From Mass To Grass is where it’s at.

CMA Word of MouthLet me start this post by stating that I am, in fact, a reasonably proud Canadian. So now I must confess something to you. I’ve never been to Toronto. Ever. Well, other than the airport a few times. Insane, I know.

So I’m very excited to take my first trip there to speak at the Canadian Marketing Association’s extraordinary From Mass To Grass Word of Mouth Marketing conference.

I’m on a not-for-profit panel called Building Buzz for Good, along with Deborah Kaplan, the Executive Director of Zerofootprint, a renewable energy company. The panel is being moderated by Kate Trgovac a very well known and well respected blogger.

It is being described as so:

Not-for-profits have been organizing and activating grassroots influencers since their first inception. Learn from some of Canada’s top and most innovative non-profit organizations and initiatives on how they build community, activate influencers and build support for their causes. If you are a non-profit or CSR-focused organization, this is a must attend segment.

Check out this funny video promoting the event (hat tip to Michael Seaton for the video):

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.

See you in Minneapolis.

CUES ExperienceI’m off to Minneapolis tomorrow for CUES Experience.

I’m excited to see so many of my CU alum there, including Morriss Partee, Tim McAlpine, Robbie Wright, Denise Wymore, Brent Dixon, and am most excited to finally meet Ron Shevlin, Steve Williams and Christopher Stevenson in person after months of being eConnected. I hope I didn’t miss anyone – did I?

I’m presenting a Credit Union case study from Vancity, covering who we are, how we show up and how we leverage social media. Should be a good presentation.

It’s also been a fantastic way to procrastinate finishing my chapter for the new Age of Conversation. Truth be told, I’m starting to panic, it’s due in 3 days.

If you’ll be in Minneapolis, please say hi.

Now I gotta figure out how to transport fresh fruit across the US-Canada border, because my son Ivan is expecting tiny apples from a place called Minneapolis (say it aloud).

See you at Cossette Convergence.

Convergence 2008I’m excited to participate in the upcoming Cossette Convergance 2008 here in Vancouver at the Arts Club Theatre.

I’ve been asked to speak on a panel entitled Giving Your Brand Away: Brand Communities, and will be a panelist alongside Ben Stringfellow from McDonalds USA, Thierry Hay-Sabourin from Future Shop and William Bakker from Tourism British Columbia. The panel will be moderated by Angele Beausoleil from Fjord, Cossette’s online agency.

I’m honoured to be among these amazing people, and it should turn out to be a great event.

I’m very keen to hear from the keynote speaker Grant McCracken the author of Culture and Consumption.

If you’ll be there, please let me know. And if you’re thinking of attending, you can register here.

Congrats to Flock, hats off to Facebook.

Webby Award Winners - SOCIAL NETWORKINGSo we gave it all we had, but in the end didn’t take home a Webby.

Truly, it was such a crazy honour just to be nominated. We got all of Vancity behind this, right up to our CEO. It was great and very fun, but it was not meant to be.

The last time I was able to check, we were in second place for the People’s Voice Webby Award, but a distant second (7%) to Facebook (78%). Needless to say, Facebook took it.

And the judged award went to the very cool Flock, the social media browser.

Here are the winners in our category of Social Networking