To get a sense of what other professionals are doing in the social media space, I realized years ago it wasn’t enough to just follow them online or read their blogs. I needed to talk to them, one-on-one.
So, despite my natural introversion when surrounded by strangers, I found myself walking straight towards the crowded coffee bar after picking up my nametag for the 2017 iMEDIA Social Media Conference. I had such a good experience there, I returned two years later.
iMEDIA is a social media conference that has been running in Alberta for the past ten years, and will be taking place (virtually) from March 11-12, 2021. The event is focused on providing practical and tactical real-world advice for experienced marketers and entrepreneurs, as well as those who are new to the game.
It sounds cliche, but I’ve managed to gain important connections by attending the conference. Some were people who I had followed online, but never met in person. For example, I kept bumping into Teresa Sturgess, a marketing instructor from NAIT. Though I was never one of her students, Teresa and I frequently crossed paths online. She once told me: “you know you’re already a marketer right?”, which was a great confidence boost for me.
It’s these personal connections made at events like iMEDIA that matter in a vast online world.
But, this is 2021, which means iMEDIA will be virtual this year. Fortunately, while the experience will be a little different from the in-person format, the content quality will remain the same. There’s many interesting speakers from across Canada (and even one joining us from Florida!) lined up to share their experiences with attendees. In fact, two speakers are former Digital Alberta board members (shout out to Derek Hovinga and Peter Bishop!).
Considering all of the sessions are facilitated by digital communicators who are actually doing the work, the content is incredibly practical and something I found I could actually apply after the conference. One session that really resonated with me at the 2019 iMEDIA conference was the Facebook Live strategy presentation by Adam Rozenhart and Tyler Butler from ATB Financial. They talked about how experimental their process was in trialing live broadcasts. Each time, they were figuring out why we were going live, and what conversations they wanted to have with people.
While live video is famously used by gamers to stream their playing (with many able to make a living from ads and fan donations), more and more people are using live video to tell their unique story, whether it’s for work or a hobby. As I learned from Adam and Tyler’s experience, if you don’t succeed the first time, just try and try again (and that’s definitely a theme you’ll hear at iMEDIA.) ATB now uses live video for events like concerts, one-on-one discussions with local business owners, and tutorials on important topics for its customers, like how to avoid caller scams. Before going live, the ATB team engages with their followers and friends to ask them what they would like to know more about, and uses that customer feedback to build their video content.
In my TV broadcasting program at NAIT, we were taught to always produce a finished-looking product, but with social live video, it’s okay if the video looks unfinished. That’s what makes it authentic. The technical component of live video also poses a challenge. In my day job as a videographer for Edmonton’s Food Bank, I don’t necessarily have the luxury of shooting videos that require additional equipment, so I make do on a more condensed scale.
After his presentation at iMEDIA19, Tyler was kind enough to do a follow-up coffee meeting with me, where we talked about work and the technical aspects of Facebook Live. Unfortunately, because of the pandemic, I’ve only been able to schedule a pre-packaged “live video” show for social media. However, I have plans to expand to more with live video going forward, using the lessons I learned at iMEDIA.
Once the iMEDIA conference ends, it’s important to maintain the connections you’ve built, and to stay on top of the topics you learned about. Everyone has their own way of doing this. For me, I like to stay involved in community groups on Discord or Slack. I also like to follow local influencers, who share information on the latest trends. Canadian blogger Linda Hoang (@Lindork) is a great example of someone who keeps up with fun new marketing ideas, and I’ve always been a huge fan of her work. Speaking of Linda, she will be hosting a virtual discussion at this year’s iMEDIA with Ad Standards Canada. They’ll be talking about the rules around influencer marketing, which should be informative for businesses, consumers, and influencers alike.
Reading blog posts from agencies and experts in the industry is another good resource. Alberta marketing agency ZGM (who will be hosting two breakout sessions at this year’s conference) offers engaging posts that I find very relevant to digital marketers. If you’re subscribed to podcasts, Marketing Major and Alberta Esports Association’s Insight are great local resources that focus on marketing basics, as well as the gaming industry. Taproot Edmonton also has a great podcast feed, including the six-episode Igniting Innovation series (which covered how startups and investors are working together to boost Edmonton’s tech innovation sector) and Conversations (discussions on various aspects of the Edmonton community).
Have I missed anything? Please let us know in the comments below what tools and resources you use in your workflow that you’ve found beneficial. Or you can also reach out on Twitter, using the hashtag #iMEDIA21, and tagging @DigitalAlberta or myself, @Sellarcast.
I am no influencer, guru or expert. I like to try new things, because experience only comes from experiences. I’ll be at this year’s iMEDIA Conference with Digital Alberta where I’ll be attending the breakout sessions (I’m stoked for “How to use Social Media “Stories” feature to build a community”, “Make Your Blogs Count”, and “Creating an Efficient Social Media Content Calendar’). Digital Alberta also be holding a lunch time Ask Me Anything, so we can start building those community connections I was talking about. I hope to see you there!