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Here is a strategy question for you.

When your organization is the size of a country (at least economically), but without the military and police protection to squelch uprisings, what do you do?

Answer?

You deal with uprisings (including negative publicity, boycotts, business loss, and litigation) by trying to reach the people most likely to incite the biggest uprisings and head things off beforehand. You also attempt to target those who could help effectively dampen uprisings that do occur.

Granted, this strategy question is one only Walmart and a few other companies have to address, but the importance of proactively addressing threats to your operational model applies to every organization.

Since the Walmart operational model focuses on low costs and value, the possibility any consumer or marketplace uprising could lead to larger costs, makes it a big deal. Any high profile issue could result in a significant distraction from or direct hit to the core strength and strategic focus at Walmart.

Although this strategic perspective was never overtly stated when Chad Mitchell Senior Director of Digital Communications at Walmart spoke to the September Social Media Club of Kansas City breakfast meeting, I cannot help but believe this thinking is a prime motivator for the Walmart strategy Mitchell shared.

Chad Mitchell on Walmart Social Conversations and Corporate Affairs

Chad-Mitchell-Walmart

Chad Mitchell highlighted the more aggressive use of social media by Walmart to listen and create conversations to influence positive perceptions for the brand’s activities. Chad titled the presentation, “Data-driven Social Media – Leveraging Data to Deliver a Human Social Strategy for a Global Enterprise.”

As I tweeted before the talk, if you were expecting cat pictures, you were going to be sorely disappointed.

Chad’s social media responsibilities focus on Corporate Affairs, where he has a team of four, including one person on social media and two on the corporate website which receives 20 million visits annually. After his first job at Walmart addressing political and government affairs in Washington, he moved to Bentonville, AR when he took over the social media responsibilities within Corporate Affairs.

Marketing runs the sales side of digital at Walmart where four thousand of the 10,000 Walmart stores have their own Facebook pages. Although the focus between the two areas is different, relationship building is central. As Mitchell puts it, “If you’re not on social media to build relationships, it doesn’t make much sense to be there.”

Social Media Strategy and Corporate Affairs Objectives

The objective behind the corporate affairs social effort is to have meaningful social conversations to influence perceptions about Walmart. The intent is to be honest and transparent so audience members realize they are interacting with real people at Walmart.  Overall, Walmart hopes to use its size and scale to attempt to “influence the world for the better.”

The data-driven enterprise social strategy at Walmart incorporates four elements:

  1. Human (Cross-functional team, Influence, Data analysis)
  2. Strategic (Discovery, Risk assessment, Engagement)
  3. Technology (Monitoring / Research, Content optimization, Analytics)
  4. Culture (Collaborative planning, Team execution, Command center)

Its keys challenges include overcoming stereotypes, internal perceptions, and audience members’ past experiences with the brand. An additional challenge, according to Mitchell, is that, “Fifty years of being a humble company doesn’t set you up for telling your story well.” From a cultural perspective, he pointed to the collaborative culture at Walmart where socializing ideas is expected before initiatives are implemented.

Managing Multiple Content Streams

The primary Walmart Twitter presence is @Walmart, which the Marketing team manages. The main Corporate Affairs Twitter presence is @WalmartHub, with a variety of sub handles (@WalmartGreen, @WalmartHealthy, @WalmartGiving, @WalmartNewsroom, @WalmartAction) for specific content areas.

The audiences Walmart wants to reach for corporate affairs are most available on Twitter. The company has also been aggressive about putting Corporate Affairs content on Facebook too. Initial influencer research identified the top 50 influencers Walmart wanted to reach, and it engages them directly.

According to Mitchell, its approach is on the “Right message, right audience, right time.” While content is focused through the specific sub handles, the best-performing content is subsequently shared through its main Twitter presence as well.

Underlying its social sharing strategy is the idea that, “It’s not about when you want to send a message, but when the audience wants to consume it.” In light of this, Walmart uses an application to handle and score content while also assessing the company’s real-time audience presence. Since Chad noted seeing 18% swings in its audience size within a very short time frame, it waits to push social content to optimize the audience presence.

Walmart promotes its best-performing tweets to extend their reach and story lifecycles. It also promotes messages to counter negative mentions with the hope of putting an alternative view in place. It also comments on negative stories to expose its own perspective more broadly.

