Social Media DNA: Does Your Company Have It?

LaunchCamp divided pretty easily into two camps, companies and executives who:

  1. Understand social networking technologies inherently; and
  2. Know they need to do something, but are not sure what.

This divide isn’t new and frankly, it’s not going to end any time soon. In the past I’ve been asked to design training programs only to find that some people within an organization understand social technologies and concepts very well and wanted to move on beyond the basics. Then there are those who are still figuring out how to sign up for a Twitter account or maybe have just dipped their toe into Facebook.

With this type of audience one size never fits all.

But for LaunchCamp it wasn’t just a division among individuals as Isis Maternity Community Manager Cindy Meltzer noted during our recent conversation. It could also be felt in corporate culture.

During the startup panel it became apparent that most tech-based companies being founded today are steeped in social networking tools. Not just because the founders are young, in fact their ages run the spectrum, but because the genesis for their ideas come from first understanding social networking. In other words: the aspect of marketing that takes conversation into account is built in. It’s part of their DNA.

Jules Pieri, CEO of the Daily Grommet

Take the example of the Daily Grommet. When moderator David Beisel asked about how much each company spent on launch marketing, the answer came back as nothing. Though, as Jules will tell you, it was nothing EXTRA. Frankly, marketing is baked into the idea of “Citizen Commerce,” which is the idea that the customers drive the direction of the products featured each day. This isn’t a one-way system of “we produce, you buy” but community conversation of “we find what you want.”

Since the community members are, by nature, excited by the products they’re more likely to take action and talk about them.

The same goes for Runkeeper, which factored sharing right into the product. From the start the idea wasn’t only to use a mobile device to track your routes and save information about you, but to share that information with your friends. By doing that you are, in fact, sharing the product you’re using. If friends want to share back they need to get that product too. The viral nature is built in, not tacked on later.

By contrast I hear from companies that have traditional business models and are looking for a way to build social networking into their marketing programs. This isn’t a bad thing (in fact, it’s great) but it’s also just the start.

To truly engage in this world each company must look beyond their marketing departments and find their communities, then use the tools to engage them. After all, that’s how new companies are finding their way.

LaunchCamp Event Video

Please find below the video from last Thursday’s LaunchCamp Boston 2010. We’ll collect all the slides from speakers and post them shortly.

After some introductory remarks, John Wall of Marketing Over Coffee fame kicked things off by sharing his insight on the Three Factors of Startup Success:

After John’s presentation, we shared some popular YouTube videos with the audience that helped folks understand the history and state of social media. First up was a history lesson by Brett Borders:

Next we watched the Social Media Revolution video from Socialnomics:

Finally, to help folks understand that companies both large and small can become social, we watched an interview of Scott Monty by David Meerman Scott:

Next up among our presenters was Jeff Cutler on the first of the Three Cs of Social (Content):

Following Jeff were Jim Storer and Rachel Happe of The Community Roundtable on the second of the three Cs of social: Community (naturally):

Last up for the morning Social Media Breakfast Briefing was Doug Haslam, who spoke on the last of the Three Cs of social: Conversation:

After a break for lunch and networking, Mike Troiano kicked off the afternoon LaunchCamp sessions with an excellent session on scalable intimacy:

Our entrepreneurial panel discussion was moderated by David Beisel of Venrock, and featured success stories from Jules Pieri (Daily Grommet), Ja-nae Duane, Jason Jacobs of Fitness Keeper and Raj Aggarwal of Localytics:

After the first panel, Dharmesh Shah shared with us his advice on sales 2.0:

Our last panel discussion was moderated by Paul Gillin, and featured a discussion on PR and marketing with Julie Hall, Carol McGarry, Bobbie Carlton:

Unfortunately, we didn’t have the disk space or battery power to capture the afternoon breakout sessions on video — you just had to be there, or watching the livestream. As mentioned, we’ll be sharing the slides with folks separately.

LaunchCamp Thoughts and Thanks

LaunchCamp Boston 2010, the first in a series of events focused on connecting entrepreneurs and “intrapreneurs” with the folks who can help them launch their new brand or service, is over, and Chuck and I are exhausted but very pleased with the results.

180 entrepreneurs, marketers, speakers and volunteers convened at the Microsoft NERD Center in Cambridge — joined by almost 100 people in the livestream room and even more on Twitter — to share and learn together.

We kicked things off with a joint event with the Social Media Breakfast Boston group that focused on the fundamentals of social media. The goal was to get everyone on the same page for the afternoon discussions. In addition to a great kickoff presentation by John Wall (of Marketing Over Coffee fame), we saw some videos from Brett Borders, Socialnomics, David Meerman Scott and Scott Monty.

We then learned about the 3 Cs of social: Jeff Cutler shared his secrets on Content, Rachel Happe and Jim Storer gave their insights on Community from the perspective of The Community Roundtable, and Doug Haslam showed us how to engage in Conversation.

