Category Archives: Social / Startup / Cmty

essays, commentary, how-tos, field guides and other miscellany mostly about using social media tools to build communities for causes or companies #meta for sure but also useful for start-ups and sparkplugs

Rockstar Training School – Tips for Managing and Inspiring Interns (from InternMatch)

Written as a day-job project for InternMatch.com and posted on my birthday, Aug. 16, 2011, archived here for the record as this was an epic labour of importance to me. I’ve wanted to create an “former intern club” of some kind to keep an eye on all those i mentor to some degree, but for now, this is my distillation of most of the tactics i use to keep the train chooglin’ forward in the workplace. If you like, tweet or comment on the Internmatch version.

Rockstar Training School – Tips for Managing and Inspiring Interns (from InternMatch)

Guest Post By Dave Olson, Community Marketing Director of HootSuite.com

From start-ups to established enterprises, there’s rarely enough time for all the tasks and new initiatives on your list. Investing time to find quality interns can be an ideal solution… if done correctly. If you aren’t prepared to integrate your helper correctly, you’ll end up micro-managing and draining your time – while also demotivating the once-eager intern. Over 15 years running marketing and community teams I’ve sponsored dozens of internships and along the way, found future employees, ideal collaborators and even a few friends. I’ve also dealt with under-performers and a few disgruntled slackers who can negatively affect your company culture. From these experiences, I’ve compiled key nuggets of wisdom to help your company reap quality contributions from an intern who truly enjoys their challenging work experience. Remember, you can’t spell INTERNET without INTERN.

Hire Like an Employee

Post intern openings the same as paid openings with expected qualifications, application process and defined roles. This shows you are taking the search seriously and not just looking for a warm body to do menial tasks. Remove the mystery and set the expectation and you’ll start off right.

Introduce Loudly

On their first day, introduce them to your team in an email – be sure to include personal interests and previous experience as well as an overview of the sorts of tasks they’ll work on. This helps the intern feel valuable and sends a message to your team to start collaborating right away.

Upfront with Terms

My internships are (almost) always non-paid. Opinions throughout the industry differ on this point, but it’s your choice to make. Just ensure you are clear about the terms from the beginning. If you don’t have budget, let them know and explain the types for benefits they’ll receive from their efforts: Internships are valuable learning experiences and a great way to get a foot in the door of competitive industries.

Give them a Title

Sadly “intern” is sometimes used  as a synonym for “lackey” – this can be de-motivating and even embarrassing for your diligent helper. Instead, bestow a title upon them which describes their role. These titles can be fun but not condescending. At HootSuite, many Interns work on international outreach so we call them International Community Ambassadors. When you introduce them, use their title to show respect for their efforts.

Specific Tasks

While this seems obvious… Assign your padowans specific tasks with meaning and deadlines. By clearly defining to-dos, you not only keep Interns from spending their days on YouTube, but you give them valuable benchmarks of learning and achievement. We use Basecamp to organize tasks for employees and intern to a granular level.

Reports for Accountability

Each Intern should have a weekly report to fill out (I use Google forms which populate a spreadsheet) and measure some empirical evidence of their work as well as providing space for their ideas and insights and a grade their “happiness level.” This process holds them accountable, shows that their work matters and allows you to get in front of any problems whether for work or personal burn out (especially for international interns far from home).

Farm System

For start-ups, Interns can fill a critical role to get a product out and promoted on a limited budget. For established companies, they can populate a “farm system” for entry-level employees similar to a sports teams’ minor league affiliate. Interns allow you to cultivate a new batch of talent and “taste test” a number of candidates to see how they react in real-life work situations before committing to a contract.

Coffee is your Job

Do I ever ask interns to fetch me coffee? Almost never. This task is a menial “make work” task for them and (honestly) going for a cup of coffee is one of the best parts of your day. Instead, invite your intern out for a chat over a beverage and everyone wins. Also, make sure they are invited for company events, after-work beer sessions and other “team building” activities – it’ll pay off with passion.

Mentor your Padowan

You are receiving free (or cheap) labor and in exchange, you should share you experience, feedback and inside tips and tactics. Go beyond the simple assignments and take the time to explain the “why” beyond the “what” and “how.” Giving this contextual meaning to their tasks will help them emotionally invest in the project. But don’t coddle– they are humans, not puppies, and your real advice will be of more use than unwarranted compliments.