Relative to answering questions, the response gap has been generally narrowed from two or more days to 10-15 minutes, especially on simple, fact-oriented questions.

Toward a Predictive Social Strategy

Walmart, much to Chad’s chagrin, does not yet have an explicit formula for how to adjust the volume of social activity and impact. As a result, it is making message-specific decisions based on available data as conversations play out.

One scale-related challenge for Walmart is being mentioned hundreds of thousands of times online daily. It estimates approximately 80,000 of these are relevant mentions. It generates internal alerts to highlight mentions, activity volume, and sentiment. There is a hope to get to some type of predictive analysis on the impact of social activity based on the various indicators available.

Overall Learnings

In terms of overall learning, Chad Mitchell identified four highlights for other organizations to embrace:

  • Build the system right
  • Implement a data-driven strategy
  • Build the right team
  • Pick the right specialty agencies (a preference for Mitchell vs. agencies trying to do everything)

Finally, according to Mitchell, when it comes to enterprise social strategy, “Data should be your friend.” - 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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Social Media Club of Kansas City (SMCKC) friend, Sarah Eggers tweeted Friday afternoon that we should run a compilation post on beating writer’s block in association with National Novel Writing Month, or #NaNoWriMo 2013.

Since Sarah’s previous Brainzooming blog topic ideas have all been winners, you can bet I paid attention to Sarah’s tweet.

Creativity Ideas for National Novel Writing Month

Stormy-NightHere is a compendium of Brainzooming blog posts on a variety of aspects for enhancing creativity and getting around creative blocks.

While not all these creative ideas focus on writer’s block or writing, and none of them are specific to writing a novel, I went through the Brainzooming blog to narrow the list to articles with potential value to NaNoWriMo 2013 participants.

If your creativity is stuck for NaNoWriMo or in any other way, check out these articles to start or rekindle your creativity when you need it most!

Getting to the Root Causes of Your Creative Block

Some Ways to Try to Shake Creative Block

Other Peoples’ Ideas for Enhancing Creativity

– Mike Brown

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Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic creative thinking and ideas! For an organizational innovation success boost, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans to efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

Mike Brown

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

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A reader emailed the other day and asked for articles we’ve written on personal branding strategy.

One of my blogging rules of thumbs is when one reader makes an article request, there are other readers who would also benefit from a comparable update, or maybe a deep dive on the topic of interest. As a result, here’s . . .

31 Brainzooming Articles on Personal Branding Strategy

Street-Sign2This personal branding strategy compilation covers the topic from a variety of perspectives, including articulating your personal brand, creating a market position for yourself, networking, handling career transitions, keeping your skills current, and staying positive and productive.

Articulating Your Personal Brand

Creating Your Own Market Position

Networking

Personal Branding for Mid-Career Professionals

Career Transition

Keeping Your Skills and Expertise Current

Staying Positive and Productive

Mike Brown

 

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I know Nate Riggs was talking to me several years ago about dictating blog posts with Evernote. For better or worse, however, I tend to only explore new features when whatever I’m doing is falling short in a really big way. When bemoaning a lot of car travel recently (which always feels like such dead time) to Woody Bendle, he mentioned how much he was using voice-to-text for creating content. Woody said he’d be happy to use the voice-to-text app for creating content we could run here on its benefits. The article below shares this great productivity tool; it spurred me to use voice-to-text to craft the first draft of yesterday’s post. Here’s Woody!

Productivity Tool – Creating Content with Voice-to-Text by Woody Bendle

If you are a regular follower of the Brainzooming blog, you are probably familiar with one of Mike’s tips for people wanting to get into the whole blogging thing: ABCC – Always Be Creating Content.

I don’t know that I think of myself as being in the ABCC camp, but I do continually think about different ideas that might make interesting articles.  And, I can’t tell you how many times in my life I’ve had cool ideas pop into my head that later on I couldn’t remember.  But no more!

Over the past year or so, I’ve been using an incredible productivity tool for capturing cool ideas: the Voice to Text feature in the Notes app on my iPhone.

This screenshot shows text generated from using this feature.

Screen-one

Now anytime I have an idea I pull out my phone, pull up the notes app, press the microphone button, and start talking. Voila – instant content!  And, as you have more ideas you just keep adding them to your notes.

