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Social Media Week Vancouver 2012: Engagement, Authenticity, and Content

It's the fall...and it's time to get social!

Social Media Week Vancouver 2012

About Social Media Week 2012

On September 24-28, 2012, the Socialized team brought us Social Media Week Vancouver for the second year in a row. Social Media Week Vancouver in 2011 was a great hit and this year, they once again delivered another jam packed schedule including insightful talks and panels covering anything from crisis management, storytelling, business blogging, social media strategies to a media conference featuring Gary Vaynerchuck, social CEO's and their practices, even the Dragon's Den summit and more. This fall, 13 different cities across the world hosted Social Media Week, and as expected, the online and offline buzz generated created engagement, new connections, and lots and lots of discussions surrounding anything social media related throughout the entire week. I had the opportunity to attend several events and in comparing it with last year, I noticed some overlap and some emphasis on certain topics, which I'll share in three parts.

Engagement is everything. If you're new to social media, focus on engagement.
These days with the advancement of technology, consumers are becoming more verse with technology and the social media world and they turn to the internet to share their experiences with brands and not only do they do so, they also want to use these newer social media avenues to interact with their favourite brands and perhaps, other like-minded customers for exchanging ideas or simply to connect with one another. Many speakers and brand ambassadors mentioned that being a social brand was essential in order to have an open line of communication with their own customers, focusing on being available and engaging in a timely manner with inquiries, or in general discussions, using social media platforms to alleviate crisis issues or to be able to share the latest announcements without sounding too pushy. The consensus among several events was to be present, to listen actively and to be a participant - a two-way conversation, which as our own brand, we're a big fan of!

Authenticity makes you sound more human and more genuine. Use your human voice.
Being authentic was by far one of the themes that kept coming up over and over during that week. The message from speakers reminded us to interact as an individual, to let customers know who you were by showing customers that you were a real person behind a logo or a brand. To do this, it helps to immerse yourself in your company's culture, get to know your co-workers better, and let your voice on social media shine through. Trying to humanize a brand can sometimes be challenging, but that is why it's even more important to stay genuine when you're having conversations with your customer base, and remember that sometimes, mistakes can happen as well. This is social after all, and no one is perfect.

Content, content, content, it's all about content.
Last year, one component was for companies to be able to share their stories and this relates to this year's point: content. Many sessions emphasized the importance of having fresh content on your sites and especially, your social media sites. Customers are constantly looking for news, product announcements or overall content that will be useful to them and that could come in many forms like education, entertainment, etc. Creating frequent, new content can be difficult. One of the most interactive and useful tips during the business blogging session gave away some great takeaways through a simple customer service exercise. Customers come to you and ask you many questions, often times, they will be similar and redundant, therefore, instead of responding privately to that individual, you could turn those answers into a blog post and without too much effort, your content comes to you.

Social Canadian Web Hosting at Your Service

Here at Canadian Web Hosting, you'll continue to hear us talk about the community that we serve and our members vary across so many different industries and for us to be able to support so many of them is a true honour every day. We listen to our customers, engage with them constantly and as an online community, we appreciate that interaction that helps us understand their stories better as we continue to do business with them. Social Media Week reminds us that we're doing things right and both companies and customers are in this together as new media evolves in the future. In conclusion, if you're a current or a future customer, we want to connect with you.

If you attended Social Media Week Vancouver, what other trends did you notice? Please share your comments.

Kevin Liang
CTO / SEO Guru


Canadian Cloud Hosting Sponsors WordCamp Vancouver and BuddyCamp Vancouver 2012

WordPress is a free and open source blogging platform used by millions of users across the globe and many organizations use it as their content management system (CMS) based on PHP and MySQL. The WordPress community is such a dynamic crowd and we’re excited to announce that this upcoming weekend through early next week, Canadian Cloud Hosting is sponsoring WordCamp Vancouver and BuddyCamp Vancouver. Bloggers of all levels and developers should consider attending these events. Both events are welcoming and even designers or other enthusiasts can participate if you want to learn more about WordPress, you'll be welcomed to join us since the format caters to different levels of expertise, so don't feel intimidated.

WordCamp Vancouver

WordCamp Vancouver 2012

WordCamp is all day conference mainly focused on WordPress, split in two tracks: 1) users and 2) developers. Unlike other conferences, this event is affordable to all and you'll be able to meet, share, and most importantly, learn from a knowledgeable line up of speakers and connect with them and other attendees. The event will be on Saturday, October 13, 2012 from 8 am to 5 pm at the BCIT Burnaby Campus. Tickets are only $25 and part of the line up for users include Tips to Grow Your Professional WordPress Business, Demystifying SEO, How to Make your WordPress Site Mobile Friendly, and for developers, they include Calm and Simple Code With Purpose, Mistakes I Made using jQuery, and How to Avoid them, and Interacting with External APIs. The full schedule will provide you with all the details, so that you can plan out your day ahead of time.

