Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Leveraging Startups with social media -2: building from a startup marketing campaign

Posted in startups, Web 2.0 marketing by Timothy Platt on November 16, 2010

I have posted several times recently on social media sites as marketing and business development resources, primarily in Social Networking and Business. I have also posted on this in Startups and Early Stage Businesses with a first part of this series on leveraging startups with social media: Part 1: Building from a Sound Foundation. My overall goal in all of this is to present at least a relatively systematic and comprehensive first take on identifying social media resources available online that you can connect into in developing your business or organization, with something as to how to do that.

Next steps and refinements in this cannot simply follow a generic, cookie cutter solution and have to be tuned and customized to meet your specific needs and circumstances, but if I succeed in reaching my goals in these postings, I will have at the very least helped you get off to a better start in moving towards that.

This posting and Part 1 start at the beginning and for your organization as well as for social media marketing as they focus on startups and early stage businesses and how they would get started with social media, while also starting their marketing and in fact their organization as a whole. I start with the basics here too and with the starting points.

• Effective marketing should always be fresh, offering new information and yes new entertainment value through the message shared. As a startup you automatically start with that unless you simply try copying out another organization’s marketing campaigns in which case Marketing per se is probably the least of your worries.
• Here, your marketing will be both fresh and in a state of flux as everything you do will be very overtly a work in progress with very little fully established and standardized as business framework.
• You need to know and understand your target markets and the audiences you would seek to reach and positively influence with your marketing, but if you try for any originality you will be reaching out to them with a fresh message, and one that focuses on the unique and vital aspect of your unique value proposition.

This is where you can be and probably should be bold and up-front, and both to catch the attention of a marketplace that has not seen you before and to draw them into trying your products and services – and through social media sites interacting and starting conversations. This is where you can build for viral marketing, and where you can encourage and give reason for that and for it to be positive in message about your new venture.

I stated at the end of part one in this series that I would continue here with a case study, and I will do that, but to put it into perspective, I want to preface that with an outline of a perhaps generic marketing campaign structure that would be built around active involvement in social media and with the interactive of Web 2.0. I will start by simply assuming the marketing research that I touch on in the first posting of this series, in the bullet points lower down in that posting. So I assume here you have done your homework and have at least a starter, first draft understanding of who you would more effectively reach by demographics, as potential customers for your products and services.

• Start from a central publishing core and develop a clear message that you can share through your web site and through updates using Twitter and/or other short message-oriented sites. Develop and share your core branding here too. From a social media perspective your goal here is to present yourself as a clearly understandable presence in the online community.
• Remember to set up a Facebook page and to allow posting to it on your wall, but also be sure to monitor this and what you allow to show. Spam and related do not help anyone. Support RSS feeds and offer links to resources like StumbleUpon so people who find you online can share word about you too.
• Set up profiles on the social media sites and community-sourced review sites (e.g. YELP, etc) that your market analysis research has shown to be effective starting points for developing conversations and for gathering feedback.
• Monitor these sites and keep an eye out for places online that you have not specifically identified and targeted, but that start sharing word about your business too. Get actively involved there too.
• If you get negative feedback, address it politely and be willing to point out that you are just starting and that you have learning curves ahead, but that you do listen and that you are working to do better, in addressing any issues and concerns that come up. Where at all possible respond to negative feedback as a gift for helping you with your due diligence so you really can become the best of the best in anticipating and meeting customer needs.
• Cycle back to your central publishing component as well as to your operational processes and practices and institute change where your customers show you need to do this, and tell your story of how you are doing this as part of your message. In this, effective marketing campaigns are iterative processes, launched, reviewed on the basis of performance and tuned and focused to more effectively meet your needs – and the needs of the people you would reach out to and do business with.

Here, you use a more Web 1.0 central publishing component to get an initial message out that you can refine and update to more effectively reach out with – as you actively communicate interactively with Web 2.0 resources and tools that the people you want to reach like and use.

The case study here is so new and so early in its marketing campaign that there is no way to tell if it will work or if the company itself will in any way succeed. I chose to cite this one, however, as they do offer some interesting and even provocative points. And the business in question is called RockMelt.

RockMelt is a new startup founded by a couple of Netscape alumni, Tim Howes and Eric Vishria, and according to news stories on their venture in places like eWallstreeter the bulk of their roughly $10 million in venture funds secured to date come from Marc Andreessen – all three worked together at Netscape. RockMelt is planning on offering a new and revolutionary browser.

• There are few if any online markets that I can imagine that would offer greater challenges that breaking into the browser market with a new offering. Internet Explorer dominates this market and has for a long time. The browser wars have been fierce and many excellent software offerings have fallen away because they could not effectively break into this market space and maintain either a distinctive unique value proposition or match the ongoing development capability that Microsoft’s liquidity affords it.
• Startup challenges and expenses for breaking into this space would be daunting to put it mildly. Any new browser provider is going to have to come up with something that is both familiar so users do not have to in effect re-learn how to do the basics, but also novel. And this needs to be a novelty that an Internet Explorer cannot simply switch to include on the fly with their financial resources and capabilities to support rapid innovation. I stress that as this is how most new alternative browsers and their underlying businesses fail.

RockMelt is advertised as providing a breakthrough in integrating social media and the interactive online experience into the basic user interface. Whether this provides a level and type of innovation and of unique value to give them real market share is debatable, but for this posting at least I will set aside any concerns that may come up there.

They are weak in the central publishing side of marketing themselves at least up to now with their main web site mostly just a placeholder. They have launched into the social media through as a means of getting the word out and they have gotten their story told through third party reporting. And their web site is primarily a tool, at least as of the writing of this posting for signing up to be invited to try out the new RockMelt browser as an initial (beta release?) version of it becomes publically available. So they are focusing on the social media side of this as they launch – for a social media oriented browser. That makes sense.

Will this work? I will be posting more on RockMelt as their story unfolds. Meanwhile, I am going to be posting a part three in this series as my next installment in it on integrating Marketing into the business at all levels and using feedback received to increase your chances of success as a startup or early stage business.

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