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Producing social media content for the BMA conference in Chicago came together quickly and was an incredible learning experience. It was also incredibly rewarding to work with a diverse group of writers & video people to create content for the conference.

Amy Lillard was at my right, tweeting, blogging, and sometimes, being snarky, throughout the general sessions. In her own words, Amy “helps smart, talented people find the words to express their smarty-pants-ness. She specializes in marketing writing for agencies, social media campaigns, technical writing, and medical writing. Her new blog on ‘Making It Better,’ which highlights how a turn of phrase and well-chosen word can improve any marketing piece, is coming soon; in the meantime, visit Wayfarer Writing for updates, case studies and contact information.”

I asked Amy to share her take on learnings from the social media experience at BMA09. She’s done so, in addition to using one word that’s never appeared in Brainzooming before….enjoy!

What will social media get you?

In my case, a response to a LinkedIn question and three days of blogging and tweeting got me a seat at the sold-out Business Marketing Association 09 conference, lots of cool leads, a chance to wear some new suits, a guest post on Brainzooming, new friends over margaritas, and free breakfast at the Drake Hotel. Not necessarily in that order.

When Gary Slack, Chair of the Business Marketing Association, posted a LinkedIn call for bloggers, tweeters and videographers to attend the Unlearn conference, I jumped at the chance. Through luck (and minimal stalking) I joined Mike Brown and eight other folks on the social media team at the jam-packed conference. After three days of non-stop blogging and tweeting, my brain hurt, my fingers ached, and I needed (several) drinks, but I was exhilarated and educated.

What exactly did I learn from the experience?

  • Think you know how to multi-task? Yeah, I did too. I can listen and take notes with the best of them, and I pride myself as a writer at getting to the meat of what’s being said. But keeping it up over three days? Tweeting main points, responding to questions, retweeting, and taking notes for blog posts, all while paying attention to the nice gentleman/lady and their nifty slides on the podium? Good gravy, my head was mush. I’m lucky I didn’t resort to “Picture’s r pretty, man has beard” as a tweet summation.
  • When people know what you’re doing, you’re seen as an expert. We’re talking palm fronds and lots of bowing and scraping. (Wait – that may have been a dream.) Gary Slack was kind enough to call attention to our row of computer junkies at the beginning and in the midst of each day, and as a result attendees visited our section for social media questions and technology support. It led to some great discussions and tutorials.
  • When people don’t know what you’re doing, dirty looks will abound. For most of the conference we were in the main room, and our team was seated in a fixed location. During breakout sessions, however, we weren’t as easily identifiable. As I typed away (on an older Dell that sounds like a typewriter or drum kit), I’d often get the pursed lips, the creased eyebrows, the stern librarian shush, and some eye daggers of death. Next time perhaps I’ll wear a tablet: “I’m not a rude prick. I’m part of the social media team.”
  • DMs are like the new version of passing notes during class. Full disclosure – I stole this line from Mike. But my theft does not diminish the truth of the statement. During one egregiously bad presentation that had slides and examples from 1982 (all B2C, no less), direct messaging on Twitter] allowed some team members to vent and practice their comedy routines – without the chance of a teacher picking up the note mid transit and reading it to the class.
  • Social media and conferences: a match made in geeky heaven. No matter the hard work (or because of it), my experience at the conference was deeply enriched. I was able to increase my understanding of presentations, meet fellow attendees and tweeters in instantly-bonding fashion, generate new leads for my writing business, and expand my social media skills. All good things.

It was a tremendous experience and rockin’ good time. And it was a clear demonstration of the conference theme – Unlearn. Rethink what you know about conference attendance. Reconsider what you think about presenting information and gleaning insight. Unlearn, and embrace social media to do it. – Amy Lillard


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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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The Business Marketing Association national conference was a tremendous learning opportunity, and not only because of its presentations. A small group of us were afforded the opportunity to live tweet, blog, and video the conference to produce content for the BMA website during the conference. It’s worth taking a look at the posts written by the social media team for overview of the range of content.

