Social Marketing Kung Fu, Purple Belt with Dave Olson

Dave Olson

Photo by Kris Krug

On Wednesday, April 27th, I sat in on my first startup talk at the Bootup Garage. Dave Olson, Director of Marketing at Hootsuite, came in to do his third talk in a series aptly named Social Marketing Kung Fu (#smkf).

In January, Dave started off with Social Marketing Kung Fu, White Belt (Maura’s notes from that session are here), then in March, he came in for the Yellow Belt – “Listening Everywhere” session.

Dave is always a joy to listen to – I’ve seen him speak at a few different conferences – so I was eager to hear what he had to say in session number three: Social Marketing Kung Fu, Purple Belt – Release Day. His talks are always full of interesting tidbits and useful information, and this one was definitely no different.

I jotted down a few notes to share with you, but you can also find Dave’s notes on getting your Purple Belt here.

What to Release

  • Should be something substantial, or a few things bundled together and released around the same time.
  • Code names for product releases are always smart, as they’re memorable.

Know Your Coverers

  • Reach out to the media that you want to cover your story: RT them, comment on their stories, add them to twitter lists, etc.
  • Get to know them, and what they write about.
  • Personally invite them to join your media e-mail list.
  • When you send them info, make their life easy. Respect their time.
  • Spoon feed them the story, but never be condescending.

Craft Stories

  • Take 3 important talking points, and craft them into different forms.
  • Tell them why your story matters!
  • Get quotes from your customers, not your CEO (unless it’s a special circumstance, where a quote from the CEO is appropriate).
  • Putting a boiler plate “About” section at the bottom of a press release is unnecessary and a waste of space. Link to your website/blog instead.
  • Tune your vocab. Make it active, not passive. Lose the buzz words, and keep your vocab as consistent as possible.
  • Include image(s) to support your story, so they use your image and not their own.

Line up Dominoes &/or House of Cards

  • Constantly keep your media kit up to date. If you have one page on your website, this should be it.
  • Thursday before the release: Send an internal memo to your team to share the master plan. Include your 3 main talking points, who you’re telling, and why it matters.
  • Monday 1PM: Local press release, & media preview e-mail. Include assets, like an infographic, if possible. Make them feel like they are getting the story first.
  • You can also send a preview e-mail to your key clients, to keep them in the loop, and ultimately, make them feel special.
  • Tuesday 5AM: Scheduled blog post. Make everything point here, so it answers any questions people may have. This way you are controlling the conversation.
  • Next comes Twitter & Facebook updates, a general e-mail to clients, and a wire release (with links, tags, etc.) Keep the Facebook update light and airy. You don’t want it to become your main feedback channel.
  • Tuesday 9AM: Make sure your dominoes have fallen into place! You can also update any LinkedIn groups, Forums, Q & A sites like Quora, Formspring, etc.
  • Tuesday 11AM: Optionally, you can host a webinar, an hour at most, to go over any details that go along with the release.
  • Schedule any interviews requested by the media.



Prepare for the haters

  • If you comment on articles right away and thank the author for sharing your story, you may prevent a good portion of negative comments, because they know you’re there listening.
  • Prepare some stock comment copy for the trolls, so that you don’t take their criticism personally.


  • Thursday: Send a News Round-up. Share your favourite coverage from the release. If someone has created a video tutorial on your product, make sure to include that. Don’t forget to trackback to those articles.

Next month, Dave O will be back for the fourth installment of Social Marketing Kung Fu at the Garage, so be sure to come check it out.

After the talk, most of us headed over to the Alibi Room for Startup Drinks. Sign up for the Bootup Meetup Group if you haven’t yet, so you don’t miss out on the next one!

Additionally, if you have any other notes or tips that I have missed, please feel free share them here.

Social Marketing Kung Fu, White Belt with Dave Olson

If I had an all time favorite people in Vancouver list, Dave Olson, the Community Director for Hootsuite, would be on it.

