One Client, Two Big Walks

I promised a lot of updates in our last post, and I’d like to start with a couple events that are coming up quickly.

We’ve been working with HMEA for more than a year now. They have two very big walks coming up, and we hope you can help support either of both of them!

Community Walk for Autism Awareness
Over 2,000 people come together each year to support the Autism Resource Center of Central Massachusetts, because everyone understands how the Center can change lives. Their annual 5k walk is this weekend, and if you can’t join them for the walk, could you chip in a few dollars to help get them a little closer to their goal? The Center supports families who are living with autism right now, by giving them support right in their own communities, and connecting them with others who share their experiences. Every penny raised stays in Central Massachusetts; they don’t send donations to a larger organization, for research or to fund national programs!


The 10th Annual Independence 5K Walk, Run, Roll & Stroll in The Park
The second event we want to promote is the 10th Annual Independence 5K. Here’s a recent press release that explains a bit more about the agency and this great event:

Gene Lavanchy, Fox 25 morning News anchor, and New England Patriot Steve Nelson will host the 10th Annual HMEA Independence 5K Walk Run Roll & Stroll on May 22 at EMC, 50 Constitution Blvd, in the Franklin Industrial Park.

The event also celebrates HMEA’s 50th anniversary as a human services agency providing support for 2,600 children and adults with disabilities such as autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and intellectual and physical challenges. Coverage of this main event includes pre-, during and post-event publicity, including web presence, social media, live radio broadcast from WMRC Radio reaching more than 20 towns throughout central and southeastern Massachusetts, plus regional newspapers.

Specific sponsoring companies receive free tee shirts, plus name recognition on all banners and tee shirts and in all press releases distributed throughout Massachusetts and Rhode Island. In addition, HMEA offers each major sponsor the opportunity to address the crowd on the winners’ platform at the end of the race.

Will you help us support this event?


Please help support Gulf Coast families in need

6PM – 11PM

Citizen Effect’s CitizenGulf project will become a National Day of Action on August 25th, in alignment with the week of the fifth anniversary of Katrina. The benefit — to be promoted by Gulf Coast Benefit — seeks to help fishing families find a new, more sustainable future by providing education resources for their children.

The Boston Event

We’ll be kicking things off at 6pm at the Precinct Bar in Union Square, Somerville with a reception. At 7pm, we’ll enjoy presentations from one or two of our special guests, speaking about the situation and efforts in the Gulf. Raffle and LIVE music will follow — stay tuned for more info on the band, guest speakers and raffle items. Sign up today at

Your $10 cover charge will get you in the door, a drink ticket for your favorite New Orleans – inspired cocktail, free food, and the opportunity to listen (to great bands), learn (from smart people) and win! Prizes will include a vacation package in Cape Cod, gift certificates and much, much more!

Go here for parking and directions:

Sign up now!

Become a Sponsor

Because all of the cover charge goes directly to the charity, we need your help to offset the costs of running the local event. If you would like to share a prize or otherwise help offset our costs, please drop Todd Van Hoosear an email at and consider signing up for one of the sponsorship options above.

CitizenGulf Education Program for Gulf Oil Spill Families

All ticket sales and donations from CitizenGulf Day of Action events will give families living in affected areas the extra support they need to get their children off to a great start this school year and to help ease stress on families with after school support services and activities.

The most vulnerable victims of the disaster are children. As part of our response to helping fishing families, Citizen Effect and Catholic Charities of New Orleans have created an education fund that will provide assistance to families in the form of school supplies and uniforms, as well as after school programming that includes tutoring and homework assistance, enrichment classes, recreational activities, and healthy snacks.

The Nationwide Effort

CitizenGulf is a collaborative initiative between Andy Sternberg, Citizen Effect,, Live Your Talk, Sloane Berrent, Social Media Club, Taylor Davidson and Zoetica.

Again, please sign up now at See you there!

Join me for "Social CRM Demystified" on Aug. 18th

I’m really excited to be able to share what I’ve learned so far about the growing space of Social CRM — the intersection of social media and what some people are calling demand generation. Join me on Wednesday, August 18th at 2pm for “Social CRM Demystified: The Business & Customer Benefits.”

Social technologies have become a new mainstay in the way we not only communicate and interact, but increasingly in how we work and form relationships with the people who matter most. With Social CRM, your business can transform and deepen the overall customer experience to improve your business performance—and more importantly, your customers’ overall satisfaction and loyalty.

