Social media | The Brainzooming Group - Part 58 – page 58
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Some of the most creative times for me are on planes – time and time again. On a return plane flight this week, I filled up page after page with notes and diagrams of ideas to help shape current projects… plus this blog post:

  • Diversity is great for better thinking, but simply adding a “newer” version of the same person everyone in your group represents isn’t all the diversity you could use.
  • If in an initial conversation someone introduces topic you’d never want to be a part of, it tells you everything you need to know.
  • I had a 90-minute business conversation on this trip that didn’t touch on social media. I’m not sure the last time that happened.
  • When looking at a new situation you don’t see any growth potential or development upside, it tells you everything you need to know.
  • This crowdsourcing thing may really take hold. I saw a passenger correctly tell the Delta gate agent what our reassigned gate was going to be while Delta was still announcing it was waiting for information.
  • Guys that sound like Foghorn Leghorn are, by definition, funny!
  • If you give people enough time and space to talk, honesty will eventually show up. Be watching for it.
  • Planes aren’t creative happy places for everybody. That’s fine, but be sure to know where your creative happy places are and visit them often. – Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to see how we can help make your strategic thinking and planning more productive, even when you’re not on a plane!

Mike Brown

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

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4

This is it for TEDxKC reflections, I promise, but I’ve never been involved in any two hour event which offered so much innovative thinking! Thanks to Kansas City’s VML and the other sponsors for bringing such an incredibly-rich experience as TEDxKC to Kansas City!

  • My mother once said I have a look which says, “Don’t bug me. Don’t get near me.” If that’s true, it must have been on display at TEDxKC. In an oversold event, in a supposedly jam-packed auditorium to see the live presentations, I walked in 10 minutes before the start and found two seats on an aisle mid-way back. After sitting down, the row consolidated, freeing up another seat, so there were still two seats by me. In the following ten minutes, not one person came in and sat down by me. Sorry everybody for “the look.” I try not to make it!
  • Watching the opening TEDxKC performance by Quixotic Fusion, it struck me how true it is that whatever your talents, you can create “art.” That’s the case whether in the traditional view of art or the art of day-to-day work and life. The difference is a person’s willingness to experiment, to be innovative, and to put themselves in the vulnerable positions which make one an artist.
  • The recent CEO study where creativity was identified as a critical success attribute in business was referenced during one presentation. Every time it’s cited, I always wonder: Did the CEO respondents REALLY believe that? It was probably viewed as a “hip” answer so everybody said, “Sure, a person needs more creativity…after financial acumen, a strict operational orientation, and a ruthless managerial style. Then, we need us some creativity.”
  • In her video presentation, Jane McGonigal of the Institute for the Future suggested the key to solving the world’s problems would be people collectively spending 21 billion hours weekly in online gaming. My question is, “What would happen to improve the world if we spent 21 billion more hours weekly praying?”
  • After attending a recent conference with nearly no diversity among presenters based on race, gender, and age, I’m even more conscious about diversity at live events. So at TEDxKC, of the 5 individual presenters (including host Mike Lundgren from VML) to take the stage, 4 were men, and 3 of the men were named “Michael.” While I always love listening to Mikes (and one other presenter’s last name was “Brown”), this was both homogenous and quirky.
  • My thought for the evening at TEDxKC: “Take the ordinary and attach it to something of significance to you. Then it’s strategic.”

Additionally, here’s the embedded video for the full TEDxKC program. Enjoy!  – Mike Brown



When it comes to conferences, high impact presentations, and live event social media content, The Brainzooming Group is expert at shaping the right strategy and implementation to create unique attendee experiences before, during, and after an event. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we can do the same for your event!

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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12

Last Wednesday, I attended the Kansas City Business Marketing Association lunch for a presentation by Ashley Kuhnmuench of Google on the “B2B Buyer at Zero Moment of Truth.” It’s a Google-defined characterization of what happens before a customer comes in direct contact with your brand. Since it’s Google doing defining ZMOT (as it’s acronymed), it’s pretty much seen as the online research a prospect does on your brand before interacting with you. This brief video from the presentation features a further description of the concept:

While it’s an intriguing characterization, the concept isn’t necessarily innovative (people have always been able to reach out to others for perspectives or do offline research on a brand – yes there was research before Google existed).

Ashley did offer some statistics, however, which support the increasing prevalence of pre-engagement searches among business decision makers. She reported:

  • 62% of B2B buyers are doing more online research because of the economic downturn and have become more likely to switch vendors.
  • Google is seeing a surge in B2B conversions, with conversion defined as an individual taking a desired action on a website.

