May 2015

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Paul HolmesEMAIL INTERVIEWPaul Holmes and Ken Sinclair

Paul Holmes, Co-producer, Social Media Camp

I am co-producer of Social Media Camp, Canada's largest social media conference, now in it's 6th year. I have worked in varying capacities within the realms of marketing and information technology for 25 years.  I'm an instructor, educator, and public speaker. But I also consider myself something of a "technology ambassador", as I have an uncanny knack of taking difficult technical concepts and making them simple to understand.

Social Media Camp

Social Media Camp is Canada’s largest social media conference, drawing hundreds of attendees.

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SinclairFor our readers who are not familiar with Social Media Camp can you tell us about the event?

Holmes:  Social Media Camp is Canada’s largest social media conference, drawing hundreds of attendees from across Canada and the United States each year to network, learn about the latest trends and opportunities, and share ideas.

SinclairWhat are the hot topics that are being featured during this event?

Holmes:  We expect Google’s new emphasis on mobile-friendliness (the need to have a “responsive” website) to be a huge topic. Also, the sudden appearance of “Periscope” on the landscape could be a game changer, and is definitely a “hot” topic. The fact that Instagram is now more popular than Twitter is bound to come as a surprise to many, too.

Our theme this year is “Social Integration,” so many of our talks speak to that. We have seen a trend in the last few years to chase the latest and greatest, and organizations putting all their eggs into the “social” basket, to the detriment of other marketing strategies that have worked well. There are more options for your marketing dollar (and time) than any time in history. This year, we hope people will leave Social Media Camp with some clear ideas about how to seamlessly integrate social into their overall marketing strategy.

SinclairI’m a big LinkedIn fan.  What are some of the latest trends in LinkedIn that I might learn about at the Camp?

Holmes:  LinkedIn is the category killer for business social. It’s replaced the rolodex and the resume. That said, we’ve seen dramatic changes in the layout, the features, and notably the mobile app over the last couple years. If you haven’t been on LinkedIn for two years, you may not recognize it. To help us navigate these, we have brought in not one, but two of the most notable LinkedIn experts in the world. Neal Schaffer is the guy who literally wrote the book on LinkedIn, and has been a noted LinkedIn expert for about a decade. We are also excited to bring back Viveka von Rosen who keynoted last year’s event, and has incredible insights on the platform. Both of these speakers and authors are high profile experts that are called to speak on LinkedIn at events around the globe. We’re pretty excited to have them both at the same conference!

SinclairAs a company who produced HVAC systems for large buildings how could I leverage social media to increase my business?

Holmes:  Many people think social media is a great platform for Business To Consumer (B2C) marketing, but maybe not as good for Business To Business (B2B). On our latest Social Media Camp podcast, I actually put this notion to Facebook marketing expert Mike Gingerich, the President of, and quite the discussion ensued. The short answer is that the way you market B2B is a fair bit different than B2C. One strategy for B2B is to use the advertising tools (particularly in Facebook, but in other platforms as well) to “hyper-target” your audience to the key decision makers and their influencers, and engage with the contacts that respond. Making a personal connection with this target audience adds an extra dimension that traditional advertising simply cannot replicate, and may make the difference between you and your less social media-savvy competition.

SinclairHow important is using social media to build brand loyalty and return customers?

Holmes:  For large corporations, promoting the brand is absolutely mission critical. If you are a large consumer brand, for example, and you are not huge on Twitter or Instagram right now, you’re simply doing it wrong.

For smaller companies, they don’t have the budget (or time) to build massive followings, so targeting the audience is very important. Follow and engage with your clients, influencers to your target market, and regionally, to areas you service.
Of course the most important part of having “return customers” is service. This isn’t a new concept at all. The difference now is that bad service could potentially be that much more embarrassing over social media, and amazing service could potentially be a huge boost to the bottom line in free publicity. (Keep in mind, either could happen whether you are there or not – so it’s never a bad idea to be there listening.)

Every business should strive for service excellence all the time – because they won’t always know who they’re dealing with, and who they know. If mistakes are made, and they become public, deal with them professionally, apologize, make it right. Playing the blame game on social media is rarely a good strategy. Finally, if you know you are dealing with somebody who has a tremendous amount of influence, especially in your business realm, a strategy to intentionally knock their socks off in a huge way can’t possibly hurt.

SinclairIf a website does not have social media channels will it rank worse in Google than one who does?

Holmes:  Unequivocally, yes. At the very least, they’re an incoming link. There are a few talks at Social Media Camp this year around “Content Marketing.” Producing new content on your website is a key search engine strategy. Not sharing that content over social channels, and building audience on those channels is just sort of silly in 2015. It’s like saying, “I have a huge amount of expertise, and I want to share it on my website … but nowhere else.”

SinclairIf I am attending the Camp should I prepare my social media accounts before I attend?  Are there any key hashtags I need to know, or people who I should be following?

Holmes:  Social Media Camp is for everyone! Certainly we draw experts from across the continent, but “Mom and Pop business folks” come in large numbers as well, and learn tons!

For those who are intimidated by a three day conference, we have volunteer coaches (experts who offer to meet with you at no cost, to help you navigate the conference and ask questions about your social media).

For those coming from Victoria, I am teaching some preparatory workshops through ctc TrainCanada the week before as well, so people can get a “primer” in advance of the main event

Would it hurt to follow some awesome folks ahead of time, and tweet on the #SMCamp hashtag? Of course not. But nobody should feel obligated to reach a certain level of expertise before attending.

SinclairWhat about when I am at the Camp?  If I am a company attending the camp how can I make more connections while I am there using social media?

Holmes:  Meet people. Come to the launch party. Come to the Friday night mixer. Visit the exhibitors. Go to the meeting room, and the bWEST Knowledge Café. Introduce yourself to the people sitting around you at sessions. Jump on #SMCamp and join the conversation with the thousands of people who aren’t only at the conference, but are joining into the conversation from around the world.
We’ve structured the agenda such that networking is a major focus. As such, there is a real “vibe” at the event that we’ve become famous for – everyone feels they are part of something amazing, meeting new people, and learning together. It’s hard to describe, but you’ll know exactly what I mean when you’re there.

Control Solutions, Inc Sinclair Where can I get more information, or training, about how to effectively use social media to help build my business after the camp is over?

Holmes:  It depends on your need. There are professionals at every level in this industry, from strategists to trainers, to virtual assistants and social media staff (part time or full time).

I’ve partnered with ctc TrainCanada to provide ongoing social media training throughout the year in Victoria – targeted both to business owners, and staff who are responsible for social media. Of course, I know of some other folks who do a great job doing this, too – both in Victoria, and in cities across North America. I’m always happy to refer them (after May 23rd, when I catch my breath), if people want to connect with me on Twitter - @tpholmes.


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