BuddyCamp Vancouver

BuddyCamp Vancouver 2012

For those of you who are more familiar with WordPress, you most likely have heard of BuddyPress, an open source social networking software package (owned by Automattic since 2008), a plugin that can be installed on WordPress to transform it into a social network platform. It is designed to allow schools, companies, sports teams, or any other niche community to start their own social network or communication tool. These two-days are geared towards a more advanced audience, split in two tracks as well: 1) education and 2) developers. BuddyCamp will bring all of the community benefits as WordCamp and a chance for even more collaboration on their hack day, on the second day. The event will be on Sunday, October 14, 2012 from 8 am to 5 pm and Monday, October 15, 2012, from 8 am to 2:30 pm (hack day) at the BCIT Burnaby Campus. Tickets vary from $10 to $35, including a live stream option and part of the line up include The Future of BuddyPress, Community Building Tactics for BuddyPress Sites and UBC Blogs and the BuddyPress Experiment. The full schedule will provide you with all the details.

Our Ongoing Community Involvement

This weekend will be a fun filled packed event of connecting, learning, and collaborating and we're proud and honoured to be a platinum sponsor for both WordCamp Vancouver and BuddyCamp Vancouver to support the WordPress Foundation and to show our ongoing commitment to give back to this thriving online, global community. Also, don't miss out on your chance to hear Matt Mullenweg, founding developer of WordPress on Sunday, October 14, when he speaks at the first ever BuddyCamp Vancouver and we'll even be raffling off some great prizes too at both events. See you there!

Kevin Liang
CTO / SEO Guru


HostingCon 2012 in Boston, MA, July 16 – 18

About a year ago, our team enjoyed having the opportunity to attend HostingCon in San Diego, California. In less than a week, this year's conference is going to be held on July 16 – 18, 2012 at the John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Centre. This is always an exciting and very anticipated conference as it is the premier conference and trade show for the hosted services industry in North America. Per their site, "the conference features 52 educational sessions across 3 full days presented by more than 100 speakers and panelists, including numerous industry thought leaders and trend setters. More than 1,800 people from all areas and niches of the hosted services industry are expected to attend the conference." This is always a jam packed conference!

Allow us to do some of the homework for you and highlight three of the many speakers including some interesting tidbits related to them for your knowledge:

1. Noam Wasserman: Professor, Harvard Business School
Wasserman is a professor at Harvard Business School where he teaches an MBA elective, Founders’ Dilemmas, for which he was awarded the HBS Faculty Teaching Award and the Academy of Management’s 2010 Innovation in Pedagogy Award. In 2011, the course was also named one of the top entrepreneurship courses in the country by Inc. magazine. In March, he published the book The Founder’s Dilemmas: Avoiding the Pitfalls that can Sink a Startup. A recent Forbes article reviewed that "Wasserman’s book brings analytical rigor to the crucial “people choices” that company founders make, showing that many common choices are the riskiest. Much as systematic Moneyball data analysis uncovered the inadequacy of scouting methods alone, Wasserman’s data provide fresh insight into founders and start-ups." You can follow him on Twitter at @noamwass.

2. Liam Eagle: Editor-in-Chief, Web Host Industry Review
Eagle has worked as a contributor to the Web Host Industry Review since its inception in 2000, and as editor since 2003. Through the WHIR, Liam spots Web hosting trends and offers opinions on the industry-wide impacts of major developments and the motivation behind big announcements. He recently interviewed Philbert Shih from Structure Research and one of his compelling questions was how international markets were affecting the hosting business. Shih's answer, aligned with a recent survey from the Uptime Institute, stating that, "International markets are the next frontier of opportunity. It is about addressable market and opportunity. International markets are also crucial because the business has gone global. Organizations have global audiences and the infrastructure has to keep up." You can follow him on Twitter at @liameagle.

3. Ditlev Bredahl: CEO, OnApp
Bredahl is an Internet and hosting industry veteran, with more than 15 years’ experience leading hosting and technology companies. Ditlev has an MBA in International Business from the European Institute for Public Affairs and Lobbying in Brussels, and a degree in Economics from AAU, Denmark. You can follow him on Twitter at @ditlev. From his feed, you'll notice that he's approachable and he even shares random pictures nearby his current home in the UK as shown below. How about that for an ice breaker, eh? You can thank us later.

