eBook’s content with an eye toward short form content (i.e., blog posts, tweets, images, Facebook status updates) it will yield.

Why haven’t I done this? I tend to be a content aggregator.  I typically generate short content and piece it together later into eBooks.

4. Heavily integrating major content launches

Hubspot emphasizes launching new content in a comprehensive, integrated way. When launching eBooks, we typically tie launches to major speaking engagements and publish related blog posts and landing pages, but that’s about it.

Why haven’t I done this? A lack of time and patience are barriers. Integrated launches take advanced planning and time. For some speaking engagements, I have created a new eBook the morning of the workshop. That doesn’t leave time for planning!

5. Hiring freelancers to handle some tasks

There are various ways to reach out to freelancers to complete some ideas mentioned here. That’s something we’ve only done sporadically.

Why haven’t I done this? I tend to handle editing and graphics in-house and save the dollar outlay. The downside is things happen more slowly or NEVER. I also spend valuable time doing lower-value tasks instead of activities to more aggressively grow the business. Pam Didner suggested Upwork as a potential resource for finding freelancers; the next task is picking a project.

6. Blog less and publish an email newsletter

I paid for a webinar where Chris Brogan covered blogging less and putting more emphasis on an email newsletter (affiliate link) as part of a business-building strategy. He shared how he varies content between the two; the blog is to attract search traffic, and the email newsletter is for sharing deeper information.

Why haven’t I done this? I’m trying to unwind my long-term thinking about the blog and its role for our business. Quite honestly, the blog is a professional diary and reference tool. I’m actively considering how to vary content within the current format and potentially more dramatically change its structure.

7. Not including “hows” in blog posts

This tip is years old. Experts say to write “whats” and “whys” in blogs, but not “how” to do what you do. I get it, but find it difficult to get away from “hows.”

Why haven’t I done this? Maybe my mentality is too teacher-like. It’s challenging for me to NOT share how to do things when our primary audience persona eschews fluff and seeks information on HOW to do things.

8. Hiring a Content Producer

This tip is front and center for me. A producer would take my ideas and shape them into more and varied types of content. I even know who my first choice to take on this role would be.

Why haven’t I done this? Our content generates indirect revenue. You can’t “pay” us for anything currently other than strategy, innovation, and content engagements, plus presentations and workshops. We don’t sell other content (i.e., books, on-demand training courses, merchandise, etc.) currently. It’s tough to justify the investment for a full- or part-time producer on an on-going basis without direct revenue impact.

Those are our smartest solo social media tips plus a little dirty laundry on why we haven’t tried them.

What do you say solo social media professionals? Are any of you using comparable tips to expand your organization’s content reach? – Mike Brown

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Super Bowl 50 featured the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos facing off against one another, with the Broncos coming out on top, 24 to 10. Despite NEVER being a Broncos fan, I was rooting for Peyton Manning to take the Denver Broncos to victory (although we did have a Panthers fan in the house) . . . Now, Cooper Manning will be the son at the Manning Thanksgiving table without two Super Bowl rings . . . . Maybe for the first time in many years, I was more excited about the football than the advertising. I am not sure if I am the only one but I am SO OVER all the hype for Super Bowl ads. In any event, here are my take aways from the Super Bowl (and we all know you have to have a good take away ratio to win the Super Bowl!

Panther-Fan

We had a Panther fan in the house.

Super Bowl 50 Winners

Lady Gaga set the new standard for singing the Star Spangled Banner, whether at the Super Bowl or ANYWHERE else. And to all the people going, “Remember Whitney Houston,” I say, Gaga Number 1, Whitney Number 2 . . . Hyundai scored early with Kevin Hart using the auto’s Car Finder technology to keep an eye on his daughter and her date to make sure the boyfriend stayed away from any precarious tunnels. I guess Car Finder is the modern father’s best substitute for a chastity belt . . . The Doritos crowdsourced Pregnancy ad introduced a new paternity test (the baby goes after Doritos just like dad does) and introduced (whether intentionally or not) a pro-life message.

The Skittles and Steven Tyler ad worked. I wanted to see it again, and I had already seen it . . . While there were various #SuperBowlEXP tweeters bashing it, I gave shout outs to Toyota for getting more product mentions in its Prius ad than all other Super Bowl ads combined. It was a smart use of repetition and tackling challenges to product perceptions. All that, plus it featured an OJ Simpson mini-series tie-in and was capped off by another ad after the game’s finish. Of course, as my wife asked, “Where is Jan from Toyota in all this?”

