Know Your Future Customers: Highlights from the MediaSmarts Life Online Study

Media SmartsCanadian teenagers are connected and mobile: that’s the conclusion that comes from the latest MediaSmarts report called Life Online. This report looks at online behaviour of children from grades 4 to 11—a great prediction of the patterns of future adult consumers that you can use today to build a marketing strategy for tomorrow. Here are some interesting highlights.

The future is mobile 

By grade 11, a whopping 75% of teenagers use their smart phones to access the web and about 72% use a laptop. To say that this is the age of mobile would be stating the obvious. For this age group, the smartphone is actually the most popular way to access the web. With bigger, faster, better phones released every year, we can safely assume that this trend can only continue.

We all know that mobile use is on the rise and that companies and organizations must cater to these devices. By grade 11, 85% of students have their own cell phone—you can be sure that as time goes by, this number will increase.

In short: if you don’t have a mobile or responsive website, you are losing thousands of opportunities to connect with your future customers—as well as current ones who also tend to use mobile more and more as years go by.

Social media is ubiquitous

For anyone who works in the field of marketing, PR and communications, social media has become part of the typical arsenal of tactics to reach and engage people. Those who caught on to the importance of social media for the future of business communication have it right: by grade 11, close to 95% of students have a Facebook account, and more than 60% have a Twitter account.

Social media is no longer a plus: it is now a must.

Make videos

The MediaSmarts survey asked students to list their top 10 websites. In 75% of responses (and by far the most popular) was YouTube. The next one is Facebook, with 57% of students listing it in their top 10.

There are very little financial and technical barriers to making quality videos anymore; a smartphone and a free video editing suite are enough. Making videos should definitely be part of your social media content strategy.

Who’s the goofy prankster in your office? What awesome things do people do with your product? How are others using your services to make the world a better place? These are all great video ideas and things that will bring to light the human side of your business or organization.

Plugged-in generation

According to the study, 35% of students worry that they spend too much time online. With 65% who are not worried, we can conclude that for them, being online is a normal part of life.

However, many of them still appreciate time spent offline. 77% choose to go offline to spend time with friends and family, 71% to go outside or to play games or sports, 45% to enjoy quiet time and 44% to read a book.

In general, internet access outside of school is almost universal, with 99% of students saying that they surf the web outside of the classroom. Contrary to those who were born in the 80s and who came of age as the internet matured, the upcoming generation was born with a fully functional, easily accessible and ubiquitous network of knowledge, information and communication. What will the future consumer look like? We can’t tell for sure, but we can say that the web, mobile devices and social media will be an integral part of their behaviour.

Learn more about what youth are doing online at Social Media YOUTH Camp, May 3rd.

Eventbrite - Social Media YOUTH Camp

How To Resuscitate Boring Content With Audience Personas

Writing-300x240If you ask someone who works with web content on a daily basis: “What makes good content?”, you’ll probably get an answer like “Good content is fresh, relevant, interesting and useful.”

That’s all well and good; of course everyone’s interested in fresh ideas, relevant information, interesting facts and things that make our lives easier. But after you’ve written dozens of “10 Tips To…” or “5 Best Ways To…” or “20 Great Quotes About…”, it can be difficult to come up with new ideas for content that drives clicks, engagement and leads. The results? Stale, boring content that people are happy to just ignore.

Too many organizations end up with the “boring content syndrome” because writing good content is getting more and more difficult as more and more people collectively write millions of pages every single day. In every given field, a few content producers get the majority of eyeballs while the rest struggle to attract a few dozen views.

What are these content producers doing that makes them stand out? Many of them are considered “experts” and carry an enormous amount of trust with readers. But how did they build that trust in the first place? By understanding what their audience needs and giving it to them. And although not every blogger and YouTube star on the web has done a persona-building exercise, most of them have an innate understanding of their audience’s needs, values and desires. In short, they have a mental picture of that “audience persona” and they cater to it every time they write a post, record a podcast or film a video.

Personas to the rescue of boring content

When faced with stale content, readers think: “This doesn’t call to me. This is boring. This doesn’t answer my questions about this topic.” You want to avoid these thoughts at all costs, because they mean that readers probably won’t come back to your website anytime soon. This can be simply because your voice doesn’t appeal to them, but when your content doesn’t appeal to anyone, then you have a problem. By trying to talk to everyone, you end up attracting no one at all.

That’s why getting a clear, functional audience persona can help you produce content that attracts and, most importantly, retains your audience for a very long time.

The persona is a basic communication and marketing technique that is also very useful when planning and producing content—whether for marketing or other purposes. It is one of the building blocks of content strategy and management. And a good persona can rescue boring, ordinary content from disappearing in the big black hole of unread stuff on the web.

The basics of personas

Personas are like novel characters: they have a specific age, gender and personality. They turn a general concept of “audience” into a concrete individual who you can relate to more easily.

