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Social-Media-SummitPrepping for a social media content marketing workshop I am delivering at the Social Media Strategies Summit in Las Vegas in February, I was going back through questions raised at recent workshops.

Three Great Social Media Strategy Tips

These three social media strategy questions stood out because they were not only raised by workshop attendees, but other attendees provided wonderful answers for them.

Challenge 1. Should a sub-brand in your organization get its own social media presence?

This question came up in a social media strategy workshop with the Nebraska Healthcare Marketers. Our answer is to take an outside-in look at the organization to determine if a social media audience cares to affiliate with a sub-brand independent of its affiliation to an overall brand. No matter how much a brand or product manager thinks a sub-brand needs its own social media presence, whether the audience wants to “like” or “follow” it is the critical question.

One attendee went further to suggest agreeing to an expected content update frequency with the sub-brand’s leadership. If they can deliver the expected content to the brand’s main page consistently, they then get a shot at having a sub-brand social media presence.

Challenge 2. How can you get a compliance group on board with a social media strategy?

A marketing communications director at the Frost and Sullivan Marketing World social media strategy workshop in Boston asked about getting a compliance group on board with social media in a risk-averse environment.

Another participant let us know her company put the compliance person in charge of social media. She reported that in this rather unusual role, the compliance person suddenly started “getting” social media strategy. She did a fantastic job balancing the firm’s risk aversion with a new understanding of the need to participate actively on social networks.

Challenge 3. How do you respond more quickly to customer service questions on social media when you cannot be at it full time?

One social media strategy challenge for risk-averse organizations (and even ones that are not THAT risk averse) is the timely handling of customer service issues on social media channels. While the preference may be to check and double-check responses coming from customer service, that means the response won’t happen with the speed customers expect.

An attendee at the Frost and Sullivan session shared that her company drafted responses to typical customer service questions to enable faster responses. Instead of running the risk of someone getting the same answer on multiple occasions, however, they drafted multiple variations of answers to their typical questions. In this way, they paired up speedy response and a sense of message variation consistent with a more personal response.

What are your social media challenges with multiple brand presences, compliance, and customer service?

These are familiar social media challenges for organizations. What questions do you have in these areas? Or alternatively, what answers have you found for them? - Mike Brown

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“How strong is my organization’s social media strategy?”

9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy

Is your social media implementation working as well as it can? In less than 60 minutes with the new FREE Brainzooming ebook “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy,” you’ll have a precise answer to this question.

Any executive can make a thorough yet rapid evaluation of nine different dimensions of their social media strategies with these nine diagnostics. Download Your Free Copy of “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy.”

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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looking-for-answersThe easy answer to finding an answer for a question you have is “Googling it.”

While Googling is a ubiquitous way to find and process possible answers from global sources on the web, there’s more to getting solid answers you can confidently use.

Getting to solid answers that are either exactly or directionally accurate requires applying several strategic thinking skills involved beyond just Googling your question and grabbing a fast answer.

6 Search Tips beyond Googling Your Question

To improve not only your online search results, but the real results from answering your question, develop and use these six strategic thinking skills:

1. Imagine your search results before you start Googling

Before you start Googling, develop a sense of what types of answers you might find or at least the forms your answers may take. With this backdrop, you’re in a much better position to quickly evaluate whether you are on the right path with your search results.

2. Push outside your social network for answers

Increasingly, results served up to you online represent a small circle of what Google or other platforms think / believe / know will be most valuable to you. I’m too skeptical to depend exclusively on an algorithm to shape my search. Log out of Google and other applications as best you can to search a wider range of possibilities outside your social network.

3. Don’t read too extensively as you search

Grab as much information as you can as fast as you can without reading everything. Particularly if the answer is important, don’t settle for what might seem like the exact answer right away. Even if it appears you have a solid answer, do more looking to confirm or refute your apparently quick solution.

4. Compare possible answers to your initial expectations

As you begin scanning the initial search results, compare them to what you initially expected as an answer. This is vital since so much of the information you’ll get by Googling your question has never been properly vetted and fact checked. These days, fact checking sits squarely on the searcher’s shoulders. Be skeptical but also be open to having your initial perceptions of what you’ll find challenged or overturned.

5. Look for important disagreements in data

If every source is reporting the same thing, chances are it all came from a single source. When you don’t find a healthy amount of disagreement or variation from multiple information sources, you have a problem. To get a sense of being on the right path toward an answer to your question, go digging for greater information diversity.

6. Keep a running list of insights

As you review search results, jot down initial impressions, major points of agreement or disagreement, supporting points for your answer, ideas from your review, and clues to other places or resources to search. This list is your summarized recap of what your search yielded.

