Social Media Week Berlin: a (long) love story


I have a story with Social Media Week Berlin. And now it is time for some confessions.

The first time I ever heard about Social Media Week was via the Andarín Gallardo. He was in Bogotá just on time for SMW there and I thought, wow, how lucky. During that week in 2011, I was mostly at work. I spend quite some time in the office nowadays and back then, I used to spend even more. But my job, even if it was as a Community Manager already, was not so focused on the offline connections. Or maybe I was still a bit shy.

I remember spending the whole week seeing my Twitter stream full of #SMW this and that. I was fascinated how I could more or less follow the event through Twitter, but most of all, I was disappointed I couldn’t attend, because I felt there was no good reason to skip work to spend the week *only* exploring the new trends on Social Media. Yes, I could have asked for holidays, but it was too late. Or I could have streamed the events, but I also had to work. Now I call these excuses, but you get the situation.

So the week went on and my feeling of having missed out grew. From September 2011 to January 2012 couple of things changed, mostly my job. I joined Roomsurfer as their first employee and now the offline connections were vital. So there I was, networking my face off and getting to know amazing people doing amazing things in the Berlin startup scene.

By April, I got some cool new contacts, one of them being Ben from Jetstream. In one of our talks, he mentioned he had met Sofie, who was in charge of Social Media Week in Berlin and he wanted to put up together an event focused on the travel industry.

Social Media Week 2012 Social Traveling

Both Roomsurfer and Jetstream have a vision for connecting travelers with locals so the best tips of the city you visit get unlocked. Couple of months after, we presented the “Social traveling: where off and online networks meet” panel, together with Waymate, StartupStay (now Bizpora) and Smaracuja. As I argued before in this blog, the travel industry is getting every time more and more social media focused, bloggers are getting quite some attention as the perfect fit for Social Media strategies and new business are tapping into the social graph to deliver better experiences to customers. That we discussed in the panel, many people attended and enjoyed both the topic and the debate.

SMW 2012 was great. I got to meet Ploonge and the team for their first Startup Pizza ever and the parties were fantastic. It was really great to be part of it all knowing that only a year before, I had to look from the distance via Twitter. That year, it all went from observing to flirting between me and Social Media Week Berlin.

startup pizza smw12

Well, this year SMW and I are getting serious: I am part of its Berlin Advisory Board.

The team of SMW is excellent and they aim to always bring to stage new faces in Social Media with lots to say. Also, to expand beyond marketing and discover what social media means to all other aspects of our lives: politics, economy, human rights, entertainment, education and well, everything that’s part of our daily routines.

Which of course appeals to me. I am a curious soul and there’s so many topics I love to explore. For that reason, this year I’m organising 3 events during SMW as a team member of Zoobe, another 1 as part of the SMW Berlin Board, I am collaborating with the awesome Berlin Geekettes and Digital Media Women Berlin for a full day of women talking Communications and, on top, I’ll be involved in probably the wildest event of the week.

But it is not only about me: other Berlin startups are collaborating to make these events possible and will be talking about highly interesting stuff. Here’s the full list of events, speakers and companies involved:

Community managers to die for: what does it take?

Being a Community Manager is not easy and it does require being a new type of employee. You might know something about it or completely disagree with me. In any case, I invite you to meet a selection of Berlin CMs who will discuss what does it take to be a great CM and what are the biggest challenges of the job.

I want to thank Sophie Hechinger from StartupBootcamp, Svenja Goebel from MotorTalk, Silvia Foglia from Twago, Moritz Vieweg from Uber and Severin Matusek from EyeEm for taking time from their busy schedules to be on stage!

Mobile Messaging Apps: the new social networks?

Working at Zoobe means knowing it all about mobile messaging apps. It took a bit to catch up, but now I can tell you about some surprising facts about how this apps are monetising around the world and how they are becoming the next option after quite some social media overload. If you love apps or if you want to discover a new trend in personal communications, don’t miss this event!

