Social West was billed as the ‘largest digital and social media marketing conference on the prairies’, and was developed by Calgary blogger and social media personality Mike Morrison (MikesBloggityBlog, Calgary By Bike, etc.). Mike came to us with a clear vision of what he wanted Social West to be, and high expectations for guest experience. We were lucky to collaborate with him in the months leading up to this premiere conference and produce this sold-out event for him over three days in June 2015.
Mike was clear: Social West should be known for instruction over inspiration and allow participants to leave with notebooks full of information that would make a difference. Our objective was set: produce an event that communicated the kind of value-driven experience he wanted his guests to have and to do it with heart – instead of attracting attention with shiny bells and whistles keep it low-key, personal, and authentic.
Mike set the tone right away with his choice of venue: the Globe Theatre, a vintage movie house on history Stephen Avenue. The building has an upstairs and downstairs theatre, allowing for multiple sessions and necessities like bathrooms, concessions, and a box office, but is hardly the go-to for corporate events. With Mike’s leadership, the building strengths were made the star: movie poster marquees displayed custom Social West posters, the outdoor marquee was branded with special characters (they even made us a hashtag sign!), and we played up the movie screens with video content and live social feeds throughout the day. It was our job to bring in special players to make up for the elements the venue lacked (like AV and staging). Mike brought together a fabulous mix of community partners to provide snacks and treats throughout the day, as well as an A-list roster of instructors to keep brains moving. Once production was in and the show was on the road, our team managed registration and front of house for the entire process to keep traffic flowing, problems solved for guests, and speakers on-boarded.
Social West sold out before it even started (amazing for a first time event during a recession!), and attracted participants (both attendees and presenters) from across the country, including notable social media star Kelly Oxford, who participated in a keynote conversation with Mike on Day 2. Based on the feedback we received from attendees both during and following the event, we achieved our goal – the event was a success in content and concept, and 2017 looks like another sell out year.
*Photo Credit: Neil Zeller