The big blue F came to Railtown in real life this week.
Facebook held a meet and greet for local agencies and brands at one of the coolest places in the city: Vancouver Urban Winery.

Photo cred = @NBloom

The event was just a couple of blocks away from our office, and there was a promise of  wine, cheese and advertising geekery, so you know that we were in.

Railtown is an amazing place filled with some of the most creative and innovative people in the city, but it’s unfortunately rare to see a gathering of any number of those people in a single place.

A lot more than just the Railtown neighborhood was represented, with most of the most prominent brands and agencies making an appearance. The room was buzzing with ideas and impromptu meetings and, as the wine started to flow, some of the frustrations that we’ve all had with the Facebook platform started to come out.

The event itself had a bit of a McDonalds Ask Us Anything  feel to it – Facebook’s developers and reps had a strong presence and were fielding all sorts of questions from the crowd. It was impressive to see the crowd shoot tough questions to the Facebook crew, then listen as they collected feedback and responded thoughtfully.

One notable point that came out of the discussions: It’s a popularly held belief that brand pages have been punished in the past year, appearing to a much smaller percentage of their audience than they previously had. The speculation has been that it’s a cash-grab for Facebook, forcing brands to pay to appear to the people who have voluntarily opted-in to see the content already by Liking the page. The counter-point was that over the past year, the volume of brands who are on Facebook, and especially the number of posts that they are publishing, has increased so dramatically that it is impossible for posts to appear to nearly as many users.

Photo cred = @NoiseDigital

On hand were also three brands that had successfully run Facebook advertising campaigns to share their experiences and best practices. The best of the bunch was Tic Tac, as presented by their local agency Noise Digital.

The premise of the talk was that a single social media ad was unlikely to ever create a single Tic Tac purchase, but the social proof and community that could be achieved from a genuinely interesting campaign that is backed by well-targeted advertising can create real brand awareness, and ultimately brand loyalty, that can drive purchases.

The data of the case study fairly definitively showed how their content strategy and promotion had increased local sales while growing the loyal fanbase online.

We got a rare chance to interact face to face with the developers, marketing people and other industry crew that we typically only see in the online world.

These types of events, whether they are hosted by a brand, cause or otherwise, is how our neighborhood and city as a whole will be able to collaborate and grow to create some really cool things. The creativity and talent in Vancouver is incredible, and it’s only when we come together that we can create beyond our individual abilities.

Kudos to both Facebook and Vancouver Urban Winery for bringing us all together. Here’s hoping that there will be many more opportunities like this in the future.