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I’m at the Social Media Strategies Summit in Dallas today, delivering a two-hour workshop on developing a branded content marketing strategy. The key is finding the right balance between employing outside-in topics and outside-in timing while still making sure your brand personality and messages come through clearly.

We recently conducted a dedicated content marketing strategy workshop for a client on this very topic. We worked with nearly thirty of its business and communication leaders to explore topics four different audience personas would find valuable and that the organization, a healthcare non-profit, could credibly address.

The client is a non-profit focused on healthcare. It entered the workshop with five profiles of target audience members that The Brainzooming Group helped them develop. These profiles, called personas, are three-to-five paragraph descriptions it developed describing specific individuals it serves, seeks to hire, or collaborates with in serving clients.  Small groups prepared the personas in advance by brainstorming answers to ten questions on each audience member.

The personas provided the basis for other workshop activities imagining topics audience members would be interested in and willing to read, watch, or listen to if the non-profit were to address them.

Here’s an overview of each of the strategic thinking exercises:

5 Content Marketing Strategy Exercises to Generate Audience-Oriented Topics

content-marketing-strategy-topics

What questions do audience members ask during the buying journey?

The initial exercise explored three phases of an audience member’s journey. The first phase (Awareness) encompassed their initial exploration as they became aware of an opportunity or issue an outside party might address. The second phase (Consideration) involved the audience member describing the relevant opportunity or issue and looking at organizations to help satisfy needs. The final phase (Decision) involved the audience member selecting, engaging, and evaluating the relationship with the outside party they chose.

Within each phase, the small groups identified questions audience members might ask. The comprehensive list of questions each group identified became the basis for the second content marketing exercise.

What topics address important audience questions?

The second exercise used questions from the first one to generate content topic ideas. For each audience question, participants suggested one or more topics or working titles. The topics they generated were not intended to communicate an overtly promotional brand message. Instead, the content would help audience members be smarter in their exploration, evaluation, decision-making, engagement, and post-purchase experiences. As the brand addresses topics of interest to audience members, it has the opportunity to subtly convey its helpfulness, expertise, and audience-focus through sharing beneficial content throughout has the audience journey.

Why do audience members select the brand?

Another exercise focused participants on the relationship stage where audience members either choose or do not choose the brand. Workshop participants identified five primary reasons audience members select the brand. They then identified five reasons audience members do not pick the brand. For each positive reason, they generated multiple topic ideas (of interest to audience members) that would back up the brand’s attractive characteristics. For reasons the brand was not selected, they brainstormed possible topics to help counter or refute misperceptions about the brand.

What do audience members say about the brand relationship?

One exercise focused on interactions audience members have with the brand further into the relationship using a 4-box grid. One axis listed “questions” and “statements.” The other listed “negative” or “positive” interactions.  Each of the four cells named a relevant situation and several questions to trigger potential topics. For instance, positive questions present “Education opportunities,” and negative questions signal “pain points.” Positive statements suggest highlighting ” brand value.” Negative comments indicate “objections to anticipate.” Questions associated with each of these four areas suggested jumping off points for additional topic ideas.

What do we think, know, and do that is relevant for audience members?

Audience members’ interests primarily extend beyond the brand’s traditional focus areas. That is why brands focusing only on content about themselves miss so many rich areas in which to share content. To counter this, one exercise explored areas in which audience members exhibit interests, seek information, and focus priorities. For each of the areas identified, participants generated audience-oriented topics. They made the brand connection to the audience based on what the brand thinks about audience interest areas, knows about the information they seek, and does relative to their priorities.

Coming Away with Plenty of Audience-Oriented Topic Ideas

During the Brainzooming content marketing strategy workshop, participants generated hundreds of potential content topics. Before adjourning, each person walked the room to review the topics and select those they thought had particular potential to interest audience members.

The next step is documenting all the topics on a content calendar. This enables the brand to address topics in an organized fashion across the year when, as they can best determine, audience members are most interested in the information.

