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.

Founder Story # 1 – Rick Perreault of Unbounce

Whenever I meet another entrepreneur at Bootup Garage or at tech events around town, I am eager to find out what inspired them to take the plunge into startup life, how they met their co-founders and their plans for changing the world. And since startup life is far from easy, I really enjoy hearing about the challenges a founder may have faced and how he/she pivoted to live another day.

At Bootup, it is not only our mission to inspire and support Canadian entrepreneurs – we also want to share their stories with you.  Starting NOW, we will be talking with various founders around town and sharing their videos on our site.  We are not professional videographers, nor do we possess mad editing skills like our friends at Giant Ant Media – Sonia just has a flip camera on her at all times and she is not afraid to use it.  If you have a Founder Story you would like to see or if you want to talk to us, email sonia at bootup [dot] ca or drop by our office.

And so without further ado, here’s our very first – of hopefully many,  Founder Stories:

Founder Story # 1
Rick Perreault, Unbounce

Unbounce is a DIY landing page platform for marketers, advertisers and designers.  Founded in late 2009, Unbounce was selected as one of the startups to join Bootup for Demo Days in the Valley in February 2010 and as one of the 8 showoffs to demo at Launch Party Vancouver 9 on June 17, 2010. At LPV9, Unbounce walked away with the Judge’s Choice award.

Sonia Ryan of Bootup caught up with Rick in his Gastown office to find out more about what they have been up to since LPV9 and what’s in store for 2011.

How Building a Community is Like Dating a Pretty Girl

You don’t own your community.  You can’t build a community.  Community starts on it’s own. Saul Colt

First Encounter
When I first met Saul Colt at Twiistup 4 in Santa Monica, CA, he treated me like the most important and prettiest person in the room. Perhaps it was all part of his master plan but the conversations we had after our first encounter are what really won me over.  There is a reason why Saul has been named as one of the iMEDIA 25: Internet Marketing Leaders & Innovators and has been called one of Canada’s best community builders/experiential marketers. His greatest strength, in my opinion, is his ability to listen, connect and nurture the community around him.  Saul got my attention at Twiistup and not only did I become a fan of his in the years to come, I also became a fan of Freshbooks – the online invoicing company he worked for at the time.  And now as the Lead Evangelist for Thoora, Saul still has my attention.

If you missed Saul’s workshop last week at Bootup, “How to Build and Engage a Community around Your Product or Service,” I took some notes on the steps he covered and some of the stories he shared:

Amy Rae of Canpages at the workshop with Saul Colt

Listen up!
Fascinated by the 50’s, when everyone knew everyone else’s business, Saul spends the majority of his time “listening” to his community.  In fact, he spent at least 2-3 weeks just listening before he engaged the Thoora community, an online service that helps people discover the hottest news stories. Before you dive in to the online conversation, Saul believes it is important to “Listen! Listen! Listen!,” and set the tone for the brand. For instance, some brands may be more conversational and playful, other businesses may be more formal.  It’s important to pay attention to the way people are conversing and interacting online before you introduce yourself.

The Courting Phase
When Saul was at Freshbooks, he followed many of their customers on Twitter.  One day, one of their customers tweeted that she had been stood up by her date.  Saul saw this person’s tweet and replied back under the Freshbook’s account  -“We would never stand you up!”  The next day he followed up by sending the same person flowers from Freshbooks with a note that said “We think you are awesome!”   As a result, this customer wrote a cool blog post about Freshbooks.

I was a bit floored when I received the flowers.  Saul’s right, they’ve never stood me up, always kept their word and made my billing life so much easier.  It was a great gesture and it won me totally over (even more!) as a customer.
<3 Freshbooks. @chelpixie

By sending flowers, Saul showed that Freshbooks was listening and cared about their customers.  If he had sent flowers in the hopes of getting something in return, then Freshbooks may not have been able to turn that first encounter into a long lasting customer relationship.

Love takes Time
“Never expect anything in return,” says Saul.  Building relationships and getting to know your customers takes time.  As a community manager or startup founder, you have to make that extra effort to get to know your customers first and follow through on your promises.  You can’t just send flowers and expect your customers to fall in love with you. You actually have to be there for your customer when there is a problem or pick up the phone when she calls.  If it is your goal to “execute extraordinary experiences everyday,” then Magic will happen. The Magic that Saul is referring to is word of mouth marketing.  If your customers genuinely love you and your product, they will talk about you as @chelpixie did for Freshbooks.

“Now that we found love, what are we gonna do with it?”
When you are in love, you need to constantly be thinking of ways to keep the conversation and flame alive. Saul believes the same holds true for customer development. Rather than say everything you need to say at once, he suggests breaking the “conversation up into little chunks” to keep things interesting and go beyond customer expectations.

For example, one of Saul’s favorite promotions of all time was a cereal contest giveaway he did during the early days of Twitter.  One Monday, Freshbooks decided to hold a Twitter Contest. Saul tweeted “What was the Best Song Ever Written?”  and was overwhelmed with the response!   Even though customers did not probably expect to receive a box of cereal, Freshbooks ended up sending out 100 boxes of cereal with $25 gift cards from iTunes.  For less than $2600, they engaged hundreds of customers online and exceeded their expectations by delivering more than they initially promised. As a result, more than ½ the people, who won blogged and tweeted about the contest.

I just won a box of cereal from @freshbooks. how cool is that …?! @chuise

Hiring a Community Manager
Dressed in a Thoora.com sweatshirt with Thoora logos emblazoned on his Nikes, it is evident that Saul completely submerges himself in a brand and believes that a community manager position should not be outsourced or a jr. position.  A community manager needs to be able to interact with and have conversations with many different types of people from customers to press.  In addition, a full time employee is constantly thinking about ways to make YOUR brand stand out.

Tracking your Success
As a person, who lives on his iPhone, Saul sets up RSS Feeds and Google alerts for all of his keywords and uses Twitter tools like Hootsuite to notify him instantly when someone comments on Thoora or messages him personally.  He also tracks competitors, listens to competitor’s customers and keeps a private Twitter list of all people, who RT.

In addition, Saul is not afraid of taking calculated risks and will try 100 things a month.  He keeps a notebook of every crazy idea he has ever done. Even though he is not motivated by numbers, Saul always hits his target.

Here’s what some of the attendees had to say about Saul’s talk:

Merci Buckets @saulcolt
Many thanks to Saul for flying out last week to share some of his secrets and wisdom with us.

Please come back and visit us soon!