In successfully dealing with the Zero Moment of Truth, Ashley suggested three strategies for brands to embrace:

  • Visibility – Business decision makers are using longer searches (4 to 7 words), seeking out specific information.  They’re also using time outside normal work hours for business-related searches: 40% of business decision makers spend non-9 to 5 time doing online searches for work. Increasingly mobile devices are also part of the search equation. Visibility implies online presences being legitimately active 24/7 (i.e., having someone available to respond to social-media based requests or crises for your brand in what used to be off-hours), easily findable (SEO, SEM), functioning across multiple platforms, and incorporating video (for richer and more personal explanations of features and benefits).
  • Persuasion – B2B searchers are increasingly looking for productivity, efficiency, and sustainability-related messages. So not only does the online presence you actively manage need to reflect searcher interests and your brand in a relevant way, you have to make sure you live up to customer expectations and your brand promise to best impact broader conversations taking place online. With the advent of social media and social networking, it’s become very challenging for brands to manage online messages and the sentiment about their brands when there’s every opportunity for the public to communicate completely contradictory messages. That means brands have to be active in relevant forums with believable, authentic messages and interactions to foster strong relationships.
  • Flexibility – Finally, flexibility implies a brand’s ability to anticipate and respond quickly to opportunities and challenges. It also demands a willingness to launch new ideas rapidly with less attachment to perfection, and great skill in iterating to arrive at increasingly better answers.

The most important point in the presentation centered on this: the presence of online information and dialogue about brands (and related topics) has already fundamentally changed and disrupted numerous industries, including travel, publishing, retail, and real estate. If you think it won’t affect your business-oriented market, you’re wrong, and you need to start anticipating the potential ramifications and responding immediately. – Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your brand strategy and implementation efforts.

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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3

Thanks to Brenda Bethman, I received a last minute ticket to TEDxKC last Thursday at The Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City. Titled “What the World Needs Now,” five speakers (four live, one on video) and a visual/musical/performance art group presented rapid-fire perspectives not really answering the title question – since it wasn’t stated as a question – but more as persuasive speeches on innovative global strategies in a college communications class.

The Set-Up

That isn’t to say TEDxKC wasn’t thought-provoking; it was just never designed as an interactive dialogue on our collective future. Unless you call the audience mingling and getting to write on a big poster what we think the world needs now after the event (all over 1 free drink) an interactive experience.

TEDxKC was certainly much anticipated (although not necessarily well-publicized) in town, with the original 300 free tickets for the Nelson Gallery auditorium being claimed in an hour. Another 500-600 people were ultimately accommodated via video feed in a separate Nelson viewing gallery.

Personal Resonance

Because of a client meeting, I never had an opportunity to vie for a TEDxKC ticket. Having known people who have attended TED and TEDx events, however, TEDxKC certainly felt like an innovation-rich event to attend. Looking back in light of my personal experience and the relevance of the innovation messages, a TEDxKC ticket materializing Thursday afternoon couldn’t have been an accident.

The strategic, unifying thread for meat TEDxKC was the speakers articulating aspects of themes touched on and evolving within the Brainzooming and Aligning Your Life’s Work blogs over several years.

As I’ve said, writing a blog, absent all the other human interactions which are vital to surround it, is a pretty isolated experience. With my professional situation changing so much in the past year(moving from a corporation to pursue The Brainzooming Group full-time), that’s been even truer. The original target persona for the blog was me: someone in a not particularly innovative or creatively-oriented organization wanting to grow, develop, and have a bigger positive strategic impact on those around them.

As my life has changed, I’ve wondered whether my new perspectives resonate with all of you who are so generous to share your time in following Brainzooming. While new innovation-oriented themes have emerged for me professionally and found their way into the blog (thus all the social media and here’s what The Brainzooming Group does content lately), it was tremendously helpful as TEDxKC put into a global context the core strategic themes which mean so much to me personally and professionally:

The strategic innovation messages at TEDxKC really resonated, serving as catalysts for my thinking right now. Tomorrow, we’ll recap the great TEDxKC speakers and the important innovation messages they shared.  – Mike Brown

When it comes to conferences, high impact presentations, and live event social media content, The Brainzooming Group is expert at shaping the right strategy and implementation to create unique attendee experiences before, during, and after an event. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we can do the same for your event!

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

At last week’s Social Media Club of Kansas City breakfast, Aaron Bollinger of KickApps.com did a strategy-instigating presentation on “Creating a Unique Social Experience.” He also bought breakfast for everyone in attendance (including me – just want to make sure the FTC is taken care of here).

One of Aaron’s central ideas was how KickApps can allow a social network audience to participate in social media commentary in one click. One case study demonstrated the positive participation, traffic, and subscriber impact of allowing visitors of local TV news websites to provide a one-click reaction to stories vs. taking the time to write a comment.

Removing barriers to make it easy for social network audiences to share their perspectives prompted me to share six others things we should avoid with audiences online and (to the extent they apply), offline as well:

1.  Don’t require audience members to go where they aren’t interested in going, especially for content of lesser value.    It’s not an audience-enhancing move to require members to leave a content-rich environment to go somewhere less content-rich for an essential function. So if you want your audience to leave Facebook to visit your website, you better have an even richer experience waiting at your landing page.

2.  Don’t divide your audience into groups so small they become unsustainable.     We’re seeing this a lot in live event social media right now. Conference organizers want to create very niche forum discussions among an audience of a few hundred people. In every case, the strategy has fallen flat because an average-sized audience, divided 15 ways, can’t be expected to actively engage and keep a social network sub-community viable.

