1st Annual SocialEast Conference

What a whirlwind week! My Discover Charlottetown co-worker Shannon and I just got home from the first annual SocialEast Conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia. We headed over early to avoid travelling in some poor weather that was about to hit Prince Edward Island, and are we ever glad we did because this conference was spectacular. The creator of the conference, Mike Morrison opted to bring it to his home in Atlantic Canada after experiencing success with its sister-conference – SocialWest. I must say it was a success. The lineup was outstanding with speakers from across Canada from companies such as Twitter, Google, WestJet, HootSuite, etc.

Mike Morrison of Mike’s Bloggity Blog!

Here’s the lineup:
Susan Charles – Brand Strategy Lead, Google
Ben Conoley – Senior Marketing Consultant, Salesforce
Jessica Fralick – Senior Account Manager, Edelman
Cam Gordon – Head of Communications, Twitter Canada
Greg Hounslow – Emerging Media Manager, WestJet
Alex Kingcott – President, Shareworthy Content Lab
Mike Morrison – Founder, SocialEast
Alicia Taggio – Customer Marketing & Advocacy Manager, Hootsuite
Usman Tahir Jutt – Owner/Operator, McDonald’s Corp (Chirp Foods)

What did we learn??

Susan Charles gave us some great tips on creating standout videos with the purpose of building a following. She suggested checking out One, Ten, One Hundred, a documentary on creating great video content with varying budgets. She also suggested creating eye-catching content with subtle brand cues, a big reveal, and quick cuts. Movie trailers are amongst the highest watched videos and these characteristics are commonly seen in them. She suggested thinking outside if the typical 30-second timeslot. If your message can be effectively delivered in 6 seconds – why not!? Find opportunity in scarcity and place your video ads amongst content that compliments it and gives it context! Our attention these days is so fragmented and we consume much more video content online than on television, so we need to make ourselves available for viewing where our customers are going to be. Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, etc. If you’re selling food, be amongst the cooking videos and stand out, be a little risky! Then be sure that you’re making content that people want to watch – check your analytics, see what your watch time is, where people are dropping off, and make changes for retention. In short – Find customers, Capture their attention, and then measure the impact. 


Greg Hounslow from WestJet showed us some excellent examples of marketing that works – or “satisfies the social content beast”. He provided insight into what User Generated Content is and how to use it effectively for your own business. UGC is readily available but he suggests having some guidelines in place when opting to use it. For one, ask the photographer for permission, provide them with a link to your Terms & Conditions, have them consent to the use, and credit them wherever the content is used. There’s software available to help you find good UGC, but he suggests finding it yourself and fostering relationships with the contacts you make during the process. 

Greg also touched on the difference between Influencers and Content Creators and how you should approach these relationships. His number one piece of advice was that true Influencers rarely call themselves influencers and to steer clear of these people. Often content creators who are putting valuable content out there have a smaller following but have a more engaged audience and a good level of influence. Somewhere in the 3-5% area of engagement on recent posts is considered good. He suggests making sure the people you’re approaching are a natural fit for the business/brand and have similar values.


One of my favourite presenters of the day was Jessica Fralick. She showed us some hard-hitting examples of bad social media use within large corporations and they were cringe-worthy, to say the least! She said that 64% of current consumers will buy a product that aligns with their values and promote the said product to show where they stand on social and economic issues. So it’s very important that brands stay firm on their messaging or they risk losing customers. Some top tips were to re-think prescheduled posts in the wake of a disaster and address bad feedback in the comment section and then take it offline for final resolution. 

For your viewing pleasure, here are 6 examples similar to Jessica’s of poor Social Media Marketing Campaigns. Enjoy!

