Top 12 Highlights from Spark 2019.

From the future of earned media to the state of social advertising; from micro-influencers to macro-trends; #spark19 was full of highlights. 💥
Rachel Kador
November 15, 2019 - 7 min. read

Spark — our beloved marketing conference held in Copenhagen on November 14, 2019 — may be over, but we’ll be replaying the highlights reel for weeks to come. 

With 25 individual sessions, workshops, and keynotes across four tracks throughout the day, Spark had something for every kind of marketer. Unfortunately, even the most ambitious of us weren’t able to attend every session (that would require Hermione-like time-shifting that unfortunately hasn’t yet made it to Denmark).

So, whether you attended Spark or not, here are our top highlights, compiled from across all four tracks. 

Highlight #1: Make use of the “world’s largest focus group.”

In the closing keynote,  Twitter’s Senior Manager, Data Sales and Developer Partnerships, Gregory Maxson, emphasized the fount of customer insights his company’s platform provides. There are 500m tweets going out each day, making Twitter both the “single largest archive of human thought that ever existed” and the “world’s largest focus group.” Best of all for marketers is the fact that the vast majority reflect “reactions and experiences that are unprompted, in the moment, and authentic.” 

Gregory’s session “Sparking Engagement on Twitter” was broadcast as a live webinar that you can see here.

Highlight #2: More unified social roles demand more consolidated tech. 

As the definition of marketing expands, marketers must expand to fill their new roles (yes, multiple) within their organizations. It’s no longer enough to be a specialist — future marketers must have a keen sense of the entire marketing ecosystem and find ways to unify their work across platforms. Our very own CEO, Ulrik Bo Larsen, spoke about the need for new technology to focus on consolidation: of apps, services, platforms, channels, and functionalities. 

Highlight #3: Is 2020 the best time to be a marketer?

It’s a bold premise and the panel discussion tackled it from multiple angles. Richard Muscat Azzopardi of Switch expects it will be a “good year for good marketers,” to which Tala Baadaraani of Noble added the need for “boldness” and quality content. The increased fragmentation of channels is one challenge Richard said marketers must overcome with stronger targeting. Both scoffed at the idea that Artificial Intelligence poses any threat to marketers’ jobs next year or any time for that matter – it’s just a “buzzword” and ultimately a “facilitator.”

Highlight #4: Instagram dropping likes is likely just an “experiment.”

The potential removal of the like and love buttons from Facebook and its Instagram platform has hit the headlines lately. For Chris “Kubby” Kubbernus, CEO of Kubb&Co, the move is probably just an experiment, perhaps intended to encourage users to try out the Stories and IGTV formats where likes remain. He doubted that Facebook would be out to “cut the legs out of the algorithm.” Whatever Facebook’s long-game is here, he and co-panelist Michael Hedelain of Greenpeace in the “Success After Likes” session agreed that marketers should be focused on other metrics such as reach.

Highlight #5: The formula for virality? Traditional + social media.

Traditional media including PR may sometimes seem like a distant, older cousin to social media – but Alexander Mason, CEO of Cision Nordics, vividly demonstrated how the two can be a powerful combination. In his session, “How Social Media is Changing the Face of PR,” he showcased how traditional media reach and social media engagement complement one another perfectly. Case-in-point: the “See the Children” social movement campaign that harnessed news media and influencer amplification to force an anti-child violence law change in Sweden. The key here is content distribution planning, something he expressed with a line that’s been doing the rounds on Twitter.

Highlight #6: Focus on psychographics, not demographics. 

Demographics are old school. McKenna Taylor from Skullcandy shared that if you want to connect with your audience on a more emotional, impactful level, you need to focus on mindset, not age brackets. Interest-based targeting shows that you understand both your own brand story and your audience personas at a more advanced level. This is just one of the keys to their successful 12 Moods campaign, which boosted their social following by 50% and sold out their limited-edition product lines. 

Highlight #7: Save your ad budget by sharing more relevant content. 

On LinkedIn, whether your ad appears in the feed depends on both your bid and your relevancy score. Sam Parker from LinkedIn shared how a piece of content with a lower bid but a higher relevancy score can still reach more people. Increasing your relevancy score requires consistency: the algorithm factors in data points from the past 30 days such as click-through rate, comments, likes, and shares. 

Highlight #8: Share a combination of “lean forward” and “lean back” content. 

Kara Segedin from BBC shared how her team is using IGTV to experiment with long-form social video. She stressed the importance of understanding user behavior and sharing the right content for them in different contexts. “Lean forward” content is for those scrolling through their mobile feeds: stories, gifs, articles, and quizzes. “Lean back” content is for people who are ready to sit back, relax, and take in more long-form content. That’s the IGTV sweet spot. 

Highlight #9: Crisis can strike anytime, anywhere. 

A social media crisis can quickly spiral out of control — and it can come from unexpected places. The right content on the wrong channel can have a disastrous response. Nandini Jammi from Sleeping Giants spoke about how to stay vigilant and what to do when crisis strikes. As a brand, you have to be ready to re-assert your values, reallocate resources, and take back control. The key word is Answerability. When something goes wrong, respond quickly, take responsibility, share your plan for resolving the issue, and above all, remain human. 

Highlight #10: Relax, it’s just an audit. 

When’s the last time you did a social media audit? Jerri Helms from HarperCollins shares how her team uses regular audits to keep their brand on track (a necessity when you have over 35 different teams and hundreds of channels!). An audit shouldn’t be a daunting, annual event that takes months to complete. Instead, focus on channel- and campaign-specific audits to get actionable data you can use right away to improve your next campaign. 

Highlight #11: True marketing attribution will take real alignment.

Did you know there is an average of 56 touchpoints between a first site visit and conversion? Bram de Jonge, a Senior Account Manager at AdRoll talked through the challenges associated with marketing attribution. The solution? Bram advocated a complete change of approach – in particular, righting the ongoing lack of alignment inside companies. The good news? Technology is closing the gap many blame for insufficient marketing attribution. The bad news? It’s not the technology that’s been the biggest barrier – we just need to press reset on how we go about attribution.

Highlight #12: Use personal profiles to build brand thought leadership.

Casper Emil Rouchmann of Templafy lit up the stage with his energetic take on “Presenting the Perfect Audience With the Perfect Product.” His advice? Diversify to platforms such as Reddit, Quora and Pinterest. These command loyal audiences with 300m on Quora alone. The key here is to post under a personal profile rather than a branded one: people simply relate to and trust these more.

That’s a Wrap!

Check back soon for more content from Spark, including exclusive video interviews with our expert speakers, summaries of our workshop sessions, and more.