Join social media pioneer Dan Bruns, Mzinga’s Sr. Vice President of Advanced Technologies, and me as we explain how social CRM is changing the way companies engage and interact with their customers, prospects, fans, and even employees. We’ll explore, among other things:

  • What is Social CRM, and why is it relevant to your business and your customers?
  • What are some of the common use cases and benefits?
  • How can you get started in turning Social CRM into a reality for your organization?


Does Google Discourage Diversity?

During the Mass TLC Social Media Summit 2010, David Weinberger pointed out how marketers love the “echo chamber” in which they get to hear lots of positive feedback from people who already love them. The problem with this, he says, is that the echo chamber may satisfy our bosses and clients, thereby making us look good, but it does little to help advance true thinking. He believes we should be encouraging more diverse thought.

David Weinberger as seen on Wikipedia

He’s right, of course. Later in the morning Mike Troiano gave a shout-out to the concept of diversity of thought in his listening talk by noting that “listening is the means by which we corrupt our vision with the external reality.” That is, we (entrepreneurs) may think we know everything, but when we start listening to the people around us, we realize that we know less and need to think more.

On the surface, Weinberger is right. Diversity of thought and ideas leads often leads to stronger discussions. That is, when it doesn’t end with a bunch of guys yelling “You suck!” “No, YOU suck!” Or worse, with one US Senator beating another with a cane.

Generally speaking, informed discourse is the way to go, it’s why we have Freedom of the Press. If we had state-run news agencies that providing everything we needed to know, we wouldn’t be able to check on our government. Worse, the government would be getting and relaying information only from those with the money to lobby, and no one would be there to shout “this isn’t right!” (I’m looking at you BP who told the government experts that cutting the big oil pipe would result in a 20 percent increase in oil, something that the media parroted. Only, today NPR reported that it could, in fact, be much worse.)

In any case, when it comes to diverse thought we have a small problem. Well, a big problem, actually. It’s called Google.

Marketers bow before Google as the god of online marketing. Putting out a press release? Run it through a few SEO tools to make sure your keywords line up just right. Reporter writing stories find themselves rewarded based on the number of views their stories achieve, something that plays directly into Google’s hands. But rising in the Google rankings means playing to the echo chamber.

Here’s how it works. Let’s assume that a bunch of people linked to Dave Weinberger’s site calling him the smartest guy on the Internet. Eventually you’ll be able to search Google for the “smartest guy on the Internet” and find Dave. Pretty cool. But if there is diversity, some may call him the smartest guy, but others may say he’s the biggest moron they know. Now Google is a bit confused. Maybe both searches get to him, but more likely another guy becomes the smartest guy on the Internet and Dave loses out.

So if marketers need to get Google to look their way they need the echo chamber. They need those links that portray their company (or their client’s company) in a positive light, containing the right links, etc.

Granted, this is a bit of a simplification, but you get the point.

Which raises a pretty important question. While Google opens us up to a wealth of information that has never been available, does it also push us to be less diverse in our thought?

What I Learned From the Marines

I had the great pleasure last week of being invited, along with some other local media and social media mavens, to get a ride in an MV-22 Osprey, the Marine CorpsVTOL transport aircraft. The reason? Marine Week Boston 2010.

What I expected was a highly choreographed, “by the book” process with very little flexibility (but plenty of “hurry up and wait”). Marines have a reputation for taking orders and taking them well, after all. What I got, however, was in many ways very different.

It was far from the top-down, command-and-control exercise I was expecting. What we got instead was a case study in (extremely successful) organization chaos. This was, after all, only the second Marine Week ever held, and the first one in Boston, and trying to account for every last variable when planning an event is next to impossible, especially when you’re trying to keep a bunch of social media mavens happy and out of trouble (read, “herd cats”), move multi-million dollar equipment around and showcase what is probably the most misunderstood branch of the military.

Marine Week Boston 2010 was successful not only due to the amazing planning of the organizing team; it was successful because the Marines have built a culture that survives — and indeed thrives — in the most difficult of environments and circumstances. From the ground up, the Marine culture (surprisingly only to those who don’t hang around Marines much) encourages discourse, independent thought and initiative; while still respecting authority and the dignity of everyone (you will never meet a more polite, respectful American than a Marine).

