Online Communications Strategy for Startups

Microsoft’s visionary blogger Robert Scoble made waves in the blogophere two months ago by saying, “You should be fired if you do a marketing site without an RSS feed.” He’s absolutely right.

I would go one step further and say that you should be fired if you do a marketing site and you don’t have a coherent incremental content and digital constituency strategy.

Having a sound online communications plan is more than just putting up an RSS feed. It’s more than just launching a blog.

Who are the online influencers in your space? Do they know and talk about your product? What’s being discussed about your company in online communities? How is your company going to not only monitor and measure those discussions, but make an impact in them?

Answers to the above questions will determine whether you create your own relevant content (e.g. blogging), enable others to create it around you (e.g. discussion forums), syndicate it from elsewhere – or some combination of the three.

The right approach is going to be different for every startup. What matters is that the marketing department (or marketing person or a percentage of a founder’s time) is making a deliberate effort to determine the best way to communicate with important online constituencies through the use of incremental content.

And, of course, whatever you decide, you create a RSS feed for everything.

David Beisel

David Beisel is a co-founder and Partner at NextView Ventures. He has been focused on early stage Internet startups his entire career, both as an entrepreneur and venture capitalist. As an investor in the digital media space, David was most recently a Vice President at Venrock and previously a Principal at Masthead Venture Partners. Prior to becoming a venture capitalist, David co-founded Sombasa Media, an e-mail marketing company best known for its flagship product BargainDog. Sombasa was successfully acquired by About.com where David served as Vice President of Marketing. David holds an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and an AB in Economics, magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, from Duke University. He also founded and leads the Boston Innovators Group, an organization which holds quarterly entrepreneur events drawing a thousand attendees.

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