Strategic Thinking Skills Deliver the Best Answers

These six strategic thinking skills will serve you well so you do not just seize the first, and potentially wrong, answers from Googling your question blindly. Mike Brown

 

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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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2014-QuestionsWhat are your most significant opportunities and challenges in 2014? And where do you gather ideas and input on developing the best strategies to address them?

Only you can answer those questions to help shape our Brainzooming editorial content calendar for 2014.

We are asking you and all of our Brainzooming readers around the world to share a few perspectives via a brief online survey. While we talk, email, and tweet with readers regularly about topic ideas, this is the first time we have developed a survey to collect broad input at one time.

Share your perspectives on 2014 starting right here!

Please take a moment to share your perspectives to give us a better sense of where our editorial direction and content should be directed this year. You can access the survey at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/2014Opportunities_TBG.

Please feel free to share this post or the survey link with other business associates who might benefit from the content on Brainzooming.

As an added reason to participate in the survey, everyone completing the survey can access a free copy of The SmallBusinessTalent.com® LinkedIn* Power Checklist by Stephen Lahey, a Brainzooming reader and producer of the tremendously beneficial SmallBusinessTalent.com podcast.

I’ve been both a guest and a host of the podcast, and I’d encourage you to subscribe to the SmallBusinessTalent.com podcast. Stephen has been gracious enough to provide a free copy of the LinkedIn Power Checklist for everyone completing the 2014 opportunities and challenges survey to help each of us improve our LinkedIn profiles this year.

Share your perspectives on 2014 starting right here!

Thanks for your readership and sharing your perspectives. And here’s to an outstanding and successful 2014! 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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Grand-Canyon-SkywalkSuppose you have brand strategy responsibility to showcase an industrial brand’s identity.

What can you do to create stronger identity and a cool factor for a brand that may be a component of another product or brand?

Showcase Industrial Brand Identity and Coolness in B2B Brand Strategy

Here are three paths any industrial, business-to-business, or ingredient brand marketer should consider. All were highlighted at the Content Marketing World Manufacturing Summit where I spoke on creativity and content marketing in September.

1. Bringing the Consumer Feel to Industrial Brand Strategy

One theme throughout the Manufacturing Summit was “people” are making decisions in B2B markets. That means there is no reason to automatically walk away from brand strategy tools consumer marketers use, including (as spelled out by Kathy Button Bell, CMO at Emerson Electric):

  • Bright colors
  • Lights
  • Sounds
  • Fresh faces
  • Smiles
  • Vibrant culture

These all make industrial companies more interesting to the PEOPLE. And as a tweet during the conference noted, there are no regulations within any industry mandating boring, self-centered, overly-formal, or stuffy content.

One idea this created for me was plotting industrial brands based on how ubiquitous they are vs. how “sexy” they are. Would any brands be in the upper right quadrant? And if not, how could and would an industrial brand benefit from moving there?

2. Finding the Cool in an Industrial Brand Identity

If you’re directing social media strategy for an industrial brand, how do you get to the “cool” factor in your brand?

At Lincoln Electric, Craig Coffey, U.S. Marketing Communications Manager at the welding equipment brand found the brand’s cool in realizing it “joins metal with fire. That’s cool!”

It’s easy, however, in an experienced B2B company to lose a sense of coolness and simply think about what the brand does to perform daily as devoid of any “cool” factor. Yet finding the “cool” in a B2B brand is the primary hope for generating audience interest. In discussing content successes at Lincoln Electric, Coffey pointed to several success factors helping to tell a cool story:

  • A rich brand history
  • Ambitious goals to reach audiences in new, meaningful ways
  • Open-minded leadership
  • A willingness to invest in marketing

An exercise The Brainzooming Group developed based on this conversation is a set of strategic thinking questions to help experienced people reimagine the “coolness” in a B2B brand they long ago stopped seeing as intriguing.

3. Showcase an Industrial Brand through Its Customers

To generalize one of Craig Coffey’s comments, “No one will ever care more about what your product does than you do.” The goal then becomes getting people to care about what your product enables them to do. But how do you build brand identity and awareness for an industrial brand that is better known based on the customers who use it than for what it does?

These situations create an opportunity to put customers front and center in brand stories, letting happy customers talk about what the brand enables them to do.

For Lincoln Electric, this thinking led to telling customers’ stories that are positioned not as “by” Lincoln Electric, but where the brand is instead “with” customers.

For a great story where the product is in the background yet its importance is unquestioned, check out this Lincoln Electric video. As I tweeted during Crag’s presentation, when you’re 4,000 feet over the Grand Canyon walking on a glass bridge, you want your welds to be DAMN good!

Ultimately brands can find it challenging to downplay their own products in the interests of playing up other engaging elements, but Lincoln Electric shows it can be a smart brand strategy to do so. Mike Brown

 

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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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2013-best-worstLast weekend, we published a list of the top 10 new Brainzooming blog posts from this year based on readers’ page views.

