Starting Monday, 12 cities across the world will take part in Social Media Week. For those of you that don’t know what that is, I’ve been describing it as a sort of “unconference” – there is no central venue, and each city has a “producer” that helps coordinate events across the city. Any individual or organization can host an event – this will be VIA Rail’s second time hosting an event – as long as there is a social media theme.
Toronto is the only Canadian city taking part in the week-long celebration of all things social, and I’ll be there learning, sharing and meeting awesome people. Here are my plans – let me know if you’re at any of these events!
Monday, February 13th
Social Media ROI: Myth or Reality? 5:30PM at The Fairmont Royal York
In partnership with the Fairmont Royal York, VIA Rail will be presenting four thought leaders who will share their thoughts on social media return on investment. But first, there will be a pre-conference train between Montreal and Toronto the morning of the event. Invited bloggers and social media influencers will discuss a variety of topics as they travel on board a private car to Toronto. Check out #SMWTOROI for great insights and conversations throughout the day and into the night!
Be sure to come back later in the week for case studies, conference audio, photos and more!
Tuesday, February 14th
How to ‘Steak’ Your Claim as a Social Media Foodie – 7:30AM at The Fairmont Royal
A Valentines Day breakfast tweet up introduces The Fairmont Royal York hotel’s new Executive Chef, while a panel of Toronto culinary influencers (Suresh Doss @spotlightcity, Jamie Drummond @goodfoodrev and Rebecca LeHeup @OntarioCulinary) engage Valentines fork play and what makes compelling #foodie content.
Entrinsic Presents: Inside the numbers, an analytics forecast and review – 11AM at BMO Bank of Montreal
At a time when business users have easier access to metrics and on-the-fly reports than ever before – where deep analytics and metric-based reports are a drag and drop away – we all struggle to bring insight, context, and predictability to the data we receive. What do the numbers mean? And what do we do with them?
Thursday, February 16th
The Social Media Ref – 2:45PM at the TIFF Bell Lightbox
Join us as the Social Media Ref moderates in-depth discussions of different social media perspectives from key Canadian influencers – bloggers, journalists and PR pros. Two 18-minute competition-style panels will take on hot social media topics, with the Social Media Ref determining one collaborative solution for each panel.
Getting serious about travel blogging – 5PM at The Gladstone Hotel
A panel of representatives from the travel industry, the media, PR, travel writing and travel blogging will examine a variety of questions — all within the “empowering change through collaboration” theme of the conference. Hosted by Toronto Travel Massive. For more information visit Toronto Travel Massive.
Friday, February 17th
Entrinsic Presents: Bilingual brands in the digital space – 10AM at the Art Gallery of Ontario (Livestreamed here)
I’ll be part of the panel for this one, speaking with Amy Blackmore of Fringe Montreal and others about what it takes to run a bilingual brand in the digital space.
Registration opens up today for the Toronto edition of Social Media Week – an international “conference” that takes place in a variety of cities across the globe. It’s not your typical conference, though. Instead, individuals and organizations of all types and sizes can create and host an event, as long as it has to do with social media. Social Media Week helps with event planning and coordination, but you’re on your own for the content and venue.
This will be the fourth Social Media Week where I will attend events, and the second one where VIA Rail will host an event. In September 2011, I worked with an amazing team to create the event “Brands, Agencies and Influencers – Unite!”. I wanted to host an event that would benefit anyone and everyone, regardless of their personal and professional background. Whether you’re an influencer looking for content opportunities, a brand hoping to increase your user-generated content or visibility with a niche group, or an agency trying to find the right creative and cultural match between these two groups, we all need to think about how to approach these partnerships, and how to leverage them using social media.*
This year, I focused on a hot topic in social media – Return on Investment (ROI). By partnering with The Fairmont Royal York Hotel, we are happy to host four amazing speakers on the subject, each with their own personal, professional and (perhaps) controversial views. We’ll hear about how these speakers define ROI in social media, what metrics they consider when creating programs or campaigns, and what they think the future of social media ROI looks like.
I’m also excited to be organizing a pre-event train ride to host a group of social media influencers from Quebec City, Montreal, Ottawa and Kingston. We’ll be discussing a wide range of topics as we travel to Toronto, and feed all of our thoughts into the event hashtag #SMWTOroi.
Social Media ROI: Myth or Reality? will take place on February 13th, in the Fairmont Royal York’s Imperial Room, with a reception at 5:30 PM and speeches starting at 6:30 PM. To ensure that anyone can attend the event in Toronto, we’re making it free, though capacity is limited. As of 10 AM E.S.T this morning, you can sign-up and secure your place!
What would you like to ask our panel of speakers about social media ROI? Let me know in the comments!
* We also organized this event to set some benchmarks to measure against future initiatives – come back tomorrow when I share some of the results.
I was lucky enough to join a panel discussion yesterday as part of my role as Community Manager at VIA Rail and participate in a back-and-forth about social media with some of Toronto’s best practitioners. Hosted by Jennifer Powell of Hart and Galla Marketing, and Susie Parker of Sparker Strategy Group, with fellow panellist Leigh Mitchell from Women in Biz Network, we had a great turnout and some good discussions for newbies and veterans alike.
Jennifer and Susie did a great job in their presentation (in that they made me feel guilty for not blogging more often, so here I am!), and the questions afterward gave me an idea of what some hot topics are right now for social media. Being an industry professional, it’s tough to see the “forest from the trees” occaisionally, and events such as the one last night give you an idea of what page others might be on, guiding your work and focusing your attention on areas where they need the most help.
I’ve thrown together a quick top 5 topics based on my experience last night, and the recent conference I attended in New York City as part of Social Week, called Pivot.
- Show me the money! Return on Investment is quickly becoming a key topic in social media. As budgets requests continue to increase, executives are being forced to ask “what do I get in return?”. This will be a focus of this blog over the coming weeks, possibly part of a regular feature.
- What networks should I use / What’s the next big thing? The answer to both of these questions is the same: It depends on where your audience is, and where they’re going. Charlene Li pointed out at Pivot that we “shouldn’t worry about the next big thing until your customers start to use it”. Focus on the networks where your customers are interacting, whether that be on Facebook or a niche blog.
- How much time should I spend on social media? A classic question, and one that’s difficult to answer with a blanket statement other than “it depends”. I advocate spending no more than an hour a day across all profiles. This helps ensure that you are still doing other things, and that you’re taking advantage of your real-life relationships, too. Turning social relationships into real-life ones is a great way to benefit from your time online. On the other hand, is social media the sole method of promoting your business? Then you should probably spend a little bit more time on it.
- Influencers: The cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems. Identifying influencers is a tricky thing. Numbers like Klout and Kred can be gamed by users. Only by digging deeper into a user’s profile, focusing on their engagement with and the quality of their network, can we truly begin to identify influential social media users. But when you do, it can provide a measurable impact on your campaign metrics.
- If content is king, why do I feel like the town drunk? Creating relevant, interesting and fun content for your business means creating engaging content for your stakeholders. The trick is figuring out what kind of content your audience or potential audience is looking for, and then delivering it in a way that reflects the uniqueness of your brand. As we move forward into the age of the social consumer, it’s a no brainer that the creativity we used to find only in radio, print and TV will spill-over into social, and the integrated campaign will become king. It already has.
Let’s call this a starting point for the blog for the remainder of the year. I’ll touch on each of these subjects, and I have a few new ideas for regular updates, starting next week.
Comments and suggestions for other big topics in social are welcome!
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