mesh conference 2014: Look who’s speaking, our new venue and startup scholarship

 It’s been almost 10 years since mesh organizers and creators Mathew Ingram, Stuart MacDonald, Mark Evans, Rob Hyndman, Mike McDerment and Sheri Moore came up with the idea for mesh.

And since then a lively group of thinkers, innovators and tech nerds converge on Toronto for two days in May to discuss and debate how social media and technology are changing the way we work, play and live.

This year’s conference takes place May 27 and 28 and, if you register now, the cost is only $499.

SpeakerKeynote_MarkLittleFirst round of speakers announced

If you’ve been to mesh before, you’ll know that each morning begins with a keynote or one-on-one interview with people on the leading edge of social business. This year, we’re featuring:

  • Mark Little, founder of Storyful, the world’s first social media news agency, talking about the future of news.
  • Maggie Fox, Senior Vice President of Digital Marketing at SAP, on how to deliver a unified digital experience to customers.

Other speakers include Tom Emrich, wearable tech evangelist and founder of We Are Wearables, Amber MacArthur, co-host APP CENTRAL, blogger at Yahoo! Tech, and creator of the “Trending Tech” column for The Globe and Mail; and Flickr co-founder Stewart Butterfield, who’s now working on new a social gaming platform.

Additional presenters and panels will be announced in the coming weeks.

New campus like venue

In keeping with the collegial spirit of mesh, we’re moving to a campus-like experience on Queen Street West with keynotes, sessions and networking at 99 Sudbury and the Drake Hotel.

mesh startup scholarship back by popular demand

The startup community has always been an important part of mesh. To help the newest round of startups attend the conference, we’re continuing our scholarship program. Boostrapped entrepreneurs are encouraged to apply by April 18 to qualify for a scholarship that enables them to join us, expand their connections, share ideas and be inspired.

Stay tuned for more news.

mesh14 interview with Mark Evans

A Pre-meshmarketing Thank You

thanksAs we drive toward meshmarketing on Nov. 7, I wanted to say “Thank you” to everyone involved.

First, I’d like to thank our speakers for participating and offering their digital marketing insight. We’re lucky to have out-of-town speakers such as Peep Laja and Jay Baer, as well as a strong contingent of local talent – people such as April Dunford, Karen Schulman Dupuis, Pam Clarkson, Randy Frisch, Danny Brown, Sam Fiorella and Ally Motz. It goes without saying that without top-notch speakers, it’s impossible to put on a good show.

I’d also like to thank our sponsors such as Microsoft, Olive Media, Uberflip and iMason for stepping up to the plate. At a time when marketing budgets are carefully scrutinized, we appreciate the support and belief in meshmarketing. As much as ticket sales drive revenue, we also need sponsors to cover the cost of offering a great experience – everything from the venue and food to Wi-Fi and coffee breaks.

I would also like to thank people who have purchased tickets. It goes without saying there are plenty of conference options so we appreciate you coming to meshmarketing, particularly given it can be challenging to escape the office.

Finally, I’d like to thank the people behind the scenes – Sheri Moore, Danielle Miller and Alicia Kalozdi MacMillian – whose hard work helps to make meshmarketing such a great event.

With record ticket sales, we’ll have a full house on Nov. 7 at Toronto Reference Library for a great day of content and networking. Tickets for $299 are still available. For more information about what’s on tap, check out the updated schedule.

Four Ways to Stay Focused at a Conference

focusWhen you speak at a conference, it’s always interesting to see how people in the audience are actually paying attention…and I mean paying complete attention.

Many people are checking email, doing work, updating social media profiles, writing blog posts or chatting with the person beside them. There’s no rule about doing something other than listening intently but you wonder how much value people are really getting from the different sessions.

So how can people focus at a conference such as meshmarketing? Here are some ideas:

1. Email: Let’s face it, we’re slaves to email. No matter the approach being used, the inbox is a seductive, irresistible beast. It is the ultimate attention-killer.

The solution: One, give yourself three windows to check email: before the sessions start, during lunch and after the last session (but before the after-party). Two, check email during the three or four breaks between sessions. Both approaches offer a balance between keeping on top of email, while still carving out time to digest what the people on stage are saying.

2. Social media: This is also a huge threat to staying focused at a conference; the need to offer updates to the people not at the conference about what’s happening at the conference. It’s like people feel the duty to deliver a public service by providing continual updates on interesting comments and opinions. But at what cost to really focusing on what’s being said?

The solution: Take notes during a session, and fire off updates afterward. Using tools such as Buffer, HootSuite or TweetDeck, you can provide plenty of social media ground cover in a small amount of time.