If you want to learn more about specific details of this approach, contact us. Let’s collaborate to develop richer content that matters to your audiences. – 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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An attendee at the Curacao Social Media and Content Marketing Strategy Workshop raised a new (for me) and pertinent question: What are ideas to go live with brand impact?

That’s a content marketing strategy topic I’ve been thinking about as more social platforms offer “go live” features, including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat, and Tumblr.

His specific question was what to do to make it worthwhile for a brand, and how much to prepare so it doesn’t become embarrassing (or boring, or pointless) video content.

First, a quick disclaimer: I’ve NEVER gone live, although maybe we could with some of our Brainzooming events. We’ll have to see.

Nevertheless, thinking of content marketing strategy analogies, brands doing live video strikes me as very similar to “destination TV.”  Destination TV is a program the audience wants to watch in real-time the first time it airs so they aren’t susceptible to spoilers from friends that saw the program first and want to talk about what happened. Among the shows I’d put in the destination TV category are the Super Bowl (and perhaps a few other major sporting events), final episodes of popular TV shows, and major awards shows (Oscars, Grammys, etc.).

Countdown-6-TV

These also tend to be high viewership programs, which is what you want if you are going live! Another common characteristic is that broadcast networks never suddenly decide to go live and start sharing them without sometimes months of forewarning.

That’s a good starting point for how to “go live” differently than many brands are trying it right now. While the video is real-time, there should be ample preparation and promotion to lead to a great go live performance.

16 Ideas to Go Live with Brand Impact in Your Content Marketing Strategy

Using the three broadcast examples of destination TV as inspirations, here are 16 ideas for getting the most from your brand going live:

Preparation

  • Go live with events or people that your target audience has a high interest in wanting to see in live setting. Pre-existing popularity, hype, plus past and future rarity all help generate interest.
  • Plan out what will happen ahead of time, knowing where you want to start, end, and places things in between.
  • Help the participants in your live stream develop material and rehearse what they are going to say or do if at all possible. A live dress rehearsal has its precedents (see SNL).
  • Look at ways to integrate pre-packaged segments with the live video, even if it means going multi-platform.
  • Tack on related stories and content delving deeper into the subject to interest specific audience segments.

Promotion

  • Brand your go live segments as part of an ongoing series of events so the audience has more to look forward to in the future.
  • Begin promoting your brand going live well in advance. If having an audience is important, hit the messaging hard on WHEN you’ll be going live.
  • Heighten interest with unexpected guests or feature unusual pairings of people that are intriguing (or pairings that have never happened previously).
  • Incorporate surprise into your promotion. Create a live event situation where viewers might have some sense of what could happen when you’re going live, but they can’t be absolutely sure about it.
  • Invite the audience to participate in pre-show events planned before going live to build hype and anticipation.

Performance

  • Share older (but still relevant) content prior to when you go live.
  • Use a mix of scripted and impromptu segments within your live segment.
  • Record segments if need be, but broadcast them live. That’s what many virtual events do – they playback recorded talks, but take live audience questions.
  • Invite other parties outside your brand to cover / report on the live segment.
  • Create hoopla at the location from which you’ll be broadcasting to generate additional excitement (or another appropriate emotion) that will come through on the live video.
  • Embed cliff hangers into the content to create suspense. You could also create the cliffhangers prior to going live, and then resolve them when you go live.
  • Link partial content you’ve shared before the go live event to what happens live to flesh out a compelling brand story line.

Those are my thoughts on going live, all based off of thinking about a strategic analogy.

If we ever go live, look for more experience-based ideas! – Mike Brown

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This afternoon, I’m leading a three-hour Brainzooming workshop on creating branded content marketing at the Social Media Strategy Summit in Chicago. While it’s nice to be able to stretch with more time (typically these content marketing workshops are two hours at the Social Media Strategy Summit), I still feel as if there will be a lot of material that we won’t have time to fully cover.

