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What we learned at Social West

The Largest Social Media and Digital Marketing Conference on the Prairies

If you read our last blog then you’ll know that one important step of running a small business (especially where a service is being offered) is to attend conferences and networking events a few times a year.

If you have never been to a conference, sign up for one in your industry to at least check it out. Conferences offer invaluable opportunities to learn, network and hear from others who might be able to offer some tips and tricks you didn’t know about. Mostly though, conferences offer us a chance to keep on building up our communities, which, if you follow along on social with me, you know I harp on, on a regular basis.

For Social Centric this year, our conference choice was Social West 2017, for obvious reasons.

Social West is making its mark in Calgary as the largest social media and digital marketing conference on the prairies. The conference is planned and operated by local blogger extraordinaire Mike Morrison. This year it was held at the Globe Theater in downtown Calgary and included an impressive roster of speakers from organizations such as Twitter, Chatelaine Magazine, Banff and Lake Louise Tourism and FGL Sports.

Besides the perks of all-day True Buch Kombucha and Rosso fuel-ups, the conference delivered a ton of knowledge for existing practices, new practices and also, things NOT to do for social media and digital marketers such as ourselves - here are some highlights we thought were important:

For those of you thinking about hiring a marketing consultant or firm:

Make sure you can draw the line between hiring a consultant or firm or just doing it yourself.

We all want to be successful and busy, but even as a consultant, I might turn down clients who I know don’t need me….. (really). I don't want people to waste their money on something I know they should be doing on their own or don't have budget for.

If your budget is super small for marketing, try taking a workshop instead of hiring a big (or small) firm and do your marketing yourself until it becomes too much of a beast.

If you do have some dollars, no time and zero interest in marketing – definitely hire someone that fits in your price range/business plans and if they do a good job, keep them involved in your growing business so they can nurture you brand.

You gotta pay to play.

Facebook’s algorithm is like Calgary's weather, it is constantly changing. Even if your organic content is stellar, you WILL NEED to boost posts or post some ads eventually. So when your social media or marketing consultant suggests this, trust them and ask for an explanation in order to learn why.

If you are doing it yourself, take a course or workshop on how to create, test and manage ads on social.

And don’t worry, social media ads won't be nearly as expensive as traditional advertising – at the most you should only be spending about $100 per month on ads (say the experts), unless you’re a multi-million-dollar company that can afford/needs more - $10 -$20 or even $50 dollars can get you far more reach, more engagement and website click backs,

Followers are NOT king.

It was so refreshing to talk to other consultants and hear that they too, had issues with the idea that their clients had been told followers were the top analytic of a successful strategy.

Although followers are a nice addition to marketing efforts, analytics such as engagement, reach and impressions (click to read up on what these mean) statistically result in far more sales and advocacy conversions.

Ever see an account with 17,000 followers, but each post garners only about 100 likes and maybe 5 shares? My point exactly. Those other 16,900 followers likely won't even see your content despite following you - thanks algorithm. So raise a glass if your engagement is through the roof - this means people like you and your feed and they want more of what you're putting out there.

For more information on workshops or training, chat with us @socialcentricinc or call us at 403.869.3256 – we’d love to grab a coffee and chat.




Dakota is a local social media marketing and branding consultant with more than six years' experience in traditional public relations, photography and marketing. Following an education from the University of Calgary and Grant MacEwan University, Dakota went on to work for two large non-profit organizations, with the Hyatt Hotel Chain and for a local boutique public relations firm. Dakota is a native Calgarian and is an avid volunteer in her city.

Currently we are volunteering with Doors Open YYC:

Doors Open is a well-established and highly successful international concept that allows people free access to buildings in order to create enthusiasm for heritage and contemporary architecture, and increase the appreciation of historic and culturally significant places and spaces.

Check them out and book your #yyc tour at

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