How to win hearts and minds while building your brand online via #NXNEi

by Andrea Wahbe | Culture

Day one of the NXNE Interactive conference kicked-off today in Toronto. While there were many sessions to chooseStorytelling panel discussion at NXNEi from, it appears that the discussions that I attended fell into two categories: how to tell honest and authentic stories that connect with your audience, and helpful tips and tricks for building a brand online.

Honest and authentic storytelling wins hearts and minds

I started off my day at Kevin Airgid’s presentation “Dog-N-Pony Show.” Airgid spoke about how to win more business by using techniques that he learned while building his own client roster – with brands like ESPN, CBC and MuchMusic. The common themes throughout his presentation were:

  • Honesty and authenticity is key to winning new business and keeping your clients. This means finding ways to save your client money where possible and being yourself when interacting with customers.
  • Adding value and having a positive attitude will make you will stand out from your competition and help keep your customers happy.
  • Be a part of the team. This means transitioning from being a worker bee that acts on behalf of the client, to someone who is in the trenches with the customer at all times.

Similar lessons can be applied to connecting with an online audience. The next panel discussion that I attended was called “Winning Hearts and Minds: The Human Element of Transmedia.” Three successful Canadian digital content producers: Jill Gollick, Jason Leaver and Jason Gilmore spoke about their experiences in creating content for the web.

Gollick, the producer of the popular tween web show Ruby Skye PI, highlighted the benefits of being “much more connected to your audience online.” The main character in her show, Ruby, often speaks to the camera directly – in a similar fashion to the famous YouTube show LonelyGirl15. Gollick said that many Ruby fans have shared their own personal stories and emotions about the character on the show’s online forums.

In addition, Jason Leaver, creator of the new hit web series Out With Dad, spoke about how the audience actually participated in some of the character and plot development during the first season of the show. Leaver pointed out that in this case, the audience was connecting directly with the storyteller, rather than the character.

Building brand awareness and loyalty online

In the afternoon, I was lucky enough to get in to see Hip Digital’s RSVP-only panel discussion entitled “Brand Loyalty 3.0” with presenters: Adrian Capobianco, President at Quizative; Francine Sternthal, Director of Product Management at Aeroplan; Chris Hardy, Strategic Partnerships at Sony Music; Jonathan Carroll, Music and Events Manager at Gowalla; and Lisa Charters, SVP of Digital at Random House.

The panellists spoke about how the music and publishing industry landscapes are rapidly changing in a digital world. For instance, Lisa Charters from Random House said that the “US book market will be 50% digital by 2015.” As a result, the book publishing business is moving away from being B2B-focused (dealing directly with retailers) to becoming a B2C business. As a result, publishers are quickly changing their marketing strategies.

Music and book marketers are providing their content to loyalty rewards programs via music downloads and other offline goods redeemed in exchange for points. They are also working with brands to provide intagible loyalty rewards such as exclusive concert and story experiences, and in the form of virtual goods. Panel moderater, Brad Josling from Hip Digital proposed that perhaps Lady Gaga, who recently released some of the songs from her latest album on Farmville, is the new "Seth Godin of the Brand Loyalty 3.0" world.

The final session that I attended on day one of NXNE Interactive was with Ryan Holmes, CEO of Vancouver startup HootSuite. After dealing with a few technical glitches, as Holmes was speaking live via web stream from Vancouver, we were off to the races. He spoke about HootSuite has managed to grow their social media monitoring platform business to reach 2 Million users in just 2.5 years on a bootstrapped budget. Today, US President Obama and media mogul Martha Stewart are just some of the major celebrities using HootSuite.

According to Holmes, some of the keys to HootSuite’s brand building success have been:

  • Constant listening and responding to user feedback
  • Providing support through Twitter and through helpful articles published daily
  • Building and facilitating community through "HootUp kits" and translation projects
  • Staying nimble and providing valuable security features
  • Utilizing guerrilla marketing tactics like the HootSuite owl mascot and strategic event marketing
  • Adding value through thought leadership – like this SlideShare presentation 

Overall, day one of NXNE Interactive was pretty successful. I just wish I could have seen more of the presentations that were happening simultaneously. If you attended one of the other discussions at NXNE Interactive today, let us know what you thought. 


Hootsuite Media, Inc.
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Hootsuite is the world’s most widely used social media relationship platform. More than 10 million users, including 744 of the Fortune 1000 companies, trust Hootsuite to manage their social media programs across multiple social networks from one integrated dashboard. Learn more about how Hootsuite is revolutionizing communication at more

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Andrea Wahbe

Andrea Wahbe

Andrea Wahbe is a freelance B2B marketing strategist and corporate storyteller who has contributed to the growth of online media businesses in Canada, such as AOL and Google. By day, Andrea writes about digital media and marketing trends and tips for Canadian startups and SMEs. By night, she’s an analog book reader, master swimmer and experimental chef.  more

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