Our speakers did a bangup job, as is evidenced by the Twitterfeed. The feedback we collected from the morning event was resoundingly positive, but some folks commented that the material was a little too basic for their tastes. This is why we gave folks the option of opting out of the morning sessions, but perhaps we could have reinforced our warning that the morning goal was level setting, not breaking new ground.

I’ve gotten feedback from many folks about social media events in Boston saying that most of them proceeded from an assumption that everyone out there gets it, and that simply isn’t true, even now. We tried to help those folks, at the risk of boring those of us in the know. It was a calculated risk, and I think it paid off. Nevertheless, it’s a lesson learned: future LaunchCamps will still probably work very closely with the Social Media Breakfast folks in various cities, but we’ll allow the presenters to cover more than just the fundamentals — we weren’t even taxing the brains of our great morning speakers, and we should have.

After a great lunch catered by Baker’s Best, LaunchCamp proper kicked off. We heard spectacular keynotes from Mike Troiano and Dharmesh Shah, entrepreneur and PR panels led by David Beisel and Paul Gillin, and breakout sessions on topics that included exit strategies, branding, product development, search, agile methodologies and a PR improv session featuring guest journalists Wade Roush and Scott Kirsner.

Feedback from the afternoon sessions was overwhelmingly positive, especially around our two keynote speakers. In the future, we’ll adjust the mix of vendors and entrepreneurs more to keep things lively. For instance, instead of an all-vendor PR panel like the engaging one we saw yesterday, we’ll throw in some entrepreneurs and take a more case study-focused approach.

We were also asked to set aside more time for networking, and we’ll do that as well. I’ll talk a little more about the future in a second, but please feel free to share any of your thoughts and comments on Twitter using the #LaunchCamp hashtag — we read everything, good and bad (and reply to both).

Before I talk about the future, I want to thank a few folks.

Thank Yous

First, thank you to my business partner Chuck Tanowitz, who was the glue and the steady hand throughout the planning and execution of LaunchCamp.

Next, thank you to the volunteers who offered to help out throughout the day, including Tracy Lee Carrol (who found her camera), Lisa Mokaba (who checked you in) and Stephen Sherlock (who, with his signature tricorne hat, applied his PodCamp volunteer experience to this smaller, more intimate group).

Thank you to our sponsors who made the event possible, including our own Fresh Ground Communications (how can we help your company with its launch?), Microsoft New England (thanks for sharing your space and your drinks with us), Tungle (loved the purple shirts!), Schneider Associates (the Launch PR experts), Brilliant Video (we’ll share the better quality video they shot next week), and Elli St. George Godfrey (the entrepreneurial coach).

Thank you to Bob Collins and everyone else who helped us get the word out before, during and after the event. Thank you to Joselin Mane who provided the example of event management and marketing that we strove for (and — because we followed his leadership — whose help in promoting the event in the last few weeks we had to politely decline because of the sellout crowd). And thank you to Ja-Nae Duane, who teamed up with us and will share some of the proceeds from her book signing to offer three $100 LaunchCamp scholarships — we’ll share details on that next week.

Thank you to all our keynote speakers, session leaders, moderators and panelists: without you there would be only me up there playing videos! 🙂

There are so many other people to thank — if I’ve missed you, I’m sure I’ll get around to thanking you in person or on Twitter.

What’s Next

As we mentioned at the event, we’ll be restructuring how attendees can participate in future LaunchCamps to make sure that we get the right mix of entrepreneurs and vendors. We think this will better serve the needs of the entrepreneurs out there. We’ll also be rolling out to new cities over the upcoming months — stay tuned for more news.

But before that happens, we’ll be sharing the video and slides from the event next week, as well as information on the scholarships I mentioned earlier.

One final reminder: you can automatically follow all the attendees using TweepML or the Twitter List.

See you at the next LaunchCamp!

Livestreaming LaunchCamp

LaunchCamp 2010 Boston is happening now. If you’re reading this, you’re probably not there (unless you’re a tech-savvy well-connected mobile-Maistro stalker). Well, this is the next best thing: We’re going to be livestreaming the event as much as possible. You can see live video, chat and Twitter feeds at Things kick off at 8am ET.

Better quality recorded video will be available at a later time from that same page. Join the conversation on that page, or by tweeting with the #LaunchCamp hashtag. Fresh Ground is not responsible for the comments that appear on our site — please chat and tweet responsibly, folks!


Launching LaunchCamp

We’re now just hours from the start of LaunchCamp Boston, an event designed to help entrepreneurs better understand how to navigate the marketing world to get from idea to launch.

The genesis of LaunchCamp came in October 2009, shortly after WebInno 23. At that event a number of journalists sat on a panel discussing how entrepreneurs didn’t need PR folks as the eager CEOs could just give them a call and tell their story.

