intellectual property

Social Capital Conference: Four years of fabulous

Saying goodbye with a smile.As some of you may know, Lara and I announced a couple weeks ago that this year would be our last organizing the Social Capital Conference. As two of the founders - and since Lara had the idea in the first place - I’m sure you can imagine that it was a difficult decision. It’s something we’ve been talking about for two years, in fact. We could see that long ago that we’d have to do something that far back. 

The conference was born out of a need for an opportunity to learn more about social media without having to travel far and wide to do it. We wanted to focus on learning and partnered with uOttawa and then Algonquin to support that focus. It worked. Year after year, we’ve had such amazing feedback on the sessions and the vibe of the conference. We’ve even had people fly in from both ends of the country to attend! It has been wonderful to be in the position of helping people learn more, inspiring people to progress to new levels, and bring them together to make connections. (If you’re not meeting people in person that you connect with online, you’re really missing out - I promise.)

This year, we’ve been seeing a lot of growth in our business and it was as clear as it could be that it was time to step away from Social Capital. We made the decision and we have no regrets or second thoughts. Our final conference was a success that we’re very proud of - we’re leaving this chapter of our work on a definite high note. 

I must admit that I was nervous going into this year’s conference. The growth we’ve experienced in our business made it harder to give the conference the attention it deserves and needs. It has been a fabulous problem to have, but it was still a problem. It was also the catalyst for finally letting go. We managed to pull off the day successfully and I hope that our divided focus wasn’t too painfully obvious. 

The speakers I got to see (Ariadni Athanassiadis, Mel Coulson, and Jenna Jacobson) were all really good. I learned more about Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation and other intellectual property concerns in social media from Ariadni - and had a chance to whine a wee bit about how frustrating it all is. Mel was so funny and engaging and gave amazing examples of great content and advice for creating great content. (Also, because she’s a professional writer, I was just wee bit nervous that she sat in on my writer’s block session! But I learned after it was over that she’s a very good live tweeter.) Jenna Jacobson, our closing kenote (sadly, logistics caused me to miss Trefor Munn-Venn’s in the morning…sigh) gave such a fun and informative overview of what “social capital” really is. I was excited about her presentation and she did a great job. I also think I want to get a PhD in information just like her. Because the things she’s studying sound incredibly fascinating (and also very cool)!

The networking is always my favourite part of the conference. Unfortunately, I get pulled in roughly a million different directions, so I miss out on a lot of the time for networking throughout the day. Maybe next year - if someone else takes it over - I’ll get to spend more time talking with all the amazing people who come.

To everyone who has supported us these last four years in any way - thank you, thank you, thank you. It’s been such an amazing experience for me and I’ve learned so much from the various speakers we’ve had as well as all the attendees who’ve come each year to learn with us.

5 things to look for in a social media manager

Small businesses can benefit immensely from hiring someone to help with their social media. It doesn’t even have to be a full-time staff member, which is good since few small businesses can afford a designated position. There are many freelancers who enjoy this kind of work and it’s easily done remotely. But before you make the hire, here are some things you should look for in the candidates who’ve applied:

1) Writing ability

When you’re developing content, writing ability is essential. Not only that, but you want someone whose style is consistent with your business brand. Formal, journalistic writing for a children’s store isn’t going to go over well. On the other hand, cheerful, slang-ridden banter isn’t going to work in a professional services firm. You can ask for writing samples, but don’t forget to check out candidates’ public social media accounts. This will provide a good idea of how they interact on social channels. Don’t forget to ask what other accounts they’re managing - especially if it’s related businesses.

2) Content curation

Content marketing isn’t about sharing 100% of your own content. If it was, no one would follow businesses because they’d be too boring with all their sales content. The candidate you hire should have creative ideas of how to curate content that is appropriate for your brand and audience. Whether it’s curated news pieces, photos, cartoons or blog posts, they need to have a talent for finding relevant, interesting information that fits your brand.

3) Understanding of the tools

Your social media manager should be able to use the tools (obviously), but they need to have an interest in them, too. I know one SM manager who doesn’t want to have a Facebook account for personal reasons that are totally understandable. However, they have a profile and know how it works and are interested in the capabilities that Facebook has as a tool. If your SM manager isn’t interested in the tools they’re using, they may not be able to effectively represent you. That leads me to my next crucial ability:

4) Stays current with changes

We all know continuing education is important. Social media managers’ CE comes from staying up-to-date on the major changes that happen so frequently with the social networks in their portfolio. Whether it’s changes to the terms of service, functionality or features, it’s essential to know what’s happening. This keeps your business protected from inadvertently going against terms of service that can endanger your account status.

5) Respect for intellectual property

Intellectual Property (IP) rights are abused on the Internet on a regular basis. A basic understanding of ownership, right to use/copy/distribute, and how to give proper attribution is important to keep your business safe from gaining a bad reputation or worse, getting sued. It’s also good for them to know steps to take to prevent your content from being stolen.

One last important thing: Community builder

The whole point of using social media is to build a community in support of your business. If the person you hire to help you doesn’t know how to build community or doesn’t have a friendly, sociable personality, it could completely undermine your efforts in social media - even if every other box is checked. Those other boxes are primarily technical. However, not everyone has the personality or desire to build community, so finding someone who already has an active community around them is a big clue that they are capable.

While it’s often a good idea (and quite affordable) for some business owners to get some help with social media channels, be sure you’re aware of what’s happening and chime in with your own voice from time to time. Ultimately, it’s you - the business owner - that your community wants to hear from. No one can deliver the message about the business you’ve built quite the same way!

What other tips would you add for someone looking to hire a social media manager?