The Spark.Me conference is the star of our year, without a doubt. It’s where all of our ideas come to life to create a memorable experience for everyone involved. It’s no wonder, then, that this year’s Spark.Me was the best one yet, and we’re being pretty level-headed here.
The texts we write to recap the conference always bring a smile to our faces because they bring back the good times we had, but they also help us share the atmosphere of the Spark.Me conference with everyone who hasn’t had the opportunity to come and see it live. We’ve already written about the first day of Spark.Me, and make sure you check that article out if you haven’t already.
The second day didn’t lack great speeches and speakers, either. Rest assured, there have been some pretty impressive talks throughout the day, and the startup competition was as tense as it can be.
The first keynote of the day was held by Heather B. Armstrong, one of the most famous mommy bloggers in the world. With over 17 years of blogging experience, Heather has seen it all: the first blogs that were unlike anything you can see today, the boom of influencer marketing on parenting blogs or, as she calls it, exploiting your kids for clicks and millions of dollars.
Heather has been a part of the blogging industry so long that she now has over 1.5 million followers on Twitter, and says that she can charge around $5000 for a single tweet. In her keynote, she emphasized the “pinterestification” of the Internet, accentuated by the screenshots of all sorts of different animals that have Instagram profiles and earn their owners money just because they are cute and likable.
She says that the trends currently taking off in social media (especially with family blogs) lean heavily on the portrayal of the authentic life of the families that are the owners of those profiles. But, it turns out that this authentic life is a fraud, and people simply buy it and sell it to the highest bidder to get more clicks and views on their websites. The native advertising market today urges bloggers to place products inside of their texts, without any regard to the feelings of those involved. Of course, you don’t have to put ads for brands on your blog – but what are you going to earn money from, then?
Of course, blogging is a huge deal, and we’re doing it right now so that you can see what happened on Spark.Me, but “selling out” to brands and accepting any and all offers can be extremely demanding on your mental health, and, more importantly, the mental health of your family.
When it comes to great strategies to manage your social media, however, there’s Jon Burkhart. A man of many jokes and even more balls he brought to the conference, his talk aimed to describe the best ways to get the attention of the people you need attention from – your customers. This presentation was unlike any other, however.
Jon started out by laying hundreds of balls on the stage and referred to them as “his balls”, which they really were. They had his logo on and everything. But before we saw what the balls were all about, Jon introduced us to his ballsy content strategy, because, in his words:
65% of marketers create content without a strategy
Jon also talked about the so-called social media jacking strategies, or simply the bandwagon effect. In 2016 there have been way too many opportunities for brands to steal the attention from celebrities passing away, and Jon noted that brands can hop on the bandwagon and stay relevant by simply responding to the events around them, with the example of Family Guy’s Peter Griffin dressed like Rihanna.
When it comes to the social media tools and practices, Jon notes that you should never, ever blame the tools you’re using when something goes wrong:
If you blame the tool, you’re the real tool.
To conclude his speech, Jon chose 3 social media posts that he liked the most with the #sparkme hashtag, and called the creators on the stage. The crowd then threw the balls at Jon to decide which post they liked the most, in a very “hands-on” approach to voting. If there’s one thing we can take away from Jon’s speech, it’s that the most dangerous phrase you can utter when it comes to content is that:
We’ve always done it this way.
To see the best way to get your content seen on social media, we’ve heard from Virginia Salas Kastilio, a leading Snapchat and influencer marketing specialist. Virginia talked a lot about the ways you can “hack” the growth of your brand on social media, as well as describing what social media channel can be best used for what type of content.
Unsurprisingly, being a famous Snapchatter herself, Virginia also talked a lot about the benefits of the world’s most interesting social media platform, and how she and her company helped brands raise millions of impressions on Snapchat by investing as little as $10. Influencer marketing is what’s trending today, and Virginia claims that the brands need to understand that in order to fully prosper in the time we’re living in now.
To grow your own personal brand is as important as growing your business, and the people who are doing it well are now considered experts and influencers and getting paid to simply be themselves under their own terms. Virginia brought to us a whole new way of thinking oriented solely on social media and modern channels that brands could really give a thought or two about.
Even though there were a lot more talks the second day of Spark.Me, we simply do not have the space to cover them all. It’s important to note the speech from Ancilla van de Leest based on the right to privacy and internet security. It’s not every day that you see a speaker urging you to disconnect from social media and start using Tor as your default browser, right?
The conclusion of the Spark.Me startup challenge brought to us the winners: the Serbian basketball startup CouchCoach. Having impressed Jon Burkhart in the semi-finals, the app that aims to gamify the basketball game, even more, was held in high regard and earned its developers the chance to present it on TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco. Velocy were the second place finishers, and they will be enjoying a comfortable 10-day stay in Palo Alto at the Startup Residence.
When we look back at Spark.Me 2017, we can only say that it has been one of the most fun times we’ve had – until next year, of course. We hereby welcome you all to visit Montenegro and Spark.Me next year and see that it’s a one-of-a-kind conference that will surely leave a mark on you for a while.
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