Super Bowl 50 Losers

Pizza Hut featured an early ad for its Garlic Knots. That product name perfectly sums up what my stomach would be like if I ate that stuff . . . There were questions about why the advertisers seem not to understand the value of integrating social media and digital with their $5 million thirty-second advertisements. A hashtag is easy to cook up (unless you are Bud, which put a space in a hashtag a few years ago on a Super Bowl ad), and a hashtag is just scratching the surface . . . I completely missed the PayPal ad. I then Googled it to watch it online and missed it again. PayPal should have featured PeyTon in its ad . . . By the way, did you see the Papa John guy catch up with Peyton as the game was ending?

Peyton-Kubiak

When it came to the Half Time Show, I’m not sure what connection Bruno Mars had to Coldplay, but Bruno Mars was actually enjoyable to listen to by comparison . . . By the second half, the ads seemed to be mostly snoozers. With commercials about constipation, diarrhea, and toe nail fungus, one #SuperBowlEXP tweeter asked, “When is this shit going to stop?”

Fun Facts from Super Bowl L

A word to the wise advertiser: there’s a place between no spoken copy (Acura, PayPal, Budweiser) and too freakin’ much spoken copy (RocketMortgage) where a $5 million Super Bowl ad actually works . . . Of all the Super Bowl MVPs, Joe Montana is the only one I have had a brush with greatness with previously. When he played for the Chiefs, we saw Joe and Jennifer eating at a local restaurant for a late lunch. One other time, Joe Montana came in for take-out at a restaurant where we were enjoying a Friday night happy hour . . . Thanks to all the tweeters who corrected me on thinking it was Denis Leary in the Snickers / Marilyn Monroe ad. Yeah, you were all right, it was Willem Dafoe. But I still contend it would have been funnier with Denis Leary . . . The whole Puppy-Monkey-Baby thing, contrary to what Mountain Dew would want you to believe, represents three things that need not have ever been combined in a Super Bowl ad. Same as with chronic pain, opioids, and constipation. And BTW, OIC missed a cool sponsorship opportunity. Constipation should have been the official NFL sponsor of all False Start penalties in the Super Bowl . . . It sounded like Peyton Manning changed his trigger call from “Omaha” to “WhatThe” at one point during the game . . . It took Avocados to get Scott Baio, cramped airplanes as torture chambers, and the infamous is it blue/black or gold/white dress into the Super Bowl. Good job.

blue-black-gold-white-dress

Finally, the Super Bowl Babies ad was interesting the first time, but I am not sure it had as many legs as the NFL tried to get out of it. Of course, that may be sour grapes because the sad fact is all the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl Babies are 45 years old.

Well, there is always next year for the Chiefs, and for some better Super Bowl advertisements, with maybe a classic advertisement SOMEWHERE in the mix. Here’s to next year’s LinkedIn-sponsored, Super Bowl LI. – Mike Brown

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I’ve just signed on to speak at the 2016 Social Media Strategy Summit in Las Vegas. The topic will be an update to the “Staying Sane as a Solo Social Media Professional” workshops I’ve delivered at previous Social Media Strategy Summit events (and elsewhere). The challenge is, however, it’s just a 45-minute presentation. That’s going to necessitate some judicious trimming to highlight the very top tips for a solo social media professional to focus and enhance a brand’s content marketing strategy!

Solo-Social-Media-Cover2

2 Ways to Decide When to Write What with Your Content Marketing Strategy

One of the new solo social media tips  under consideration involves this tip I used to help shape the Brainzooming content marketing strategy for this year.

The only thing about this content marketing strategy tip, however, is it requires two things:

  • At least one year (and ideally two or more years) of blog content published at a fairly regular frequency
  • Several blogs on your core topic areas that are generating ongoing search traffic throughout the year

Granted, those two content marketing strategy hurdles, depending on where you are blogging from, can seem either easy or incredibly challenging.

If you have met both of these hurdles, however, take a look at the month-by-month visits for your posts with the most robust ongoing traffic.

The big step is to compare the percent of yearly traffic you receive each month for a specific post to a typical standard for visits. There are two options for the standard you use:

  1. That standard could be 1/12 of your annual traffic (i.e., you’d expect to get an average share of visits each month).
  2. Alternatively, your standard could be the percent of total annual traffic your overall blog receives each month throughout the year.

No matter which standard you choose, for each month divide the percent of visits the post received by your standard for that month, then multiply all the results by 100.

What this will show is that for any month whose resulting number is over 100, there is greater than average interest in the topic that month. When the number is less than 100, it indicates disproportionately less interest in the topic.

This content marketing strategy approach helped prioritize nine of our most frequently-covered topics for the year. It highlighted that “innovation” is a popular topic throughout the year, and confirmed that “strategic planning” is most popular during the late summer and early fall months.

