Great time at Convergence.

Convergence 2008I was at Convergence for most of today, and it was an impressively put together and attended event.

The event, which partnered with the overall VIDFEST, is a production of Cossette, one of Canada’s largest communications agencies. They brought together some impressive speakers, with a nice mix of locals and imports.

One thing I don’t get to do enough of is meet peers here in Vancouver. I spend so much of my time on the road at events, I don’t attend that many in town. Today was a welcome change, and I met some amazing people doing some amazing things.

The panel I was on was called Giving Your Brand Away: Brand Communities and featured four of us, all on the client side, who have created online communities to support our brands and companies.

I was delighted to learn from my fellow panelists:

  • George Hradecky from McDonald’s USA launched an enormous community undertaking called StationM, which is an online community for McDonald’s’ 770,000 front line staff across North America.
  • Thierry Hay-Sabourin runs the Future Shop Community Forum a place where gearheads can ask questions and exchange tips on their gear. It was so great to meet another local online community guy.
  • William Bakker runs eBusiness at Tourism BC, including their blogs and social media initiatives. Again, great to meet another local doing interesting things.
  • The panel was moderated by Angele Beausoleil, who is the Director of Strategic Planning at Fjord, Cossette’s interactive wing. She ran a great panel, with enough moderation to give us focus, but a light enough touch to let the panel unfold organically.

It was one of the best panels I’ve ever participated in, and we got lots of great feedback.

One thing I was really struck with was how we ran four totally different communities, with four different business intentions behind them, and yet we all came to remarkably similar conclusions.

We all felt that the community had to be authentic and transparent, that you needed to seed the community with the right kind of people to get it going in the desired direction, that it had to grow organically in its own time, that you had to get buy in from the top to start initiatives like these, that you have to know exactly what you want the community to do for your business regardless of how hard or soft that impact will be.

I was honoured to be a part of it, happy to meet so many amazing people and impressed at how well run the event was.

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