So how can we, as communicators, learn from this event, and from the Marine Corps in general? Here are a few takeaway lessons for all communicators, whether you’re planning a big event or not:

  1. Prepare yourself for change. Marine aren’t born, they’re reborn. They are pulled from the undisciplined herd and introduced, through a rigorous process, to the Marine culture. They learn not only to shoot and swim like a Marine, but most importantly to think like a Marine. Just like every single graduate of MCRD Parris Island or MCRD San Diego, we as business leaders and communicators must relearn everything we know about business communications before we can continue to succeed.
  2. Sweat the small stuff. Marine Week Boston wasn’t successful because of the masterful planning of the organizers (though they did a great job), it was successful because the Marines involved were detail oriented. From they day a recruit trainee has to break down and rebuild his or her M16, Marines learn that big tasks can be accomplished in small steps.
  3. Command-and-control doesn’t scale. Marine culture can surprise many people. Far from being unthinking killing machines, Marines are taught to think independently — to follow orders but not be afraid to question them if they go against Marine Corps values or their code of conduct. The Marine Corps functions in chaos because every Marine is trained and empowered to be able to step up to the plate and assume the mantle of leadership. Similarly, we as communicators and business leaders must make sure everyone in our organization is ready to do the same. Which brings me to #4:
  4. Trust me. Just like a Marine must be able to trust every other Marine in his or her platoon, you must learn to trust that not only the members of your marketing, communications and PR teams, but every employee, and ultimately, every customer understands and is empowered to be able to spread the word about your organization. Sure, the recruiters are the bread and butter when it comes to getting the word out about the Marine Corps, but Marines are learning to trust all of their Marines with communicating to the public, going so far as to recently lift the ban on social media.

Thank you to everyone involved for giving me the flight of a lifetime (500 feet over Boston with the back door open!) and reminding me of some important life and business lessons.

Oh, here’s the best video of the trip, recorded and edited by Eric Schwartzman:

And my longer video:

See other writeups from our adventure below:

The Importance of Measurement

The Boston Social Media Club had a great event on Thursday on the importance of measurement for both small and large companies. I encourage you to have a look and listen.

The video from last week’s great panel is up, thanks to Brilliant Video (see below)!

Christopher S. Penn’s slides, and more video content, is available at the Blue Sky Factory website.

There’s a great write-up of the event on Janet Gershen-Siegel’s blog.

SMC Boston 4/29/2010 Measuring Social Success (Big & Small) from Brilliant Video Productions on Vimeo.

"It's not about the whiz-bang things!"

Had the pleasure of seeing Scott Monty in action again today, just before my panel with Andrew Sinkov of Evernote and Manish Mehta of Dell. One of the many good points he made during his NewComm Forum keynote is that, ultimately, “social media is not about the tools, technology and whiz-bang things. It’s about culture and culture change.”

That is the point of my panel discussion. I’ll try to share video, but in the meantime, here is my slide deck:

Join Me at NewComm Forum April 20-23

Speaking of events, I’ll be heading out to the San Francisco area in a few weeks to speak at the NewComm Forum, which takes place in San Mateo, CA from April 20-23. I want to take a quick opportunity to invite you to join me there! So please join me at the premier conference for unlocking the power of social media for business.

Take advantage of some special discounts!

Come for the entire conference or just for a day for as little as $395!

NewComm Forum will feature a who’s who of social media experts and practitioners from leading companies presenting 40 sessions in five comprehensive tracks including:

  • Online Communications & Communities
  • Social CRM
  • Markets are Conversations: From Theory to Practice
  • Understanding the New Media Landscape
  • NewComm Essentials

Keynoters include:

  • Jackie Huba, online marketing expert and author
  • Dave Carroll, singer/songwriter, “United Breaks Guitars”
  • Scott Monty, Ford
  • Jack Holt, US Dept. of Defense
  • Tim Westergren, Pandora
  • Neville Hobson, WeissComm

Choose from a variety of intensive ½-day and full-day workshops on Tuesday, April 20th. See details at: Use discount code NCFW100 to save $100 on a pre-conference workshop. Get a 1/2-day of education for just $195!

