Photo of Paula Skaper
by on in Kinetix News

Vancouver’s first Digital Strategy Conference is off to a promising start. If today was anything to go by, I hope this turns into an annual event.

The conference opened with a keynote on Defining Digital Strategy from Braden Hoeppner of Clearly Contacts, sharing the learnings from his role as VP Sales of one of Vancouver’s shining stars in the ecommerce world. His fresh honesty and wry humour got everyone in the mood for a jam-packed day as he pushed us all to ask deeper questions and be open to doing things in a different way.

Andrea Hadley and Kelly Kubrick followed up with the unveiling of a model for evaluating an organization’s digital maturity. For me, this was the meat of the day and I would have loved for them to take more time and dig in deeper. The digital maturity model is a take-away I intend to experiment with, share with our clients, and evaluate how well it helps us communicate the complex matrix of factors that we, as an agency and strategic partner, must balance to be effective in our role of helping clients achieve their goals. I’ll post more about this model and how we’ve applied it in our business when I’ve had more time to digest all the information provided.

The afternoon’s presentations included a case study from Vancouver retail powerhouse, Aritzia. Grace Carter shared the trials and tribulations of bringing ecommerce to a pre-eminent brand after holding off for over a decade before jumping into the fray. She reminded us all of how important it remains to take care of the little things when she admitted that in all the rush of building the site, they had overlooked a short-term traffic generation strategy and admitted that content marketing and social media, while incredibly effective over the long term, take time to mature and bear fruit. And so now, with the site launched and the content marketing program in full swing, the team has turned it’s attention to building out a short-term strategy to do what retail stores everywhere must – get traffic through the door and product in their shopping bags.

By the time Dan Pontefract, author of The Flat Army, took to the stage to tell his story of Creating a Connected and Engaged Organization, my brain was hurting from the assault of information. When Dan shared the dismal stats on how few employees are engaged with their workplace – between 45% and 60% could care less about the company they work for – the air went out of the room. Then he told us how Telus turned that number into an engagement rate of 80% in just 5 short years, achieving status as one of the top 1% of companies in the world in terms of employee engagement. The big learning – social business is a matter of culture NOT marketing.

But we weren’t done. The day wrapped up with Michael Tippet sharing the factors that led Hootsuite to become Vancouver’s social media darling and the world leader in social media management software, followed by Christopher Berry of Authentic who schooled us all on the wealth of information available through our social media connections, and why we should care.

But perhaps the most educational takeaway was the role that social media is playing in bringing the conference to life. The tap, tap, tap of mad twittering adds to the energy.

I arrived at the conference with strict instructions from our own social media expert – what to share, how to share it, and what to keep him in the loop on. And, judging from the rapid-fire discussion that populates the Twitter screen at the front of the hall, I’m far from alone. The silence in the room is deceiving, for there are more conversations going on than at most parties.

It’s a new approach to the conference experience for me – I have always been worried about the impact that actively tweeting would have on my personal experience and so have shied away in favour of ‘not missing a thing’.

I’m not yet sure how I feel about the impact of listening for the Tweetable sound byte has had on my overall experience. It reminds of my days as a reporter, the feeling of being there but separate at the same time. More on that after the conference is over and my brain, and thumbs, are rested.


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