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If you speak to groups, you likely know the situation. You’re putting together a new talk, and there’s a big underlying question you should address early. Maybe it’s a big, overarching question implied in the presentation’s title. Yet, despite the question’s enormity, you are NOT sure what the answer is. Or at least what the answer isn’t built for a pithy, micro-bulleted list perfectly suited for delivery via a PowerPoint slide.

That situation plagued me with the new talk I did on attracting a brand’s extraordinary stories at the Social Media Strategies Summit in New York.

Developing ideas for using the seven Idea Magnets strategies to attract a brand’s extraordinary stories, there was a big question that seemed like I needed to answer: What’s a story?

The problem?

I didn’t have an elegant answer to the question. Under time pressure to get the workshop deck done, I figured I’d let the question slide. I mean really: WHO DOES NOT KNOW WHAT A STORY IS?

Can you guess the rest of the story?

We were about 17 seconds into the workshop’s first exercise, and someone asked: For the purposes of this workshop, what’s a story?

CRAP!

4 Characteristics of a Story

I told him what every speaker says when they get a question they didn’t want to answer (Great question!) and scrambled to the flip chart to begin writing my answer to what a story is. Along with tugging on Emma Alvarez Gibson’s perspective (and spelling chops), we shared the following list for what a story includes:

  • Relatable characters
  • Ample possibilities for development
  • Conflict and movement
  • An ability to invite the audience’s wonder and curiosity

This on-the-fly list of what defines a story worked to highlight a major point: a story isn’t only something that is written. These four characteristics can apply to images, videos, and various other communications formats that may not include ANY words.

Could I have answered this question ahead of time?

Sure.

Yet part of the excitement of the presentation was the conflict of personally wondering, CAN I FINALLY ANSWER WHAT A STORY IS? – Mike Brown

49 Idea Magnet Questions to Attract Your Brand’s Extraordinary Stories

Developing and sharing extraordinary stories that resonate with your brand’s most important audiences is an important key to branding success.

49 Idea Magnet Questions to Attract Your Brand’s Extraordinary Stories puts ALL the powerful questions at your disposal to identify, develop, and share authentic stories. It introduces multiple strategies that Idea Magnets use to:

  • Make unexpected connections and generate story ideas
  • Encourage people to share experiences that lead to memorable stories
  • Tell stories through effective techniques that intrigue and engage audiences

Download Your FREE eBook! 49 Idea Magnet Questions to Attract Your Brand's Extraordinary Stories!

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, I’m delivering a new Idea Magnets workshop on Finding and Sharing Your Brand’s Extraordinary Stories on Social Media. The venue is the Social Media Strategies Summit in New York. Within the workshop, we’re applying the Idea Magnets creative leadership formula to brands that want to improve the resonance and impact of the social-first content they create.

For the workshop, we solicited participants’ questions and expectations in advance. One desired take-away they shared was figuring out how to get the most from the stories their brands develop. To come up with a new Idea Magnets creative approach to the question, Emma Alvarez Gibson and I turned to one of the most famous stories of the last forty-plus years: Star Wars.

Think about all the variations and extensions of the Star Wars story! We translated all those twists and turns to create this list of seventeen ways to extend your brand’s extraordinary stories:

  1. Develop a story with multiple characters
  2. Continue the story and add new characters
  3. End the original story and resolve most things
  4. Use elements of the original story format and share specific parts
  5. Develop the prequel story before the original story with new characters that set up the backstories of some already-revealed characters
  6. Continue the prequel story in multiple parts
  7. Resolve the prequel, but leave room between the prequel and the original story
  8. Refresh the original story with new storytelling techniques & previously unused material
  9. Create events allowing the audience members to immerse in the story
  10. Hand the story to a new creative leader to develop a sequel that happens after the original story
  11. Continue the sequel in multiple parts
  12. Select specific characters and build new stories around each of them
  13. Select an as-yet-untold story and focus on answering big, lingering questions related to it
  14. Adapt all parts of the story for different audiences with different media preferences
  15. Let users create content stories from the original characters and story lines
  16. Invite other professional communicators to re-imagine the story with their preferred storytelling methods
  17. Extend the legacy of a few characters through to the next generation of the story

Want to go further to exploit extraordinary stories? Download our FREE eBook with forty-nine questions to inspire extraordinary brand stories.

Want to up the game on your Idea Magnet creative leadership skills? Then get your book or Kindle copy of idea Magnets – 7 Strategies for Cultivating & Attracting Creative Business Leaders today on Amazon! – Mike Brown

49 Idea Magnet Questions to Attract Your Brand’s Extraordinary Stories

Developing and sharing extraordinary stories that resonate with your brand’s most important audiences is an important key to branding success.

