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Social Media Marketing World: A Whirlwind Summary

This March I had the pleasure of escaping Edmonton’s snowy streets and heading to sunny San Diego to experience Social Media Marketing World. Now before I dive in I have a confession to make: this was my very first conference, ever! I went into it with absolutely no idea what to expect.


To put it simply, my mind was blown! Over the course of three days I was exposed to new ideas, met marketers and content creators from around the world, and connected with peers to share ideas with. I returned to Edmonton tired, but full of knowledge. Now that I’ve had some time to digest and even implement some of my new-found knowledge, here are some of my big takeaways.

Video Content

Video isn’t the future; video is now! I can honestly count the number of sessions that didn’t mention video content or advertising on one hand. By 2021 it’s estimated that the vast majority of online content will be video-based. If you aren’t utilizing some form of video, it’s definitely time to start.

Creating video content used to be a whole production (literally). It would cost hundreds, if not thousands of dollars to produce a 30 second video. Luckily for all of us times have changed. There are a tonne of options for video creation on a budget from stock videos to affordable outsourcing and even DIY options. While there is still a time and place for large-scale video production, the average small to mid-sized business simply doesn’t need it. A stop motion video, a simple animation, or even taking 5 minutes out of your day to go live on Instagram can have a huge impact!


Chatbots were one of the digital marketing trends to watch this year. SMMW proved this to be true. While I only had the opportunity to attend one session regarding chatbots, they too came up in a number of seemingly unrelated sessions.

The one idea that really hit home for me was when comparing chatbots with email marketing. How many emails do you get on any given day? If you’re like my, your personal inbox is full of countless newsletters and random updates you signed up for to get 10% off that one order.  Simply put, the average inbox is full of hundreds of emails that aren’t going to be opened, let alone read.

Depending on who you ask, email open rates average about 20-25%. Facebook Messenger bots, on the other hand, have open rates as high as 80%  – quite the difference! At the very least chatbots and messenger bots are worth exploring.

Humanizing Marketing

One of the most compelling speakers for me was Mark Schaefer’s closing keynote. After spendig two and a half days learning about all of these different technologies and strategies to implement, Mark brought us back to what really matters: people.

Consumers don’t necessarily want to buy from the cheapest brand, the most well-known brand, or even the “best” brand. Instead, they’re interested in companies with a story. Maybe it’s a company that only uses local ingredients, or someone who gives back to the community by donating a portion of sales to a funding education programs in Africa. People are done interacting with a faceless brand. They want to feel a connection; they want to be part of the story.

Yeah, that’s a pretty grand idea but there are some pretty good takeaways. Sometimes we forget to showcase our personality as companies, but truly that’s what makes us unique. We need to take time to share our story and provide clients, customers, and people in general the opportunity to turn it into their own story.

Overall, I’m incredible grateful for the opportunity to gain knowledge, grow my skills, and enjoy a change of scenery while doing it. If you’d like to learn more about the conference in general or any of the cool strategies and ideas, feel free to leave a comment or connect with me!