10

A recent post highlighted strategies for creating an informal social media team within your organization to help carry out social media strategy.

Debra Feldman was nice enough to tweet a link but gave it the frown emoticon for not being applicable to solopreneurs. I promised to create a comparable list for individuals in business for themselves. Hopefully, these twenty strategies, based on experience with Brainzooming, will help those building their small businesses (or personal brands) more effectively manage social media.

Managing Your Presence

  • Select several social media platforms supporting your business strategy and objectives; concentrate your presence on these alone. You might have one location for content (i.e., a blog or micro-blog), a second for networking (maybe Twitter or LinkedIn), and a third for community interaction (Facebook or LinkedIn).
  • Divide social media time into 3 roughly equal parts – reading and monitoring social media in your topic area, commenting and participating on other peoples’ sites, and creating content for your own site. From this framework, decide how much time weekly you can invest on social media. Really work to stick to your time expectations.
  • Before blogging, determine how many times monthly you expect to blog. Pre-write that many posts to see if the frequency is viable and to build a month-long content cushion for when time is limited.
  • Choose creating and consistently delivering less content over wild swings in activity. Faithfully writing one blog post weekly and three tweets daily is better than three posts your first week with lots of Twitter activity then going silent for weeks.

Generating Content

  • Exploit your best communications talents aggressively in your social media effort. These might include article writing, headline writing, shooting video, illustrations, photos, etc.  Design a content strategy allowing you to use these talents to be as efficient in creating content as possible.
  • Write down at least two potential blog topic ideas daily where they’ll be available later as idea starters.
  • Cut your writing time and keep it short. You don’t need to (and probably shouldn’t) write thousand word blog posts. Stick to one idea in a couple of hundred words.
  • Save tweets and comments you make on other blogs to use as the basis for blog posts.
  • Solicit material from your audience, providing a brief description of what type of content, topics, and format you’re seeking.
  • At a minimum, set up Google Alerts on relevant topics to create readily available content for sharing online.
  • Find an intern from a local university to assist your business in its social media strategy.

Promoting Your Presence

  • Use common hashtags and keywords to increase visibility and pass along mentions.
  • Place social media buttons on your blog to make it easy for readers to share your content within their own social networks.
  • Sync your various social media sites so one item feeds multiple platforms (i.e., send your tweet about a blog post to LinkedIn and Facebook automatically).
  • Offer simple, fun give-aways to your audience to incent participation in commenting, retweeting, social bookmarking, etc.
  • Take time to write a brief bio and company overview for use on every social media site. Use a service such as KnowEm.com to secure your identity on many platforms, with links back to your main sites.
  • Create an informal network of friends (onine and IRL) with relevant networks and agree to tweet about each others’ work.

Continuous Improvement

  • Attend in-person or webinar training on effectively and efficiently using social media applications to build business.
  • Identify someone within your network who is more knowledgeable or efficient at social media than you. After figuring out how to use your best talents to help them, offer to trade for regular help (i.e., tips) on your social media effort.
  • Do at least an informal ROI assessment – is your social media effort generating the type and volume of business results that make your time investment worthwhile?

There are certainly many other ideas and technical approaches you can use to be more efficient in your social media implementation. What things have you tried that are working for you?  – 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 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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0

“Be interactive” is certainly popular advice for brands right now. Engage with your audience. Get them involved to build a relationship.

All great strategy advice. WHEN it makes sense. But many times, how it’s implemented makes NO SENSE at all.

A great example from this past weekend was ABC’s Good Morning America trying to find the best breakfast in the US. And by “best,” they mean “highest calorie.” After narrowing it to four choices, the TV audience was offered brief vignettes showing how each breakfast is prepared followed by a segment where we watched the show’s cast eat the four breakfasts.

Then, because interactivity is great and we all want to be engaged and have a relationship with Good Morning America, we were encouraged to hurry to the GMA website to vote for our choice for the best breakfast!!!

Huh?

The breakfast that looks the best? The breakfast that the hosts drooled over the most? The one with the most interesting recipe?

Last I checked, food mostly is about taste. So while this might have been an engaging interactive experience for fans of the 4 restaurants who might have actually EATEN one of the delicacies, it’s stupid for everyone else. That’s especially true since clicking the vote link on GMA’s website took you to a list of the breakfasts, with none of the “additional information” promised on the show.