The comprehensive list of speakers provides all of the biographies on each of them. Finally, if you're new to this conference, or would like a reminder on how to make the most out of HostingCon, you can read five tips on their official blog. Whether you are on site in Boston or not, anyone can follow the event live online on Twitter by searching the official hashtag #hostingcon, connect with their official handle @hostingcon and when you do, we invite you to tag us @cawebhosting. If you're an avid Facebook user, you can check out our photo album from HostingCon 2011 on our Canadian Web Hosting Facebook page and don't forget to like us. We love all of our social fans!

Kevin Liang
CTO / SEO Guru


Northern Voice 2012: Various Blogging Perspectives including Resources (Day 2 of 2)

We recently blogged about the first day of Northern Voice 2012 conference and this brief additional post briefly covers the second day on Saturday.

Morning Sessions: Blogger's Brain, Pinterest and Social Panels

One of the most active morning sessions was led by Doug Blackie talking about the blogger's brain. He started off by sharing a stat that 73% of bloggers were under 35 years old and that there were roughly 45,000 bloggers in the province of British Columbia. Bloggers are story tellers that show their own personalities through their own blogs. He reminded everyone to be mindful on how you blog. Some common pitfalls mentioned were: consistency, accuracy, brevity and authenticity - once again, this keyword popped up. In another room, Taylor Loren spoke on Pinterest and emphasized how as Pinterest users, "you are what you share." Moreover, retailers are now finding a great use of this new platform by pinning their own products visually, driving online traffic to their own sites. The overall usage statistics are skewed depending on the country that you're looking at. Pinterest is still a platform to watch especially in the online and traditional retail industry. Meanwhile, Mike Vardy shared his thought on better blogging productivity (we'll share some resources for you later in this post), the other sessions covered a panel on social media, social change and politics and finally, a panel on owning your beauty.

Taken by Northern Voice participant Jason V. (@jmv)

Afternoon Sessions: Evolution of Personal Voice, Blogging and even, Gaming

Shane Birley kicked off the afternoon with a very energetic and entertaining session sharing his earliest memories in his own personal blogging journey. He talked about his process and how his own voice had changed over the years. Soon after the keynote, Peter Armstrong talked about lean publishing and the similarities with creating a startup. He walked us through his software and how user friendly it was to use. In the cinema location, we overheard the recurring theme of authenticity come up again and how blogging had to remain authentic, or else, your own audience may start feeling disconnected with your published content. Finally, Mikhail Gershovich discussed the benefits of gaming and how it could be applied in education or even, in real life situations. Some of the benefits in high gaming usage included better communication, learning how to be more initiative if one is nominated as a group leader and so on, and so forth.

5 Articles for Better Blogging

To finish off, here are some articles that you may find interesting and relevant to this conference:

Special Offer for Northern Voice 2012 friends

Northern Voice 2012 Exclusive Offer

As previously mentioned, we're offering a special offer for all of our new Northern Voice 2012 friends including participants, speakers, organizers, volunteers and even the sponsors including with a free hosting migration for up to one domain and we'll even offer you up to 50% off on any hosting for up to a year. So, what are you waiting for? You can learn more about us at Canadian Web Hosting, and to take advantage of this offer, you can either leave a comment below or reach out to us through our social media channels like Twitter at @cawebhosting and/or via our Facebook page.

Kevin Liang
CTO / SEO Guru


Northern Voice 2012: How Authenticity Will Help You Win in the End (Day 1 of 2)

Last week, on Friday and Saturday, June 15th-16th, we attended the Northern Voice 2012 conference for the first time: a two-day personal blogging and social media conference hosted at the W2 building in Vancouver, BC. In this blog post, we share some of our experience and thoughts including tips on what it was like being a part of this community for a weekend. This covers the first day on Friday.

Funky Northern Voice mascot

Technical Content: Canadian Copyrights and Free Speech & Legality of Linking

During the Canadian Copyright session by Martha Rans, we caught some interesting points. For example, there is a new bill coming through regarding Canadian Copyright laws: Bill C11, the changes are as of yet unknown, however, it is expected to expand copyright laws to include satire and parody among other things. One of the most tweeted comments was that the moment an idea is fixed (i.e. paint on a canvas, words written, site live, hosted and under a domain), it is covered under basic copyright laws without the need to register. If something is on the internet, it is not fair game to be used and is not automatically under public domain. Finally, most creators are not asking for monetary gain, on the other hand, creators would prefer being asked to converse with the people wanting to use their property. Another interesting fact is that copyright lasts the death of the creator plus 50 years. You have moral rights to your work in which these rights are "integrity," meaning that your work cannot be distorted or changed, and with "paternity," it means that you have the right to have your name credited on any of your work. One thing to be aware of is that infringement consists of a work being made to be substantially similar to another work. Judges look at these cases with the following in mind: same colours, shapes, and the meaning of the work. Following this session, one of the most interesting tidbit during the Free Speech & Legality of Linking by Jon Newton was that Wayne Crooke, member of the Green Party, attempted to have hyperlinking count as publishing an article, effectively banning hyperlinking in Canada. This case got to the Supreme Court but was then thankfully thrown out.