Your audience persona should tell a story about a typical person in your audience. You begin with basic information like name (because real people have names!), gender, age and profession. Then you can add in more details about education level, income, marital status and living arrangements. Try to imagine a day in the life of this person: what books or magazines do they read? Where do they get their coffee? What’s their favourite TV show?

Try to think of a story related to the product or service you sell. What situation would make them look into what you offer? What challenges do they face and how would your product or service help them?

To put it all in perspective, here’s an example of a persona I would develop for Social Media Camp

“Julia is a 37-year-old marketing manager for a retail company. She has an undergraduate degree in business and considers herself at mid-career level. She especially enjoys creative planning, design and media relations. She has a good relationship with her superiors and is considered a thoughtful and fair manager by her subordinates.

She considers herself computer-literate but has had issues keeping up with the rapid changes in her field, which her schooling did not train her for. She knows about all the social media tools but she finds herself stumped when trying to use them strategically and for the benefit of her company. She has trouble trusting so-called “experts” from the web and would rather like to learn in a workshop or conference environment with established professionals in the field.”

As you can see, I did not focus too much on Julia’s personal life because it has little bearing on her interest in Social Media Camp. However, I used a detailed description of her work life and challenges to establish the reasons why she would like to attend SMC: her desire to learn from established experts and her preference for real-time, face-to-face environments.

Un-boring your content

With this persona in mind, I can now craft content to appeal directly to several of her needs. Speaker profiles and interviews would establish trust in their expertise. Testimonials from past attendants and summaries of past conferences would give her a better idea of the learning experience. She would find that content useful, and SMC would be able to convince her of the value of attending the conference.

It’s also good to think in terms of multiple audiences. Some products or services appeal to different people for different reasons, so building several personas and crafting different content for each can also be a successful strategy, especially if they use different channels.

If you don’t use personas in your social media planning, now is a good time to start. Who’s your audience? What do they need? What do they care about? When you answer these questions, you have a much better chance of getting them hooked to your content for a long time.

CarrotLines launches online food product search engine and sharing community

Our friends, CarrotLines, developer of top Canadian nutrition consumer app, Carrotlines™ and updated version, Carrotlines powered by Tommy Europe™, are launching The Food Wiki at Social Media Camp 2013!

The Food Wiki is an online search engine and community site where today’s most informed eaters can get in-depth product information and connect with food brands available across the Canadian marketplace.

The Food Wiki is also the ONLY Canadian site of its kind, listing over 40,000 products and 2,000 brands, making it the largest public source of food product information for Canadian consumers!

Just like in CarrotLines Powered by Tommy Europe, The Food Wiki site users can search and browse for foods and brands by keywords and attributes. Products feature a full nutrition label, attributes, certifications, potential allergens and country of origin information. Site users can connect with the brand and manufacturer via websites, and social media, discover recipes, coupons, related products, store locations as well as order online (when available).

 Carrotlines Powered by Tommy Europe was designed to help Canadians break through food label confusion by making it easy to apply food product information to their personal nutritional profile and goals plus provide fitness and nutritional content from Tommy Europe. The Food Wiki expands on our Carrotlines iPhone application for consumers who don’t necessarily have an iPhone and want to search and browse from anywhere” says Wahiba Chair, CEO of PortaLife Solutions. “Users can search by keywords and then share their experiences. The Food Wiki information combined with social sharing keeps the content current and relevant and increases consumer confidence about which food products are best for them.


For those of you who don’t have an iPhone, you can access all the great features of CarrotLines Powered by Tommy Europe via the Food Wiki mobile site, anytime on any device!

There is no need to sign up; however, joining The Food Wiki community allows access to social networking and sharing plus access to exclusive content, deals and special offers.

CarrotLines will discuss the website features at the Social Showcase Wednesday, May 8 at 11 a.m. in the Colwood Room at the Victoria Conference Centre.

Follow @CarrotLines and @TheFoodWiki to stay in touch with the latest in food, health, and fitness. For media inquiries contact media(at)carrotlines(dot)com

Silver Pass Scavenger Hunt

Everybody loves a good scavenger hunt right?  Especially when the prize is a ticket to Social Media Camp valued at more than $350.

Starting yesterday we’re leaving a Silver Pass tucked inside a copy of Chris Guillebeau’s “$100 StartUp” in random locations around Victoria. We may try to get one up in Nanaimo too.

Our first hunt was April 5th and started with a few vague clues that got a little easier. The first Silver Pass was discovered resting quietly up against a bench in the gardens in front of the Fairmont Empress.

Congratulations to our winner Scott Garman who was in full Sherlock Holmes mode as he followed the clues to the prize.

Today’s scavenger hunt is a little more challenging and at the time of this writing (16:30 PT) no one has claimed the second ticket. Here are a few of the clues that are out there so far:

  • It’s at an elevation of more than 150 metres
  • It’s tucked inside a copy of “$100 StartUp” which is inside a clear zip lock bag
  • Below are a few of the photo clues that should point you in the right direction

Feel free to ask questions in the comments box below if you need a better clue.