A slide on helping your customers find you from Cam’s presentation

My favourite quote from Cam Gordon of Twitter Canada was “Tweets are just bite-sized press releases”. THIS CLEARED SO MUCH UP FOR ME. I’ve been searching for a relevant use for Twitter – it feels awkward reposting the same things as Instagram or Facebook with slightly altered messaging – now I know to keep it short, educational, and easily digestible. Live-tweeting from events may be a good use of our time or announcing that a new product is coming out. His top Twitter tips were:

  • Your Bio is SEO friendly, so fill it up with relevant keywords and content!
  • Tweets that incorporate a GIF or video perform better.
  • Be sure yo tap into your brands’ culture with your tweets, retweets, and interactions.
  • Ask questions and use polls! Everyone answers polls!
  • Give customer shout-outs when they do something you’d like your customers to see! It encourages sharing and gives thanks to your customers.
  • Share knowledge and tips! 

Cam said some accounts he’d recommend following right now are @collectivebrew, @yvrairport, and @MEC!


Using Influencers for marketing was a frequently addressed topic of the day and Mike Morrison really delved into it by sharing his experiences as an influencer. It was interesting to hear how he choose which companies to work with and to know that he says no to many. Often he asked himself, “Would I click on this?” and makes his decision based on the answer. 

Mike has a “Cat Cafe” in his office. Let be more like Mike. 

Mike highly recommends working with Micro-Influencers with small but mighty voices speaking to real followers, not paid ones. They’re more believable and credible and therefore make a larger impact. He recommends including the influencer or content creator in the early stages of planning since they will know their audience best be able to let your know what is possible, and help you set realistic expectations. While the project is running, don’t forget to engage as a company. Share, post, comment, etc – get it out there and support the content! Once the project is over, don’t forget to get the #s so you can measure the ROI. Often this is skipped! WHY?


Usman Tahir Jutt was the youngest owner/operator of a McDonald’s location in Canada and has done some wonderful for in his community through the restaurant. He gave us some top-notch examples of how to engage with your physical community and not just the one online! Some top takeaways were:

  • Your business has a duty to contribute to the community. 
  • Utilize Social Media as a tool to document your progress and achievements. 
  • Leverage the strengths of your business to help the community and make positive change.
  • Surprise your followers with quirky but relevant content!
  • Don’t be afraid to stray from the traditional messaging.
  • Develop a story around your day to day and keep that story alive. 

Usman told us of an example where a child has left a Scooby Doo toy behind in the restaurant, so they posted a picture of him with a happy meal, looking for his family. When there was no response, they posted another saying that Scooby has begun working in the kitchen while he waits for his family to return. The story went viral and children began visiting the restaurant to see where Scooby would be working that day and their parents were buying them Happy Meals and this dramatically increased their sales. After a few days of running with the story, they realized the owner of the toy would not be returning, so they donated Scooby’s “wages” to the local Ronald McDonald House and he moved there to live with other families! This was a great example of a story they were able to run for multiples days, develop an audience for, and then close at an appropriate time. A happy accident and great learning opportunity!


Presenters, Ben Conoley, Alex Kingscott, and Alicia Taggio were as informative as they were witty and kept us all entertained through the remainder of the day. Ben shared such wisdom as thinking about how your responses to clients can lead to more sales, promote your customers doing this they enjoy while using your product, build advocates and they will go to bat for you, and a reminder to maintain a consistent message across all platforms.

Alex had the audience in stitches as she nerded out over the data of social media. And she said a lot by not saying anything at all about Google and Linked In. Some tools she suggested using were Social Blade for tracking an influencer growth and Phlanx to measure your social standing

Hootsuite’s dedication to a great workplace culture blew me away and Alicia gave a great rundown of the benefits this has brought to the company. Because your newsfeed has changed to include more people and less exposure to brands, she says that empowering your employees to talk about their work and the company can really increase engagement. So much so that sales have increased by approximately 2 million dollars at Hootsuite since they began treating their employees as ambassadors. They track all this through UTM’s and with their product Amplify, and can actually measure the ROI as a result. COOL. 


After a super satisfying day, we headed to The Stubborn Goat for the after party where we mixed and mingled with presenters, organizers, and attendees from across the country. I will definitely be back for the next one in October 2019!