In the interim, here are tweets from three of the stand out presentations:

David Meerman Scott

  • amylillard: Old rules – beg, buy, bug for attention. New rule – earn attention by publishing your way in. Power to the people!
  • PaladinStaff: “on the web you are what you publish”
  • BlueSilverInc: Great example of viral video. Happy Birthday Sarbanes Oxley. YouTube: http://tinyurl.com/4xwkeq
  • EvaEKeiser: Be cool in social media… Don’t do anything your mom wouldn’t like.
  • johndigles: :The web, social media isn’t about tech or products, it’s about people. Why fear it? Play fair. “Word of mouse” marketing.
  • simasays: Stock photos = Visual gobbledygook. Those sleek multicultural peeps are so not your customers.
  • BzoomingLive: Learn to get comfortable w/ losing control of ur content. Challenging for marketers! Grateful Dead did it!
  • BzoomingLive: German B2B Marketing Company: CWS – Example frm @dmscott Created World Wide Rave http://bit.ly/11QZoY
  • BzoomingLive: Web very efficient for reaching targeted group – allows you to reach tiny audience, no matter where, if understand them.

Scott Davis

  • glenslens: I’m thinking CMO stands for Chief Masochist Officer…tenure is shorter than some Euro vacations.
  • Brainzooming: “Horizontal POV” – Key for marketers to see across business. Have to have P&L mindset, even if don’t own P&L
  • Brainzooming: If u haven’t had P&L responsibility, then spend 1st 6 months as CMO in the field, making sales calls, ringing cash registers. Scott Davis.
  • Brainzooming “Brand dropping” – Defn: Mentioning the well-known brands that u’ve consulted with in the last month.

Andy Sernovitz

  • amylillard: “Now is the time to build an army of fans who will advertise you for free” @sernovitz
  • Brainzooming: Point at dinner last night – key is to integrate social media activities w/ underlying strategy to drive sales.
  • glenslens: Marketing is what you do, not say, says Andy. Well said. @sernovitz
  • johndigles: :Word-of-Mouth topics are portable, repeatable, emotional. If it works in a news release, it probably won’t be WOM. @sernovitz
  • amylillard: Your customers are not necessarily your talkers. Think about who influences them, and focus there. (Ex – taxi drivers for Wynn)
    glenslens: Advertising is the cost of being boring. (Being remarkable is more than page deep.) @sernovitz
  • tkincolorado: Quite simply, happy customers are your best ads. – @sernovitz
  • amylillard: Final thought @sernovitz – Better companies that are nice to people make more money.


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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’ll be leading the social media team at this week’s Business Marketing Association UNLearn Conference in Chicago. The sold-out conference features more than 20 sessions on a broad array of topics. The social media team will be doing live tweeting, blogging, video interviews, and I’m sure a variety of other projects to document and share the conference with attendees and those who can’t be there live.

The main social media page for the conference is www.marketing.org/unlearn – visit this link to branch off to Twitter searches (the conference hashtag is #bma09), daily blogs, and links to video interviews.


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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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In early May, a TweetDeck search on “creative” tweets showed several referencing a Creative unConference in New York. I tweeted to attendees asking for a guest blogger to write about their experience presenting at an event where there’s not really a pre-planned schedule.

Part of it was professional curiosity since I’m chairing the American Marketing Association Market Research Conference in October, and we’ve discussed how to incorporate more attendee-driven content. The other part was a sincere interest in all of us learning more about these types of emerging events.

Stephanie Sharp stepped forward to share her perspective on the event. Stephanie owns Sharp Designs, a graphic design and branding consultancy in New Jersey. She has extensive experience with identity work, marketing collateral, and internal communications. Here’s Stephanie’s view on what it’s like when a social networking perspective intersects with a real life event:

I presented at the Creative unConference in New York City on May 7 – 9. This event was organized by The One Show as part of a week-long creative week. Since this was my first unConference, I wasn’t sure what to expect, so here are three take-aways to help others prepare for attending an unConference:

Prepare for a Richer Experience

The registration process included two questions:

  • What are you going to present?
  • What subjects are you interested in hearing about?

My answer to the first question was : “I AM PRESENTING on the rebranding that has occurred in the last year or so. Some has been seen as a misfire among the design community. Is there a shift in identity work? Have we lost Paul Rand’s way of working? Is it better or worse?”

The unConference guidelines warned speakers to not prepare too much. It’s not like a typical conference with a presentation followed by Q&A with the audience. An unConference is very interactive with a session’s attendees voicing their opinions. A comment from a speaker or a fellow attendee can start a longer discussion on one particular item. As such it’s a much richer experience.

Get Ready to Actively Shape the Agenda

An unConference’s schedule is set each morning, so the exact agenda isn’t known ahead of time. Every attendee is in a large room and allowed to introduce themselves. We grabbed paper and markers and wrote what we wanted to present on sheets and gathered in two lines to announce our session to the crowd.