3.  Avoid placing unnecessarily high hurdles in front of social network members to participate with you or with each other.     This was at the heart of Aaron’s presentation, but it extends further. As a marketer, I love having all kinds of data on current and potential customers and want to gather it anywhere possible. But in asking lots of registration questions online and making them required, how many potentially valuable community members do you lose in your network? Instead, make it easy to join the audience and grow in your knowledge of audience members over time as you become more valuable to each other.

4.  Don’t make them suffer through your brand identity crisis.     This can be especially challenging for solopreneurs and small businesses with less considered brand identities. A huge part of a brand promise is predictability. Even if your brand is edgy, it should be predictably edgy. So when communicating with your audience, make sure you behave in a way that’s consistent with what your audience expects.

5.  Never make your social media audience wonder where you are or when you’ll return.     I’m always preaching to anyone who will listen – be consistent in your brand engagement, especially in social media. Instead of introducing your social media presence with heavy activity and then disappearing, engage with your audience regularly and with a dependable rate of frequency. Even though there will be times when you’ll be more active in your network than others, muster the strategic discipline to be visible and participatory on a regular schedule.

6.  Don’t make it easy for your social network to get off the hook.     I first learned about the concept of “high performing customers” at Arizona State University. The concept focuses on the vital roles customers play in service delivery processes and the importance of putting mechanisms in place so they can fulfill the roles effectively. It’s an interesting one when applied to social media where a high performing customer’s role is typically some form of participation. This implies taking the time to think strategically about how you instruct, cultivate enthusiasm, and reward audience members for fulfilling their necessary roles in making social networks stronger and more viable.

In order to embrace the “make it easier to participate” concept, click your reactions to this post in the brief survey at the end of this online post!

If you’d like to go further than simply voting, please share your ideas: What are other things we should all avoid with our social network audiences? Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to see how we can help you define a brand strategy firmly tied to business yet recognizing the impact of social networking on your customers.

[memedex: pollid#492312]

 

Mike Brown

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

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10

Since a lot of people ask about the challenges of writing a blog 5 days a week, I thought we’d follow yesterday’s post on opening your creative perspectives about topics with how you can turn topics into 25 creative blog topic ideas. Here are 25 formats you can use to turn a topic into blog content of value for your audience.  In a blog post, you can:

  • Share Your Opinions
  • React to Others’ Opinions
  • Report News
  • Report News with Your Opinion
  • Ask a Question
  • Answer a Question
  • Make a List
  • Teach Something
  • Provide Background Info
  • Provide Reference Info
  • Do a Demonstration
  • Issue a Challenge / Task
  • Make an Offer
  • Reflect on Past Events
  • Speculate About the Future
  • Summarize a Topic
  • Cover a Topic in Depth
  • Relate an Anecdote
  • Report on a Conference / Event
  • Interview Yourself
  • Interview  Someone Else
  • Review Something
  • Organize Information in New Ways
  • Revisit a Topic
  • Combine Two of These Posts
  • REPEAT Any or All of the Previous Ones

These formats work for your own blog and also for guest blog posts (once again…hint, hint for potential Brainzooming guest bloggers) where you want to showcase your expertise on someone else’s blog. If you consider video or audio posts using any of these formats, the 25 potential posts immediately turn into 75 possibilities!

Additionally, depending on the class and specific assignment, this list could also be helpful in structuring essays for writing classes in school.

If you’re still on the sidelines about blogging yourself or guest blogging, ideally these posts will prompt you to give it a try.  – Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we can develop an integrated social media and blogging strategy for your brand.

Mike Brown

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

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4

Paying too much attention to Twitter one night last week while needing to write a new blog post for Stepcase Lifehack, I saw this tweet come past from Shawn Gallagher:

I quickly tweeted Shawn he could break his creative block by writing about what’s more interesting than writing a blog post. He was skeptical about it being a real idea to beat a creative block, but he rose to the challenge and wrote a nice blog post on 4 things more compelling right then than blogging.

It’s something we all face – distractions which get in the way of what we’re supposed to be doing. Because of its universality, it makes a great topic, even if it springs from something mundane.

What to do when you’re facing a similar creative block while writing for your own blog or trying to write a guest blog you’ve promised someone? (Hint, hint to a few of you who’ve said you’d do guest Brainzooming posts.)

My advice is follow the “George Costanza Blogging Strategy.” I named it after an exchange in a Seinfeld episode called “The Pitch.” Jerry and George were trying to sell an NBC executive on their idea for a show about nothing. In explaining the concept, George asked the exec what he had done that morning. When the executive said he’d gotten up and gone to work, George exclaimed, “That’s a show!”

Adopt the same attitude toward blogging when you’re facing a creative block about a potential blog topic. Especially if it’s a personally-oriented blog, anything that happens to you can be transformed into a blog topic:

  • You’re facing a creative block for new ideas? That’s a blog post!
  • You’re bored with what’s on TV? That’s a blog post!
  • Your favorite restaurant raised its prices? That’s a blog post!

Of course, you still have to make the topic tie back to the underlying direction and purpose for your blog. But that’s often a lesser issue than simply getting around the creative block to find an idea to get started.

How do you find ideas to blog about when you’ve got a creative block?Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help your organization make a successful first step into social media.

Mike Brown

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

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