Creative Content: Improv and Blogging to Inspire

The Improv Me, Baby panel, included Nancy White, Alan Levine, and Rob Cottingham, kicked off with a lot energy as they all shouted instructions at us. Around the room upstairs in the W2, they had several signs with statements such as commit yourself, let go, or accept offers where the audience was instructed to stand by the one that scared them the most. Following that grouping, they led us into a vocal and non vocal exercise teaching us to work together and be creative. To my utmost surprised, I stood by Gillian Shaw, Vancouver Sun tech reporter, whom I had to the pleasure to meet last winter to talk about local non profits for youth education. Another creative exercise was the PechaFlickr where a group of volunteers all spoke for 20-seconds each on tugboats' slides one-by-one. The randomness of the keyword made all the participants have to be creative on the spot - a brilliant idea to think quickly on your feet. The takeaway was for this community to continue practicing their blogging and social media skills, refine them and know that having a plan and a process is only part of the preparation when doing business or even blogging or social media, adding creativity into their work is essential to tapping into their imaginative thoughts to execute their plans.

The Blogging To Inspire panel, included Amber Strocel, Samantha Reynolds, Crystal Stranaghan, was full of great inspiring information through the panelists' stories. One of the top regrets was not being authentic to yourself and on the flip side, an ongoing tip was to remain authentic. The theme of authenticity was heard throughout the entire conference and there was definitely a huge emphasis and reminder for bloggers to adhere to that trait. The women reminded everyone that nothing was perfect and to give your best shot each time especially as practicing is key in your growth of blogging, including dedication, discipline, courage, fun, passion and braveness; the list goes on. One of the most thought provoking comments was that anyone has a great story whether one knows it or not meaning that everyone has something to offer whether you're a personal or business blog. In the end, blogging is about connecting.

Thought Provoking Content: Building Community through Passion, the Art of Crowdsourcing and Online Privacy

The afternoon sessions in the SFU Cinema were driven by passion, insights and wit and definitely created some of the biggest online buzz that day, starting with Yael Cohen on Using Personal Passion to Build Online Community which almost lit the room on fire. If you want to hear an authentic speaker, she is it. She kicked off by saying that youth especially Gen-Y was uniquely positioned to change the world. In her fight against cancer, she allows her own community to be vulnerable, and she goes on to bring up the importance of being authentic and raw. She's asking for a change rather than money, and she clearly outlines that as an organization, you must go wherever your community is, and for her, it's online. On a side note, you should note that if your client base isn't online, then, you must re-assess your means of communication with your community. She shared some of the lessons that she's learned along the way and her biggest and hardest lessons was to say "no, thank you."

The next session by David Ng on Lessons Learnt in the Fine but Unpredictable Art of Crowdsourcing was very entertaining as well and every attendee seemed really engaged as laughter kept bursting through the entire hour. He described and shared several experiments and shared a list of tips. His list was very insightful and it is the following in order: just try it already, it's okay to not take things too seriously, targeting a community is key, make the work easy, twee helps, influencers are handy, and finally, our personal favourite, do good. His talks were full of visuals, stats and stories that got everyone in the room tweeting interesting tidbits.

At the end of our day, we listened to Daniel Cowen on Did I really want you to know that? Privacy in the Social Media Age. He started off by sharing a story about one of his colleagues who crawled the internet to find out very specific information about a social media junkie in less than two hours. The list included things like her pet name, her mother's maiden name, her address, her favourite restaurant and even her social security number -- all things that a bank would ask for verification. He warned us how location based services while fun could be a potential threat to ourselves. If you're using a geo-location app or you're a heavy social media user, you must be very aware of your published content and also, how this could put you at risk depending on the situation. For example, a common tip was to not take pictures of your home and post them online as these are prime pieces of information for thieves to come rob your own house.

Special Offer for Northern Voice 2012 friends

How can we help you?

Now that we've shared a wealth of information with you, here's the best part for all of our new Northern Voice 2012 friends including participants, speakers, organizers, volunteers and even the sponsors, if you're looking to start a new blog, or maybe switch your domain(s), we'll hook you up with a free hosting migration for up to one domain and we'll even offer you up to 50% off on any hosting for up to a year. So, what are you waiting for? Let us help you get going on your blogging journey. It would be our pleasure to host you at Canadian Web Hosting. No pun intended. To take advantage of this offer, you can either leave a comment below or reach out to us through our social media channels like Twitter at @cawebhosting and/or via our Facebook page.

Finally, stay tuned for part two and in the meantime, remain authentic online because that will keep your content real and "winning" in the end.

Kevin Liang
CTO / SEO Guru