I personally don’t worry about how the thoughts hang together as I’m capturing them. I just keep riffing until I’ve got enough to work into an article.  At that point, I email myself the text notes, copy them into Word, and begin the editing process.

What a time saver!

LaptopI don’t know about you, but it’s much easier for me to edit a bunch of content than to start from scratch with a blank page and persnickety cursor blinking back at you.

A couple additional benefits from using this tool?

  1. I’m actually much more aware of my thoughts, and
  2. I’m capturing many more of my ideas and thoughts than ever before.

So . . . maybe that does put me in the always be creating content camp after all. OK Mike, I guess you’ve created another convert! Woody Bendle

 

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Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic creative thinking and ideas! For an organizational innovation success boost, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans to efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

 

Mike Brown

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

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As we meet senior executives, it’s clear there are still many unanswered questions on social media strategy, especially for those companies early in social media strategy implementation or those that yet to even develop a social media strategy.

How Strong Is My Organization’s Social Media Strategy?

Among the most common questions senior executives are asking include:

  • How can a social media strategy meaningfully contribute to business objectives?
  • What metrics are relevant for measuring the impact of a social media strategy?
  • How do you determine the right staffing for a social media team?
  • Are the brand’s messages being appropriately represented through social media content?

To assist senior executives in evaluating both performance and opportunities in these and other social media areas, The  Brainzooming Group has created a new ebook: “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy.”

Free Ebook: 9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy

This latest free ebook from The Brainzooming Group takes a sampling of the strategy exercises we use with clients and offers them in a format suitable for performing a quick self-diagnosis of a brand’s success with social networking. In a relatively brief amount of time, you’ll have a sense of where you need to concentrate your efforts to ensure you maximize the benefits of your organization’s social media efforts.

Securing your free ebook copy is easy: simply click on the button below and you’ll be taken to the sign-up page to download it. You’ll soon be identifying where your organization is missing vital business opportunities in social networking. - Mike Brown

 Download Your Copy

 

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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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I’m conducting a sold-out workshop today on blogging for business at the Enterprise Center of Johnson County. From the advance attendee list, it looks like there are several Brainzooming blog subscribers attending, so I reached out to a number of them for their expectations from the session.

photocase7usvf36654699801-o

Photo by: o-zero | Source: photocase.com

Duane Hallock, Regional Communications Director and Chief Communications Officer for the American Red Cross, Kansas City Region, wrote back that he was “eager to see what goes on behind the curtain” with the Brainzooming blog to meet a five day a week publishing schedule.

My List of Blogging Hacks

I’m not sure there is a “curtain” to look behind, but since we won’t talk about these in the content workshop, here’s a list of blogging hacks (in no particular order) for maintaining a daily blogging schedule:

  • Have a few foundation topics (strategy, creativity, innovation, social media) to put boundaries around the content. In this regard, boundaries are helpful in deciding what to blog about.
  • Making a public commitment to publish every day is an incredibly strong motivator to back up my word and do it.
  • Approach blogging as a body of writing instead of with a view to individual blog posts. This lowers the expectations you place on any individual blog post, which helps you publish tomorrow’s post that might not have come out exactly as you planned.
  • I write starter ideas all the time, whether in a notebook, on the iPad, or in a Word document. Sometimes an idea turns into a full post right away – or maybe later. It’s okay if an idea takes a long time to develop into a full blog post. It might be a couple of years. And not only is that fine, but I’m always surprised that it’s the blog posts that take forever to come to fruition that people seem to enjoy most.
  • Sometimes an idea NEVER gets turned into a full blog post. That’s okay too.
  • It’s vital to have several go-to formats that work in a pinch when I need a blog post: lists, compilations of links to previous posts, Larry King-style posts (semi-random ideas chained together), groups of tweets that tie to a theme. You have to know what you can write quickly.
  • Since one thing The Brainzooming Group does is help clients generate creative ideas through using tools and processes, it would be counter to our brand promise to not publish because I couldn’t come up with a blogging topic. That’s not to say, however, I don’t tweet about struggling to come up with blog topics.
  • I have developed a knack for re-writing other content I’ve created into a new blog posts. This helps a ton.
  • You have to make conscious trade-offs since you’ll drive yourself crazy trying to cover everything. That translates into:
    • Not writing many news posts (For better or worse, the blog is more encyclopedic or textbookish than newspaper-like)
    • Focusing on writing to keywords that are already attracting people to Brainzooming.com (as opposed to an independently generated list of keywords we’re targeting)
    • Rarely doing themed content over multiple days
    • Not having a specific day (or days) for guest blog posts
    • Being pretty picky about publishing unsolicited guest blogs
    • Hardly ever doing book reviews (I’m a skimmer, not a reader)
    • Not venturing into video – yet (“and I use the word, ‘yet.’”)
  • Don’t read so many blogs, tweets, and Facebook status updates that it keeps you from getting something written.
  • Making use of the weekend to get as much (if not all) of the following week’s posts written.
  • Avoiding at all costs (but not with this post ironically) writing a post as late as the day before it publishes. That’s cutting it too close for my comfort.
  • Using the following (as necessary) to stimulate your writing: sleep, wine, Twitter, getting out and meeting people in person, questions people ask me,
  • If a blog post is close, but not quite there, not being afraid to simply cut out the parts that aren’t there. All of a sudden it’s all there, and the post is shorter – which everyone appreciates.
  • Keep YOUR commitment to your blog subscribers to publish regularly front and center, even if readers don’t have a comparable expectation about you publishing a blog post regularly.