Chicago-Image

In the branded content marketing workshop, we’ll look at generating appropriately branded content from multiple directions.

As a resource if this area is something you are struggling with in your organization, here are links to some of the topics on branded content marketing we’ll cover . . . and some that we won’t:

Taking an Audience-First Perspective

Staying True to Your Brand without Overdoing It

Experience and Interaction-Based Content for Your Brand

Expanding Brand-Related Content Options

Coming at your branded content marketing from these four different directions will open up all kinds of new possibilities.

Here’s the intriguing thing: having rearranged the content into these four groups (which don’t sync with the seven lessons in the workshop as it stands right now), I’m thinking (as I write this over the preceding weekend) that I’m going to rearrange the entire branded content marketing workshop. That’s how much I like this approach!  – Mike Brown

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When should a brand create content itself versus outsourcing content creation to an outside agency?

That was one content marketing strategy question attendees asked in the solo social media workshop I presented at the Social Media Strategies Summit.

SMSS_Graphic

We have a significant bias toward handling content creation inside a company as part of its integrated content marketing strategy. Unlike typical marketing communications, press releases, brochures, direct mail, etc., content creation for social media platforms necessitates an authentic sense of the brand personality, IF it’s going to be successful. Being so intimate with the brand personality and what it represents in every dimension isn’t something an outside communicator can easily do. Additionally, an outside communicator often isn’t present to capture the video, images, and interviews in the moment as robust content sources.

Having said this, there are instances where outsourcing content creation can make sense. This can also extend to outsourcing curating and sharing content in some situations as part of a brand’s content marketing strategy.

7 Situations for Outsourcing Content Creation

Here are seven situations where we think outsourcing content creation and other related functions is viable:

  1. Adapting internally-generated content so it fits with targeted social media platforms.
  2. The brand is willing to invest resources in an outside communicator to become immersed in the brand both initially and on an on-going basis.
  3. Individuals inside the company are the face and/or voice of the content an outside communicator edits or rewrites, videos/photographs, or translates into social media-appropriate formats.
  4. Designing the strategy and platform for a brand to communicate content via social media networks.
  5. Curating content that fits the brand’s strategy.
  6. Scheduling the brand’s content across channels, in effect becoming the DJ for internally created content.
  7. Conducting social media listening for the brand.

One outsourced social media situation you don’t see listed is a brand farming out 100% of its content creation.

There may be other situations that make sense, but this is where we stand on this content marketing strategy question.  – Mike Brown

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We’ve written and presented about what to blog about along with other content creation opportunities and conference organizers can pursue.

At the Social Media Strategies Summit in Las Vegas, however, an attendee asked the question about how, as an attendee, one can create valuable content for blogs and other social channels?

27 Content Creation Opportunities for Conference Attendees

His question prompted this list of 27 ideas for both what to blog about from a conference and for other content creation and sharing opportunities your audience might find valuable.

In generating the list, I thought back to the two most recent events I’ve attended in Las Vegas: the Specialty Equipment Market Association event with tens of thousands of attendees and the Social Media Strategies Summit, which is a tremendously intimate conference by comparison.

What to Blog About at a Conference

  1. Create a blog post featuring the top quotes from the conference.
  2. Profile specific presentations as blog posts.
  3. Record video interviews with presenters and attendees that your audience should know more about.
  4. Go the conference with a specific list of questions your audience would like answered and record short video interviews with the right presenters or attendees answering the questions.
  5. Get permission from presenters or conference organizers to link or share specific presentations with your audience.
  6. Put together a series of photos of key slides or infographics from the conference that your audience will find beneficial.
  7. Feature the top trends or future developments in the industry that your audience needs to know about and understand.
  8. Give a behind-the-scenes look at the city or venue where the conference was held.
  9. Provide your tips for attending the conference if your readers were to attend in the future.
  10. Review a book one of the presenters wrote.
  11. Spend your evening in your room and write a daily recap of the conference that is ready before any other online source.
  12. Live blog presentations and share “raw” notes throughout the day.
  13. Share links to pertinent articles and blog posts from presenters.
  14. Complete a conference “scavenger hunt” with fifteen or twenty meaningful items from the conference that would be of benefit to your audience. Examples might include: Biggest insight, Most valuable presentation, A Speaker You Need to Learn More About, Most Intriguing Quote about the Future, etc.
  15. Ask a presenter if he or she would guest blog for your audience.
  16. Transcribe your written notes and publish those in one or more blog posts..
    Audience-Conference

