Canadian Web Hosting Blog and News
11Oct/120

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

6Aug/120

Tourism Richmond Talks’ Recap: Why Taking Risk Pays Off

If you've been following our blog, you'll know that while we love informing and educating you about our exciting web hosting and IT solutions related products, we also enjoy sharing innovative, business tips for our tech savvy community. This time, we'll focus on the tourism (and food) community to switch things up. While this isn't an industry that we have blogged much about in the past, some key elements will relate to entrepreneurship, an area that we constantly monitor. Besides, we know that our customers touch endless industries and since tourism is one of them, this is relevant to them, but also to the countless entrepreneurs using our services.

With that said, this past spring, you might have heard of this online buzz coming from Richmond, BC, regarding the food blogger gig announcement for a lucky winner to eat out for an entire year in that city. Last Wednesday, the Social Media Network hosted one of their social media speaker sessions at the Network Hub, featuring Brittany Riddell, marketing manager for Tourism Richmond. The event hashtag was #TourismRichmondTalks and the topics covered were as followed: how Tourism Richmond got all foodie eyes via social media, the social media behind Tourism Richmond’s recent 365 Days of Dining campaign and finally, being social in tourism.

Photo © riacale on Flickr

Key Facts from the Tourism Richmond 365 Days of Dining Campaign

      • 365 Days of Dining was the biggest campaign [in the greater Vancouver area] since the Vancouver 2010 Olympics.
      • In Richmond, BC, there are over 800 restaurants and over half are Asian influenced (we even have our own proof with an off-the-cuff blog post that we wanted to share with our local community).
      • This specific campaign used a triple A approach: affordability, accessibility, and its large Asian culture.
      • #365DaysofDining (their official hashtag during the campaign) was groundbreaking because it was driven purely by social media and the momentum of bloggers around the world.
      • The perks and compensation validated the work of food bloggers worldwide as professionals.
      • The applicant pool came from over 23 countries, 26 US states and all 10 Canadian provinces.
      • 1507 applicants were narrowed down to top 12 applicants with 6 people reviewing all of the organic applications.
      • The top 12 finalists resulted in an increase of 6500 Facebook fans and transparency with the campaign remained from beginning to end.
      • Constructive criticism and ranting is hard to distinguish and a crisis plan was already in place from the very start.

Recap Summary: Taking Risk in Social Media = Online Success

If you're in the tourism industry or you're an entrepreneur looking for new ways to spice up your next social media campaign, I hope that you found some useful tips through this article, feel free to share it on social media to your peers. Tourism Richmond is obviously social and you can find them on Facebook, Twitter, and more. This campaign really demonstrates that a calculated risk including a crisis management plan requires a high amount of transparency and ongoing flexibility as the campaign evolves through the end. Course correcting is still a key element and it'll be interesting to follow their journey. We applaud Tourism Richmond for running an innovative campaign in such a traditional media driven industry, taking risks and doing something different among their peers. Finally, you can also view the brief recap from the organizers from the Social Media Network for more information that includes an online curation of the event's tweets.

Special Offer for #TourismRichmondTalks' Friends

To conclude, we are offering a special deal for any offline or online #TourismRichmondTalks' participants including speakers, organizers, volunteers and even sponsors. You can learn more about us at Canadian Web Hosting, and to find out more about this specialized offer, the first step is to follow us on Twitter at @cawebhosting and like our Facebook page. The second step is for you to send us a message with the keyword "#RichmondRules" along with your contact information (email and/or phone number, or even Twitter handle) and we'll contact you directly after we verify that you completed the first step. Are you the next food blogger or tourism ambassador to watch? Let us help you.

Kevin Liang
CTO / SEO Guru

26Jun/120

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

22Jun/120

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

11May/120

Three Reasons Why You Should Join Hootsuite University during #HSUchat

If you reside in and around the greater Vancouver area, you most likely have heard of one the leading social media management tools called Hootsuite. The brief company history is that it was founded by CEO, Ryan Holmes, in 2008 in Vancouver, BC. Their tool essentially allows community managers, social media individuals, any companies of any size, manage their social media presence more easily with their easy-to-use dashboard and to leverage their system in more depth, they even have a “University” where anyone can get certified via online courses. At Hootsuite, they definitely have fun with design, check out this nerdy owl:

owly-nerd-300x300

For the past few months or so, I’ve attended their weekly tweet chat (#HSUchat). They occur every Tuesday from 11 to 12 pm PST and the topic is about anything social media related. Some of the past topics included Facebook content strategy, LinkedIn Network building, ROI strategies for Twitter and more.

First, before I share the three reasons why you should attend, let’s go over the definition of a tweet chat. What is a tweet chat? It’s simple; a tweet chat is a chat session pre-organized by a specific person or group during a specific day and time on a certain topic chosen by the organizer(s). The organizer comes up with a hashtag such as #HSUchat (it stands for "Hootsuite University chat”), so that each participant can search the ongoing conversation happening and use that specific hashtag to jump into the conversation.

Now, why should you care about #HSUchat? I’ll share three main reasons why and how this could apply to you or your organization.

1) Continue Learning about Developments in Social Media including Best Practices. If you'd like to get a sense of the topic that the owls are covering, you can simply view their Storify page but what’s interesting about each chat each week is that they encompass everything from strategy building, ROI strategies, best practices, new social media trends, content creation, tips and tricks across all of the current social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Google+ while covering the latest, up-and-coming platforms too.

2) Meet More Twitter Users from All Across the World. The beauty about these virtual tweet chats is that you get to interact with all sorts of participants from anywhere around the globe. In the past, I’ve conversed with people from France, Denmark, all over the United States, a few locals right here in Vancouver and of course, others across Canada. Now, putting aside geographical diversity, the variety of folks attending work in all types of company sizes (small, medium and large) from various industries including technology like ourselves, retail, consumer products and even higher education to name a few. As proof, I’m putting the spotlight on a Canadian participant to show you that it’s great to meet more tweeps virtually:

HSUchat connection May 2012

3) Connect with a Top Leading Social Media Brand. There is no doubt that it’s insightful to be a part of this tweet chat when you know that it’s run by a company that’s always in-the-know when it comes to social media. Of course, for us as a company, I’ve mentioned this in the past, we like to take some time to support the great, local companies around our area, so here we are. If you’re looking for social media knowledge, this is the hour to spend with them, where you can also get to know their brand while having fun learning with others in the social media space. We think that they’re an awesome tool and they think the same of us. We might just have to organize a second “hootup” with them – the owls at the nest are super friendly.

HootClub awesome May 2012

In conclusion, whether you’re a small or big fish in this social media world, you can each learn something from the weekly #HSUchat and since our customers are so tech savvy, and connected themselves, this is a great way for them to also connect with us more actively than any other times if we happen to be on the tweet chat. I hope that you find this article useful and I invite you to share it with others. If you’re a current attendee, feel free to comment and tell us why you attend. Or, you could tweet us over at @cawebhosting too.

Kevin Liang
CTO / SEO Guru