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It’s been two weeks now and I can say it’s taken me about this long to let the entire MDMC 16 conference (Midwest Digital Media Conference 2016) sink in. I have now processed all of the information that was put into my head that day. First of all, let me say the conference was amazing, and for the price, I am not sure of another conference that could possibly beat it. Right off the bat, I will say that if you get the opportunity to attend next year, then you should do it.

You will leave the day knowing a lot more information and a lot more people in the industry. Even if you don’t like the term “conference” or going to what is considered a traditional conference, that’s OK, because MDMC 16 broke the mold with this iteration. The hope is that they can only get better in the coming years and I have no reason to believe that they won’t.

Before I get into the actual breakout sessions and talk about some of the stuff I learned, I wanted to talk about the booths set up by all of the St. Louis-based startups. As an attendee, we were able to mingle with each startup, play with their products or get demos of them. This was great for me because I am a hands-on person. I like to meet new people and see new things that can change the way that we do things on a day-to-day basis. This really excites me.

There was everything from 3-D printers to animated logo design and a universal remote that is controlled by your phone. I think I will do a list of the “Top 5 Most Interesting Startups” that I was introduced to and my “Top 5 Breakout Sessions from the Conference” as I cannot really do one without the other. Again, that is one of the great things about this conference.

On a side note, the conference sold out, had 1,300 attendees, live music, amazing food trucks, contests, informational sessions, startup booths, snacks/drinks and everything ran smoothly the entire day. I was very surprised on how the entire day stayed on schedule and the day really seemed like it was over too soon. Of course, if you are the type of person that cannot handle that much information in one day, it might have been too much for you.

My Top 5 Startup Booths From The MDMC 16 Conference

Green Screen Images seem like they’ve been done before and everyone knows you can do it. But, the way these were implemented was to add backgrounds that can market your brand, easily be sent out on social media, used as promotional images and, of course, they collect your email for future business. One thing they already did was send out an email with everyone who took pictures that day with the chance to purchase actual prints of the image. Honestly, I cannot remember all of the applications of this service, but I do know it was one of my favorites.

Green Screen Marketing MDMC16

A Puck that turns your phone into a universal remote. Yes, it’s a puck, it is literally called “The Puck,” and it looks like a hockey puck. It’s a small Bluetooth puck that has adhesive on it so you can easily hide it from being seen. It also has a great Bluetooth range. The package says 100 feet and it can be kept in closets or out of the direct line of any remote since it’s using Bluetooth and not your normal remote control functions. I actually received one of these, but right now the app is still in beta testing and the item is not working properly. The designer is excited about the new app to come out for it. You can see more about the Puck here.

I like a startup named Lumogram that takes your logo and makes it come alive. Their entire concept is to have you submit your logo to them and they provide you with three animations of your logo that you can choose from. You can use these for your actual logo, when you are doing fun blogs or when showing off your site in places that you find it would be useful.

As I mentioned, there was a 3-D printer there — I don’t really remember the name of the company or what all they were doing as a startup, but I remember the printing was really cool. It was fast, it seemed very reliable and I was a skeptic of 3-D printing until I got to play with this one and play with the items that it was printing out. It’s funny how your mind changes once things are in your hand and you see them work with your own eyes. I now have a 3-D printed fish on my coffee table!

The last booth I’ll mention, and it doesn’t mean it was the least liked, but the last one I will talk about. (Again, I forgot the name of the company, I should have written this blog sooner.) This startup item can turn any screen into a touchscreen. My understanding is that you can turn a window into a touchscreen or take a TV that you already have and make it a touchscreen. The benefit is that you can draw or write on a TV when you are giving presentations or even onto a window or a wall.

There appeared to be another option that had either an iPad or some sort of notebook attached that you could draw on and it would appear on whatever you were showing on the TV, much like you see during a sportscast. I wasn’t ever able to get close enough to ask questions as this one was surrounded most of the day and every time that I had a little bit of freedom to mingle.