Never having used this approach to shaping a content calendar, I can’t report what it does to grow visits. The approach will, however, definitely help in keeping a focus throughout the year on what topics should be more popular at any given time. – Mike Brown

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I initially saw something about last Friday’s events via a TV turned to ESPN way across a restaurant. After making it back to a computer and starting to learn more about what happened, I followed our own advice and pulled our social sharing on Twitter and Facebook for the weekend.

Other than some private messages, silence seemed the appropriate response personally.

Photo by: madochab | Source: photocase.com

Photo by: madochab | Source: photocase.com

Facebook and CNN accounted for most of the news, opinions, and speculation I saw over the course of the weekend. Facebook was awash in representations of France’s flag, the Eiffel Tower, and pictures of people when they were in Paris at some point.

I’m always cautious about any brand, building, or organization news drafting on a tragic event. While I’m sure there’s sincerity in changing a building’s lights to represent another country’s flag, I’m skeptical of how a brand or organization decides to do this for one tragedy over another. Does the brand have any real ties to the tragedy? Does it show solidarity with other tragedies? Is at least some part of the motivation getting social media shares and exposure during a high attention news event?

In fact, there were stories over the weekend that everyone was largely ignoring a bombing in the Middle East the day before that was equally tragic.

Ultimately these brands and organizations have to decide when and where to participate.

On the individual side, I also wrestle with Facebook jumping into the tragic story with the “handy-dandy color your profile photo to show your support” app.

While there were blog posts explaining why individuals were deciding NOT to change their profile photos, my nephew, Derrick Sorensen, conveyed in just a few words in a Facebook post what I’d been struggling to articulate about the phenomenon:

 “Do the people who change their profile pictures to the French flag actually care about the situation or are you just doing it because its trending, 130 people passed away yes its tragic but we just had Veterans day not long ago and everybody had flags and hashtags for a day But those didn’t last very long either so my question is what do you really care about here, maybe we should care more about the bigger issues longer than a day….okay now you guys can go back to your red Starbucks cup arguments.”

That’s as close as I’ve been able to come to saying why I went with prayers (even though some didn’t want them, sadly) and didn’t put an overlay on my Facebook profile.

The most impactful post of the weekend was a Facebook message from one of the survivors. I can’t even begin to imagine the horror she and everyone else faced.

Amid all the tragedy, there were a couple of other links I saved:

I like to conclude blog posts with answers and helpful suggestions. Today, I have neither to offer. – Mike Brown

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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At the Chicago Traffic Club conference last week, I presented on social media strategy and content marketing. In an hour-long presentation, we spent considerable time discussing why it is a smart social media strategy for business-to-business salespeople to take an active role on social media platforms. We discussed various benefits, including the opportunity to efficiently expand the network of people you “know” that might need what you provide or who know others that might need what you provide.

Chicago-Panorama

Who Do You Know?

At the event’s conclusion, two salespeople from my former company were “stuck” taking me to O’Hare airport. We decided to stop on the way and have a drink at a wine bar in Lombard, IL.

Standing in the bar area, we continued our conversation about why it benefits business-to-business salespeople to invest time to network on Twitter. I tried to explain the value of expanding the network of people you know. I talked specifically about how The Brainzooming Group social media presence increases our contact points, benefitting our market position and sales.

As we talked, one of the salespeople was facing the patio area. He mentioned watching an attractive blonde outside who was communicating via sign language.

Without turning around, I told him as a way of proving my point about our social media strategy, “There’s a good chance I know exactly who she is because of Twitter.”

He was incredulous at my claim. I turned around as the group the woman was in was leaving and asked if he had been talking about the woman in the red and black checked top.

He said that was who he had been watching. I started looking in my Twitter “Conversations” list to see if the woman I suspected it might be had tweeted anything about being at the wine bar. Seeing nothing, I simply told him that it might be her (based on my recollection of her picture from Twitter), but I couldn’t be sure.

Returning home that night, I did more digging. As I looked through the Twitter stream of Anne Reuss, I found a picture of her from a few days before in a RED AND BLACK CHECKED TOP!

Anne-Reuss-(@AnneReuss)---E

Think about the Opportunity

I met Anne via #Ideachat, a now dormant (unfortunately) global Twitter chat where I also met frequent Brainzooming guest blogger Woody Bendle. Anne and I had tweeted at various times, but not recently. Yet, because of Twitter, in a Chicago metropolitan area of nearly ten million people, I knew the person sitting fifteen feet away from us at a random restaurant BECAUSE OF SOCIAL MEDIA.

And get this . . .  when Anne and I were direct messaging the next day on Twitter, I learned she had been checking out our profile recently to see if some collaboration opportunities existed with one of her clients. Yes, there are potential business opportunities arising from having known each other previously and being able to readily reconnect, even though our opportunity to meet in person the other day was a near miss.

