A Social Strategy That's A-OK

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• Tell us about your organization. Open Kernel—OK Labs—is a three-year-old start-up that was born in Australia and is now headquartered in Chicago. My role when coming on board was to build up the brand and, most importantly, create awareness among the technical developer community who work on developing mobile devices. Our area is mobile open virtual solutions. We are in the innards of mobile handsets. It’s not at the application level, but it’s embedded within the device.

I realized initially that the company wouldn’t exist if Google didn’t exist. The first commercial opportunities came through online inquiries. The obvious thing to do was to find out who these people are, what their needs are, and what kinds of places they go to find information. I tried to figure out the types of things these global engineers care about and tried to address their thirst for information that was accurate, technical, and in a peer-to-peer venue. 

• At what point did you turn to service provider Cerado for strategic support? I found Cerado through networking and I said, “I’m building a community of developers and I know this community behaves differently from other communities. Can you help me build this?” I knew I couldn’t do it on my own. Cerado did the typical things of defining the behaviors of the community—and came up with something I loved. Cerado reinforced the notion of creating elements that can be shared easily—or “social objects”—and showed us lots of practical, real-world examples, ultimately taking us down a path toward building an online community. In addition to the community-development plan, Cerado introduced us to the overall concept of social media and, of course, Twitter—before its big ascent. What started out as a community-development plan evolved into a complete sharing plan—which included viral videos, webinars, and social networking—to grow organically and accomplish brand awareness along the way.  

• What results have you seen from your online efforts? Our goal after developing the community was to have 1,000 members within a year. We’re at about 1,500 now. And, in our realm, when you consider the size of the developer community, that’s substantial. 

We definitely have increased our online footprint and visibility. Now when OK Labs releases a press release, for example, we launch a webinar surrounding that news and we might ask a person with an impressive list of industry followers to twitter about our event or accompanying white paper. That leads to increased participation in our webinars. When we deployed new social sharing tactics during our last news launch on the topic of Google Android, we had the longest number of days in which people participated with a sustained increase in traffic. 

OK Labs’ GeekTV videos are viewed via YouTube and Vimeo approximately 70 to 100 times per week. We know that we have not scratched the surface of what can be accomplished by actually promoting the videos with social media tactics. Most of our traffic for videos comes from links through our email nurturing program.

The majority—about 90 percent—of our leads come from Web searches and through email queries. Google search is the reason that the OKL4 technology was discovered by developers and led to our first design-in solution for a major chipset manufacturer for mobile phones. 

It’s a challenge at this point to keep up with lead qualification. Twitter and LinkedIn will play a larger role in OK Labs’ social media strategy in the coming months.

Five Fast Facts
>>>How old is the project? We completed the community rollout in December 2007, then underwent another phase of social efforts, including blogging, in January 2008. 
>>>Who was involved in the decision process? Me and several other members of the OK Labs team.  
>>>What has been the best idea? Breaking some of the rules of what you can and can’t say in a Web presence. There’s a little bit of an informal character about our company. We’ve found that communicating a sense of humor with a brand is a whole lot more fun. 
>>>Biggest surprise? With people talking about personal lives and business on Twitter or social media, you get a steady stream of information hitting on a variety of topics. It’s making business so much more personal. If people know something more about you, they might be more likely to do business with you. 
>>>Biggest mistake? Using conventional advertising to reach technical developers. They don’t click on ads. They just don’t. 

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