A showcase as a social media opportunity: thoughts for First Look Forum participants and others (DRAFT)

DRAFT! Work in progress, feedback welcome!
Revised version to appear on the NWEN blog

NWEN logoCongratulations once again to the dozen startups in NWEN’s October 12 First Look Forum.  If your experience is anything like ours was at Qworky last spring, right now you’re overwhelmed trying to polish your pitch and incorporate all the different conflicting feedback you’re getting while still moving your business forward.  Fun!

So I’d just like to add one more thing to your plate …

An event like the FLF is a great time opportunity to improve your social media presence.  It’s a natural source for interesting content and mutual promotion that can expand your audience.  Read on for some suggestions — which will hopefully be useful as well for others in similar situations.

Let’s start with blogging.  If you haven’t already posted celebrating your selection to the final 12, now would be a great time. LaserMotive‘s post is a good example of a quick update; Qworky‘s (from the spring) is longer, taking the chance to recognize our coaches and thank everybody who had helped get us here.

There are several reasons to do a blog post like this.  Most obviously, it’s a way to let everybody interested in the company know about your success — and help get them rooting for you as you head into the event.  It’s also a chance to get some new readers for your blog and some “Bing juice”* when NWEN links to you.  And it’s good practice for something you’ll want to do regularly as you get more successes.

Once you’ve done the post, don’t stop there.  Tweet it. Post it on your Facebook and MySpace pages and encourage friends to share it.  Send it to your LinkedIn group.  Get the word out to any friendly media types, as InTheWorks did with Clean Tech Kitsap.   It’s is a good low-stakes opportunity to calibrate your social media infrastructure, too.  Does your blog automatically send trackbacks so others know when you’ve linked to them?**  The post look good when it’s on Facebook and MySpace?  Can people find the “share this” button?  How broad is your retweeting network?  Are there ways to automate the process?

There’s a lot more you can do on Twitter as well.  Occasional tweets tracking your progress can help share the excitement with your followers.  If you’d like to include some perspectives from your community in your presentation, now’s a great time to ask.  And consider retweeting other participants from time to time; when they reciprocate and retweet you, it’s a win/win situation as you all get exposed to new audiences.***

This kind of mutual promotion can be extremely valuable, and it’s also worth keeping in mind in the blogosphere.  Jump into the comments on others’ posts and wish them luck (including a link back to your blog). When you do a post after the event, whatever the results are, make sure to link to others – and not just the winners. And don’t forget NWEN, of course 🙂

If you’re new to all of this and it seems like it’s way too much, no worries: pick one of the things I mentioned and try it out.  Doing a good job with social media can help deepen your community, create buzz, and sell products.   Might as well get started!


PS: During the event, we’ll be live-tweeting using the #nwen hashtag.  Not only is this a great way for your team members and supporters to be a part of it even if they can’t be there in person, it’s also once again a chance to broaden awareness.  Plus it’s a great way for whoever’s not presenting to channel their energy :-)  Stay tuned for more!

* also known as “Google juice” to those outside the Puget Sound region

** which is how I knew that LaserMotive had blogged about being a finalist. Apologies to anybody else who I overlooked — please double-check whether your trackbacks are working!

*** we’ll set up a Twitter list to make this easier; details soon