With a higher mobile then fixed internet penetration and the youngest population in Europe (19% of Albanians are between 15 and 24 years old), Albania has the potential of becoming a truly digital nation in the future – if it plays its cards right. Their aces will be the people that attended this year’s AllWeb in Tirana, which is why I was honored to be a speaker.
A key part of Albania’s journey will be building a local digital ecosystem, including events that will connect local digital enthusiasts and professionals with their colleagues around the region – and the world. AllWeb in Tirana is a spin-off of the original, now 6 years running, leading digital communication conference in neighboring Macedonia.
Where’s The Content?
Founded by Darko Buldioski and Gerti Boshnjaku, this is AllWeb’s second event in Albania’s capital which has already become a champion of digital transformation with the ambition of growing even more. While the content at AllWeb, with great speakers such as Bruketa&Žinić&Grey’sRobert Petković and Kraftwerk’sHeimo Hammer, made for an entertaining and useful event, content as a part of digital strategies hasn’t yet come into focus in the country.
Leading Austrial digital agency Kraftwerk founder Heimo Hammer sharing his experience.
The talk I gave centered exactly on the digital content opportunity both in the Albanian market, but also for companies that want to export products and services by leapfrogging competitors from the region.
There is no data such data for Albania. According to my sources, though – not many brands use native advertising or content marketing and those who do – aren’t doing it right.
Albanian stands alone as a language with no relatives (Source: StartupYard)
The only thing we can be sure when it comes to digital content in Albania is that the language is so unique that Google has failed them and now there is a venture-backed alternative, Gjiraffa, which raised $2 million from Rockaway Capital. They are building a search engine that understands Albanian for 12 million people that speak Albanian!
This is – ironically – not a bad thing, but an opportunity!
The Albanian Digital Content Opportunity
While blogs and social media are staples in more developed markets, a lot of companies aren’t moving beyond them so there’s a large opportunity for Albanian digital experts to become world experts in next-generation content: Video, VR, AR…
A similar thing happened in Croatia about 8 years ago with the sudden growth of Facebook and the new generation of social networks. While the US and other Western countries weren’t as excited about – for them – another generation of something they’ve seen, Facebook and Twitter were something completely new in Croatia. I remember organizing the first Twitter workshop in the region in 2009., a time when the closest other workshops for the real-time social network took place in – New York.
Young Croatian digital professionals recognized the opportunity faster than their Western counterparts and a slew of digital social media agencies was born, some of which – like Degordian – have become giants in their own right.
Explaining digital content opportunities with the Rimac Paradigm.
We’ll see if Albanian marketers and digital experts come out of AllWeb thinking about the content opportunities they might seize. I wouldn’t mind seeing some great content projects from Tirana at next year’s SOMO Borac digital awards, but that will happen only if local digital professionals actually ignore the regional digital industry and look beyond it – seizing the Albanian digital content opportunity.
Hopefully, my talk at AllWeb 2017, helps them along the way.
Erik, Darko and Robert being geeks in the break of the best digital marketing conference in Albania.
David Ristevski, a.k.a. “DzaDze”, the founder of Dread (Fu*cking) Pen, live-drawing on the stage.
The continuing success of Netokracija, the platform I built with the best media team in the region, has always been based on the success of its community. Which is why it’s so fitting that I had the chance to talk about Netokracija at one of the most community-driven events in the region: WordCamp Zagreb 2017.
300 people participated in this year’s conference! (Photo by Mauricio Gelves)
After my pitches for social media and startup topics started being declined (“pfff, who cares about Facebook?”) by the old guard of tech magazines I was writing for, it was the new tech media publications like Techcrunch and Mashable that gave me a solution: WordPress, then in its 2.8 version and already powering over 35% of the world’s top blogs according to Technorati.
Drawing parallels between the evolution of WordPress and the growth of Netokracija in my talk, I tried to explain:
How the WordPress platform helps businesses like Netokracija iterate fast;
How the WordPress community ethics and principles are a great analogy to sound business strategy;
Why what you want in business might not actually be what you really want.
You can watch my 40-minute talk on YouTube at 2 hours, 7 minutes in of the complete WordCamp Zagreb video:
…while the slides are up on both Slideshare and Slidedeck:
I’m looking forward to taking this talk on the road to other WordCamps around the world. It’s not just a case study, but uses the elements of the WordPress community and ecosystem itself as an analogy of the success of a project based on the platform. If you’re organizing a WordCamp and would like to have me talk about this topic, don’t hesitate to email me!