Today, here’s my list of thirteen favorites from 2013. And as has been the case in previous years, my list of favorites looks nothing like the most viewed blog posts. My list of favorites, as you’ll see here, is generally shaped by the stories behind the blog posts.

Before starting the list, thank you all for your readership, comments, and, suggestions throughout this year and previous years. Blog writing can be a lonely deal, so hearing your thoughts and reactions is wonderful. I appreciate it so much!

Special thanks to my Brainzooming business partner Barrett Sydnor for his contributions to the blog along with Woody Bendle, Randall Rozin, John Q. HarringtonBill Mullins, Professor John Bennett, Jamie Lacroix, and Max Utsler (along with Blogapalooza writers Jessica James, Kellen Ashford, and Judi Reilly ) for their guest blog posts this year.

Happy New Year, and here are my favorites from 2013 along with the stories attached to each of them.

1. Creating Strategic Impact – The Updated Brainzooming Manifesto

The original Brainzooming strategic thinking manifesto was comprised of the first five posts on the blog. When they were written, there wasn’t underlying content to link to, so this much delayed update provides greater more detail on how we approach strategy development for clients.

2. Creating Strategic Impact – Acting on a Strategic Opportunity at a Different Time

I appreciated readers on the blog and Facebook appreciating this opportunity to celebrate three important dates for my parents this year, even though I only made it to one of them in-person.

3. Creative Ideas – 30 Days of Creativity with Melanie Sklarz the @DoseOfCre8ivity

We don’t do nearly as much video content as we should, but this video was a delightful way to invite you to my in-person meeting with one of my favorite creativity voices on Twitter, Melanie Sklarz. We met up at the Cleveland airport (one of my old business haunts) before my flight back to Kansas City from speaking at Content Marketing World.

4. Creating Strategic Impact – 4 Factors for a Successful Annual Theme

If someone has checked in on the blog for any amount of time, you’re likely to have seen more of a spirituality theme the past few years. This post takes a personal lesson from my spiritual life and spins it around to a business perspective.

5. Staying Productive Working at Home in a Blizzard with no Power

When you don’t have any electricity, you forgot to charge your laptop and iPad beforehand, and you still want to publish a blog post, what do you do? For me, I hand wrote the blog post, took a photo, and published it with advice on staying productive during a power outage.

6. Career Success – 7 Ideas If You Don’t Care About What You Do Anymore

This post had been sitting in an upcoming blog file for quite some time. We finally ran it in December and received an email from a friend who said it was just what he needed that day to deal with some job frustrations. A large part of good timing is admitting you have no clue and simply “listening” for when you should do something.

7 and 8. Strategic Leadership – 18 Learnings from a Personal Strategic Tapestry and A Personal Strategic Tapestry by Professor John Bennett

The idea of living by a strategic tapestry is one I’ve thought about for some time given I avoid wild swings in direction professionally and personally. A tapestry of learning much more closely suits my strategic thinking. I was tremendously honored when the concept resonated with Professor John Bennett who followed the original post by sharing his own strategic tapestry with Brainzooming readers.

9. You Just Might be a Thought Leader by Woody Bendle

I love a good Woody Bendle rant, and this one, originating from a frustrating conference experience Woody sat through this year, is my favorite one so far.

10. Business Innovation – R.I.P. Failure by Jamie Lacroix

I loved the concept of having a funeral for failed ideas that Jamie Lacroix shared as a participant on a webinar given by branding expert Julie Cottineau. Jamie was gracious enough to share the concept in greater depth with Brainzooming readers, along with photos of the tombstones commemorating failed ideas at her organization.

11. Creating Cool Product Names for a New Product Idea – Creative Thinking Mini-Poster

This was our first blatant attempt at creating an infographic from Brainzooming content. It’s something we’d like to do more of given the time to do it well. Solid infographics are definitely not quick to complete!

12. Creative Ideas – What’s The Biggest No You Ever Received?

It’s not often you are asked a completely new question during a presentation, but this was one about the biggest NO I’d ever received. I thought I gave the correct answer at the “Taking the NO out of InNOvation” presentation for an IT consulting company in Nashville. Upon further reflection, I realized the answer was wrong; here’s the right answer.

13. Creative Ideas and Diversity – The Brainzooming TEDx Talk at TEDxWyandotte

While there’s not a lot to the text of this post, it contains the video of my TEDxWyandotte video. If you want to see a TEDx talk that wasn’t tightly scripted, check this out. Audience members got to pick their own preferred path through this TEDx talk on a creativity community.  – 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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Cosmo-Kramer-Cutest-Christmas-DogI was at the dentist for a semi-annual teeth cleaning and checkup. The current dentist bought the practice from the previous dentist several years ago. The change in the office personality was evident immediately and has flourished the past few years.