I repeat: Interactivity, engagement, and building relationships are incredible strategies, when they make sense. When they don’t? They’re just stupid strategies and a waste of time, with or without social media. Agreed? – 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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1

I check KnowEm, a site to track the availability of user names across social media applications, frequently to see how many social media websites they tout. The current number is “more than 350.” A little more than a year ago when I discovered an earlier incarnation of the website, the number of social media applications listed was closer to 100.

That’s incredible growth, making it challenging to keep up, even if you’re immersed in social media.

What can you do to stay current on social media if it’s not your full time gig?

Here are two strategies to use:

  • Make sure you have strategic teammates very immersed in social media, i.e. they’re constantly staying on top of even more new social media applications and what they’re used for than you are. Ask them questions and let them guide and keep you informed on the latest innovations.
  • Pick out a new social media application from one of the fifteen social media categories on KnowEm, sign up, and spend the next week or two gaining some familiarity with it. When you feel like you’ve got a sense of that social media application, strategically select another one from a different category to try.

I put these two ideas together last week to pick up from Nate Riggs’ advocacy for location-based applications and finally forced myself to try Foursquare more aggressively. Doing so led to insights about the value and related opportunities of Foursquare, thoughts on the potential challenges of motivating participation, and interestingly, mayorship of three churches – guess that says a lot about where I spend my time!

At one new social media application every week or two you’re not going to wind up trying all of them. But really, the more important point is to have a current sense of what’s out there. Pick out your new social media application to try, and while you’re at it, don’t hesitate to let me know what my next one to try should be! – 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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3

Several times a month, Brainzooming innovation articles appear on Braden Kelley’s Blogging Innovation website – a compendium of work by top innovation writers.  Additionally, there’s a monthly focus topic where a number of writers address the same innovation subject.

The April topic was how social media and social networking applications can benefit innovation strategy. I submitted an innovation article on “30 Ideas for Using Social Networks to Help You Be More Innovative.” It was picked up by a popular email newsletter, which led to lots of page views for the piece, getting in touch with a former business acquaintance, and several speaking opportunities!

Rather than let the innovation strategy and social media ideas stop at thirty, here are ten additional possibilities for using social networks to catalyze your innovation strategy:

Tapping New Expertise

  • Use social media to create innovation teams and networks across organizational boundaries with your suppliers and customers.
  • Encourage employees to interact and learn from experts outside the company who are active on social networks.

Gathering Different Inputs and Information

  • Use comment-oriented social networking applications to solicit broad input on successes and challenges with your products and services.
  • Build a network of customers willing to respond to questions and brief surveys delivered via social media.
  • Post potential innovation ideas and allow them to be voted up or down based on internal / external audience perspectives.

Enabling Innovative Collaboration

  • Eliminate conference calls and use Skype for video conferencing since the visual cues communicated through a video conference will add visual information to help fuel brainstorming and innovation.
  • Share professional background information across the company to match up people with complementary skills, talents, and interests.
  • Use the professional background information to match up diverse people with very different skills, talents, and interests to instigate debate and contrasting views.
  • Require an innovation team to only interact through social media channels during a project. Capture the beneficial and negative learnings to incorporate into future team efforts.
  • Use social networking tools to increase information interaction among geographically separated team members.

What other ideas would you suggest for how social media can catalyze your innovation strategy? – 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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18

Over the weekend, our cat Coco (or “my cat” as she was known), passed away. She had a rare tumor, and for a number of months, we knew it wouldn’t be that much longer before this happened.

I won’t get maudlin, but the story of Coco’s adoption holds a couple of solid lessons.

Cyndi had wanted a black cat for some time. While waiting for her to finish at a store in our nearby shopping center, I saw, in the car’s rear view mirror, a Humane Society volunteer carry a caged black cat toward the early Saturday morning pet adoption just down the way.

When Cyndi returned, we decided to see about adopting the black cat. She was sitting rather forlornly in her cage when we found her. In talking with the volunteer, we discovered she was a Manx kitten, i.e. she had no tail. The volunteer explained how this caused potential problems and made these cats more difficult to care for than the typical cat. She asked us whether we had other cats and if they went out doors. After answering a few more questions, we were told that we wouldn’t be able to adopt this kitten.

