Social Summit Calgary - Photo Neil Zeller

Today I had the opportunity to attend The Social Summit in Calgary – a collection of speakers and education sessions on a variety of social media topics relevant to today’s business owners, marketers and social media practitioners. While very little of the information presented was particularly new to me – even though I attended the Seasoned Stream breakout sessions, there were a few tidbits of gold to add to my toolbox and it was a great event to get inspired, network and be reminded of why I love what I do.

Here are my top takeaways from Day 1 of The Social Summit Calgary:

Lauren Toyota Keynote

Lauren Toyota – former Much Music VJ turned YouTuber spoke about her experience in shifting from mainstream media to social media, authenticity, passion, and influencer marketing.

Be authentic. Social media is only as real as you’re willing to be.

Social Summit 2015 Lauren Toyota

It’s not about what you do; it’s about who you’re being. Be you. Follow your passion. Don’t get caught up in what everyone else is doing.


Be willing to get personal if you want social media to work for you. People connect with people and hear an authentic voice.


Consider influencer marketing. 63% of millennials say they’re more likely to try something recommended by a YouTuber. If you don’t have the time or ability to forge those relationships, hire a PR firm who can reach out to influencers in any industry.


Keep in mind, with influencer marketing, it must be a mutually beneficial relationship. Respect that influencers have a valuable relationship with their fans that they aren’t willing to risk without gain.


Twitter Hour – Seasoned Stream

Nancy Smith – Social Media Manager, Travel Alberta

Nancy Smith, Social Media Manager for the widely successful Travel Alberta marketing team and instructor at Mount Royal University gave an informative talk about their use of Twitter automation, analytics and best practices.

You must find the sweet spot between what your audience wants to hear and what you need to promote. Keep the sell messages sporadic, interspersed with more valuable content for your followers.


Use Twitter Analytics to find out what resonates with your audience, when they’re on and when they are most likely to engage with your content.


Then tweet when your audience is actually using the channel and not just when it’s convenient for you to tweet. Use a Twitter automation tool like Hootsuite, Tweetdeck or Buffer to schedule tweets at the right time.


Remember, though, that Twitter is a social channel. It’s meant to be social and real-time. If you do automate, be sure to also integrate real-time tweeting and responding. Responses to others’ tweets earn engagement just like your own tweets do.


And then this. Please don’t use auto-DMs to message new followers. You don’t need to thank someone for following. It’s spammy. Just don’t do it.


Content Marketing Hour – Seasoned Stream

Jillian Freshette – Director, Marketing & Creative Services, Calgary Sports & Entertainment Corporation

Jillian Frechette, Director, Marketing & Creative Services for Calgary Sports & Entertainment – the organization behind the Calgary Flames, Hitmen, Stampeders and Roughnecks – spoke on creating content that will grow your tribe and blending digital connections with real life experiences.

Tell human stories layered with emotional elements.


The new generation of fans want to connect. They want their experience to be more than observation – they want to be a part of it.


Invite them to an experience they could never purchase with their credit card. Create something new that is only achieved through connection and engagement.


Develop meaningful and shareable content away from the game, between the sweaty moments. Use the down time in between the action to keep the fire alive and your fans engaged.


Facebook Hour – Seasoned Stream

Richard Einarson, Marketing & Digital Engagement Specialist, Stafraen Digital Marketing

Richard Einarson, Marketing & Digital Engagement Specialist for Stafraen Digital Marketing presented advanced Facebook advertising techniques including developing effective Facebook and Instagram ads and copy, testing and optimization and measurement.

Unless you’re Don Draper himself, don’t use overly clever/subtle messages on Facebook. Be clear. Stick to the character counts in the templates as much as possible.


Include a call to action and make it clear.


Use a Facebook Grid Tool to see whether your images/creative adhere to Facebook’s policy that allows no more than 20% of an image area to be covered with text.


Test everything. Test different audiences with the same creative. Test different ad placements. Test different creative with the same audience. Use the Power Editor to assign a naming structure to keep track of all your ad variants.


If you’re going to use video in your Facebook ads, be sure to make the first 3 seconds attention-grabbing and don’t rely on sound. Consider Facebook carousel ads but make sure the creative is seamless and done well.


Digital Strategy & SEO Hour – Seasoned Stream

Calin Yablonski, president, Inbound Interactive

Calin Yablonski, president, Inbound Interactive presented critical components of a successful SEO campaign, learning how the search engines “think” and uncovering simple opportunities for building your website’s SEO authority. This was genuinely one of the most succinct and clear SEO presentations I’ve ever seen.

The best place to hide a dead body is on page 2 of google search results. 90% of search traffic will never click on to page two.


Create and submit an XML site map to google and make sure you’re not blocking your site with a robots.txt file. This lets google know all the pages of your website and also makes sure it won’t miss anything when its spiders crawl your site.


Spend time brainstorming head keywords and then long-tail keywords. 70% of search traffic will come from long-tail keyword searches of 3-4 terms or more. Use a tool like ubersuggest to find additional variants you can target in your in-page optimization.


Optimize meta title and meta description; it’s what people see in search results. The title is key search terms and the meta description reads like ad copy and may determine whether or not someone will click on your link in their search results.


Back links account for up to 70% of a website’s authority ranking. You can optimize everything else on your page, but you need authority that comes from influential/authoritative websites linking to you. Start with partners, clients, suppliers. Offer to guest blog on influential industry publications. You only need about 5-10 high quality incoming links to give you high authority with the search engines.


Lastly, though no one tweeted a slide or anything, optimize images with file names and alt tags that contain your keywords.

Industry Insider Panel: The Media

Media Panelists:

  • Julie Van Rosendaal, CBC radio food columnist, writer and editor
  • Bob Sumner, CTV
  • Jill Croteau, Global Calgary
  • Kait Kucy,
  • Matt Mostellar,

This excellent panel of media personalities discussed exactly how to go about getting your story into the hands of the media professionals who can bring it to life. While each had their own focus, they had many valuable nuggets of information that reveal the simplicity of media relations in a digital world.

All content creators need content. Help them by making it easier. Tell your story and provide video and photo content to go along with it. Don’t only think in terms of text but in terms of multi-media. Don’t be afraid to pitch.


Know what resonates with people. A new product isn’t a story; people, application, community – a story is a story. Be sure to pitch a human element to your story idea. People have to connect with it.


What about pitching over social media? Yes, sure. Social media messaging or email seem to be the preferred method but be sure to keep it short and sweet. Don’t make them dig for what you’re getting at. Most of these media personalities get hundreds of emails a day.


People spend their money on two things: solutions to their problems and happy feelings. I think this quote from @dinnerwithjulie was one of the most insightful pieces of information I’ve heard in a long time. Keep it in mind.


Keep those pitches short and sweet. Include a human element. Tell a story. Know the media personality you’re pitching and how it’s relevant to them or their audience.



For the full live tweet stream for the event, check out #socialsummitYYC