(Or Influencers &-Millennials on two digital conferences – Spark.me + Digital Day)

Can you attend digital conference if you aren’t a tech-geek? Yes, you can. Can you have fun? Sure. Learn something? Well, yes indeed. Can you apply the things you have learned? Hum. And once again – hum.

Within a week, I had the privilege to get in for free be invited to as much as 2 digital conferences: Digital Day and Spark.me. Digital Day is a conference dedicated to digital marketing while Spark.me is directed more towards digital business and cyber innovations. What has brought together these two conferences were two (burning) terms which were discussed the most: Influencers & Millenials.

If you are not familiar with these topics, millennials (or Generation Y) stands for the population born between 1980 and 2000, focused on life in cyberspace, while influencers are  – famous or recognized through social networks – people that marketing agencies hire to promote a certain product. More or less, influencers ie. the people who are influential in their environment that others follow and whose advice they accept, recommend a product that millennials will buy.

In today’s marketing influencers are necessary because regular advertising is no longer enough – millennials are completely different consumers than their parents were. For them, to have a phone primarily means having internet (not to mention that you take more pictures with you phone than you talk) and being online is equal to being alive. And while parents needed as much as 75 years to accept the phone as a device, generation Y took just 4 years to adopt Facebook, while Instagram has become a necessity in a mere year.

There’s more reasons for influencer’s existence. When searching for a specific term on the Internet, nearly 90% of millennials’s have no specific brand in mind. In a global survey of consumer habits, the majority of respondents, of course, give priority to a price. Except Millennials. As much as 63% of them prefer other reasons: they rather purchase due to brand affection, because of reviews and recommendations left by other customers and because of user-friendly website. In this way, one millennial will never Google an incredible deal of XY travel agency, but the best place to travel with children, and will be ready to pay for that vacation and praise someone who has shared this valuable information.

In practice, that looks like this: advertisements are presented to millions in display media, while influencers represent their content to thousands of followers. However, do not let a large number fool you – if some video content has been seen by large number of people it does not mean that it has been actually remembered, and product recognition does not necessarily mean influence. Last year, as much as 20 million euros was invested in digital marketing, and almost half of these investments were lost due to a bad content.

That’s where influencers come in. Influencers build relationship with their fans based on trust, and make friendships and closeness with their followers, and each influencer (in one way or another) is a bit of a reality star who shares information from his private life. As I have already mentioned, with millennials, the focus is on the individual – he recognizes similar interests in his influencer because millennial is the biggest news to himself so he looks for things that are important to him; on Spark.me this syndrome was named egosystem. It is therefore logical that one millennial have more confidence in the words of his favorite influencer than paid advertising.

So, millennials are the generation that accepts innovation and, while being introvert was once  unrecognized and incomprehensible in general, today, because of too much clicks and likes, people are slowly becoming digital introverts. Due to all this, there is more influencers that want to try out new things on their own skin. Influencers accept the risk as an opportunity for growth, they are not creatures of habit and perceive conformity as the greatest enemy of innovation.

That is why on Digital Day conference they talked about the need to consider some aspects of marketing that we have never considered before, like promotion through applications such as Vine, Snapchat, Periscope etc. while on Spark.me speakers talked that we should not limit ourselves to the well-known facts. But, wait just a second. If I still remember correctly, we still live in Serbia (or the former Yugoslavia, whatever you want). In Montenegro, where the largest conference in the region was held, in front of a club I got a flyer informing me about club events for this season, while on the other side of the flayer, an advertisement for a mobile store was printed (with appropriate slogan Everything in one place). At Digital Day event, promoters were handling promo material, which among other things included desk name holder with the name of the conference sponsor – that (I can give my life), even the respective sponsor in an attack of madness wouldn’t keep on his table (enough said on marketing).

Don’t get me wrong here, both conferences were superbly organized. And for both conferences I  would gladly give money even if I hadn’t got the tickets because I wanted to go and learn something. However, I have to admit that at some point I asked myself: if the speakers (although phenomenal) came only from a different linguistic area and give examples from their environment, how do we actually apply all this to our own skin (that is, in this area of the earth)? And while at Digital Day some national names were heard, domestic people only talked about (endlessly boring) statistics and praised their companies (not to mention talking about private details that I am absolutely not interested in because they do not apply to my business). That’s right, I am a (heavy) millennial and I need concrete information on how to come out in a sea of information where only at YouTube 720K hours of content is uploaded per day.

What I’m saying is, all this is nice, but what is actually achieved, and who benefits from influencing in Serbia? Most people will name a few fashion bloggers; however, can we remember any other influencers? Some of the biggest Internet sensations in Serbia stated that they haven’t seen a dime from promoting products, and some fashion bloggers asked not to be compensated with clothes as this doesn’t pay their bills. Ok, anyone with a slightly larger number of followers can get paid to come to a party for 30-50 euros. But all they really want is an (unreasonable) amount of money for a big audience they fought for, that trust their judgement while domestic marketers are trying to persuade them to market their product for free. As Veronica Belmont said at the last day of the conference: fuck you – pay me.

And then it hit me (spark!). The point is not in influencing. Neither is the catch in the amusement of the millennials. It all begins with one idea. One sentence. One man. One act (act!). In fact, we are the ones who create the change. And for something to change, we have to change something. Anything. We need to get off the throne of routine and give up on average behavior and mediocre ambitions. According to one quote (again, me and quotes!), your action may seem like a drop in the ocean, but the ocean is made out of drops. Through any changes we become a part of a snowball effect and that grew into an avalanche, which rapidly leads us to the desired result.

Last question for each speaker at Spark.me conference was: what lights your spark? My answer is: energy. The energy of all of us who have come there to change something. Influencers will pass and millennials will grow up and a clever man will always find something to learn even on a lousy conference. Therefore, do not accept standard solutions. Charge (unreasonably) for the knowledge you have. And if something seems inapplicable, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it has no use. In Gandhi kind of way, be the change you want to see.

Now.

Precisely this second, as you are reading this text, you need to capture the moment and do something different. Because the spark is just one particle. That merging together with another creates fireworks.

So – how long will you wait for a change? Act… Or die acting.

If you interested this text, an interesting lecture form Digital Day can be viewed here. If you liked the article, share it and like it and feel free to leave a comment bellow. Of course, my book can be purchased here, and if you are interested in consultations in English, please contact me through a form on this page.

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If you're too tired to go out tonight, just think how you'll feel at seventy two!

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