Other Content Creation Opportunities for Conference Attendees

  1. Tweet conference presentations using a hashtag that you have let your audience know ahead of time.
  2. Turn video interviews you completed into a podcast about the conference.
  3. Video your impressions throughout conference (a daily end-of-the-day video) and put together a recap video from that.
  4. Do a Periscope video of a keynote presentation.
  5. Put your top photos of presentation slides into your own presentation with notes and make it available to your audience.
  6. Capture big ideas from the conference and share those.
    Conference-Matrix
  7. Visually capture your conference notes (if you have the capability to do that), and share those with your audience.
  8. Create a Pinterest board of products (or speakers, or exhibitors, etc.) you thought stood out at the event.
  9. Interview exhibitors at the event and string together one-minute product and service overviews your audience would find helpful.
  10. Curate content that other attendees are creating about the conference.
  11. If you have multiple attendees at the event, create a mini-content marketing strategy to make sure your people are deployed across the event (instead of all in the same sessions), grabbing the content you’ll want to share with your audience later.

Remember, before pursuing many of these ideas, you want to make sure you get the proper authorizations and copyright permissions, whether those need to come from the conference organizer or the presenters. – Mike Brown

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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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Solo-Social-Media-Cover2Speaking at content marketing and social media strategy conferences, I meet many individuals in social media specialist roles handling social and content marketing duties for their companies as one-person departments.

What amazes me is that these are not just people from smaller companies. Even many big brands place all the responsibility for their social and content marketing on a single social media specialist. One study reported, in fact, that 42% of individuals with full-time social media strategy and implementation responsibilities are flying solo.

When you ask a solo social media specialist about the job’s issues, they report a variety of challenges, including:

  • Trying to manage strategy and tactics
  • Being pulled between competing priorities
  • Creating social campaigns that produce business results
  • Lack of time
  • Producing enough content
  • Lack of budget

For a solo social media specialist to work effectively, it’s important to know ways to save time, increase focus, improve performance, boost efficiency, and create more productive content.

If your time, attention, and dollars are stretched thin carrying out your brand’s social media strategy by yourself, you need to download the new eBook from The Brainzooming Group, “3 Principles for a Thriving One-Person Social Team.”

Download Your FREE eBook! 3 Keys to Thriving as a Solo Social Media Professional

We’ve partnered with The Social Media Strategy Summit to make this FREE eBook available to all our Brainzooming readers. Within the eBook, you will learn actionable ideas to:

  • Use your company’s business strategy to better focus and streamline your content creation
  • Take advantage of “whole brain metrics” to more thoroughly document how your work contributes to success
  • Develop a simple, action-oriented content planner
  • Smart ways to produce and distribute more of the right content in less time
  • Extend your team to motivated, knowledgeable “volunteers” within your organization

If these sound like ideas that will let you do more with greater effectiveness and in much less time, we invite you to download our new eBook TODAY to boost your success and results as a solo social media professional! – Mike Brown

Download Your FREE eBook! 3 Keys to Thriving as a Solo Social Media Professional

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 the closing keynote at the October 2015 Social Media Strategy Summit in Boston. It’s an exciting next step in the relationship that’s developed with the Global Strategic Management Institute (GSMI) over the past year delivering social media strategy workshops and presentations at a number of their events.