3. Working: It is a challenge for some people to escape the office to attend a conference because there’s always work to be done (and, sadly, there always will be). It means many people do work at a conference so they can, theoretically, eat their cake and have it too. The question is whether the work or the speakers get the attention they deserve.

The solution: Go through the conference schedule to identify the sessions that offer the most value. It could be only two or three, but be focused when attending. For the sessions that aren’t interesting or relevant, make them work time by either going to a session and paying little attention or, even better, sitting outside a session where there few distractions.

4. Networking: One of the biggest reasons people attend a conference is connecting with new people and friends/colleagues. It’s a great place to catch up personally and professionally, especially at a time when people have a tough time getting out of the office. But networking during a session can be distracting and annoying to the people around you.

Solution: This is where healthy breaks throughout the day are so valuable because they give people time to really connect. Whether it’s a 15-minute break for coffee or a long lunch break, it’s where networking can thrive.

As we talked about in a previous blog post, conferences are a great opportunity to meet new people, be inspired and explore ideas. To get the most out of a conference, it means giving yourself the luxury and time to embrace the moment as opposed to trying to multi-task to meet different masters.

For people attending meshmarketing on Nov. 7, I hope the suggestions above are food for thought as you spend the day listening to a great line-up of digital marketers.

To learn more about meshmarketing, here’s the updated schedule. Tickets can be purchased for $299.

meshmarketing Alumni Insights: Jeff Quip

As we prepare for mm13 next week (the fifth meshmarketing), we thought we’d call on a member of the meshmarketing alumni.

Jeff Quip of Search Engine People joined us for our first meshmarketing to share his insights and experience in a workshop session titled, “Search Engine Marketing/Search Engine Optimization.”

The Evolution of SEO & Search Engine People

Back in 2009, I had the opportunity to speak at the very first meshmarketing conference about SEO, how to do it effectively, and where the industry was going. SEO is dynamic and ever-transforming, and since that time the industry has changed dramatically. SEO can no longer be thought of as a standalone practice – to be effective it must be an element of an integrated, holistic strategy that incorporates a variety of tactics.

In the current environment, Google wants search rankings to be the consequence – not the basis – of good marketing, and SEO firms have had to adapt accordingly. At Search Engine People, we’ve evolved from a firm primarily concerned with SEO to a full service digital agency. It’s a necessary evolution because search continues to change at a frenetic pace. While SEO is still a big part of what we do, it is by no means the most important part anymore.

The importance of inbound marketing
There was a time when SEO and marketing were compartmentalized and separated, viewed as two unique and unrelated practices. Today, every facet of online brand visibility is inextricably linked under inbound marketing, a process aimed at attracting, converting, nurturing and closing leads into sales.

The better we market, the more we earn Google’s trust, the better we perform not only in rankings but across the board in terms of online visibility.

Inbound marketing is the glue that unites all marketing tactics into a cohesive strategy and serves to increase the effectiveness of all other media tactics. At Search Engine People, we work to identify the pros and cons of each tactic in relation to the client, and how we can maximize its effectiveness. Our approach to inbound marketing encompasses:

1. Traffic Building

2. Lead Generation

3. Sales Growth

4. ROI Analysis

As you can see, SEO is just one facet of a much more complex strategy, which we’ve evolved to capacitate. And ultimately, that’s what clients are looking for when they speak of SEO – a one-stop shop to fulfill all of their marketing needs.

Content is king
One of the most significant changes to SEO is the critical role that content now plays. It has become the quintessential element of search and social media, affecting search rankings, brand authority and overall online brand performance. This is why unique, remarkable content is at the base of any effective inbound marketing strategy.

At Search Engine People, we’ve got a large content group that allows us to facilitate this change and thrive in the new SEO landscape. With so much noise and competition, the brands that succeed online are the ones that can break away from the pack and differentiate themselves. The consistent creation of high-quality, relevant, remarkable content is the recipe for success. Providing content that is useful for your prospects – but also significantly different from the competition – builds brand authority, gets your content shared and ultimately helps you get recognized in terms of search rankings. Building content and websites that are both audience-friendly and optimized for search engines is now an absolute necessity.

The New SEO Landscape
In the new SEO landscape, the message is clear: you have to EARN your position. It’s no longer just about targeting keywords or building links, but creating a cohesive, multi-faceted inbound marketing strategy focused on content creation, branding, and promotion. When it comes down to it, looking at SEO strictly in terms of rankings is one-dimensional and means you’re putting your eggs in too few baskets. Google and other search engines change and update algorithms frequently; if you haven’t focused on other aspects of your overall online presence, you will fall behind.