Part of a Legacy

One by one, Interns come and Interns go, but let your newbs know the legacy they are continuing. We tell stories and share photos of past Interns. For example: one intern left a Danish national soccer team jersey as a gift. Now, this is awarded to the Intern who has shown “heart and soul and tenacity” for the week and is handed off by one recipient to the next… Make an intern hall of fame gallery to connect the people to one another and you may find they end up as virtual friends.

Overwhelm (& Support)

From day one, give them a list of tasks. They won’t gravitate or complete all of them but you’ll quickly learn where their skills are. Make sure they know how to get help from others and at what point to come to you for assistance – without bothering you. Schedule :15 catchup sessions to avoid slow downs.

Lackey Work

I promise each new recruit that every task I assign to them is something I’ve done many times before – from stuffing envelopes to assembling desks, the jobs might sound mundane but if they know you’ve done the boring stuff too, they’ll understand it’s all part of the process and culture of a start-up.

Parting Gift

Since your Interns are non-paid, you want to ensure you provide some career assistance when they need it. This starts with a Linkedin recommendation and well-thought-out letter. Plus send a Tweet publicly to thank them and recommend them to other companies and offer yourself as a reference for jobs.

Field Trips

If someone really stepped up, introduce them to industry peers, either by email or by bringing them along to speaking gigs so they can make an impression in person. Tip: Start-up accelerators and incubators with newly funded companies are a great next step for your star Interns seeking work.

Keep in Touch

Remember each intern comes from a unique background and you can (and should) help elevate and fast-track them into the job world. Follow their career with interest once they are gone and invite them back for a coffee or office party.

Essay: Geo Marketing – Simple Steps to Go There

Geo Marketing: Simple Steps to Go There | TalentZoo.com
By Dave Olson, April 12, 2011

Social media is a key marketing tool for any business hoping to expand their customer base and increase brand awareness. For small businesses in particular, learning how to master this medium is essential in order to make the most of your time and resources.

As social media becomes increasingly mobile, the importance of geo-search and geo-location will continue to grow. Potential customers with geo-capable phones are quick to search out venues nearby. Tap into an interested audience and make sure they find you!

Start With Search

The ability to filter search results by proximity is truly one of the most valuable features of geo-location technologies. Let’s look at an example of how narrowing in on nearby messages can benefit you.

Imagine you’re a dentist in Seattle offering a new teeth-whitening service and you want to find an interested audience. There’s no use reaching out to someone who wants teeth whitening in Toronto if you’re on the West coast, and your time is too valuable to spend searching endless tweets and messages in hopes of finding someone nearby. So how do you narrow down the content?

Using HootSuite, it’s easy to search for terms like “dentist” and set the geo-location filter to an appropriate distance. Soon you’ll discover all messages (using this term) that are tagged in your area.

Be sure to try out different search terms. Use your business name and different industry-related words to paint a picture of the conversation around you. Save the search as a stream in HootSuite to effectively monitor and engage in the discussions within your community.

Get to Know the Locals

Once you’ve seen relevant messages from potential customers in your area, it’s simple to reach out and offer advice, promotions or just say “hello.” The real-time nature of geo-located tweets is perfect for making a good impression by answering questions or contributing to the conversation as it’s happening.

Geo is especially useful if you have promotions on. So someone looking for a dentist will be pleased to learn that you might also be offering a 2-for-1 cleaning package to new customers. You can also offer special perks to people playing geo-location games like Foursquare or Gowalla.

And be sure to append your own messages with your geo-location so potential customers can find you too.

Where to Find Geo

More and more businesses are becoming geo-aware. In order to expand, keep an eye out for anyone mentioning your brand, tagging your location, and reviewing your services so you can reach out to others who want to evangelize your business.

Here are just some of the popular options where you’ll find your friends and neighbors hanging out:

  • Twitter Locations allows you to add neighborhood or venue data to your Tweets using Twitter’s native geo. This is helpful to those searching for businesses in the area.
  • Foursquare is a fast-growing location-based game in which friends follow one another and check in to venues. Businesses can reward players for checking in with incentives and promotions.
  • Facebook Places updates your Facebook Wall, your News Feed, and the Place Page; plus there’s a “here now” option so you can see who else is at the same venue, too.
  • Gowalla allows you to share highlights from your day-to-day life with pictures, status updates, and more.
  • Yelp is a geo-aware consumer-review tool where customers can write recommendations for their favorite venues, and search for everything from hairdressers to grocery stores.
  • And Whrrl is another game that goes beyond checking in to incorporate photos, status updates and will track check-in patterns to reveal new hot spots that users might enjoy.