He’s engaging, worldly, kind-hearted and always willing to share what he has learned with others.  And so, when I asked Dave to be a Mentor for Bootup Garage, he didn’t even hesitate.  However, instead of hosting regular mentor office hours, Dave wanted to put together a series of social marketing talks for startups. Yes, please!

On Wednesday, January 26 – Dave delivered his first Social Marketing (#smkf) presentation at Bootup and as expected, it was chock full of practical nuggets, steps and interesting stories to help attendees start building their own social marketing toolkit.

“Dave O’s talk was great. I have already implemented some of the strategies with my companies. Dave O is a wealth of information – entertaining with great practical application…..I can feel a book coming…” Mike Edwards, SMKF Attendee

Below are some of my notes from Dave O’s talk and you can also check out his notes over here:

Getting Started

  • Document everything you Do. From Day 1, Dave stressed that entrepreneurs should document everything and have one place to share all of their “collective intelligence,” such as an internal wiki. Writing everything down will help you stay focused and remind you what it is you set out to achieve.
  • Do not plan much farther out than 6 months.
  • Define the roll of each person in the company. This will help people focus on and take ownership over certain tasks

Naming Your Company/Product

  • Coming up with a name for your company that has an available URL is not an easy task.
  • Define what it is your product does first.
  • Start playing around with words that are easy to say, spell and remember.
  • Ask friends or your community for feedback or ideas.  For instance, HootSuite crowdsourced their name.

Describe Your Product

  • Try and define your product in 3 words. For example, Hootsuite at first chose “Professional Twitter Client” as it’s 3 word description and now defines itself as a “Social Media Dashboard.”
  • Take those 3 words and expand on them to create a 100 word description.
  • Reach out to users and get feedback and watch what terms they are searching for.  It is important to be using the same terms and descriptions that your users/customers are.

Start Listening

  • Create Lists.  Start following the people who care about your product as well as watching your competitors.
  • By listening and asking specific questions, you will start to build relationships with your customers.
  • Respond and participate in the conversation.
  • Each community is different. For example, your customers may act differently on Facebook vs. Linked In. Watch this and communicate accordingly.
  • Define what you want to get out of each of the social media channels you are using.

Media Kit

  • The first page you should create on your website is a media kit page.
  • Make it easy for people to write about you and tell your story.
  • Your kit should include artwork, logo, colors, typeface, TM with specific guidelines on how to use.
  • Be sure to have multiple descriptions that writers can snag to use in articles and posts such as a 100 or 500 word description.
  • Colorful screenshots or infographics like this one are a great resource for writers.
  • Keep your kit up to date and fresh.

Be Loud

  • Now that you have defined who you are and what you do, start telling the world.
  • Don’t wait until you launch.  Become an active participant in the community you are trying to reach.
  • If it is not on the Internet, it didn’t happen! So – Blog, Flickr, Tweet etc. starting right now.
  • When someone writes an article or post mentioning you or your area of expertise, COMMENT. It shows you are paying attention and care about your community and the people, who are taking the time to write about you and use your product.
  • Create 3-4 touchpoints to an article.  For example, Dave will comment on an article, social bookmark it and add it to an RSS Feed = juicy, indexable goodness.
  • Hashtag everything. Topics, brands, acronyms – be creative and always remember to listen to your audience and be consistent with your message.

Dave O will be back in the Garage next month to deliver another his 2nd Social Marketing Kung Fu preso.  In the meantime, please share your notes, questions and tips in the comments below for other startup founders.

Support “With Glowing Hearts” Movie

We try and support many people in our neighbourhood. Jon from Animal Mother Films approached us about getting the word out about getting support for their documentary film, With Glowing Hearts. Read his guest post on his initiative below.