To me, those were the five most interesting booths/startups/products, or whatever you want to call them. Just that part of the conference alone makes me want to go back next year to see the awesome things the community of St. Louis is developing.

My Top 5 Breakout Sessions From The MDMC 16 Conference

“Live Streaming: Changing the Face of Social Media” was one of my favorites, simply because I am very interested in this right now. I have been asking myself who is actually going to win the live stream fight with so many sources starting to do it. Bonnie Frank, the speaker, spoke about Periscope, Facebook Live, Meerkat, YouTube and some others, I am sure. She talked about how Snapchat, in a way, was the first to start this and it’s going to start offering a live feed person-to-person, much like Face-timing.

This was interesting and the time flew by. Right now I would say Facebook has the upper hand, simply because when you go live, it notifies your users. If you are a Page, it will notify all of the users and that’s a big deal for engagement. However, for now, you are not able to schedule a live stream with Facebook and send out a reminder. Some of the other services do allow that.

Next, I really liked “Music, Mobility, Millennials” which mainly talked a lot about how music is something that everyone loves and it’s hitting ages younger and younger. The speaker talked about how important it is to get young people hooked to a specific paid service when they are young as this is the new way music will be heard. He made it clear that things like this are data-driven and younger people, or millennials, are driven by experiences and not objects. This means that these platforms need to use their data to be clever when marketing themselves.

Another session that I liked was the “Controlling Your Hyper-Local Digital Market.” This was really informative because the speaker broke down how intense local can be. He stressed how important email is, which I didn’t realize. He described social as being the party for local, it’s where you lead the conversation, integrate into the community, engage and talk about cool things, not just yourself. He has a rule called the 411 on the 3-2-1 for organic posting. The rule is for every four informational posts, you should include one hard sale post and one soft sale post.

Even more, hyper-focused on local was listening to your audience and responding to their wants and needs — and doing it on the platform that they like to engage with. He said, “you should be entertaining, engaging, efficient, have a clear narrative and a cohesive collection of words.” Hyper-local has many levels that I didn’t know about. These levels include geo-targeting to geo-fencing all the way down to geospatial. So if you have Bluetooth on and walk into a store, you might get buzzed on your phone to get a discount. Or, it could get as specific as being in the male denim section and getting buzzed about a coupon there for denim, and that’s about as hyper-local as you can get.

“Made To Share A Journey to a Hit” was a great session led by Brant McLean with BuzzFeed. It was good because he went over several ways that BuzzFeed goes about making content and, more importantly, about the content they leave out in order to raise engagement. He was funny, engaging and provided a lot of information when it comes to content marketing, especially on social media platforms as we all know what BuzzFeed was and it’s best known because of Facebook. I could talk a lot longer about this session, however, I will leave it at that.

“Content and the Millennials Mindset” is another session I enjoyed, but I assumed I wouldn’t, because the word “millennials” is way overused these days, especially in the media. The reason I liked the session so much was that she started out by saying that “…millennial isn’t a generation; it’s a mindset.” Everyone thinks that millennials are entitled, but as a marketer, we should look at millennials as individuals, global connectors and people looking for a purpose. This mindset is more global than ever before and the word niche doesn’t really fit with millennials.

There were a few more breakout sessions that I attended and I did like. However, the ones in my “Top 5” were the ones I felt compelled to talk about. It could also just be because they were earlier in the day and the sessions later in the day were just as good, but I was dragging a little bit, so the information was hard to take in.

Overall the MDMC 16 conference was great and I am looking forward to going again in 2017.

****Update on MDMC, Matchbox Design Group were sponsors and it’s 2017 2-day event***

About the Author

James McMinn

Senior Digital Strategist

James is a savvy digital marketing specialist with a Masters of Science in Internet Marketing. For the past fourteen years, he has been specializing in SEO, PPC & Marketing Strategy. He has a super sharp analytical mind and a finely tuned creative eye for marketing initiatives that optimize brands.

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