Social Media | The Brainzooming Group - Part 81 – page 81
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Brother Mike Suchnicki O.F.M. Cap. was my 7th grade catechism teacher. He was the first member of the clergy I really knew on a personal basis since he was with our class 5 days per week throughout the school year.

From Br. Mike (now Fr. Mike), I learned the role that humor, especially self-deprecating humor, can play in making an apparent authority figure approachable. He always told jokes on himself, frequently related to his Eastern European ethnic heritage. (For example, see his t-shirt from a yearbook picture of an intramural volleyball game.)

By readily using humor, the class became more comfortable and receptive to him and the serious religious messages he was sharing. Seeing a religious figure who was actually a real person also awakened in me an early interest in discerning whether I had a religious vocation.

The approachability Br. Mike created through humor led me to embrace a similar style – being willing to poke fun at myself to introduce people to more serious or complex subject matter.

His gift of humor is still a part of my work style, writing, and interpersonal approach. In fact, if you look across my websites, they represent three deep personal themes – strategy, humor, and spirituality. Within the latter two, Br. Mike was a strong early influence, for which I’ll eternally be grateful.

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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After blogging for some time, here are six blogging tips and lessons learned for anyone seriously considering starting a new blog. There’s no shortage of web articles on blogging tips, but these lessons have been learned directly from my own blogging experience:

1. Know why you’re doing this

Before starting your new blog, determine your reasons for blogging. Knowing that blogging is for the discipline of creating content to write a book sustains me while building a blogging audience.

2. Establish blogging guidelines for yourself

Guiding principles simplify blogging decisions and your effort. I knew early I’d cover general work-related topics without mentioning my employer specifically. Additional blogging guidelines include the number of words (generally under 300), how often to publish (daily except holidays), and blog topic categories (limiting content to 20 topic areas).

3. Write for a month before publishing your new blog

After deciding how often to publish, write a month’s worth of blog posts before publishing something online. This blog publishing strategy provides three advantages:

  • You’ll discover how much effort blogging will take and can adjust your blog publishing frequency to ensure you’ll sustain it.
  • It will help refine your blog writing skills.
  • You’ll have a backlog of blog posts for when you hit a creative block.

4. Create a blog editorial calendar

Get a big desk calendar, some small post-it notes, and plan out a few months worth of blog topics. Knowing where you’re headed with your new blog is helpful and the flexibility of modifying where you’re headed (by moving the post-its around) is essential. Another hint – after 6 months, throw out any still-unwritten topic to freshen future content.

5. Capture potential blog topic ideas all the time

Always have something to write down potential blog topic ideas. Never lose a potentially viable blog idea. Ask yourself daily what happened that might have potential. It’s a great relief later to thumb through a notebook of starter blog idea fragments.

6. Keep a hidden blog for experimenting

After setting up your new blog, establish a hidden blog for experimenting where you can test graphics, pre-publish posts to see how they’ll look, and work out bugs as you experiment with your new blog. – 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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This year was an unusual one to begin blogging. Amid challenging business and economic conditions (which provide a lot of potential material), my typical creative times (on planes) and stimuli (travel and exposure to new, external ideas) have been in short supply while creating five posts weekly on strategy and innovation.

That’s why I’ve relished opportunities to interact and learn from other marketers and business people at the various events I’ve been fortunate enough to speak at this year. They’ve provided a wonderful source of material, and the current conference is no exception.

Yesterday included two sessions at the marcus evans Customer Segmentation conference in Miami – one on Brainzooming and the other an interactive exchange where the group shared segmentation best practices in an exercise called, “90 Second Solutions.” There were a number of interesting presentations from a variety of companies that I’ll recap next week.

As we wrap up Anniversary Week, thanks for reading the blog and remember – let me know what you’re thinking and what you’d like to see here in the coming year!

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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Today’s blogging learnings relate to interaction. The lessons are best characterized as being similar to a magnet – there’s an attractive force, with both positive and negative elements.

Attractive Force

Blogging has revealed personal interests that have attracted learning opportunities, even from people who already knew me pretty well. Through people sharing information prompted by blogging, I’ve learned about:

And that’s simply a sample of the varied and very cool stuff others have shared because of blogging.

Positive

I’ve received much positive feedback about blogging via email, comments here, and personal conversation. Through Google Analytics, I can see hits worldwide – audiences I’d never reach. One regular reader commented recently that there are “some very good posts” here; I asked him to let me know which ones since it’s tough for me to pick them out! The most intriguing comment was from a Chicago reader reminding me the blog earns me one minute of his time every day and that “counts for a lot.” It certainly does, and I sincerely appreciate it!

Negative

The negative is we still haven’t uncovered how to get more of you participating in dialogue and sharing the blog with others, especially via posts or other web references. As a group, you seem fairly quiet online, at least around here.

Blogging how-to’s suggest regular, strong, original content as a growth key. We have regularity, but if you see modifications to content or style that would compel more of your own participation, getting your thoughts would be great. In one comment, Chris Reaburn pointed out similarities between indie bands and bloggers in this regard. You are the “small initial audience” and through the level of interaction you create, you can directly impact the work.

Feel free to exercise your influence by sharing thoughts on three questions to help shape the blog in the next year:

  • What topics have been most beneficial to you either professionally or personally?
  • What do you think about featuring shorter posts – do they still offer enough worthwhile information? (Results to the recent poll suggest that brevity is still preferred; Creative Quickies were at the top of the preference list.)
  • What are your suggestions for continuing to grow readership?

Thanks in advance for any comments you provide. And here’s to another year’s worth of sharing strategy and innovation ideas!

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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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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I’m a heavy-handed editor – ask anyone who works with me. At least I go through many rounds of editing my own stuff also (Exhibit A is at the right). Writing so much for the blog, however, has forced a more structured approach with specific editing rounds. Here are steps I’ve learned that may help you be a faster writer:

  • Keep something around to capture ideas – don’t let even remotely good possibilities evaporate.
  • Mine, combine, dissect, twist, and edit ideas into a first draft. Get a complete version down irrespective of whether the sentences are complete.
  • People want shorter material so start with a word limit. Five hundred words used to be my maximum. Based on reader preferences, I cut it to 300, with many under 200.
  • Edit to tighten the prose on the next pass. Also consider rearranging elements to make it work better. Surprising how often an article’s conclusion becomes its new intro following this editing round.
  • Run a spelling / grammar check to check the word count and help catch typos. Print it, read it aloud, read it backwards – anything to see it with fresher eyes since you’ve been through it several times.
  • Shorten it even more – reduce the word count by 10 to 20% on the final edit. It may seem challenging, but the result is invariably stronger.

Now you’re set to start your own blog and crank out 60,000 words by next year!

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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Today’s the first anniversary of my initial blogging foray. Thanks for being a loyal audience and offering suggestions throughout for improving it!

The blog started after a presentation on corporate blogging by Jessica Myers of Garmin Industries. She said that anybody could start a free blog in 10 minutes. Several weekends later, I started with the expectation of writing twice weekly. It was intended to create something instructional beyond presentations, provide more permanent life to strategy and innovation ideas, and maybe form the basis for a book.

Looking at the initial objectives, the blog has:

  • Solidified material that’s later found its way into my strategic thinking presentation
  • Caused me to be a more succinct writer
  • Provided material for putting together a creativity book

The only challenge has really been creating dialogue with all of you. You tend to be a “quiet” group. In the coming year, I’d love to get more interaction going and continue building this community.

This week we’ll cover lessons from the blog that can benefit you – even if you’re not blogging. And there will be a favor or two asked of you along the way! Check back tomorrow for more on writing lessons learned.

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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