When longtime Victoria entrepreneur Tami Tate bought the Social Media Camp franchise from Chris Burdge and Paul Holmes in the fall of 2019, she had big plans and no inkling that the decade-long event, which typically draws 600 people annually to the Victoria Conference Centre, could be totally flattened by a virus.
Throughout that fall, she threw herself into rebranding the conference and attracting top-level talent such as home and lifestyle guru Jillian Harris of HGTV fame. But by March 2020, as the COVID-19 virus spread and society went into lock-down, it became clear the event could not move forward.
So Tate tried mightily to move Canada’s largest social media to an online format.
“We were one of the first events to try to move online,” says Tate, “but I think we were ahead of our time. We got quite a bit of push-back when we first started to do it. Enough people said they didn’t want to pay for a virtual event that I thought, ‘If I’m already getting these kinds of reactions after about a week of being virtual, I can’t go forward.’”
The Entrepreneurial Spirit
The cancellation of Social Media Camp 2020 was devastating, both emotionally and financially, Tate admits. Not only was there disappointment after such a promising start, but there were the financial losses incurred by the SMC cancellation, including ticket refunds. Tate also saw her business 365 Day Media Group dealing with the cancellation of client events like the Times Colonist 10K.
But here’s where Tate’s entrepreneurial spirit really kicked into high gear.
With social media playing a critical role in social and business communications, Tate decided to keep the Social Media Camp brand alive and relevant by launching Social Media Camp Club (SMC Club), a virtual community designed to keep members connected and updated on everything happening in the world of social media. And approximately 35 Social Media Camp ticket holders opted to became SMC Camp members instead of asking for full refunds, a vote of confidence for which Tate is grateful.
Featuring a unique theme each month, SMC Club features two monthly webinars, a live Q and A conversation with industry leaders, virtual networking opportunities and more. May’s three webinars include sessions with Peter Hunt, president and master distiller at Victoria Distillers, home of Empress 1908 Gin; Blair Kaplan Venables, a social media marketing expert and the president of Blair Kaplan Communications, a B.C.-based PR agency; and Angela Henderson, an Australian award-winning business consultant, speaker and podcaster who has helped thousands of women succeed in business without burnout..
“We’re relying on social media for all our information and using it for entertainment,” Tate says, “but there are good ways to do it and bad ways to do it. This is a way for people to connect and learn — and we can keep the community engaged.”
Learn more about Tami Tate’s story on CHEK News this Sunday, May 3, 2020 for Conversations in Crisis during the 5 p.m. newscast.