There was no shortage of thought leadership at Social Media Marketing World 2016, held this past week in San Diego. After packing 12 sessions into two days – no small feat – I emerged with these key insights from this year’s conference.

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One of the most exciting challenges about being a digital consultant is staying abreast of the latest trends on social media. Social media is a “jungle” as Social Media Examiner rightly describes. So what better way to learn about the ever-changing landscape from thought leaders who live in the social media jungle and navigate it every day? 

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With SXSW Interactive behind us, what are some of the insights that we can apply to the communications field? One of the most illuminating topics covered was the emergence of Gen Z, now 83 million strong. This group of 5 to 20-year-olds (¼ of the U.S. population) strays from the path that Millennials have blazed, forcing companies to once again rethink their approaches to this upcoming demographic shift. Characterized as ethnically diverse, gender fluid, and multiracial, Gen Z is a new breed of consumer. By 2020, they’ll grow to 40% of all consumers in the United States with $3.2 trillion in purchasing power.

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In 2016, social media advertising is one of the most financially viable and effective means of advertising. With social media advertising revenues set to increase by another 18% this year1, it is close to becoming a $10B industry in the US alone.

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