If you didn’t have a chance to check-out Social Mix 2012 hosted by Jugnoo, in Toronto on July 26th, you missed out big time. Nothing can replace the live energy exhibited on stage- from the dynamic presence of Amber Mac, the dry-humor of Saul Colt, the heartwarming hilarity of Tim Burrows or the always obscene and inspiring Gary Vaynerchuk amongst a host of other presenters, including Danny Brown, Matt Hixson, Gini Dietrich and Geoff Livingstone.

Luckily, we live in a social age and a good chunk of the knowledge can be passed on . While there was a wealth of golden social nuggets shared on the day, here are four that I’ve pulled out as the highlights. These can be summed up as, first get your tools right (AmberMac), take control of your message (Sergeant Tim Burrows), tell your customer story – not your business story (DannyBrown) and always do it with hustle and heart (Gary Vaynerchuk).


Amber Mac kicked off the day, taking the crowd through 7 Steps to Success: Social Media for Entrepreneurs. Her most notable point was perhaps her emphasis on choosing the right tools. The web is littered with tools, some good, some bad and some might be good for you but not for others. Of the utmost importance though is ensuring your house is order, also known as – YOUR WEBSITE. Remember that thing? The thing that got forgotten after all these shiny social objects started distracting your attention. Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, may all come and go – but you own your website and if you don’t spend time on it, it’s like opening up a brick-and-mortar shop and never staffing it or sweeping the floors. It’s embarrassing… and it won’t result in $$$.

Once you’ve chosen the tools though to complement your website, a lot can be done by simply ‘filling the blank box’ as Amber Mac put it. A lot of businesses and people are just plain lazy and expect the tools to do the job for them – well, just because someone gave me a paint brush doesn’t mean I can paint the Mona Lisa. So, don’t just get the tools – ‘fill the blank box.’ And to push it a little further, don’t just ‘fill the blank box’ – fill the blank box with heart and effort (see more on the importance of effort below when I summarize @garyvee’s talk).

2. Take back control of the message – Tim Burrows (@t_burrows)

Sergeant Tim Burrows of the Toronto Police Services, began his talk with describing his job as “marketing the unmarketable.” How do you market the police services? With such a fragmented market and dozens of different stakeholder groups, how do you create a message that effectively delivers on the objectives of the service? Sound familiar? I’m sure it does for many businesses as they’ve tried to tackle the different stakeholder groups involved in their own business – especially in highly regulated industries or the public sector. Burrows highlighted how Hollywood has taken control and distorted the image of the police with everything from quasi-realty show COPS to the ultra-unrealistic CSI. What social media has allowed the police service to do though, is to take back control of their message. Kick out the media middle man and speak straight to its audience. Any business can learn a lot from this concept. You are in control of your message, so act in a way that is interesting for your most important audience (your customers) – instead of stale, corporate crap in a press-release.

3. Your business is NOT the story – @DannyBrown

Danny Brown had the tough mid-afternoon shift, but managed to light up the stage with his delightful scottish charm. While Danny had many great things to say, I’m only going to highlight one here. Which is, as much as you think everyone wants to hear you talk about your business all the time – you’re wrong. People are generally selfish and are for the most part interested in things that they have a stake in. This doesn’t mean you can’t promote your business – but in Danny Brown’s words “Your business is not the story.” The ‘story’ is how your customers experience your business/industry, what it enables them to do and how it makes them feel. So next time you think a press release posted on all your social channels is a social media strategy – think again. You’re not speaking to the media, you’re speaking to your customers. And just as Sergeant Tim Burrows has taken control of this within the Toronto Police Services, take control of this within your business as well.

4. Scale the unscalable – @GaryVee

Not surprisingly, Gary Vaynerchuk took the entire room by storm with his electrifying energy and his raw and gritty perspective on the business world today. While I could likely write a whole post about just Gary’s talk (and I likely will… subscribe on the right), there is one point I want to draw out here, which is – “the most limited supply in the world is effort.’This idea was the foundation of his talk that focused on ‘scaling the unscalable’. Meaning, ‘effort’ is not very scalable. But, the businesses that figure out how to do this will win in the long term (watch GaryVee say this in his own words below)

Customers, fans, clients will never, ever get tired of effort and this effort needs to come from the ‘heart’ not the ‘head.’ If you lead with the heart, you will without fail find a way to genuinely connect with your audience, it may cost you in the short-term but it is guaranteed to drive returns in the long run (for both you personally and your business). As soon as you start thinking too much with your head – platforms, media, messages can be ruined.

In short, the day was a massive success and as much as each presenter had different topics they covered, it all laddered back to a similar theme that can be summed up as:

Choose the right tools and Fill in the box… with your message (not the media’s)… and create a story that is about your customer, not about your business… and do it with an endless supply of ‘effort’.

See you at #SoMix2013 and stay social. – Jeff B.

One last treat for the road— will this be @Garyvee’s next book?