LaunchCamp divided pretty easily into two camps, companies and executives who:
- Understand social networking technologies inherently; and
- 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.
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.