While the brand experience with the former dentist was friendly in a superficial way, you felt as if you were always being sold some new add-on service, product, or referral (to a buddy of the dentist) with each visit. The result was the brand experience felt adversarial as you tried to get out of the office without being upsold whatever the current marketing program was.

With the new dentist, there is no hard sell. The advice on improving your dental habits beneficial, with no scare tactics or upsell involved. The conversations are genuine and fun, about pets, kids, sports, and what everyone has going on.As I was leaving the office recently, the dental hygienist was showing me pictures of her absolutely adorable dog all dressed up for Christmas (btw, that’s Cosmo Kramer to the right). The office manager showed me the dentist’s two dogs on her mouse pad.

Bringing Your Offline Brand Experience Online

I mentioned how fun the office brand experience was now and suggested they feature the great dog pictures on their Facebook page.

The dentist admitted he hasn’t really done anything with Facebook yet, but his brother was going to help him get it going over the holidays.

The question will be: “What brand experience gets translated to Facebook?”

Will the fun aspects of the brand experience characterized by our extended conversation after my appointment characterize its Facebook page content?

Or will the Facebook page be a formal, stiff presentation of dental tips that winds up feeling much more like the former dentist’s brand experience?

While it may feel like the second social media strategy option is the safe approach, it would be really boring and off-brand. Yet how many brands pursue that social media strategy and completely misrepresent the fun and warmth they create offline?  - Mike Brown

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“How strong is my organization’s social media strategy?”

9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy

Is your social media implementation working as well as it can? In less than 60 minutes with the new FREE Brainzooming ebook “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy,” you’ll have a precise answer to this question.

Any executive can make a thorough yet rapid evaluation of nine different dimensions of their social media strategies with these nine diagnostics. Download Your Free Copy of “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy.”

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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Think about the common, albeit under-followed, presentation tips for speakers who want to deliver content more effectively:

  • Use more and bigger images to engage the audience visually
  • Don’t include everything you’re going to say on the slides
  • Use high-contrast foreground and background colors to improve readability
  • Make ample use of builds to keep the audience from getting ahead of what you are saying

I preach and try to follow these presentation tips whenever I speak.

Do Traditional Presentation Tips Still Apply?

Yet, at three recent seminars I covered (including ones from Walmart and IKEA), these traditional presentation tips were blatantly ignored by three high-profile presenters.

eKaterina-SlideTheir slides were loaded with text and more detail than I had seen on slides in “good” presentations in ages. Usually when a speaker uses that much text on slides, I figure the presenter threw the slides together at the last minute and simply typed up whatever he or she was planning to say.

That was not what was going on in any of these presentations, though.

Instead, my own interaction with the content indicated a potential change in thinking on presentation slides.

Rather than simply typing live tweets of the speaker’s remarks, I was taking photos of the slides – some of which I was tweeting while capturing othrs for later reference (including writing a blog post from photos of Chad Mitchell’s slides). This phenomenon, coupled with how people are increasingly taking picture of more detailed slides at my own presentations suggests we are entering the era of creating photogenic slides for presentations.

If this is a trend, traditional presentation tips for constructing slides as visual support begin to shift.

In these three instances, the slides provided the most detailed content each speaker offered since none provided hard copy documentation. If you wanted the details, your best option was to start taking photos, diverting your attention from the speaker’s live content.

Presentation Tips for Creating Photogenic Slides

If we are in the age of creating photogenic slides, what are the new success factors for strong presentations?

IKEA-stageFrom these early examples and my own experience, here are five critical success factors to consider when creating photogenic slides:

  1. Use high-density text – If the slides are intended for later consumption, it suddenly makes sense to include as much detail as possible to address detail and questions the audience will want to review afterward.
  2. Incorporate online references – Rather than simply embedding a video, featuring a graphic, or telling a story, it becomes more valuable for later viewing to have a link on the slide for an audience member to reach the underlying content afterward.
  3. Detailed, over-complicated infographics – Process diagrams and slides with incredible detail become feasible, even desirable – as long as the detail is not so small it is lost when the audience later zooms in to review specific items.
  4. Less radical light/dark shifts between the room and the slides – At the session depicted in this photo, the room and stage were dark (except for focused lighting on the speakers) and the slides were light, creating a jarring contrast for photos. If you are aiming for photogenic slides, inquire ahead about the staging and adjust the color and contrast of your slides accordingly.
  5. More screen time for slides with mega-content – While builds work to keep the audience with the speaker, they are maddening when taking photos of slides. The answer either is fewer build slides or, if you are using builds, allowing time for a photo once all the content is displayed instead of moving briskly to the next slide.

Are you taking more photos of slides during presentations? And when you are presenting, are you thinking about creating photogeneic slides? In either case, what critical success factors would you add to this list? Mike Brown

 

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Learn all about how Mike Brown’s social media strategy development workshops can boost your organization’s success!

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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