Social Media Camp named one of “10 to Watch” by Douglas Magazine

March 28, 2013

As Social Media Camp gears up for the fourth time (held May 6 – 8, 2013 at the Victoria Conference Centre), Douglas Magazine last night honoured founders Chris Burdge and Paul Holmes as part of their annual “10 to Watch” businesses.

In what was described by the magazine as, “what could have been #yyj’s clash of the social media titans,” Chris and Paul instead joined forces to create Social Media Camp.

Now entering its fourth year, Social Media Camp attracts more than 700 attendees, who in turn learn about the latest and greatest in all things digital media for business.

Being honoured among other Victoria-based businesses such as Catalyst Lifestyle Services, Rumble and Trade Roots as part of the fifth annual “10 to Watch” puts Social Media Camp in good company.

Former businesses that have been honoured include, Victory Barber & Brand, Cook Culture and ArenaLINE Zipline Adventure Tours, who continue to prove that Victoria is a successful place for entrepreneurs.

In Paul’s words, “just because we’re in Victoria doesn’t mean we have to think small.”

To register for Social Media Camp click here.

‘No vacation nation’ turns to professional development to get a day off

Dec. 11, 2012, Victoria, BC As 2012 comes to an end, business people are looking to plan their professional development and educational spending for 2013, and while Americans tend to take less time off than other nations, they do combine business and professional development to create mini-breaks.

“North Americans combine business travel and, in particular, professional development travel with vacation time,” says Brenda Anderson, former chair of the Convention Industry Council and director of sales and marketing at the Victoria Conference Centre.

Known as the ‘no vacation nation’, a recent study by Harris Interactive found that about 57 per cent of working Americans had 11 unused vacation days in 2011. For nose-to-the-grindstone business types seeking a mini-break to keep their minds as strong as their bottom lines, three locations with social media conferences are likely to get thumbs up on travel.

“We want to encourage business people to continue their professional development and still be able to take a vacation,” says Chris Burdge, co-founder of Social Media Camp. Burdge went on to say that a successful conference combines learning from peers and experts, but is also about making personal connections. “While Social Media Camp is growing, we want it to keep the personal touch so attendees don’t have to fight their way in through hordes of app developers asking for a download. We know you need to learn about the latest killer campaigns, but you also need an atmosphere that makes the learning fun so it feels like a break from the daily grind.”

Three mini-break inspired social media conferences (two you’ve never heard of)

Social Media Camp – May 6 – 8, 2013 in Victoria, BC

The fourth annual Social Media Camp will be held at the Victoria Conference Centre, May 6 – 8, 2013.  Social Media Camp is Canada’s largest learning forum of its kind, bringing together the brightest social media minds in North America for three days of social media exploration, sharing and teaching, with ample time built in for networking. The agenda will include workshops, panels, key note speakers, roundtables, an Innovation Zone, knowledge cafe, trade show, and the annual Social Media Awards. Sessions will also include clearly defined streams for beginners and advanced users, and by industry group.

What makes this conference different?

Social Media Camp offers a hands-on approach and the ability to ask questions in an informal setting. Typical attendees are smaller brands with smaller budgets that are looking to learn innovative and creative approaches. Social Media Coaches are assigned to newbies for the duration of the conference. Known for combining accessible outdoor adventure with urban activities and combined with a great conference, Victoria, BC is an undiscovered mini-break destination.

A two-day conference pass for Social Media Camp starts at Canadian $299 Cdn.

For more information and to register, visit, Facebook: SocialMediaCamp, Twitter: @SocMediaCamp. Google +: Social Media Camp.

Social Media Camp also offers a 6-day cruise aboard the Norwegian Jewel to combine professional development and business. Click here for more on the Social Media Cruise schedule.

Fourth Annual Corporate Social Media Summit – November 2013 in London

The Corporate Social Media Summit Europe bills itself as the one-stop shop for all the latest social media insight and best practices for building, operationalizing and initiating a successful social media strategy for corporations. Attending the summit will help those who need to learn best practices and strategy targeted at priorities. The conference is designed to solve problems with peers at a gathering place for corporate social media practitioners

What makes this conference different?

This is a big brand conference and attendees can expect to learn from the big budget people and have key learnings that can be applied to business. Known for history, theatre and culture, London is an urban lovers dream mini-break for those who love the hustle and bustle of big city life.

A two-day conference pass starts at €645.

Social Media Show – April 24 – 25, 2013 in Singapore

Social Media World Asia 2013 will bring together Asia’s largest brands, social networks and their partners to discuss developing social media strategies for business, leveraging social media to increase revenue streams, and measuring ROI through analytics. Exhibitors will include social media analytics, social media campaign management, Web 2.0 solutions, digital and mobile marketing solutions, and agencies & consultancies to help attendees discover the latest strategies and trends in the social media world.

What makes this conference different?

For those who sell to Asia it is essential to know what makes social media tick in Asian cultures. Singapore is a favorite of business travellers for the food and cultural experiences that, combined in high density space, optimizes the mini-break experience.

The two-day conference pass starts at $1,495 USD