Remember, check-ins are highly visible, so friends and followers will see when someone has checked in at your location. Encourage your customers and clients to check in when they stop by.

Geo on the Go

Get to know geo while you’re on the go. As a consumer yourself, start engaging with the different geo-technologies available to learn how it all works, and see how others reach out and engage with you. This insider insight will help you to make the most out of geo for your growing business.

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Source: Geo Marketing: Simple Steps to Go There | TalentZoo.com 

Essay: Finding Signal in the Noise of Social Media

Finding Signal in the Noise of Social Media | TalentZoo.com
By Dave Olson, Jan. 18, 2011

Social media is an essential marketing tactic for most any business or organization. However, sorting through endless streams of comments and conversations can detract from important business tasks and create a frustrating experience.

So, how can your brand’s voice be heard amidst all the chatter in the noisy world of social media? By following a few simple tactics, you can help amplify positive messages to your audience and filter the conversations to find the gems you seek.

In addition to increased brand awareness, these tactics can quickly turbo-charge lead generation and establish “early warning systems” to get you in front of potential public relations disasters.

Most of these tactics can be rapidly engaged using HootSuite’s social media dashboard, which has been created specifically for spreading messages and tracking results from a single web interface.

Before you get started, set up a Twitter account and Facebook page for your company—if you feel like you’re late to the party, these tips will help you make up for lost time.

Start by Listening

For most businesses—particularly small businesses—finding and connecting with an audience is the key to success. Effective outreach can result in new customers and valuable media attention. The alternative is empty stores and quiet phones.

The good news is that small companies without the large advertising budgets and PR resources that larger corporate brands enjoy can use social media to reach specific, local audiences.

Let’s use the example of a yoga studio in Portland, Oregon seeking new customers. Using HootSuite, the first step is to set up a search stream for “yoga Portland” to capture all Tweets with these words.

Once you see mentions of these words, follow the people discussing yoga and add them to a Twitter list. Then, begin to reply to their updates with advice, opinions, and tips—just avoid giving them a sales pitch.

Doing this will build awareness as people see your thoughtful remarks and click through to your profile (through a branded profile icon) to learn more about your yoga studio.

Outreach to Influencers

Now that our fictional yoga studio is following a few hundred yoga enthusiasts in the area, the next step is to gently offer services. A great way to do this is to send personalized offers via Twitter (or Facebook) to key influencers.

Here’s an example:

“Hi @yogageek, noticed you enjoy Kundalini yoga. We’d like to invite you for a complimentary session at #PortlandYoga—think you’ll love it.”

You can identify key candidates by clicking on profiles and noting their “Klout” score, which is a measurement of influence and reach. Additionally, see how often they discuss yoga with their audience. Do they have a yoga blog? Great. Do they seem to be followed by many other yoga fans? Awesome.

Once they’ve attended their complimentary session, encourage them to share their experience via Twitter, Facebook, and/or their blog. Follow up with a comment and a sincere “thank you.”

Amplify by Sharing

On Twitter, you’ll notice the “retweet” option. “Retweeting” refers to people sharing your message with their audience to further increase your message’s reach. Each RT or Reply is a tacit “thumbs-up” for your brand. When you thank a retweeter for mentioning you and share their updates, you produce another impression of your business name and related culture.

Did you notice the “#” sign in the example message above? In Twitter-speak, that’s called a “hashtag.” By adding a descriptive hashtag, you can set up a search stream to track everyone who shares your thoughts and offers. Plus, it provides an instantly clickable way for your followers to see more messages containing that topical tag.

Instant Focus Group

Whether it’s a pricing change, new product, or service offering, making the wrong choice can be expensive. Sometimes, business owners are “too close” to the process to make objective choices. By building an online audience and asking their opinions, you can make informed choices that are more likely to resonate in the marketplace.