And, wrap up your Forum experience on Friday, April 23rd in our special one-on-one workshop with conference faculty and SNCR Fellows – included in your conference fee. It’s like getting a half-day of expert consulting FREE! See more details at:

Or, just join us for one day on Wednesday, April 21st:

The NewComm Forum 2010 One-day Pass Includes:

  • Full Access Pass for Wednesday, April 21st
  • 3 Keynote Sessions: Jackie Huba, online marketing expert and author; Dave Carroll, singer/songwriter, “United Breaks Guitars” and Tim Westergren, founder, chief strategist, Pandora
  • Access to all conference sessions – choose from 16 breakout sessions in five tracks. Featured presenters include: Shel Holtz, Jen McClure, Paul Chaney, Eric Schwartzman, Francois Gossieaux, Brian Solis, Katie Paine, Dharmesh Shah, Beth Kanter, Kami Huyse and more!
  • Networking Activities and Food & Beverage Events: Breakfast, Luncheon featuring Dave Carroll of “United Breaks Guitars” & Cocktail Reception

Register now and use code NCF1D to attend for one day for just $395.

Register for the full conference with discount code NCF300 and save $300 off your registration fee.

I hope you’ll join me for NewComm Forum, the premier conference for unlocking the power of social media!

Finally, I have a few special Speaker Discount Codes left that I can offer that will get you $500 off your registration fee! just DM or @ me at @vanhoosear or email me at

Social and Search

Photo by Gerlos

Last week I was invited back to a panel at the ninth “Marketing to the High-End Bride” event, held at the newly-opened W Hotel in Boston — you can hear the audio and see some photos on the WeddingProf site. At the event, I finally got to meet Scott Smigler of Exclusive Concepts. I really enjoyed our conversation — both on the stage (where we disagreed about ghost writing but agreed on most everything else) and after the event. Scott’s organizing an upcoming event for SEMPO Boston, and asked what I thought about the intersection between search and social these days. Here’s my response — I hope to be able to share my perspective at the event — I’ll let you know as soon as it’s organized.

In Fresh Ground’s opinion, there are two approaches to social media: proactive and reactive. Proactive social media is content-driven, reactive social media is conversation-driven.

Either way, search is often a second thought — most practitioners take a “if you build it they will find it” attitude when it comes to social media and search. They figure that either way — by virtue of good content, frequent updates and a large community — search will just happen. This is partly true, but there’s still a disconnect between these two fields that can only be bridged through analytics and metrics: understanding the direct relationship between social, search and web traffic.

I think most social media people don’t think about the other way around — that search can drive social. This negative bias was reinforced recently when Facebook overtook Google in terms of site traffic sources. We perhaps need to be reminded that it’s still a two-way street, and that a stronger emphasis on search can still be very rewarding.

What do you think about this intersection?

Lineup for Thursday's LaunchCamp and SMB

Here is the near-final lineup for Thursday’s LaunchCamp event:

Social Media Breakfast Bootcamp

Thursday, February 4, 2010
8:00AM – 11:30AM
Microsoft NERD Center

The Social Media Bootcamp is designed to help entrepreneurs understand the basics of how “social” has evolved from a communications tool to a full-fledged marketing and business management philosophy. It sets the tone for the afternoon sessions, providing a common vocabulary for everyone attending the more in-depth afternoon LaunchCamp sessions.

The Social Media Bootcamp is for both skeptics and those who need to convince the skeptics. It’s also perfect for “intrapraneurs”: innovators within larger organizations who are trying to create change. While many of today’s entrepreneurs understand social well, this is also an excellent chance to make sure you have all your bases covered before your launch.

8:00AM: Registration Opens, Breakfast

8:30AM: Opening Keynote: John Wall on the Three Factors of Startup Success
John Wall, co-host of Marketing Over Coffee, will discuss the three key factors for startup success. If you don’t have a million dollar budget to launch, do not despair. There’s never been a better time for a new brand to cut through the clutter. Learn how to fight the fear, lead the rebellion, and win customers.

9:00AM: Social Media 101
In many ways, social media is simply the logical evolution of communication tools that were originally developed in decades past. In other ways, it’s very different. This session goes over the history and evolution of social media from the Web 1.0 days and before.

9:15AM: The Implications of Social
Social is changing how companies are doing business, not just how they’re marketing themselves. Understand the full spectrum of applications and ramifications of social media on your organization, and what this might mean for your communications policies.

9:45AM: Morning Break

10:00AM: The 3 Cs of Social, Part 1: Content
It’s all about the content, but how do you create it and distribute it efficiently? Jeff Cutler will take the audience through the fundamentals of creating and distributing content.