The PR folks in the audience knew this wasn’t true. First, PR is much more than media relations. But even just in the media relations context we knew that if every company in Boston took that advice the reporters would be bombarded with even more stuff than they are now. Plus, the CEOs would get frustrated because their calls wouldn’t result in stories (or not answered).

The reason is pretty simple: what’s important to a CEO of a small company isn’t what’s important to a reporter. Each has their own idea of “interesting news” and often they don’t line up. In this context, a good media relations person can help both sides.

During a solo PR coffee shortly thereafter we discussed having an event that would help bridge the gap a bit. That is, help entrepreneurs better understand the PR and marketing process while PR folks can listen and better understand what it is that entrepreneurs really need.

Things morphed and changed over the next few months and we’re thankful that a number of great people have stepped up to take leadership and teaching roles, not only as speakers but also as leaders in breakout sessions and panelists.

Judging by the demand I can assure you that while this may be the first LaunchCamp, it won’t be the last.

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

Thanks to our Sponsors!





Getting Set for LaunchCamp Boston

Working on LaunchCamp Boston has been a pretty exciting thing this week. We’ve seen the sign-up list grow with some wonderful participants heard from some wonderful people who want to take part and add to the discussion along with the many who were already on board to work with us on this project.

It looks like the Microsoft NERD Center will be packed on February 4th.

Our goal is to help entrepreneurs make the decisions needed to launch their brand, product or service. While a lot of events help you learn how to find VC money or learn how to sell sell, this one falls in the middle by taking on the PR and marketing angle.

I’ve worked with many companies over the years that have struggled with just this problem. Years ago it was pretty easy, as the marketing options were much more limited. But today, when your Website is more than a billboard and you’re tasked with engaging with your audience through social media, and on top of that, still need the exposure offered by traditional media, it can get very confusing. Today even your customer service and product development teams have become key parts of your marketing and PR effort.

But more than that, they’re often not sure what pieces of the vast marketing puzzle they truly need. LaunchCamp is about understanding that puzzle and having the information to make informed choices.

Among the highlights is a panel hosted by David Beisel of Venrock Partners that also features:

The breakouts sessions themselves look to be pretty amazing and a chance for smaller discussions, but also as interesting is the PR Imrpov. This is something created by Adam Zand in which he takes the basic facts about a business from someone in the audience and “pitches” it to a reporter on stage. In this case Adam will be pitching to Scott Kirsner of the Boston Globe, as well as one or two other reporters who we’re still lining up.

If you haven’t seen it, it’s a great way to understand the skills involved in getting your name heard.

Our goal is that entrepreneurs come out of this event with a much better understanding of the skills they need to fill on their teams to get themselves through launch.

LaunchCamp Boston 2010 is Feb 4th

Fresh Ground Communications is very pleased to announce the first LaunchCamp event, scheduled for February 3rd & 4th, 2010. LaunchCamp takes a fresh look at PR, marketing, social media and management — and the technologies and tools that have evolved around these areas — and attempts to identify the challenges that organizations face in the launch process.

The event is designed to help entrepreneurs make the essential decisions needed to launch their brand, product or service. It is organized by PR, marketing, social media and business professionals looking to identify and replicate some of the best practices in the market for moving entrepreneurial organizations along the growth curve.

The event is being organized in conjunction with the Social Media Club Boston, Social Media Breakfast Boston and PRSA Boston Chapter, and being graciously hosted at the Microsoft NERD Center. Fresh Ground is pleased to be the founding sponsor, and we’re still looking for additional sponsors for the event.

Why LaunchCamp?
There are plenty of events designed to foster startups and help entrepreneurs find money, but there are very few events that focus on “the big splash:” how do you get the attention your company needs to grow and reach its business goals? This event is perfect for entrepreneurial organizations — especially bootstrapped, angel-funded and early-stage venture-funded businesses — looking to accelerate their growth using social tools and techniques.

Who is LaunchCamp Designed For?
This event is perfect for entrepreneurial organizations — especially bootstrapped, angel-funded and early-stage venture-funded businesses — looking to accelerate their growth using social tools and techniques. It 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.

LaunchCamp Boston 2010 is being held at the Microsoft NERD Center in Cambridge on the afternoon of Thursday, February 4th. There are two other events taking place before LaunchCamp:

  • On Thursday morning, we’re hosting Social Media Breakfast Boston #16: a Social Media Breakfast Bootcamp. The bootcamp event offering entrepreneurs and business people with a little less background in social media to get themselves up-to-speed in advance of the LaunchCamp afternoon event.
  • On Wednesday evening (Feb. 3rd), Social Media Club Boston and PRSA Boston are hosting a panel on the State of Journalism, Media and PR in 2010.

Registration for all of these events is now open. To register or find out more about LaunchCamp Boston 2010, please visit

Speakers and a more detailed schedule will be announced shortly. If you’re interested in speaking at the event or sponsoring the event, please contact