Social Media Week Vancouver set for start-ups and stalwarts


Talented entrepreneurs are everywhere in Vancouver, yet support for those in the social-media sphere is lukewarm, according to Shane Gibson. The chief social officer at social-media agency Socialized has a solution to the lacklustre local support: bring in the Dragons.

Socialized is cohosting this year’s Social Media Week Vancouver alongside the B.C. chapter of the American Marketing Association. Thanks to Gibson, three lucky Vancouver entrepreneurs will get the chance to pitch their social-media, mobile, or technology business idea to two of the venture capitalists from CBC’s Dragons’ Den on September 28. The Dragons’ Den Social Summit will serve as the finale of Social Media Week, which kicks off on September 24.

“We decided to really let the community step up to the plate,” Gibson told the Georgia Straight by phone.

Dragons Bruce Croxon and Jim Treliving, along with three Vancouver-based angel investors—or “guest dragons”—are set to inspire local entrepreneurs (and maybe strike a little fear into their hearts) at the CBC studios downtown. Gibson believes the free event just might create the exposure local entrepreneurs need to obtain financing for their projects.

Submissions are being accepted through Tuesday (September 18). Contestants must upload a three-minute video to explaining their business concept, and the public will choose their favourites. On Wednesday (September 19)—incidentally, the day the seventh season of Dragons’ Den premieres—three contest winners will be invited to pitch at the summit. The event will be streamed live via

The Dragons will each deliver a keynote address relating to their area of expertise. For Croxon, that’s tech startups. Croxon is a “really West Coast guy” with roots in social media and technology, Gibson explained. He began his career by cofounding Lavalife and now runs Round13 Capital, an investment firm.

Treliving is owner and chair of Boston Pizza International. His new book, Decisions: Making the Right Ones and Righting the Wrong Ones, came out at the end of August. Accordingly, he’ll share his insider knowledge on how to make the right decisions as an entrepreneur.

Social Media Week started in New York City in 2009 and will be held simultaneously in 14 cities worldwide this month. Vancouver’s week will feature more than 30 events divided into two general types: summits (longer-format events with panels of speakers) and mashups (smaller, more intimate workshops).

The goal? “To connect and share knowledge,” Meena Sandhu, director of social media for the BCAMA and a principal Social Media Week organizer, said via Skype. Social Media Week participants around the world will interact using the global hashtag #SMW12 and online video streams.

“You don’t need to be an executive to participate in social media,” Sandhu noted.

Amber Turnau is the social-media project manager at 6S Marketing, a digital-marketing agency that’s sponsoring the local Social Media Week. “Vancouver has always been a city of early adopters when it comes to social media,” Turnau said by phone. “This week brings together industry professionals and enables us to collaborate and share our knowledge.”

On September 24, Turnau will moderate a sold-out panel discussion called “Crisis and Issues Management in Social Media” at the W2 Media Café (111 West Hastings Street) as part of the week.

Every business needs to have a plan for what to do “when things blow up on social media”, said Chris Breikss, cofounder and president of 6S Marketing. He doesn’t necessarily mean “blow up” in a bad way; sometimes it can be a challenge just to keep up with positive buzz online.

In order to be ready to respond to social-media crises, businesses should have an idea of who their key stakeholders are, and when and how to respond (or keep quiet) online, according to Breikss.

“In a lot of cases, that conversation can be lost if you haven’t allocated enough resources,” he said. “With social media, the conversation has to happen fairly quickly.” You don’t have time to wait 72 hours to run your company’s response through four levels of management, Breikss explained. “By that time, the conversation is over.”

Panellists at the September 24 event, including representatives from Vancity, Telus, and London Drugs, will share stories about real-world social-media crises. The event will be live-streamed at

Social Media Week Vancouver runs from September 24 to 28 at various venues. For a complete schedule, see

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Malcolm Ramsey
It's all about money, or is it? I would like to see social media used to save the world. It's all very well to have runaway economies, exploitation of our resources and continuing social degradation but if we the citizens of the world want to have a balanced world social media is the answer. Mark Zuckerberg saw a need for a social network. He had the vision and the intellectual tools to build this revolutionary network. I’m on the edge of my chair waiting for the next notable who will see a need for a political network based on the fundamental principle of democracy where each citizen controls exactly the same amount of political authority from the age of consent until the end of life. We don’t need to change our governments or our electoral systems, we need to change our citizens by giving them ownership and responsibility in the decisions our governments make.
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