Geek Speak: Shane Gibson, Social Media Week Vancouver

    1 of 1 2 of 1

      Shane Gibson says putting together a largely crowdsourced conference is a “mammoth endeavour”. He’s the chief social officer and cofounder of the social-media agency Socialized, which is organizing the inaugural Social Media Week Vancouver.

      Between September 19 and 23, Vancouver will join a dozen cities around the world holding events for Social Media Week, a semiannual affair that originated in 2009 in New York City. Gibson expects over 25 free events to take place locally at various venues. According to him, the week will bring people from multiple industries and with different levels of expertise together to share best practices. Registration opens September 6, and organizers are still looking for speakers and volunteers.

      Born in Burnaby, Gibson is 36 years old and lives in downtown Vancouver. He is the coauthor of two books about social-media marketing, Sociable! and Guerrilla Social Media Marketing.

      The Georgia Straight reached Gibson by phone on the Coquihalla Highway.

      How is Social Media Week different than other conferences?

      The goal of Social Media Week, which makes it a bit different, is it is about local. So, it is about celebrating best practices in Vancouver, or in Metro Vancouver. It doesn’t mean we’re not going to have a couple speakers come up from Seattle and someone in from Toronto, but the majority of the people sharing are people who are doing great things here. We want to celebrate the local talent. I think that is a little different maybe than bringing the out-of-town expert with the briefcase to help get the crowd in.

      We’re instead going, “Hey look, Jeff Booth, who’s the CEO of BuildDirect, has done amazing things in the social-media space with his team, so let’s have him talk. Let’s not have the president of Zappos talk. Let’s have our local success story talk.” So, it’s about getting local best practices together and sharing that knowledge, and then the benefit of being connected with Social Media Week globally is we’re able to profile that talent and reach out and connect with other markets through that platform. So, it’s global reach for local groups.

      Who should come out?

      We hope we have something for everyone. So, for instance, Langara College has taken on organizing the Social Media 101 track, for people who just want to know what a tweet is or how to set up a Facebook account. Then we have a legal track. We’ve got an agency track for people who are in the agency business. We’ve got a Journalism 2.0 track. We have an Enterprise 2.0 track, and we have a Social Media for Social Good track.

      There’s a whole bunch of others, but the point is there’s something for almost everybody, depending upon your level of interest. So, that’s what kind of makes it unique too.

      What’s one trend in social media that you think is exciting?

      I think there’s two major ones. I think that large organizations are starting to get it, whether they’re governments or corporations. We’re starting to see some amazing best practices come together where companies are truly becoming transparent and more accountable and more communicative with their stakeholders in a direct fashion—an intimate fashion—and I think it’s powerful. Whether it’s a local municipality like Surrey reaching out to its constituents using Twitter, or it’s Blenz Coffee as a corporation taking direct feedback from customers online and acting on it immediately, there’s a lot of great stuff starting to be implemented, whereas a couple years ago we were just talking about it. I think it’s starting to affect how people do business.

      The second trend is, of course, the fact that more people now view the web through a mobile device than they do through a desktop device. So, that’s really, really changing where the focus of social networking, social media, and even marketing is going, because marketing now happens in a handheld. That’s a whole other channel, which is very powerful. I think those are two big ones.

      How do you feel about Google+? Do you think it’s here to stay?

      I love Google+....The challenge of the web is too much noise. It’s really about relevancy and context. So, if I have something really interesting about Vancouver, I’m going to share it with my Vancouver circle of friends that are from Vancouver. But, if I have something really cool about social media, my Vancouver friends don’t want to hear that. But I’ll send it to my social-media friends, and then I’ve got a client circle, and the key is it’s more like real life.

      What it enables you to do is customize your message so you’re relevant. If you’re relevant, people will listen to you. So, you’re taking the time to give them the right content. So, I think with that functionality, along with the fact Google’s got a billion users, there’s going to be a real opportunity there. So, I think they’re doing it right, and I think that there’s some real opportunities here for them.

      Every Friday, Geek Speak catches up with someone in Vancouver’s technology sector, video-game industry, or social-media scene. Who should we interview next? You can tell Stephen Hui on Facebook and Twitter.