What to Blog About and How to Get a Daily Blog Post Done

That’s what comes to mind right now as my set of blogging hacks. You might want to return here in the future. The list of blogging hacks will likely grow as more come to mind. I hope that’s what you were looking for, Duane! - 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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Whenever I present a social media strategy workshop at a conference, I always try to get a list of the attending companies ahead of time. The purpose is to review their social media presences to find examples of companies doing smart things to include in the presentation.

And what happens with the bad examples among attendees’ social media presences?

If there are particularly egregious examples of bad social media strategy, I share those here (anonymously), pointing out the things not to do with a blog that’s part of your social media strategy.

Content-Marketing-Is-Crap

Reviewing Social Media Strategy Examples from The Manufacturing Summit

In going through this upfront social media strategy review for the Content Marketing World Manufacturing Summit session I presented with Cheri Tabel, the most striking finding was the absence of blogs and vibrant social media presences among attendees. Few attendees are taking advantage of blogs to share stories, address audience issues, and attract leads.

Among the companies who WERE blogging, however, I came across what may be the world’s worst B2B blog.

4 Keys to Creating the World’s Worst B2B Blog

While it would be easy to provide the URL of the offending company, I consider it bad practice to do so. So instead of pointing you to it, here are the four practices to avoid AT ALL COSTS when you introduce a blog.

1. Complaining about your blogging platform – on every page!

Your organization may be stuck with a poor blogging platform because of IT constraints that stop you from using one to maximize the blog’s benefits. Whatever you do, however, don’t use the blog header to offer a mea culpa about the platform on EVERY page. There is a right and a wrong way to explain user experience limitations to your audience. Placing it in the blog header isn’t the place or the way. Figure out what you have to do to get it fixed.

2. Making it seem your company’s mission is complaining about customers

Taking a conversational, personal tone in a B2B blog is good. Selecting a tone portraying a negative perspectives of customers is bad. Instead of explaining how customers are making it difficult for the company, talk about challenges customers create for themselves and how to address them. The writer would get to the same place (i.e., describing high-performing customer behavior) without making the blog excessively negative.

3. Starting your blog post with no introduction

Every writer has an internal thought stream preceding their blog posts where they outline key points. But readers don’t know how the thought stream is relevant if you don’t share some of it. While you may have what you think is a fantastic rant about customers running around your head, those thoughts need to be in the post so audience members can understand your point. If you’ve already decided to rant, invite your readers along with you. Don’t force them to jump in mid-stream.

4. Talking down to readers who aren’t as “smart” as you think they should be

Having a personality with your B2B blog is fantastic, but “condescending” isn’t a personality to use.  Lecturing readers on history lessons about your industry, berating them for not understanding how YOUR business works, and serving up terse explanations on how to order from and do business with you won’t make ANYONE want to come back to your blog . . . ever.

Wow

As incredible as it might seem, these four shortcomings come together a few times a quarter in the world’s worst B2B blog.

And OF COURSE, when you look at the LinkedIn profile of the company’s social media lead, it explains the person is an expert. Heaven help us if the presona were a “guru.” You can only imagine how bad the blog might be then! - 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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