Last week I attended an amazing Social Media conference. The ShesConnected Conference to connect brands and digital women, held in Toronto Ontario. The 2 1/2 hour drive ended up taking me a sweet 3 hours courtesy of my fabulous GPS. I think that talking voice inside my
not so reliable GPS took me on a bit of tour. I saw some of the under belly of Toronto I could have done without.
Here are a just a few of the many things I learned on my two day adventure:
* Drivers in Toronto are “honky”. They honk to let you in, they honk to say Hi, they honk when they see bicycles, they honk if you are too slow (not that I was ever too slow). There is a lot of honking going on in Toronto. I’m sure all this honking had nothing to do with this Mama driving her giant SUV through the unknown streets of T.O.
* The other half live like this:
This is the Park Hyatt where I tried to sleep before the conference. (excitement, missing my kids…(yes pathetic)…nerves, all meant the sand man eluded me)
* Parking Garages are smaller in the city. Seriously! There was just the teeniest amount of parking drama. Two excitable blondes parking an SUV in a tiny parking garage that requires a credit card to get in? Huh? In the Suburbs..our 1 parking garage has a parking dude. Once I gained access to the coveted parking garage, I literally ducked as I drove through the parking garage, and was once again wishing for bendy cars. Sigh.
* Upon arrival at the conference we were introduced to Kobo. A wireless eReader. An up and coming Canadian brand that truly wants to engage bloggers and work with us, and also generously provided us with our very own Kobo reader. A brand that inspired this tweet the next day: “Do U know what ur pre-teen is doing when she is hiding in her room? Mine is reading MY @kobo. THANKS @kobo for the gift of reading! #SCCTO”. Truly, everyone in my house is fighting over this new toy. I know what is going on my daughters Christmas list this year.
* We were privileged to hear from Keynote Speaker Joanne Thomas Yaccato, President and Founder of The Thomas Yaccato Group, on what marketers need to know about marketing to women and how this applies to bloggers. There were also some spirited panel discussions regarding How Brands and Bloggers can better work together. I think the two panel discussions could have gone on for hours!
Truly, brands working effectively and fairly with bloggers is in it’s infancy. These are exciting times, and I think we will see some creative and effective partnerships in the future.
* One speaker that had me reaching for the Kleenex was Sherry Abbott, Executive Director Canadian Cosmetic and Toiletry Association Foundation. She spoke on the Look Good Feel Better Campaign to help women manage the appearance-related effect of cancer and its treatment. Ladies, it’s October. Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Go get squished, talk to your family and friends, stop for a moment and think. Do you know someone who has been effected by cancer? What can you do to help those affected by Cancer. This strong speaker and women made me think. This campaign, this site, deserves more attention.
*There were presentations and opportunities to speak with many of the sponsors and brands present.
Maple Leaf Foods with Executive Head Chef John Placko spoke and provided us with an incredible lunch. This lunch included my new favourite product, natural selections deli meat. No fillers, no MSG, no artificial colours. Perfect for my family. Maple Leaf Foods is a company I trust.
Calvin Klein Fragrances provided an education on the power of fragrance. It is true, a scent can evoke a very strong reaction, and bring back a memory.
Booty Camp Fitness impressed with their infectious energy and new Women’s only boot camp style approach to exercise. This is an incredibly fast growing business. I’m sure if you look in your community you will be able to find a Booty Camp Fitness near you.
Egg Farmers of Ontario educated us all on one of natures most easily prepared foods. Eggs! Did you know white chickens lay white eggs and brown one’s lay brown eggs? Of course you did.
Seagram served us drinks and took the opportunity to remind us about those fabulous Wild and vodka spritzer coolers that we all used to drink!
Bourjois Paris and Smashbox Cosmetics prettied us all up with complimentary make-over’s. There are some fabulous Bourjois products available right at Shoppers Drug Mart!
Kraft Foods discussed their facebook page and their brands new “Delicious at your fingertips.” Kraft Mobile application. Have a different dinner idea texted to your smartphone every day.
The Coca-Cola Company led a discussion that let us know they are a lot more then just Coke! Coke is a company who carries a huge variety of products, many are probably in your fridge right now. More then that, Coca-Cola is actively involved in encouraging children to lead an active lifestyle, and are committed to the pursuit of environmental excellence.
The Kit proudly introduced us to their brand new on-line magazine! It is fresh, clean and easy to navigate. The Kit also has some great tips and contests if you sign up for their on-line magazine right now. You should also check them out on twitter. The Kit is home to some excited and genuinely nice people.
Not only did these brands and sponsors contribute to gift bags for attendees, but they took the time to get to know us, engage with us and try to find out how they could partner and work with bloggers. Some did a better job then others. There is a learning curve here, on both sides.
The conference itself was a face paced whirlwind of a day. I was fortunate enough to meet some incredible bloggers who I have been following and tweeting with for long time. It was like meeting old friends for the first time! I hope I made some real connections not just with bloggers and brands but with the real people behind the screens. It is through these connections that we will see true success.
There are so many incredibly interesting and kind spirited people in the world. People who are passionate about what they do, write and who they represent. ShesConnected put me face to face with many of these people. We truly did have a chance to connect.
The evening came to a close and I faced the parking garage once more. Made it out without a scratch and only cursed my GPS once on the way home.
The organizers of ShesConnected, including the tireless Co-founder Donna Marie Antoniadis, should be very proud. They pulled together an amazing event. Can’t wait to see what they come up with next!