49 Idea Magnet Questions to Attract Your Brand’s Extraordinary Stories puts ALL the powerful questions at your disposal to identify, develop, and share authentic stories. It introduces multiple strategies that Idea Magnets use to:

  • Make unexpected connections and generate story ideas
  • Encourage people to share experiences that lead to memorable stories
  • Tell stories through effective techniques that intrigue and engage audiences

Download Your FREE eBook! 49 Idea Magnet Questions to Attract Your Brand's Extraordinary Stories!
 

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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Idea Magnets make things more exciting, fulfilling, and successful in every area of life – from their work, to their personal lives, to chance encounters. How do they accomplish that? By employing seven strategies to generate inspiration and apply their creative energy to important opportunities.

Extreme creativity questions are some of the most valuable Idea Magnets tools. These over-sized questions let you effectively expand creative thinking for individuals and teams.

When it comes to branding and content marketing, extreme creativity questions provide an outstanding way to discover, develop, and share extraordinary stories. They deliver for Idea Magnets with branding responsibilities by:

  • Helping audiences see new possibilities
  • Offering a starting point for people to share new stories
  • Uncovering unique aspects and intriguing twists that make stories extraordinary

Here’s the great news: you can get your own set of powerful extreme creativity questions for content marketers, social media professionals, and brand strategists!

It’s as easy as downloading your FREE copy of the new Idea Magnets eBook, 49 Idea Magnet Questions to Attract Your Brand’s Extraordinary Stories.

49 Idea Magnet Questions to Attract Your Brand’s Extraordinary Stories

Developing and sharing extraordinary stories that resonate with your brand’s most important audiences is an important key to branding success.

In this actionable new eBook, you will get forty-nine questions to inspire new ideas and energize your team and audiences to continually tell stories that create dynamic, positive impacts. It will introduce you to multiple strategies that Idea Magnets use to:

  • Make unexpected connections and generate story ideas
  • Encourage people to share experiences that lead to memorable stories
  • Tell stories through effective techniques that intrigue and engage audiences

49 Idea Magnet Questions to Attract Your Brand’s Extraordinary Stories puts ALL the powerful questions at your disposal to identify, develop, and share authentic stories.

That’s why you need to get your copy of 49 Idea Magnet Questions to Attract Your Brand’s Extraordinary Stories today. You will be able to immediately implement your branding and content marketing initiatives with greater impact and results!

Download Your FREE eBook! 49 Idea Magnet Questions to Attract Your Brand's Extraordinary Stories!

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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Is your brand continually delivering ho-hum content to your audiences?

We’re talking about the kind of content that leads people to view once and avoid twice (now and forever). The type of content that is ALL ABOUT the brand and NOTHING about the audience. Content whose most obvious message is that your brand is BORING, 24/7, 365.

If any of those descriptions feel uncomfortably familiar, there’s HELP and HOPE for engaging, social-first content on the way!

Thursday, June 28, I’ll be presenting a live webinar with actionable recommendations called Make Your Customer the Star of Your Content: How to Stop Boring Your Audience with Same Self-Serving Shtick.

Register Today! Make Your Customer the Star of Your Content

Presented in partnership with Powerpost, we’ll discuss how brands – small and large – can expand their range of topics to go beyond talking about their own brands, and heavy up on engaging, social-first content that speaks to your customers’ strongest interests.

Register today for the FREE webinar to ensure your spot, even if you can’t join us live. Registration opens your access to the webinar on-demand after we deliver it.

That’s Make Your Customer the Star of Your Content, Thursday, June 26, 2018 at 12 noon CDT. Join us and start delivering social-first content the leaves your audience wanting more!

Social-First Content to Make Your Customer the Star of Your Content

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-first content focuses on turning the traditional marketing communication model upside down.

Instead of starting with what your brand wants to say, then finding compelling ways to deliver the message, social-first content starts with the audience. Step one is to understand the audience’s full range of personal and professional interests. Then, based on information the audience is seeking, a brand identifies compelling ways to reach the audience via social media and other online means with content the audience wants. The brand’s actual presence within the content is the last decision; its presence can vary by message, timing, and communication channel. The key is that the brand never overshadows the social-first content message.

Social-First Content Provides a Powerful Brand Boost

Social-first content is getting quite a bit of outside attention recently.

