This weekend I had the pleasure of attending iMedia, a social media conference at MacEwan University. While I was there, I got to hear a number of different speakers, as well as attend different breakout sessions that focused on different, relevant topics that apply to people within the digital marketing industry.

Here were my key takeaways from this weekend’s conference:

Video is Essential

Video is quickly turning into the most powerful storytelling tool online. We need to be creating more video, even if they are informal snippets that reflect our brand values. Move from using video as a tactic, to using video as a strategy.

Engagement is EVERYTHING

Engagement Social Media

This seemed to be a constant theme throughout the conference. Now, more than ever, is when engagement, and attracting and keeping an audience’s attention, is more important than ever. Some statistics from DDB’s session “Content For The People By The People”: 

  • We are exposed to 352 ads every day. We see 153. We only engage with 12.
  • Consumers are loyal to 10 brands. They only engage with 1% online.

The fact is, it’s harder than ever to get noticed. This conference solidified my own thoughts about marketing, and how to really get to the core of an audience’s trust.

It’s not all about lead generation. It’s not all about collecting emails. It’s about gaining trust, building engagement, and then diving into those next steps. Creating solid brand awareness initiatives are crucial.

Strategy is Dead

One of my favourite sessions was held by Founder and President of Starburst Creative and it was titled “strategy is dead”… and I couldn’t agree more.

We go to school to learn how to write pages and pages of strategy. We research demographics. We outline a plan. We discuss why it will work. However, in this new, fast-paced world, how can we relay on old tactics to get ahead in an over-saturated market? How will a 100-page strategy document, that may or may not work, really benefit us in the digital world?

The answer: It won’t.

Your strategy will most likely become outdated – fast. Adapt. Stop letting a textbook tell you how to run a marketing strategy. It’s old news. 

Here were some key points from the talk “strategy is dead”:

  • Demographics are dead. INTENT is everything, no matter what age or gender someone is.
  • Campaigns are dead. We can no longer tell people “when to buy” when they have access to anything and everything they want all the time (think Amazon, Spotify, etc). We need to stop planning our year in campaigns, and focus on “always-on campaigns,” or else we are missing out on important insights.
  • Advertising is research. Advertising produces data that helps us improve and tweak our marketing. Let your advertising tell you what to do, rather than doing extensive research before beginning your advertising. Stop using advertising to “validate” your strategy – it should be the other way around. Sometimes your audience is not who you think it is.
  • Organic is dead. Boost everything. Promote everything. Or else you’re not doing your job.

User-Generated Content Is King

user generated content social media

This is something I’ve already noticed with a number of the accounts that I work with on a daily basis, but I definitely learned more tactics at the conference that I can utilize going forward.

Did you know…

  • 92% of us trust personal recommendations over ads?
  • User-generated content has 6.9X more engagement than brand generated content on Facebook?
  • 77% of consumers prefer to see customer photos rather than a pretty brand photo?

As marketers, it’s key that we are always thinking about how to engage our audience and have them be part of our brand. How can we get them to submit photos? Reviews? Questions that we can answer?

An amazing example was the 35 Million Directors campaign. To re-generated tourism, Canadians were prompted to send in short videos of them exploring Canada. The result? 65 hours worth of footage, which was then compiled into a 60-second video – a user-generated 60-second video. This campaign helped re-generate interest in tourism.

This really inspired me to think about how I can engage my own client’s audiences in fun and engaging (there’s that key word again) ways.


Overall, it is clear that as marketers we need to rest on the fact that we are humans talking to humans. We need to create authentic and genuine content that connects and inspires. We need to make people laugh, smile and cry. We need to constantly re-invent and adapt.

Thanks for reading!




Published by Marina Khonaisser

Hi! I'm Marina, a Content Manager and Digital Strategist passionate about building brands and developing online content strategies that tell captivating stories.

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