The speakers at a WordCamp in Croatia in a good mood (Photo: Neuralab)
Besides making your talk memorable, useful and all the other tips that apply to speaking at conferences, here are a few other insights I’d suggest:
Attend a local WordCamp Meetup: Before an organizer can start a WordCamp conference, they have to show that there’s a sizeable WordPress community in their city or country by organizing smaller community meetups called WordCamp Meetups. Since WordCamps are a community project as well, the organizers, attendees as well as some of the speakers will come from the ranks of meetup members, which is why you should definitely visit one prior to attending the WordCamp. Don’t be a stranger;
Don’t expect to be paid: Understand that WordCamps, as community events, don’t cover hotel or travel costs before you submit your talk;
Help promote the event: Since WordCamps don’t have a huge (if any) marketing budget, help promote the event by sharing it through social media or on your blog, even telling people you think might be interested;
Get a feel for the community: Become a member of the local or dedicated WordPress community group, on Facebook, Meetup.com or any other platform they might use. Follow their current and browse past discussions and topics of interest in order to get a feel for what’s relevant to the local WordPress Community, which will in most cases make up most of the audience at the WordCamp;
The audience encouraging the next speaker at a Wordcamp (Photo: Neuralab)
Stay up-to-date with local WordPress community news: In the same vein, visit some international and local sources of WordPress news, such as WPtavern, in order to be up-to-date with what’s happening related to WordPress. While there might not be a local WordPress news site, more general tech blogs usually cover news related to WordCamps and WordPress. An example is my own Netokracija where we cover the regional WordPress community in our WordPress section. Just search for the “wordpress” tag on most tech blogs and I’m sure you’ll find… something;
Don’t sell at WordCamps, just meet the community: Depending on the WordCamp, you’ll probably have more luck looking for partners than for leads! Chris Lema explained: “I make partners at WordCamps. Partners I can send work to. Partners that may route folks my way”.
Looking forward to seeing you at WordCamp Zagreb (keep in mind there are only 20 14 tickets left!) In the meantime, share your WordCamp speaking tips and suggestions in the comments!
This year, the BalCannes showcase will feature a jury of 25 members! These members are industry professionals: clients, agency members or journalists covering the marketing industry.
The BalCannes showcase is organized by the Croatian Association of Communications Agencies (HURA) and features the 25 best communication projects of the past years. It has been very successful over the years, with over 100 agencies participating with more than 555 different projects.
As Marketing magazin explains, among them will be Raiffeisen bank marketing director Belma Hadžiomerović, Triglav marketing director Tjaša Kolenc Filipčić, Atlantic Group director of marketing Jelena Milinković, Fullhouse Ogilvy creative director Miloš Đurđević and McCann Zagreb creative director Daniel Vuković.
The media part of the jury will feature Avaz editor Mladen Dakić, Marketing mreža editor Ivana Parčetić Mitić, Marketing magazin editor Marjan Novak, Marketing365 founder Boris Eftimovski as well as myself – as the editor-in-chief and founder of Netokracija. This will be my 3rd year jurying the BalCannes showcase.
While most tech and digital conferences might take place in spring and fall, I’m sure that you and I both love when they are organized in the summer. A great example is Changer Festival that took place in late July in the beautiful Croatian city of Šibenik, combining street art, food, music and – most importantly to our topic – a great tech event that took place in the evening over 3 days with topics from freelancing to the future of smart cities.
The beautiful Croatian city of Šibenik (Photo: Solaris archive)
My mate Luka Sučić and I took over the moderation of 4 large panels with some of the brightest minds of the regional tech community, including companies such as electric car maker Rimac Automobili, fast growing transportation booking platform Vollo and vacation rental property manager Rentlio.
Why Summer Tech Events Are Better Than a Great Mojito
As in Changer’s case, the events can take place in an open, more relaxed setting. Taking place at Ivan Pavao II square in the very heart of Šibenik, the location was far more interesting than your average bland conference space;
Summer is the truly sunny part of the year, which is important because studies have shown that nicer weather increases our life satisfaction. More sun – happier attendees.
Another benefit of these events taking place in the summer is that attendees definitely take more time to enjoy their surrounding, including various attractions and restaurants, cafes etc.
A post shared by Ivan Brezak Brkan (@ivanbrezakbrkan) on
The time before our panel we spent prepping at Vino&ino, the best wine bar in Šibenik, owned by former creative director Vedran Gulin. Vedran got smart and after an epic digital marketing career turned to creating one of the best places to sit and relax in his hometown.
There are a number of reasons why organizers don’t like organizing conferences in the summer:
Summer as the tourist season means that coastal cities have less capacity and higher prices of accommodations, increasing expenses for both organizers and attendees. According to data provided by travel search engine Hipmunk, accommodations in the summer are 50% more expensive;
Attendees go on holiday in the summer so less of them are ready to go to a conference or professional event.
Changer’s Panels About The Digital Economy
The two talks I moderated lasted for 90 minutes each (we made it work, argh!):
Freelancing – Dalmatia style was interesting because two of my attendees gave a truly Dalmatian perspective on making it as a digital freelancer. UX designer Marina Matijača explained how she balanced working for a digital agency and freelance work, while noted designer Filip Peraić (author of the acclaimed art series James Harden Illustrated) made it clear that you should put the work that you would like to do in your portfolio. On the other hand, TopTal technical sourcer Ines Avdic explained how a platform like TopTal helped freelancers take the hassle out of finding new work.
The center of Šibenik in the evening (Photo by Iva Soldo)
Future City was a more broad panel about the true future of smart cities and how can a city like Šibenik take advantage of the 4th industrial revolution. Aco Momčilović (Rimac Automobili), Marko Jukić (Vollo), Ante Matijača (Profico) and Marko Mišulić (Rentlio) had a lot to share about how important digitalization is for cities, especially when using data to manage them better.
MOP organizer and programme director for the conference part of Changer festival, Fran Mubrin, commented:
As a moderator Ivan recognizes opportunities in every topic and uses his experience to get the most interesting information from the panelists, making the topics interesting and useful to everyone in the audience.
I’m looking to next year’s Changer festival while wondering if we could have at least part of the panels in English. Who knows, maybe some of the tourists that stopped and wondered what we were talking about were digital nomads!