Social Media Social Hour Podcast

First, I appeared on the Social Media Social Hour podcast hosted by Tyler Anderson. I met Tyler when we were both speaking at an earlier Social Media Strategies Summit. In the podcast, we discussed social-first content and its importance to unlocking a wealth of publishing opportunities for brands that their audiences will actually find valuable. You can listen to the FREE Social Media Social Hour podcast on the Casual Friday website. We welcome you to listen, and let us know where you stand on implementing a social-first content focus.

Hubspot User Group

Next, I’ll be speaking on Boosting Your Brand through Social-First Content at the Kansas City Hubspot User Group meeting. While the space is limited for the June 12th event, if you’re in the Kansas City area (or can get here), I’d love to have you join us!

PowerPost Podcast

Then, a few weeks later, I’ll be presenting a social-first content overview on the PowerPost podcast on June 28th. That appearance is both live, and will be available on-demand afterward. We just booked that appearance this week, so we’ll share registration information as the date approaches.

Boost Your Brand through Social-First Content

How is your brand performing on social-first content? If you would like to boost your brand’s performance, download our eBook on Social-First content. Also, contact us to learn how a Brainzooming workshop or custom strategy will effectively and productively take your brand from last to social-first in content marketing! – Mike Brown

Boost Your Brand’s Social Media Strategy with Social-First Content!

Download the Brainzooming eBook on social-first content strategy. In Giving Your Brand a Boost through Social-First Content, we share actionable, audience-oriented frameworks and exercises to:

  • Understand more comprehensively what interests your audience
  • Find engaging topics your brand can credibly address via social-first content
  • Zero in on the right spots along the social sales continuum to weave your brand messages and offers into your content

Start using Giving Your Brand a Boost through Social-First Content to boost your content marketing strategy success today!

Download Your FREE eBook! Boosting Your Brand with Social-First Content

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 delivering a workshop at the Social Media Strategies Summit in San Francisco today. It will cover creating a sustainable, social-first content marketing strategy. The three-hour workshop will take participants through typical sticking points brands face in developing effective content marketing strategy plans that start strong, build, and continue to deliver results.

Areas where we’ll concentrate and spend extended time as participants work through Brainzooming exercises include:

One workshop attendee, Angelo Harms, Digital Marketing Manager at the Curaçao Tourist Board, has seen me present workshops multiple times at SMSSummits. Angelo has also brought us to Curaçao for content marketing strategy workshops the past two years. Because he’s seen SOOOO much of our content, I wanted to come up with something new Angelo hasn’t seen yet.

9 Ways a Brand Can Sustain a Social-First Content Marketing Strategy

Here it is, with a sneak peek for all of you.

It’s a tool to identify starter topic ideas along the customer journey (X-axis) from three different perspectives (Y-axis):

  • What customers are thinking about and facing
  • Industry and product category considerations
  • Brand content that fits social-first needs

Beyond a content calendar, it’s another strategic way to ensure you are developing a strong mix of content that is relevant to prospects and customers, no matter where they are along the journey to your brand.

If you would like to go deeper into the topic, download our FREE eBook on Social-First content. It covers many of the exercises and tools we’ll share in the workshop content marketing strategy workshop.

If you’d like help thinking about how a content strategy helps grow and develop your brand, contact us. Let’s grab time to chat about the possibilities for growing your revenue and customer base through social-first content! – Mike Brown

Boost Your Brand’s Social Media Strategy with Social-First Content!

Download the Brainzooming eBook on social-first content strategy. In Giving Your Brand a Boost through Social-First Content, we share actionable, audience-oriented frameworks and exercises to:

  • Understand more comprehensively what interests your audience
  • Find engaging topics your brand can credibly address via social-first content
  • Zero in on the right spots along the social sales continuum to weave your brand messages and offers into your content

Start using Giving Your Brand a Boost through Social-First Content to boost your content marketing strategy success today!

Download Your FREE eBook! Boosting Your Brand with Social-First Content

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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Ten years into the Brainzooming blog, it seemed right to have someone else tell the story from a fresh perspective. Emma Alvarez Gibson, who helped shaped the Brainzooming brand before it even launched, is exactly the person.

Ten Years Now and Mike Brown Has a Blog – Emma Alvarez Gibson

It’s 2009, and I’ve just gone into business for myself, doing branding and copywriting. Thanks to Twitter, which is at that point still a place to have thoughtful conversations with smart people, a great-sounding gig has fallen into my lap. This guy I’ve never met has just hired me, after a couple of emails and a single phone call, to help launch his company. He’s kind of shockingly sincere, but he lives in Kansas City, and maybe that’s just how they do there. He’s about to leave his job as a strategic planning and marketing VP at a Fortune 500 transportation company and he’s got this whole other direction mapped out for himself—he’s been blogging now for a couple of years in preparation for this move.

