What I Learned at Social Media Week in Toronto

Last week, I volunteered at Social Media Week in Toronto (SMWiTO) as part of my work’s volunteer time off program.

I’m fortunate to work for a place that allows employees to volunteer for topics or causes of their choice. I took this as an opportunity to mix volunteering and professional development. I volunteered during day 2 of the conference and posted on social media for Social Media Week in Toronto – here are my main takeaways and trends I noticed from the sessions I attended.


Disclosure in Influencer Marketing

  • #spon #partnership doesn’t cut it – posts must include #sponsorship or #ad
  • In a Youtube video, the mention of sponsorship must be in the first 1/3 of the video
  • In Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or Twitter, the ad or sponsorship must be mentioned before the fold so that people don’t have to click ‘see more’ to see that the post is paid

Social Media Advertising and Data

  • Tailor your content strategy to have the most amount of impact by gathering the data that is available to you: demographics, activity by time of day, what device visitors are using
  • With ads, test different combinations of creative and copy, and then optimize based on performance
  • Facebook-owned platforms tend to favour video over static images
  • Facebook is the cheapest way to get website clicks, with an average of less than $1 per click. LinkedIn is one of the most expensive with an average of $5-$8
  • On Instagram, most users do not want to leave the platform, making it more difficult to get website clicks in ads
  • Twitter polls are a really effective way for engagement and gathering information about your audience. Use the results ti drive your content strategy – hello! free market research!
  • LinkedIn is great for advertising if you know who you want to reach specifically; specific businesses, professions, graduates, etc.
  • When McDonalds ran their #NationalFrenchFryDay campaign, they looked at data to determine how to best reach millennials, which was exclusivity. By using a multi-platform approach, they gained the highest possible reach on each platform. Key takeaway: What’s the why? It’s nice to be innovative with social media but you have to keep in mind what you are trying to achieve.

AI, Machine Learning & Social Media

  • 2.5 billion of the 3.8 billion people on the internet are active on social media
  • What stood out to me was that machine learning is all around and I didn’t really think about it. Example, Spotify’s Discover Weekly playlist draws data from what you listen to in order to determine songs you might like. It pays attention to how long you listen to a song before you skip it, etc.
  • Programs like Keyhole use data points from social media to determine the likelihood of something spiking or getting a lot of attention. Companies can use this during a social media crisis to monitor conversations on social to determine if something is going to turn into a crisis. This can help those companies determine if they should hire PR or react sooner.

Video Trends Panel

  • This panel at Social Media Week in Toronto included @Brittlestar, @SavAndStuff, and @laurenonizzle 
  • Be mindful of other platforms and go where your audience is
  • The unfortunate reality is that there are so many people on social media that you need to post very frequently to not get lost in the crowd. You have to be very serious about it if you want to grow your channels.
  • Reddit is an underused platform for determine what is trending and what content audiences want to see
  • ‘Likes’ on videos are vanity metrics – if people watch your videos, they treat that as a ‘like’
  • Not every video needs to be short – it depends on the platform and audience
  • You have to beat the scroll culture – content needs to draw people in within 20-30 seconds or else they move on because there’s new content coming in
  • Entertain first, sell second

Staying Grounded in the Digital Space – Tips & Tricks

  • This panel at Social Media Week in Toronto included Kenzie Brenna, Jenna Jacobson, Jesse Lee Hayman, and Kayley from Wear Your Label
  • Know what times in the day you are most sensitive or vulnerable and don’t go on social media during those times
  • Turn off notifications so when you use social media or your phone apps, its intentional and deliberate
  • Use an app to keep track of how much you use your phone. It’ll keep you on track and aware of mindless social media usage
  • Try not to give in to the culture of busyness. Next time someone asks you how you’ve been, don’t say “I’m busy”
  • Workplaces need to be open, flexible and accommodating. Its not that someone won’t do their work, its that they might do it at different times
  • If we want to revolutionize mental health, it takes all of us
  • Whatever makes you happy, do it! There should be more awareness on the reflection aspect of social media; why are you posting something? It is to get the likes? Are you documenting your life for yourself?
  • We are starting to get to an age where it will soon be normal to post a picture without a filter or edits… perfection doesn’t exist
  • Don’t compare other people’s highlight reels to your behind the scenes 
  • It’s a privilege to be able to disconnect from social media. A lot of people don’t have that option because of their job or brand
  • We have a lot of work to do in making social media a positive space – social media is a place we love, but also a place we love to hate


Those were my main takeaways from only one day of Social Media Week in Toronto – it’s definitely worth attending if you can! There are a lot of knowledgeable speakers and opportunities to network with other people in the social media field. Want to learn more? Check out #SMWTO.





  1. November 20, 2017 / 6:31 pm

    Thanks so much for posting this! It looked like such an awesome event and was pretty sad I missed it, but your top takeaways were super informative!

    • November 20, 2017 / 11:38 pm

      Thanks 🙂 I’m glad you enjoyed the post!

  2. November 23, 2017 / 6:58 pm

    I like the tips about staying grounded in the digital space. I think a lot of people can benefit from those tips, so it’s nice to see them recapped here!

    • November 24, 2017 / 1:52 pm

      Yeah! It’s super important to keep yourself sane, but I’m glad they acknowledged that it’s hard for people who work in social media to shut it off.