Social Media Week Toronto draws an audience from all around Canada. We’re lucky enough to have Christine Beevis Trickett join us from Halifax this week and be a part of our week. We’ve gotten Christine to share some of her thoughts on digital culture in Halifax, as well as what she hoped to experience this week!
Image by Casey Palmer at SMWTO 2012 event Advanced Facebook Marketing
Why travel to Toronto for Social Media Week? What is it about this Festival that is just so awesome?
A number of reasons! First off, a few of my colleagues last year attended and I remember watching their #SMWTO tweets with envy while I was in Nova Scotia and unable to attend. It seemed like they were learning so much and that there was a plethora of events to choose from and opportunities to connect with social media professionals both in our field and beyond. So, one of my professional development objectives for this year was to attend SMWTO and make the most of this learning opportunity.
Travelling to Toronto is also always a great way for me to visit our National office and connect face to face with colleagues (not to mention spend time with friends and family!).
How does Social Media help you do your job, or connect to the rest of the country?
Social media has helped me and the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) reach new audiences and engage in conversations with folks who might not have immediately identified themselves as NCC supporters, but once they’re introduced to our work, all of a sudden discover an affinity for what we do, particularly our work to protect habitat for Canada’s plants and animals. And we’ve found that people really love Canada’s animals!
Social media has also been fantastic in terms of helping us engage in conversations with folks and get feedback on our work. In the past, I used to publish stories (whether online or in print) and send them out into the ether, crossing my fingers that what we were doing resonated with folks and rarely receiving feedback. Now, I can post or tweet something and we’re able to get some wonderful feedback from our friends and followers.
Our foray into social media over the past few years has also helped us show that we’re far from being serious conservation science folks. We have a sense of humour, and we’re not afraid to show it – whether through our Juno and Oscar night live-tweets, through our weekly Spot the Species challenges on our Facebook page, or through the interactions of Canada’s only tweeting porcupine, @PorcupineTodd – an orphaned (and super cute) porcupine who was rescued by our Shell Conservation Interns last summer and taken to the Hope for Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in Nova Scotia, where she has spent the winter (and apparently, learned to tweet!). And it helps us show that learning about conservation and nature can be fun!
Last, social media is a great way for me to stay connected with the rest of the country (and of my field) – by keeping an eye on the news as it happens, and communicating with other professionals in the conservation and communication/marketing/social media fields. NCC and I have made some connections with a number of great tweeps and followers who now have become advocates of our work.
What is the Social Media scene like in Halifax? What is awesome about it, or what do you hope will change?
I would say what’s most awesome-sauce about the social media scene in Halifax is how small, friendly and well-connected folks are.
I polled a few of my Hali tweeps recently about their thoughts on the local social media scene, and here’s what some of them had to say:
@myogis: #halifax is pretty social, quite interactive and the 6 degrees of separation (which is really 2 in Hali) becomes 1!
@brucefraser: Connections made online often become quite strong & extend offline, both socially and professionally.
@Nicki_Doyle: Very friendly!
A big thing in the Halifax social media scene now is a monthly event called @Twushi. It’s not so much a business/networking event an opportunity for folks to get together, socialize and eat sushi.
Because I work for a national organization, my focus tends to be more on the national scene. But my overall impression from attending events at SMWTO this week is that the Halifax scene is a fraction of what it is in Toronto. In terms of comparison, while We Follow lists almost 1,100 Twitter users in Toronto, there are only 146 for Halifax. So it’s really easy to feel like a big fish in a little pond.
And while we do have opportunities to network and learn, such as PodCamp Halifax and Third Wednesday, on the whole there are fewer opportunities to learn and engage compared to Toronto.
Of course, there’s the fact that you can tweet while eating lobster and looking at the ocean any time you want!
What are you most excited to see/learn at this year’s Festival?
I’m most curious to learn about what’s new and emerging, to share ideas with other professionals and gain new ideas. I’ve also got my eye on Pinterest – I think it’s going to be big soon, and I’m curious to hear what others think.
What would you like to see happen with Social Media in the next five years?
I’d like to see social media become a formal part of an organization’s communications strategy and to have organization-wide buy-in, instead of a “nice to have.” I think we’re getting there, as folks are starting to see the power of our social media channels and their ability to not only drive traffic but to broaden our reach and sometimes even generate donations. But there’s still a ways to go.
I’d also like to get a better handle on analytics and reporting so that the impact of our social media is also more readily understood and communicated. Finally, I’d like to see it keep evolving and changing in all of the new and creative ways it’s doing now – that’s what makes being part of the social media scene so exciting and challenging!
Christine Beevis Trickett (@Ceebie, @HalifaxRunnerGirl) is the Editor of Digital and Print Publications for the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC). Three years ago, Christine launched NCC into the social media sphere by launching the organization’s first Twitter account, followed by a Facebook page a year later. Social media has been an interesting way for Christine and her colleagues to encourage NCC’s supporters to join the conservation conversation, and to show the lighter side of the Nature Conservancy of Canada.
Originally from Toronto, Christine now lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia with her husband, where she is also a freelance writer and blogger, as well as a long-distance writer, yogi and nature enthusiast. This is her first SMWTO but she hopes certainly not the last!