10:30AM: The 3 Cs of Social, Part 2: Community
Jim Storer and Rachel Happe of the Community Roundtable will share their insights on how to build, grow and manage your communities.

11:00AM: The 3 Cs of Social, Part 3: Conversation
Doug Haslam, newly of Voce Communications, shares his tips and tricks for engaging your audience on various platforms, focusing specifically on where and how the conversation should take place.

Organized By: Social Media Breakfast
Hosted By: Microsoft
In Association With: LaunchCamp 2010

LaunchCamp 2010

Thursday, February 4, 2010
Microsoft NERD Center

11:30AM – 5:30PM

How can you, as a entrepreneur, most effectively use the limited intellectual, financial, social and temporal capital you have at your disposal to launch your company? What’s the role of PR, marketing, social media and business in launching your new brand, product or service? When should you build, and when should you buy?

11:30: Registration Opens, Lunch

Noon: Lunch Keynote: Mike Troiano on Scalable Intimacy

Growing your customer base is one of the most important goals of any launch. How do you scale your operations while not losing the personal touch? Mike Troiano, principal of marketing agency Holland-Mark and founder of several successful startups, shares his insights.

12:30PM: Success in Social: Local Launch Success Stories Moderator: David Beisel (Venrock)
Panel: Jules Pieri (Daily Grommet), Ja-nae Duane, Jason Jacobs of Fitness Keeper and Raj Aggarwal of Localytics

Hear from a panel of local entrepreneurs about their recent PR, marketing, social media and business successes.

1:30PM: Sales & Marketing Keynote: Dharmesh Shah on the Sales Funnel 2.0
How can small- to mid-sized businesses automate their sales and marketing process? How do marketing managers in bigger organizations learn how to speak CEO? Dharmesh Shah, chief technology officer & founder of Hubspot, answers these and other burning questions for business owners and marketers.

2:15PM: Afternoon Break

2:30PM: PR & Marketing Panel
Moderator: Paul Gillin
Panelists: Julie Hall, Carol McGarry, Bobbie Carlton
What’s the role of PR and marketing in the launch of a startup in today’s environment? PR isn’t dead, it’s just wounded. The whiplash educing changes in the media environment has left the PR industry reeling. It’s not dead, as many have declared, but it’s certainly dizzy and looking for some direction. Entrepreneurs have a more immediate problem: how do they get the word out in this shifting environment, where a site that didn’t exist a two years ago is suddenly a major player in communications?

3:15PM: Break-Out Sessions, Part 1 (Pick One)

What’s Your Exit Strategy?
Leaders: Rick Marciniak and Terry Phinney of BrandAlign
It’s never to soon to begin thinking about your exit strategy. In owner operated companies, the greatest obstacle to a successful exit can often be the owner. Are you thinking long-term?  Rick and Terry share the  personal, financial and structural elements to a successful exit strategy.

Branding & Web Design
Leader: Margery Stegman
What should you skimp on and what should you pay for when it comes to site design and branding?

Product Development
Leader: Bryan Maleszyk of Molecular
Social channels are a great place to collect product development feedback, but how do you organize, prioritize and act on the feedback you collect online?

Break-Out Sessions, Part 2 (Pick One)

PR Improv
Leader: Adam Zand
Editors: Wade Roush of Xconomy Boston and Scott Kirsner of the Boston Globe’s Innovation Economy
Think you’re ready for the big pitch? Adam Zand and our guest reporters will put you to the test (but probably won’t sign that NDA you want them to).

Agile Techniques for Startups: The Faster Path to Success
Leader: Joel Foner
Learn why Agile methodologies can enable you to ship faster, ensure that your product works better, has fewer bugs, and has “the right stuff that customers will care about” built in at the start. Find out how Agile approaches can work at small scale, even with a micro-startup of only one or two founders, while helping to create a culture of innovation and success.

Searching Your Brand
Leader: Jim Spencer, JBS Partners
One of the most important aspects of your brand is how visible you are in search. What are the tips and tricks you need to know when it comes to chosing a domain name, content management platform and content in order to optimize your brand for search? Jim Spencer takes you through the tricks and techniques you need to know to really own your brand online — with a special emphasis on WordPress sites.

5:00 Closing Remarks

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