Social Media Marketing

Big Impact, Small Budget @ Social Media Week

Hot takes and insights from the Big Impact, Small Budget discussion panel I planned and facilitated @ Social Media Week: Toronto in 2019 [inc. video]

During Social Media Week: Toronto (2019), I planned and facilitated the Big Impact, Small Budget: Do More with Less discussion panel which explored how not-for-profit/charity organizations use organic strategies and best practices for social media marketing to raise awareness, generate engagement and drive change–on smaller budgets than most businesses.

I was blown away by the social-savvy marketers on the panel who shared some great insights and practical tips for how their teams of 1-5 people do social media marketing. Our panel members were: Jennifer Whyte @ Oceana Canada, Jonsaba Jabbi @ SKETCH Working Arts, Jason Shim @ Pathways to Education, and David Basco @ Make-A-Wish Canada.

Discussion Panel @ Social Media Week: Toronto 2019

This article includes a full video of our Big Impact, Small Budget: Do More with Less discussion with each question we talked about, my 3 hot takes from the panel, and an example of a simple, smart storytelling moment @ Ryerson University in downtown Toronto.


Don’t TL;DW the video. I encourage you to invest the time to watch the full 40-minute discussion–there’s a lot of good learning in it. These are the questions that fuelled the conversation with the panelists:

  • How is your social media marketing team staffed and organized? (4:55)
  • How does your organization stay interesting 24/7/365 with content for social media? (9:30)
  • How do you use social media to complement other digital platforms? (14:40)
  • How do you answer when people say “Social media is free”? (18:10)
  • How do you complement organic social marketing strategies with paid social? (boosting content, paid advertising and/or influencer campaigns) (20:05)
  • What do you do during the traditional Giving Season to generate donations? (24:40)
  • Time. Money. People. Which one resource do you want more of? And why? (31:25)

We also had members of the audience ask their question:

  • What’s the one essential skill for somebody who wants to work in social media marketing? (35:25)
  • You’ve done well. With limited resources, how do you decide what’s next? (36:30)

3 Hot Takes

Our conversation had some hot takes that got people laughing (in a good way) or were really insightful. These are my picks for the top 3 hot takes:

  1. “Social media is free, the same as free kittens are free!” was Jason Shim’s answer to people who think that social media is free (at 8:40)
  2. Communication is different than storytelling (or a touchpoint is different than creating a moment) was mine using a perfect example that I experienced that morning heading into the building @ Ryerson University (at 36:30)
  3. THE one essential skill for a social-savvy marketer from everybody on the panel is…(you have to watch the video to find out, start at 35:25)\

Social media is free, the same as free kittens are free!

Jason Shim

A Simple, Smart Storytelling Moment

Instagrammable construction barriers at Ryerson University
The difference between communication vs. storytelling (or creating a moment…out of a shitty experience) @ Ryerson University

The construction barriers could be covered with a plain colour, or the words could say “Warning: Construction Happening” or “Nothing to See Here…Yet”. These barriers could be a functional communication touchpoint. Which would be fine. Nobody would get angry with this. Most likely people would just walk on by.

However, somebody @ Ryerson University seized the opportunity to create a positive moment, out of what’s arguably bad brand experience.

They take an angle on the story about building a photogenic campus. And then create a moment with these witty construction barriers that both highlight the construction happening behind them AND encourage people to interact taking by selfies in front of them.

This is brilliant! It probably didn’t cost any more to do. It’s a perfect example of the difference between communication vs. storytelling (or touchpoint vs. moment).

My one suggestion how to make this a social moment come to life is to include a #hashtag to encourage more social sharing (and make the engagement more trackable).

As you can see, the panel covered a lot of territory in a 40-minute discussion. We all left gushing to each other how much we each enjoyed it–and would love to do it again. Maybe at Social Media Week: Toronto in 2020? I hope you enjoyed the discussion as much as we did. And remember…Social media is free, the same as free kittens are free! (which means it’s not)

Do you have a question you would want to ask a member of the panel? Please ask it in the comments below.

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