Bring on the 28 Social Media Strategy Super Models

This new keynote presentation will cover “Super Models – Strategic Ways to Plan, Sell-in, and Get More from Your Content.”

No, it’s not about Kate Upton, Gisele Bündchen, or even Cindy Crawford who caused a social media stir with the “who knows whether they are touched up good or touched up bad” photos.

The social media strategy keynote presentation I’ll be delivering will highlight strategic models we’ve developed for brands to expand their effectiveness in developing content marketing and social strategies. Each model provides a different perspective to think about various aspects of social and content strategy.

I started sketching out the keynote presentation while discussing the conference with Breanna Jacobs, Director, Conference Production at Global Strategic Management Institute. This prompted this compilation of twenty-eight social media and content marketing models we’ve included across these articles from the Brainzooming blog.

Online Brand Presence

Social Networks Are Like . . . Offline Situations Where You Understand What to Do

It’s a lot easier to explain social networks to people who don’t get it (and even develop robust strategies) when you have solid offline models to make strategic connections. Want an example? Twitter makes a lot more sense to many executives and sales people when you tell them it’s like a business networking function.

Network-Twitter

Your Website Is Like . . . Your Home

Most people don’t invite people over to their messy, run-down homes. They get their houses fixed up and ready, then the invites are extended to others. The same steps apply for your brand’s website and its audiences.

Activating Your Brand’s Online Is Like . . . TV Network Content and Promotion

TV and cable networks have been creating content, promoting it, and drawing audiences for a long time. That’s why we think they have something to teach brands.

Social Media Interaction

Social Engagement Is Like . . . Dating and Relationship Success

Lifelong personal relationships aren’t built on a series of one night stands. Neither are successful brand relationships with their audiences.

Mike-Cyndi

A Community Manager’s Job Is Like . . . Being a DJ at a Dance Club

Whether you are a community manager or a DJ, having lots of options, paying attention to what the crowd is enjoying, and making connections are all vital.

Reaching Out and Engaging Online with Frustrated Customers Is Like . . . Preventing a Brand Kidnapping

Just as you wouldn’t stand idly by if someone where threatening a family member, a brand has to reach out and manage engagement with frustrated customers to turn these situations into success.

Failing to Monitor Online Conversations without Social Listening Tools Is Like . . . Trying to Serve Soup without a Ladle

It’s frustrating to try to listen, learn, and analyze what’s going on relative to your brand on social media without good listening tools. They’re changing all the time, so you have to stay up on them.

Content Creation

Creating Audience-Oriented Content Is Like . . . Standing on the Outside of Your Brand and Looking In (But Mainly Looking Around)

A sure way to deliver ho-hum content to your audience is to stand “inside” your brand and simply report about yourself. Engaging brand content reflects an audience perspective that takes place outside your brand.

Outside-Looking-In

Being Able to Easily Generate Content Ideas Is Like . . . How George Costanza Thinks about TV Show Ideas

You have to be a Seinfeld fan for this model to work as well, but suffice it to say that ANYTHING can become a blog post!

Deciding How Aggressive Your Content Sells Online Is Like . . . Deciding If Your Brand Is a Fun Partier, a Pushy Salesperson, or Something in Between

There are multiple ways you can sell and pick your spots on the social sales continuum. You just need to decide what approaches best fit your brand.

Involved with Branding Strategy? Join us in San Francisco in May!

I’ll be conducting a workshop on “Strategic Brand Innovation – Mining Outside-In Opportunities to Bolster Your Brand” at the GSMI Brand Strategy Conference in May 2015. If you’re focused on branding and want to hear perspectives from a wide variety of great brands, we’d love to see you in San Francisco! – Mike Brown

 

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“How strong is my organization’s social media strategy?”

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Any executive can make a thorough yet rapid evaluation of nine different dimensions of their social business strategies with these nine diagnostics. Download Your Free Copy of “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social  Strategy.”

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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