Alternatively, we could write a subject heading in which we needed help, an issue we were working with, or a topic on which we wanted to hear others’ views. We walked over to a large schedule board and taped our session into a slot for a room and time. As people were adding their sessions, you could also move yours to another time. For any sessions that were similar, presenters could discuss and combine them.

Anticipate but Be Flexible

For my session, I prepared ahead of time by gathering recent logo redesigns causing discussion and controversy within the online design community. These included major brands such as Pepsi, Tropicana, the 2012 Olympics, and Xerox among others. Only a few sessions had access to projectors, so I printed several copies of the logos anticipating I’d be in one of the smaller, intimate areas. Needing visuals for my presentation, this approach provided the most flexibility no matter what the space.

Most everyone in the session held similar ideas on the logos, but we shared some interesting insights with each other. It was more of a discussion than a traditional “presentation,” giving attendees more time to interact and exchange opinions.

Summary

In all, I came away from the Creative unConference with some excellent ideas and knowledge I can implement in my own design and branding consultancy and will definitely keep an eye out for future unConferences. – Stephanie Sharp

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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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Thursdays are turning into Guest Blogger Day. There continues to be some really cool innovation and strategy experts from Twitter stepping forward to share their perspectives.

Today’s guest author is advertising consultant Gary Unger, author of “How to Be a Creative Genius (In Five Minutes or Less).” Gary’s bio highlights 3 things that make him a natural to share his perspectives on Brainzooming:

  1. He’s done work for Chick-Fil-A, which would be the official restaurant of Brainzooming if there were one.
  2. Gary’s creative work has earned him a place in the Levi Strauss T-Shirt Hall of Fame, which sounds pretty darn cool.
  3. He has a great personal message which fits with Brainzooming’s tone: Be yourself and have fun doing it!

Gary’s sharing his take today on Thought Rivers:

When you talk to me, my mind instantly goes in a million directions with the words you use. Some call it Parallel Thinking. I call it Thought Rivers because there is nothing really parallel about the paths that will be taken. It’s more of a twisting, double back, speed up, slow down, gets deep, then shallow, turns left, then right, and so on – just like a river.

You may say something like, “It’s not very square,” and my mind will instantly relate square to a geeky person, and then to a pair of black thick rimmed glasses, then to black and white image of Roy Orbison singing on stage, which will make me think of the other man in black, Johnny Cash, who I think is an earlier version of Bruce Springsteen who is kind of the everyman who is not really top of the class “cool” but also not “very square.” And that’s just one Thought River stemming from the original comment. Yes, sometimes it is difficult having a conversation with me.

If you want to see an explosion in your creative thinking skills, practice with Thought Rivers. If it’s difficult to do in your mind, write it out on paper. Do your best to not take the word, words, word term, or whatever subject you are working on literally; start looking for what can be rather than for what is. Ask yourself, “What else does this remind me of?” Make the leap from literal interpretation of the subject to every conceivable use of the word and its derivatives. Instead of stopping with the first dictionary term or literal translation, consider other uses of the word in your Thought River. For instance, the word “die” can mean or suggest the act of death, the singular of dice, to color something, a tool used to shape other materials, and even “to desire.”

As you practice, you’ll eventually find your mind will do it automatically, and you won’t need paper to map out your thoughts. That’s the ultimate goal: to be able to do it in your head. And when you can do it all in your head, your creativity will have a genius quality you never imagined possible.

And, as a bonus you’ll have the admiration of your peers for being so brilliant. – Gary Unger

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 is a screen grab from my Tweetdeck this morning. The first three tweets of the day themed up nicely, so I wanted to share them, including the live link for the Brainzooming post on “Shooting for the Moon.” Have a great weekend!

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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Midnight on Friday, Nick Demey from The Board of Innovation direct messaged me on Twitter, asking if I could review two student presentations as part of 24 Hours of Innovation. The assignment had been to advance 3 new automotive concepts based on business models from the music/entertainment business.

One presentation was from a US team, the other from a Belgian team. I’d recommend taking a look at both. Pay particular attention to three lessons on presenting new ideas demonstrated by the Belgian students:

  1. They show their mindmap – great for highlighting the transformative variables and range of ideas considered.
  2. A single slide upfront contained short descriptions of all three concepts – a helpful reference to understand what was coming.
  3. Each business model concept featured both text and visual representations – this provided a deeper sense of the concepts.

We can all learn from these techniques that make a document more likely to receive executive review. Thanks Nick for allowing me to participate in this hour of the 24 Hours of Innovation!


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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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