by Giant Thinkwell (Kyle Kesterson and Kevin Leneway)
Deep in a windowless bunker of the Seattle Startup Weekend Headquarters, Giant Thinkwell launched its first game, Baby Gaga Exclusive. In just 24 hours they had tens of thousands of new users play their game over a 100,000 times, earned their first dollars, and even received some detailed and spirited correspondence from a couple of friendly law firms. Ahem. This was, by all accounts, a successful and productive launch for a soon-to-be funded startup running on a total marketing budget $42.15.
The success of the launch strategy hinged on the Giant Thinkwell War Room, which was set up deep in the bowels of Techstars/Founders Co-op building (aka the Startup Weekend Headquarters), to promote the game to key audiences across social media and traditional channels. We asked them how they pulled that together, this is what they said:
Step 1: The Battle Plan- Holy crap, we should have met 3 months ago
The week before launch we finally sat down to plan out the launch… Our first realization was that we wished we had started three months sooner. If we had, we would have spent more time cultivating relationships with more entertainment, tech, and gaming bloggers. We realized that we’d have to carefully identify, segment, and reach out to as many influencers across these categories as possible. In the absence of time and budget, we decided to enlist an army of social media savvy volunteers.
Step 2: The Draft- Warm Bodies, Sharp Minds
We immediately turned to Seattle’s tech community in a frantic attempt to enlist the troops we would need for launch day. Luckily, our friends from Startup Weekend, Techstars, Founders Co-op, Microsoft, and other corners of the industry stepped up in a huge way to help us out. Around three dozen people volunteered 3+ hours to come to the bunker for our launch day and a couple dozen more worked remotely- clearly, a phenomenal testament to the strength of Seattle’s startup community.
Step 3: Operation Big Ears, Quick Fingers
We assigned our volunteers to different roles in the War Room… These roles essentially amounted to a blitz across key elements of the social media spectrum- listening, contributing, and amplifying the conversation that was happening around topics relevant to our game on the day of launch.
Intelligence Agents were responsible for identifying the people and sites to target with
our content. Typical agent tasks included finding people already tweeting and blogging about Gaga and watching to see if bloggers had posted stories about the game. We used Rowfeeder to help us stay on top of the buzz from Twitter. Intelligence Agents were responsible for organizing this information and passing it along to others in the room for posting, reteweeting, and submitting to aggregator sites like Digg and Reddit.
War Correspondents created content to be used for various blog posts, tweets, and comments identified by intelligence agents. Correspondents received information from the Intelligence Agents and passed along content to the front line Army Rangers.
Army Rangers were the front line troops who sent emails to bloggers, @ replies to Twitter users and seeded content on social media aggregators. Rangers received ideas and instructions from Agents and Correspondents on the most effective channels to target.
There’s no question that they have a ton of work left to do, but Giant Thinkwell is excited to see how the fire grows. It’s also great to see the generosity shown by Seattle’s startup community in helping make the Giant Thinkwell War Room a success.