Spain is one of the great loves of my life, but I have another deep love as well, the Internet, which I’m planning to make my career once I return to the grand ole USA by continuing to pursue online marketing. So a few weeks ago, I attended Evento Blog España after hearing about it from my friend Lauren. Despite being, in name, a blogging conference, many of the panels were relevant to online marketing and social media, and I figured attending a professional conference in Spain would be quite the experience.
An experience it was. Not necessarily a great one, but an experience nonetheless. #EBE11, as they kept calling it, fancy Twitter hashtag and all, was hosted in the bizarre Pabellón del Futuro (Pavilion of the Future) on the “island” of La Cartuja, which, okay, sure, is a pavilion of the future if we’re destined to spend the future in a warehouse in 1992. Though there were a few interesting and educational moments, the vast majority of the panels and seminars rehashed old ideas that wouldn’t be helpful to anyone who knows anything about the web. Take the WordPress seminar, for example, in which the speaker spent the first fifteen minutes or so explaining that being an advanced user meant you knew how to do X, Y, and Z and that this was a panel specifically for advanced users. So, of course, then he spent the rest of the talk explaining how to do X, Y, and Z. Thanks, bro. Really, the basic gist of the conference seemed to be, “Oh my gosh, guys, there’s this great new thing called social media, and it’s totally useful for businesses!” I’d love to hear all about that if this were, I don’t know, 2006!
Lauren and I pondered whether this meant that Spain is simply years behind in technology (one of my favorite quotes of the conference was when a speaker showed some statistics and said, “These stats are from the U.S., not here, but looking at the U.S. is like looking into the future in a crystal ball anyway”) or just that this was a sub-par conference. It’s definitely true that Spain isn’t as tech-addicted as we are in America. Spaniards don’t walk around with their smart phones glued to their hands, and if you email a Spaniard, gasp!, you might not hear back from them for a few days. As for businesses adopting online marketing, I’m seeing more and more of them here trying to incorporate social media into their marketing strategies, although I can’t imagine it’s anywhere near as effective in a country where people simply aren’t online as much. However, judging by the yawns and glazed eyes of the Spanish conference-goers around us, I think it’s safe to say that this conference just wasn’t phenomenal.
But that’s okay! It only cost 15€, we scored free goodies like books, drinks, and food (we may or may not have spent the coffee breaks wandering around trying to stuff as many mazapanes into our bags as possible), and it was definitely an experience seeing how professional conferences work in Spain. This conference was indicative of how all of them are here, right? Because I’m led to believe that every professional Spanish conference features kids skating around an ice skating rink and an inexplicable march of Star Wars stormtroopers into the main hall at the end of the second day.
Sheesh, American conferences, why can’t you be more like Spain’s?