Sure, it would be easy to chalk all this up to dumb luck or random chance. But it’s a fact: the more connections you make via social media, the more possibilities there are for those connections to lead to important relationships and business opportunities.

What are you going to be doing today to grow YOUR network via a social media strategy that builds YOUR sales opportunities? – Mike Brown

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You start writing blog posts, stick with it nearly every day, repeat that for nearly eight years, and suddenly, you have two thousand blog posts.

At least that’s what has happened with the Brainzooming blog!

Today, based on the post counter in WordPress, is our two thousandth blog.

MM, 2K, 2000

The blog started on the Blogger platform in November 2007 after seeing Jessica Myers (who was at Garmin Industries at the time) speak at a conference about being able to start a blog for free in just ten minutes. The first two years, I was writing the blog while still at YRC Worldwide. I would come home Friday nights and stay up until all hours on Saturday morning writing Brainzooming plus five humor blog posts and one spirituality blog post for other blogs I later created.

Yes, you can do too much of a good thing.

While having a daily deadline has become less stimulating creatively over the years, I shudder to think of how much experience and the number of strategic thinking exercises that would have come and gone without any documentation if not for the Brainzooming blog.

While the Brainzooming blog serves multiple functions, one of the most important for me is as my own professional reference source.

  • If we’re headed into a client session or a meeting and need a few creative thinking questions, I visit the blog and grab suitable questions from one of our compilation posts.
  • In preparing a strategic thinking workshop or updating a presentation, I search for new Brainzooming articles and images since the last update to freshen and expand content.
  • When we have a call with a prospective client to cover questions about our process and approach to strategic thinking exercises, I’ll open multiple browser tabs, each containing a previous blog post that answers a likely question.
  • In creating a new eBook or Fake Book, the blog provides the starting content we can arrange and share in new formations.

Thank You!

So, thanks to Jessica Myers for her first suggestion.

Thank you to YRC Worldwide for its support of the blog’s early years, Seth Simonds for handling the free conversion from Blogger to WordPress, and to Mike Whaling of 30 Lines for his help making tweaks during the years, especially when a server attack put us on the Google bad website list a few years ago.

Thank you to all the guest authors over the years, especially Woody Bendle, who has to be at the top of the list based on the number of posts with his insightful writing on customer and brand experience (and other topics) over the past several years.

Thanks to our Brainzooming clients since our start around this time in 2009 for their support and work with The Brainzooming Group. It’s our client engagements and workshops on strategy, innovation, creativity, social media, and content marketing (among other areas) that keep the lights on and the computers going to be able to share our strategic thinking exercises with you.

Clients-Oct-2015

Finally, thanks to all of you readers around the world – whether you are a new reader, read our content sporadically, or have been a faithful reader since the blog’s earliest days! – Mike Brown

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People ask me frequently about why we give away so much of what The Brainzooming Group does on our website.

The conventional wisdom is you give away “what” you do as part of content marketing, but not “how” you do what you do. We, however, routinely share how we do things via our methodology, tools, and learnings from Brainzooming strategic thinking workshops.

Gifts-Strategic-Thinking-Ex

Why Do We Give Away So Many Strategic Thinking Exercises?

My response is the more we share the Brainzooming methodology with you, the more you can improve your own strategy work on a daily basis in situations where it would NEVER be practical to engage us for help.

This is why we run compilation articles frequently to help you find a comprehensive set of resources, exercises, and tools. These compilations are organized to be easier to use than combing through individual blog posts.

And by the way, here are the most frequently referenced compilations:

As I describe it to readers and workshop attendees, these compilation articles are akin to having recipe books for Brainzooming. And just as someone new to cooking might grab a recipe and fix a small family meal with one, they are unlikely to open a restaurant using the recipe without any prior experience.

Similarly, it’s easy enough to take one of the Brainzooming strategic thinking exercises in the blog and experiment with it among your department team in a safe environment. But taking that same exercise and trying to use it with your entire organization in a high stakes setting? That’s a completely different matter!

That’s why when we work with large groups and involve facilitators less familiar with the Brainzooming methodology, we create “Brainzooming Facilitator Guides.” These facilitator guides provide a deeper level of detail on how strategic thinking exercises work and the success factors for them working well. This level of detail is rarely shared here on the website. These facilitator guides reflect the value of our combined experience in translating questions and strategic thinking exercises into incredible in-person and online collaborations.

Strategic-Thinking-Guide

One additional benefit of giving away so much of the Brainzooming methodology?

When you experience the impact in productivity and results from trying Brainzooming yourself, it creates fantastic opportunities for us to work with clients that are stronger and more attuned to a different was of approaching collaborative strategy and innovation.

And that works better for EVERYONE when we are actually able to work together! – Mike Brown

 

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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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