#SocialAtHome: Grow Reflection

The first conference of 2021 – I am torn between my love of virtual conferences and my desire to return to physical conferences. I love the accessibility of a virtual conference because it means I can still drop my kids off at a daycare, but it also limits networking and making new friends. Yes, virtual conferences often have networking avenues but as an anxious introvert, it’s terrifying to jump onto a computer screen with strangers. I’m just not that person. I’d rather try to find you on IG and write words.

This past week I attended Social At Home – Grow. This is a Canadian social media conference that featured over 30 expert speakers across platforms and digital marketing trends.  And I have to say, that I much prefer Canadian conferences because they feel more down to earth. I’m not sure how to explain that – but there’s something about a room full of Canadians, showcasing Canadian examples that makes me feel more at home and at peace.

That said — I still struggle because I’m just a one-woman show living and consulting within Northern BC. There are often presentations and ideas that you’re left trying to distill how this will apply with a budget of nothing, and a much small, rural audience. I think there is much need for conversations around rural digital marketing and Indigenous digital marketing. I want to hear more conversations around that – the challenges of social media in small communities.

Smallest Viable Audience

My Biggest Take Away from Social At Home: Smallest Viable Audience

All weekend, I keep going back to this idea of the smallest viable audience that Seth Godin, keynote speaker, reminded me about.

And this is not a new idea – I think we talk about finding your niche and being accountable to your followers. But it’s just good to be reminded that small is not intuitively bad. A room of 10 engaged followers who buy out everything is better than a stadium full of lurkers looking for free content.

This resonated in Linda Hoang session on newsletters and having a small but engaged list of people who want to open your email – be the friend they look forward to connecting with.

So many brands that I work with want to put social media messaging and campaigns that attract EVERYONE – and it’s no fault of their own, they are already in such small niche’s or hyperlocal spaces that the idea of shrinking the target demographic feels intimidating and wasteful— but we really should focus down on who is it that we wanting to convert and own the smallest viable audience as our biggest potential for success.

It’s likely one specific type of person – and if we can get her to be a super fan of our brand and amplify the message for us then we can go more places than if we try to be generic. I think of this one brand that I consult with regularly, and so often we worry her niche is too small, but perhaps we focus too broad and that’s damaging.

And it’s that idea of amplifying messages that continued to resonate throughout the speakers. One of my conferences last year, introduce me to the marketing funnel – but what resonated at Social At Home is this idea of flipping the funnel into a megaphone.


Listen & Adapt

The Other Take Away – Listen & Adapt to the changing needs of your Audience 

We should all be listening to our audience, but are we really adapting our strategies and content as they change? The pandemic propelled us 5 years into the future of ecommerce and digital communication. So much happened in a year, that we really need to re-evaluate what used to work, and accept that our audience has different needs.

  • Businesses continue to be entwined in an expectation to be champions of social justice movements – 2020 has shown us that consumers are not just looking for brands that align with their personal values, but that will take action and consumers are not afraid to call out brands for falling short and asking them to be better and do better.
    • It’s not about showing up for International Women’s Day, but about taking action, creating policies, and doing the hard work to change your business structure to be part of social justice.
    • Intentions are irrelevant if the impact hurts people.
  • Write with Empathy – if we can slow down, pause, and think about how people are feeling we can have better results on the content we create.
  • Voice is still the Future – or is it happening right now? Every conference that I go to talks about voice as the future of content, but isn’t it the now of content? And this reminds me to create to-the-point content to supplement longer in-depth content.
  • Stories from Real People – a community lens has so much potential in connecting with audiences yearning for authentic relationships beyond savvy marketing campaigns.

Marketing is Public Relations

More and more Digital Marketing reflects themes of Public Relations 

And maybe that’s the difference that I feel thinking about Social Media World versus my experience at Social At Home – both digital marketing conferences, but the notes I have written down from Social at Home say “re: Public Relations Best Practices.” I kept grabbing textbooks from my Public Relations courses to reflect – because the themes of listening to your audience, being empathetic, and shaping reputation continue through each session.

Is this a reflection of a Canadian versus an American Conference

Or is this a reflection of how much 2020 has changed the expectations of how brands show up in the digital space? 

I do think it’s the later. 

Marketing is now so much more entwined with public relations best practices. Where we see the fumbles is marketing forgets to consult. And for small businesses, marketing and public relations is a single stream effort. It’s a joint project that you apply with hopes of improving sales through a connected audience.

Social media will always be more than marketing – it’s a third space of community. It’s place we go to find a sense of place and belonging. Brands and businesses need to show up in a way that respects this space, and they will only succeed if they focus on contributing in a way that is less about sales and more about human connections of empathy and authenticity.   

And More of #SocialAtHome

I look forward to the rest of the sessions

When conferences make you choose one of three sessions, you know that you missed out a on many more incredible insights that can applied to how you approach your social media strategy.

As I start a new week, I’m refocusing on that small viable audience and connecting with them in an empathetic way that creates a superfan that can take the businesses I work with to the next level. Let’s not focus on numbers, but on relationships. And there’s going to be some creativity needed to make that happen. 

Will I be attending Social At Home: Thrive? I want to return to Design & Content this summer, and I think while I do love a good conference, there’s a few other areas of my brain I need to work on. Maybe 2022.