We were surprised but went on our way. Later, we figured that beyond the fact we told them our two cats went out in the back yard, the fact we had gone over to the shopping center before getting all spruced up in the morning may have been a factor. Granted, we probably looked pretty scruffy, but I’d never known being unshaven to be grounds for being denied the opportunity to adopt a pet.

Running errands that afternoon, we decided to go back and see if the cat were still there. Sure enough she was, and now, nicely dressed, we got none of the questions we’d received in the morning. Instead, we were welcomed and within a very short time, were headed home with Coco.

That was nearly fourteen years ago.  We talk often about how in a world where people increasingly look disheveled, the way we looked that Saturday really did matter in how we were judged. We also remind ourselves about all the joy we’d have missed in our lives if we’d have taken the first “no” as the final answer.

To close, here’s a quirky moment from Sunday night. I was looking at a video I’d shot of Coco earlier this year when Clementine, our last remaining cat, hopped up on the desk, as she so frequently does. It’s an unstaged, double video goodbye between the two of them. One in January and one today.

I’ll admit this post was kind of light on strategy and innovation. Thanks for reading it anyway though, because I just had to write it – 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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3

Introducing a coordinated, vibrant social media effort into an organization depends on more than an “official” group creating content. Ideally multiple and varied people throughout an organization are functioning almost as beat reporters and sharing their individual perspectives on topics relevant to targeted audiences.

How do you get do-it-yourself (DIY) social media support from people already contending with more than full job responsibilities?

Here are 15 tactics you can use to pave the way for success in implementing your social media strategy:

  • Develop a role description for what a social media team member does in your company.
  • Provide realistic estimates of how much or how little time a team member will have to use to participate on the team.
  • Develop and share a social media policy for your company.
  • Create an internship and recruit a university student to participate in the effort.
  • Ask people what their talents and areas of interest in social media are and give them appropriate assignments.
  • Provide step-by-step instructions or basic guidelines to encourage new social media participants.
  • Have more experienced social media practitioners mentor those just getting started.
  • Develop your own wiki, blog, or social network community to post reference materials, FAQs, and other relevant information for the team.
  • Offer some type of simple, fun give-away to team members to incent active participation.
  • Provide a team list with contact information, areas of expertise and focus for each member, and who to call to report on successes and challenges.
  • Offer in-person or webinar training on effectively using social media applications and your brand standards.
  • Provide a thorough list of articles on how to excel at various aspects of social media.
  • Share links to free webinars focused on social media how to’s.
  • Brainstorm and share a list of suggested blog topics.
  • Use an approach that allows participants to smoothly rotate on and off the social media team at reasonable intervals.

What innovative strategies have worked for you to generate broader participation in social media within your business or organization?  – 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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2

In social media ranks, there are lots of people who portray themselves as bigger than they are and incredibly cool in what they think and know. And with all the readily available tools for self-promotion, it’s never been easier to draw attention to oneself than right now.

For wannabes and immature business people, all the apparently easy possibilities for creating attention are a very attractive nuisance. It can appear highly desirable to vie for attention from social media rock stars. A retweet or brief exchange can feel as if you’ve made a personal connection with one of them. A cause gaining attention via social media can easily take on the appearance of an important or broadly popular issue. That’s the case even when it’s grounded on a shaky premise without any strategic thought.

So right now, despite suggestions that social media will change everything around us, one important fundamental hasn’t budged even a little: GENUINE is MORE important than ever.

By genuine, I don’t mean the standard “be transparent online and reach out to your followers” line that’s in every social media overview presentation (including my own).

Instead, I mean real people who have a rich life offline. People who are morally centered. People who truly care about serving others and their ultimate welfare.

I’m talking about genuine people; not people who excel at attempting to appear genuine online.

If you find yourself repeatedly sucked in by the prospect of chasing social media stars, do yourself a favor. Find some real people you can actually meet and know in real life. Talk with them in real life. Share your experiences to try and benefit them. Treat them with kindness. Be a genuine friend to them.

Trust me; you’ll be a lot better off for having done it. – 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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