Your Facebook page is a great place for gathering feedback. The process can be as simple as posting a message with two options and asking which the reader prefers, and why. You can even incentivize responses by offering a promotional prize or special offer to all who answer.

Along with learning what the marketplace thinks of your brand, you can compare brand perception by monitoring competitors’ brand names and related terms. Learn what your competitors are being praised for, as well as what their stumbling blocks are. Use this information to position your brand and set yourself apart.

Early Warning System

Runaway rumors, negative comments, disgruntled customers, bad reviews—all of these can drive an entrepreneur to distraction. If you don’t reply quickly, the story can get out of control. Let it linger and it can impact your search results and change the public narrative about your company.

Mitigate PR conundrums by keeping constant watch over brand names, product names, and even executive names on the social web. By following what’s specifically being said about you, your brand, and your organization, you have the invaluable opportunity to directly address falsehoods, correct misconceptions, and quell rumors to set the record straight.

Play the Party Host

Amplifying your brand online is like hosting a party—there will inevitably be people who are rude or frustrated mixed in with folks having a good time. Your role is to keep things civil and moving towards your desired outcome of brand growth. Above all else, keep the conversation going.

If you diligently respond and engage in a consistent manner, you’ll ensure that the tone of the party stays in line with your brand’s principles and image. And remember, just like any party, you can never fully predict how it will go. Someone always spills a drink, maybe the neighbors make a noise complaint, but your party will be judged more for how you handle any little hiccups than for the actual mishaps.

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Source: Finding Signal in the Noise of Social Media | TalentZoo.com

a few notes about marketing tactics

for pro marketing work, i mix old school/new school PR/marketing into a formula designed to:

1) tell a story with interestingness

2) amplify the positive reactions

3) mitigate negative with nuance

4) magnify to appear larger/mightier /different

5) show we are aware through (obsessive)

participation

a few tactics:
* write press releases like a jouro article

* provide images resources widely/freely

* publish early and often to “host” conversation

* reward helpers with cultural treats

* provide channels and “listen” to gripers

* but ignore trolls (even when you wanna kick in balls)

* for event: spend little, talk lots

* show up online as many places as possible

* track search/has/social trends and hop aboard

* define best practices and (pretend to be) thought leader

* know google-fu and spend time on semantics

* establish a distinct voice and vocab across team

* set up processes to manage/log/magnify coverage rapidly

Basic Promo task list for creative projects

Basic Promo task list for creative projects

1) Find *every* blog and news reference to the project and put a comment thanking them and contributing something to the convo

2) write a blog post on site as a news roundup including links and comments about each

3) set up hootsuite and track conversations about relevant topics > @ reply and invite > follow

4) set up “media kit” page with logo, 50 words description , 100 word description, above the line credits and media contact

5) make sure links to flickr, yt, vimeo Twitter are all on site

6) make custom URL on flickr – put “production stills” and promotional badges there with descriptions and tags and invite people to share/use

Social Promotion for Movies guidebook – White paper for filmmakers

My final act for my MovieSet.com was writing and presenting a white-paper-like guide, laden with tips, tricks and best practices for filmmakers to build audience for their movie during production – especially tuned for those filmmakers working outside of the studio system producing movies in the 1-10 million budget range. I suppose the learning began when making documentary film HempenRoad on shoestring budget back in 1996-7 and continued helping films like The Irishman, Daydream Nation and many others spread the word while working as Director of Fan Communities.

This report lives on the Dailies blog but is designed to be shared and passed along. With this in mind, here is the Social Promotion for Movies guidebook (you can download the .pdf on Slideshare) plus the slides from the presentation (pardons for a few formatting anomalies – as such, not downloadable).

While some of the content is specific MovieSet’s production tools and movies marketing in general, most of the knowledge contained within can be applied to other products or projects you are promoting using social media and search marketing – plus all tools mentioned are free or cheap. So excuse the marketing sales stuff and you should gather a few juicy bits outta this guide. Happy to hear your comments however this is likely a final iteration as my time at the company is finished.

After the jump … Continue reading Social Promotion for Movies guidebook – White paper for filmmakers

A note on Press Release writing…

In brief, … write your press release in a way that is easily copy and pasted for refactoring (ergo: change byline and title) by “journalists” seeking to refactor your release into valuable news coverage.