Locally based writer and digital media analyst Kristin Luna is half of the duo behind the first KEEN conference, which will take place downtown this October. Developed by Luna and her partner Stefanie Michaels, KEEN (Keeping Entrepreneurs Engaged and Networking) will convene digital entrepreneurs and consumers from all over the country to talk marketing and branding strategy.
What makes KEEN different from other events and conferences in the digital world?
We wanted to merge our connections and our knowledge and curate this perfect event, taking all other events in this industry into account. We wanted to take what they are doing right and create this summit to teach businesses how to partner with bloggers, Tweeters and digital entrepreneurs.
How does the brand ambassador concept work?
Brand ambassadors become de facto salespeople and are usually compensated for it. The difference — and beauty — comes from the level of control businesses have over these ambassadors. They are turned loose with a product and allowed to evaluate in an open way. This is a fusion of sales that has been happening since the advent of reviews and star ratings and "likes" that rope the crowd into fine-tuning and sifting through our choices.
By disclosing partnerships, writers maintain their integrity and essentially move out of the way while giving products exposure to a whole new set of eyeballs — eyeballs that trust them.
Who is your target audience?
I can’t see anyone who doesn’t have a Twitter account or know what a blog is coming to our conference. We’re targeting intermediate users who know they need to be out there using these new methods of digital marketing but aren’t really sure about the best way to go about it for their specific brand.
What do you expect from your first year?
We want to be a space for people to be able to come and network and meet the right connections in their industry. Keeping it like a boutique event, we’re going to cap attendance between 700 and 1,000 people.
What can attendees expect from attending KEEN?
We are a little beyond the 1.0. People want to know how they can monetize their online presence, how they can work with brand ambassadors if they are a big company or how they can reach more consumers if they are a small business. We want to create symbiotic relationships between individuals who have a very wide online reach and bigger brands.
For larger companies, it's easy to see the branding upside to linking up with online influencers. How do the influencers themselves benefit?
It's mutually beneficial for both: Businesses can recruit their next generation of ambassadors, while the individuals can possibly land a paying gig with a big company like a Microsoft — with whom I have a six-month compensated partnership through my own blog, I should add.
So why is Nashville the right place for KEEN?
Anywhere you go in Nashville, small businesses are using Square. Even if it’s a tiny little coffee shop, they’re on Twitter. Nashville, for being a smaller city, is one of the more progressive cities in terms of adopting the Internet culture and realizing the importance of being out there and reaching your audience. We really wanted to rebrand the city as an emerging tech hub of the U.S.
— Ashley Devick
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