“I don’t think I had any clue, at the start, about the impact the blog would have on my life.”

We work well together. He says I really get what he’s trying to do. And he pays promptly, as the best clients do. I wish him well, and we follow one another on Twitter. Every now and then we exchange pleasantries and silly jokes, sometimes an email or two. We tweet, we message, we leave comments on one another’s Facebook updates. I sign up for his blog posts, which are astonishing in their frequency as well as their depth.

“The blog paved the way for me to create a brand-new business identity. It allowed me to create a new present and future that built on, but wasn’t beholden to, my experience in the transportation sector.”

And so it goes for the next three years. By 2012 I’m no longer working for myself, as I’ve discovered that I’m terrible at it. I’ve got a capital-J job, and excellent health insurance, and tons of banked vacation time. One afternoon in 2014, I’m in my office with not a lot to do, and a message pops up: the guy from Kansas wants to know if I have a couple of minutes for a phone call. I’m a little weirded out, but say yes. He’ll be in San Diego in a month, he says, and wonders if I’m available to help facilitate a workshop. I am.

The evening before the workshop, I drive down from LA immediately following a Neil Finn show, accompanied by a girlfriend, just on the off chance that it’s all a setup and I’m meeting up with an ax murderer. (Spoiler: I’m not. The guy from Kansas is exactly as he represents himself online.) But despite it being our first time meeting face to face, it feels like we’ve known each other for years. Probably because we have.

“It gave me an identity beyond Mike Brown, which is in the top 5 most nondescript names.”

The workshop goes well. It’s fun, and challenging, and so gratifying to see that we’re giving people tools and resources that will continue to improve their work lives and also have the capacity to improve their personal lives. This work calls to me on a deep level.

Back in LA I keep thinking about how naturally we worked together and how our skills and expertise complemented one another. What if that could be my job? But I can’t really allow myself to venture too far down that path. There are too many variables and it isn’t as though he’s hiring tons of people—particularly not people 1600 miles away. I’ve got a child, a chronic illness, a mortgage, and my husband and I live in one of the most expensive cities in the country. I climb back down into the salt mines, so to speak, and focus on making things go.

“The body of work is a personal one. But it allows us to compete with the biggest consulting firms in the world.”

When the guy from Kansas asks if I’d be interested in the occasional editing gig, I am; soon it’s a weekly thing. I think, often, about what it would be like to do this full-time. One day, the guy from Kansas says, hesitantly, Hey, I don’t know how you’d feel about this, but when I’m in a position to extend the company’s base outside Kansas City, I’d really like to hire you full-time. I’d feel pretty great about that, and tell him so. And then it’s back to the salt mines for me, but now the work I’m doing when I’m not at my day job includes several long-term projects, and we’re presenting workshops and keynotes at conferences in San Francisco and on an island off the coast of Georgia.

Now it’s the fall of 2017. I have a block of time in the middle of my frenzied day that doesn’t belong to anyone else, and I shut my office door and call the guy from Kansas to discuss a couple of the projects we have going. When he answers the phone, I say hello and ask how he is. He says, Wonderful. I’m just finishing up your offer letter. Within fifteen minutes, I’ve given notice.

“The busyness of the business, driven in large part by the blog, has had a tremendous impact across my life.”

This month marks the tenth anniversary of what became the Brainzooming blog. I tease Mike about the sheer volume of content he’s created across these ten years. He must have content running in his veins where we mere mortals have only blood, I say. Oh, no, Mike Brown forgot to write a blog post for tomorrow! Not to worry – just hand him that letter opener! The wound will heal; the content will live on! The truth, of course, is simpler and more complicated than that. The truth involves a different kind of sacrifice, and hell of a lot of hard work.

It’s two months to the day since I joined Brainzooming full-time as Director of Brand Strategy. I can’t quite shake the sense that, at any moment, someone’s going to show up at my door and order me back to the salt mines. Because this kind of work isn’t work: it’s a calling. And that makes all the difference in the world, and to my world. (As do the excellent Beavis and Butt-head impressions Mike and I are prone to when in the same city. Or on the phone. Or, okay, via email.)

We’ve now met in person five times, and next year will bring more opportunities to get together to address problems, create solutions, and bring people together in ways they would not have thought possible. I can’t wait to see where Brainzooming goes next.

Happy blog anniversary, Mike. Happy blog anniversary, Brainzooming. Here’s to the next ten years. Emma Alvarez Gibson

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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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