Dragons + Dark Matter – Social West was WILD

Hook + Ladder’s Social Media Maven, Eliana Torregroza, recently attended Social West and brought back her key takeaways from Western Canada’s biggest social media and digital marketing conference. The info was so awesome, we couldn’t keep it to ourselves. Read on for our Cole’s Notes.


For those of us that feel frustrated with social media, Dragon Arlene Dickinson had some insightful hacks for social media managers and users alike:

  • Focus on the message – rather than creating a strategy around being on every platform, focus on the message. What’s the essential idea? What do you want your audience to feel/think/do?
  • Empathy – becoming desensitized to bad news and tragedy was bound to happen, but we must resist! Your words can be powerful, choose a message that cuts through the din of negativity.

The H+L fave:

Make your social media habits work for you – like many of us, Arlene found herself checking social platforms first thing in the morning. Instead of letting passive scrolling set the tone for her day, she changed her habit. Reflecting on the previous day for positive things to tweet lifts both her and her audience. We believe that brands need to do a better job overall being a part of a narrative of positivity so that we can make this world a better place, not just sell stuff!

Banking isn’t particularly known for sexy marketing, but the ATB brand clearly stands out from the norm for both strategy and execution. A big part of the brand message is the ATB Story, which encompasses its “more than a bank” principle (pun intended). This Story is so vital, ATB avails a Senior Manager and a Director of Story to ensure genuine, spot-on delivery.

That’s why a talk from Adam Rozenhart (Director of Story) and Tyler Butler (Senior Manager of Story) piqued our interest. Then the title of the talk clinched it: Facebook Live: How a Year of Pain & Misery Led to ATB Live Video Success. Wait – so live streaming isn’t fun and easy? *rips up playbook* Lucky for us, ATB really does love Albertans and they gave us tips to avoid the “pain and misery” part of Facebook Live.

  • Technical Setup
    • Sound – turns out, audio from a laptop doesn’t cut it
    • Visual – the camera operators truly need to know what they’re doing
    • Live comments – the host won’t be able to manage guests, the live audience, interacting with the camera and incoming comments on a phone. Another person with a tablet to choose and relay comments works better for optics.
  •  Audience
    • Respond in real time – a no-brainer for engagement but can get missed if things get hairy (so prep/plan well)
    • Interaction – live or online, know how you’re going to get them involved
    • Comments – incentivize! Nothing gets people typing like a giveaway!

Budget 8 – 10 hours to pull off a Facebook live. Test and then test it all again. And remember to take blunders in stride. As the Story Team at ATB says,”public failure is part of working in social media“.

Would you say the Head of Western Canada Facebook/Instagram/Whatsapp is somewhat of a social media expert? Us too. That’s why Vik Kambli’s message of “communities, not campaigns” got our immediate attention. He stressed the importance of building relationships and keeping the social in social media.

Sounds good. So, how do we do that? It starts with listening and learning. Start with the influencers in your community. What’s their message and how are they sharing it? Curate content that fosters relationships, then measure your ROI broadly. The bigger picture goes beyond likes and shares.

Since we’re on the subject of metrics, Marc Binkley from Anstice proposed a new set of growth-focused KPIs that challenge the vanity metrics that are perhaps ineffectual benchmarks.

  1. Number of customers – rather than tracking impressions, the aim to create meaningful interactions will keep you top-of-mind.
  2. Frequency of purchase – this metric speaks to the value in brand loyalty and earning ongoing attention from your audience.
  3. Average transaction value – as marketers, it’s our job to show value and this metric lets us know if we’re winning
  4. Retention – long-term relationships to avoid the high cost of customer acquisition

Perhaps the most interesting message – and most alarming for social media – came from the Evans Hunt reps. Users are quitting social media, and there doesn’t seem to be a way to reverse the trend.

We know that content is still being shared, so what’s going on? We look to NASA for the answer. Kind of. Have you ever heard of Dark Matter – the stuff physicists say is undetectable, yet having the biggest impact on the expansion of the universe? Well Dark Social is a way to explain how consumers are sharing information, but marketers aren’t able to detect it (let alone measure it).

Content is being shared privately, through texts, emails and private messaging apps. To get ahead of this shift, make sure to shorten and tag your links, and use segmenting tools to track your traffic. In this new ‘MicroSocial’ landscape, content is likely more effective, making it more valuable than ever, so learning how to leverage Dark Social is a must.

It’s tough to truly capture the value of a 2-day event like Social West in a blog. A conference like this boosts the energy and creativity in our industry, upping everyone’s game. It was no small feat to organize, either! We definitely give props to our friend, Mike Morrison, for pulling it off like a pro. Keep an eye on Mark’s Bloggity for info on Social West 2020. We’ll be there, so keep an eye out for the Hook + Ladder team and come say hello!

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