We’ve seen in the past few years the growing influence of “citizen journalism” on the mainstream media, and we are confident that the Vancouver Games may prove to be a watershed moment in this “crowdsourcing” of the news. The fact that all it now takes to live-stream events to a potential global audience is a unit which fits into your pocket (as opposed to a million dollar broadcasting van) is tremendously democratizing.

Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside is an excellent example of this situation. This impoverished, often-maligned community suffers from a host of social ills, yet finds itself located in the heart of one of the most desirable, wealthy and tech-savvy cities on Earth. With the 2010 Winter Olympic Games set to hit the city in a few short weeks, an intense global media spotlight is expected to follow, and residents of the DTES are bracing themselves for yet another onslaught of stories about the “hell” that is their home. What many people don’t get to see, however, is the vibrant community that exists there, and the multitude of people who are dedicated to finding a “hand up” rather than a “handout”. Nor will the public see the impact of the Games on this highly marginalized community in Vancouver’s historic core.

For the past year, we at Animal Mother Films have been producing a film called With Glowing Hearts about a remarkable group of people living in the DTES, and documenting their efforts to use social media technologies to empower themselves, their neighbours and strengthen the bonds of a community bracing itself for the worst.  Through initiatives like W2Fearless Media, and AHA Media, we’ve seen stories, histories and new perspectives shared with a potentially global audience and the immensely empowering feeling that is having your voice heard.  We’re interested in the different range of coverage of the Games that will come out the traditional vs. the new media and where those new voices are coming from.  We’re also interested in the True North Media House, an ad hoc collection of some of some of the city’s social media intellegentsia who are determined to keep redefining the boundaries of social media and have a damn good time doing it.

The long term effects, positive or negative, of hosting the Games are anyone’s guess right now, but we at AMF feel that it is our privilege and duty to document this pivotal moment in our city’s history.  By getting involved with us and the groups whose efforts we are looking to highlight, we are offering you the opportunity to help support the gift of communications and also ensure that history is able to take a complete view of what happens in Vancouver this February. We hope that as members yourselves of Vancouver’s social media community, you’ll see the value in contributing to the production of a documentary which highlights this highly innovative and inspirational initiative and solidify Vancouver’s global reputation as a leading center of Internet technologies.

The primary forms of support we’re looking for right now are either financial or reputational.  Now, please don’t just glaze over the first one because truly every little bit helps and the process is quite quick and painless through the “Chip In” widget on our site and all contributions will be acknowledged on both the site and film.

By reputational, I mean help us get the word out about what we’re doing and the efforts of the people we’re highlighting.  Follow us @wghthemovie and encourage other people to check it out as well, once again every little bit helps.

Thanks for your time and consideration and please don’t hesitate to contact me at if you’d like some more information.

Buying great startup books in Vancouver

I caught the tail end of a discussion that Tris Hussey was having on Twitter about the availability of certain social media books on shelves here in Vancouver. In particular, Tris and a bunch of other people in Vancouver have authored books which are hard to buy locally.

It’s something I’ve been thinking about as well. I get a lot of young entrepreneurs coming through my office, and many of them would love to just be handed a manual so that they can educate themselves. Steve Blank’s 4 Steps to the Epiphany should be on local shelves, and there are a number of other business, marketing, and tech books that we should be able to just grab from a local store.

(To Americans that may be reading this and just screaming “Amazon” at the screen, is a neutered version of the .com, and while we can order from the .com as well, shipping + the border take longer and cost more)

So, I suggest that anyone interested in having books like this in stock band together and approach some local stores about having a really great Startup / Entrepreneurship / Social Media section. As Tris found out, Chapters et al all get marching orders from Toronto, so the big box stores are going to be hard to deal with.

The two stores I have in mind (conveniently located in Gastown, of course) are Biz Books (focused on Film & TV because of VFS proximity) and the SFU Bookstore in Harbour Centre. I’ve sent Biz Books an email suggesting the idea to them, so we’ll see what they say.

Books to recommend? Leave comments and links below, and we’ll approach the stores and see what they say.