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January 16

What you missed @ #TrendingNorth

Social gurus, entrepreneurs, small biz owners, and marketers alike gathered last Thursday for Ad 2’s #TrendingNorth to talk social and celebrate local brands. This AMA took place in The Social Light’s fabulous new HQ in NE Minneapolis. ICYMI, here’s a look inside their new space.

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The event opened up with the chance to mingle with fifteen Minnesota brands and small businesses popping up in the halls surrounding The Social Lights space. Others joined in conversation throughout the new space with a yummy My Burger and drink of choice in hand – thanks to Fair State Brewing Cooperative and BĒT vodka.

As the main event of the evening kicked off, some 250 attendees gathered in the common space to tune in to the panel. Topics covered ranged from creating brand identity, growing your business in an authentic and meaningful way – whether it be first time clients or increasing followers, and the overall idea of building a brand from the unique perspective of the panelists.

Panelists included:

Spencer Barrett – Great Lakes

Annie D’Souza – The Midwestival

Josef Harris – Bodega LTD.

Katrina Wollet – Katrina Wollet

Drew Gneiser – The Social Lights

Laura Rae – Laura Rae Photography

Moderated by Peter Heidorn – Fair State Brewing Cooperative

The panelists came back to these three themes throughout the discussion – Stay human, be yourself, and think more about quality over quantity.

Literally, in the words of Katrina, “Stay human.” Consumers know when you post for the sake of posting and when the ideas are not original. Did someone say latte instagram? So do something different on social media. Take risks, be vulnerable. The platform is constantly changing and who knows, you could start the next thing. So… “Make awesome stuff, you can do it.” @DrewGneiser

Be yourself. “The more you are yourself, the more you are exactly where you need to be” – Josef Harris. Consumers appreciate and connect with authenticity. When a brand is able to emulate that, a genuine meaningful relationship forms. And those are the types of relationships between brand and consumer that are the most valuable. Those are the ambassadors that the brand didn’t even ask for, they are just so excited about what the brand is doing that they share it with their community. “Guys, word of mouth is still a thing” – Laura Rae. And a valuable thing at that!

Quality over quantity. High numbers are good to have. But are those engagements coming from current or potential customers? How does that content ultimately make a difference for your business goals? Take a step back and be reminded that it isn’t all about numbers. Rather, content that engages and inspires your audience and keeps us all connected. And isn’t that what you want to be known for anyway? As panelist, @AnnieDSouz said, “there is no substitute for good people.”

The resounding message can be summed up in a quote from @MrBarr13, “ Focus on authenticity, passion and love for what you do. When you do that, it comes through in your content.”

Pop up shopping continued after the panel and if you missed out, check out the list below and show your support with a follow, like, retweet, or purchase!

Pop up shops included:

Cori Lin Art 

Create Laser Arts 

Dogfish Media 

Great Lakes 

Hagen and Oats 

Honour Essentials 

Mill City Fineries

minneapolis made 

Minny & Paul 

Printerette Press 

Senn & Sons 

Sota Clothing 


Vandalia Street Press 

Woodchuck USA

A special shoutout goes to The Social Lights for hosting this event, My Burger  for providing delicious eats, and Fair State Brewing Cooperative and BĒT Vodka for top-notch drinks, along with our #squad of panelists and pop up shops.