How Social Media woke up sleepy little Victoria

2 Sep

Start with a beautiful time-warped seaside town (19th century England for the model), with a large and growing retirement community. Add in an old boy’s network that for decades has had its liver-spotted hands wrapped around the throat of the City, so that things like city planning, social networks and business communities are dominated by the same established voices.

Sprinkle in a prodigal son/daughter phenomenon, that sees disgruntled children heading off to more vibrant and forward thinking communities in their callow youth, only to return with their own families more or less espousing their parents conservative view of the way things should stay the same here, thereby extending the cycle.


And there’s old Victoria for you.

Now, spread a layer of emerging social media networks over the top and you end up with a remarkably different flavour.

As Janis La Couvée commented on our blog yesterday, Victoria has an active culture of people who have used Twitter to meet face to face. This has created the counter-culture business community that the old boys’ network has no part in: they don’t even get it, let alone like it.

All of a sudden, it’s a new game:

  • Tweetups are regular and well-attended.
  • Paul Holmes led a push – and succeeded – to have June 30th declared Social Media day by Mayor Dean Fortin.
  • Social Media Camp on October 3rd is going to be huge.
  • Our Twestivals out-pull Vancouver’s.

The result is a dynamic new vibe led by people who embrace growth, challenge, change and collective spirit…and they don’t even have proper names: b_west, RussLoL, cpudan, lacouvee, footbutterguy, YukariP, tpholmes, Rod_Phillips…these are some of the new voices of influence in our town.

Victoria is leading the way for communities across the country. Not a bad place to be as the digital worm turns!


15 Responses to “How Social Media woke up sleepy little Victoria”

  1. Yukari September 2, 2010 at 8:58 am #

    Wow, thanks Doug.

  2. Anthony Sanna September 2, 2010 at 9:55 am #

    Social media is an intrinsic part of my day. I’m able to connect ideas to people in a manner that makes my business and personal life far richer than ever before. I never knew who Victoria’s old boys were, and now I know a lot of the #yyj tweeps! The real connectors in this town!

    Anthony- @AmbrosiaCentre

  3. Shamus Baier September 2, 2010 at 10:09 am #

    The common theme of the Social Media crew here in Victoria is one of working together and willingness to help one another out. Instead of being a medium for sending out negative message or complaints, it has become a fantastic way to publicize events, promote worthy causes, support local business and expand one’s social networks. Keep up the good work everyone!

  4. @tpholmes September 2, 2010 at 10:19 am #

    This social media sounds like some sort of crazy fad to me.

    I’m sure it’ll all go away soon.

  5. Jason Scriven - Times Colonist September 2, 2010 at 10:39 am #

    In many ways, the geographic and demographic restrictions that made Victoria an “old boys” club for so long are helping to fuel the high level of connectiveness via Social Media. Because we are a small city, geographical references that appear in tweets are easily relatable to followers and in person meetups are easy to facilitate.

    Also, for most people, living and working in Victoria is a conscious choice, and we like to do business with people who have made similar choices and who celebrate doing business in this region via their Twitter feed.

  6. dougbrowncreative September 2, 2010 at 2:36 pm #

    Hey thank you everyone for these great comments. There is something to what Jason has to say: the tight geography makes it easy to get together. Social Media, especially Twitter, seems to set up deeper conversations, learnings and relationships. That works a lot better when you don’t have to go far to physically connect.

    But then there’s the point made by frequent commenter Mario Parise of Sudbury, a town where the small size discourages participation.

    As for Paul Holmes assertion that this will all go away soon, I would suggest he attend Social Media Camp on October 3rd and see what it’s really all about. 🙂

  7. Chris Burdge September 2, 2010 at 8:27 pm #

    Domo Doug-san. What is this social media thing you speak of…

    Seriously; a well written and timely post – thank you. SM has expanded my YYJ world faster in the last 12 months than the previous 5 years. No dope!

    PS – I got your six once the ol’ boys get wind of this on their fax machines…

  8. dougbrowncreative September 2, 2010 at 9:27 pm #

    What’s a fax machine?

  9. Russel (RussLoL) September 3, 2010 at 9:34 am #

    Thank you for the reference and a bigger thank you for summarizing what has become a major change in Victoria’s (and my) day to day. My experience started with the wildly successfully Twestival 2010 and, since that time, has allowed me to engage and connect with some of the most amazing, intelligent, wacky, opinionated, courageous, thought-leading, charitable and caring people I could never have ever hoped to find without social media (yes, you too Doug).

  10. dougbrowncreative September 3, 2010 at 10:18 am #

    Too kind Russell. Imagine how different our days would be (ie. were) before social media and its needy platforms entered our lives.

    I think it’s telling that both organizers of the Social Media Camp (Chris and Paul) claim to know nothing about social media. We’re a humble group actually!

  11. @tpholmes September 3, 2010 at 10:32 am #

    I claim to know some things about social media! I just didn’t like the “Ninja Guru” moniker – it looks terrible on a business card.

  12. dougbrowncreative September 3, 2010 at 10:37 am #

    Well every since some clever monkey said “Don’t trust anyone who calls him or herself a Social Media Guru”, you guys who preach it are kind of screwed out of that neat word. I struggled to label Jay Baer in my post today, finally just calling him a social media rock star.

    But maybe you just don’t have the right business card designer. Give me a call.

  13. Renée November 26, 2010 at 3:57 pm #

    Looks like I got here just in time. After speaking with you earlier today about the incredible Social Media hub that is Victoria, I shared this info with my partner. Both of us were pretty much blown away—and totally thrilled—at the notion. When I arrived here, I kept hearing about Social Media left, right, and centre, just from walking down the streets of this fair city.

    After struggling/interpreting a second language (as a matter of survival!) in Montréal for the last four years, I cannot emphasize enough how happy I am to have landed smack dab in the middle of such a thriving network of creative communicators. If I’m gushing, well, it’s because I really am that freakin’ excited.

  14. Russel (@RussLoL) November 26, 2010 at 4:11 pm #

    Welcome to Victoria Renee

  15. Renee November 26, 2010 at 4:16 pm #

    Thanks, Russel! ‘Tis a brilliant city.

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