Communities that thrive: Do’s and Don’ts

As part of the Digital Media Women Berlin and Berlin Geekettes 360° of Communications Day, I will be talking about what Community Managers do, don’t do and how to kickstart, build and empower a community. Tricky and broad subject (I could be talking about this for days), but the one I am more passionate about. I will be addressing the most common doubts about Community Management, giving useful tips, naming the best tools I’ve discovered so far and answering as many questions as possible. I’m really thankful to be part of this amazing initiative!

SoMoGlo Apps

Berlin is full of entrepreneurs embracing mobile who want to conquer the world.  Even if the latest years have been full of praise to Social, Mobile and Local services, Berlin has good examples of companies wanting to achieve success through the Social, Mobile and Global formula. We will discuss this strategy and its challenges with Francesco Baschieri from Spreaker, Stefanie Hoffmann from Gabi, Luís-Daniel Alegría from Vamos and Lenard F. Krawinkel from Zoobe. Again, thank you for going up on stage to share your experiences with the Social Media Week attendees!

The social CEO

There’s nothing I love more than trying some new service out and receiving a welcome email from the CEO to thank me for joining. All customers want to talk to the boss, and giving me the opportunity to do so anytime works wonders on my perception of a company. In this workshop I will argue why a social CEO can be the key to a company success, explain how a Community Manager can work with a Social CEO strategy and show the best examples of social CEOs to learn from. Joining the discussion will be Jonas Piela from Avuba: thanks Jonas for your time!

The wildest event of the week

Not announced yet (it’s that good!). But probably during the closing party you will be able to join ;)

The end of this love letter: Social Media won’t tear us apart

So from outsider to board member in 2 years. That makes me very proud but as well hopeful to make this love story last long enough. I am working my ass off here to live up to the expectations of SMW attendees and of course to the trust that my beloved SMW is giving me. I am committed to bring on stage talented speakers and give the best insights on the topics I am presenting. I also vow to upload all presentation online for you to enjoy! This is true love, can you see that? <3

All this to say: don’t lose another second! Check the exciting full schedule of SMW Berlin events, pick all those you can join and if you are still stuck at work for whatever reason, don’t miss the opportunity to sneak a bit and stream some events. Also follow the Twitter feeds whether you are away or attending the events, there’s the official one (#SMWBerlin), the one I will use (#SMWB13) and then a dedicated hashtag for each event. Checking them is a fantastic way to connect with other attendees, believe me!

But most importantly, if you are passionate about a topic and if you love Social Media: plan ahead and in six months or next year submit an event, workshop, session, panel of your own to the nearest SMW. Then book some days off and enjoy to be around people who understand why are you so passionate about SM. Make connections and be social.

It’s a love story worth living, I promise.

ENCORE: The best party of the week will be this one!

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Karneval der Kulturen in Berlin

The 17th edition of Karneval der Kulturen (Carnival of Cultures) is starting tomorrow Friday. Celebrated always on the weekend of Pfingsten (Pentecost), it is the perfect time to experience the big diversity of Berliners living in our beloved city. From Friday to Monday, strolling around Hallesches Tor, Gneisenaustraße and Mehringdamm is a trip to the world without leaving Kreuzberg 61. The food, the smell, the colours and sounds make you forget about the grey long Berlin winter and fill your heart with hope for a great summer to come. Well, it might not be that great, but we are all wishful thinkers in BLN.

Here the plan of the street food festival

But the main attraction of Karneval der Kulturen aka KdK is Sunday’s Umzug (Parade) starting at 12:30h in Hermannplatz and finishing in Mehringdamm via Südstern. Almost 80 different wagons, each powered by a different community of foreign locals living in Berlin, make their way crossing Kreuzberg wearing their traditional outfits and dancing on the trailers or on the street. It goes slow, so you can either just watch them pass along or even better, join them :)

Here the route of the parade on Sunday

Karneval der Kulturen Berlin

Personally, the parade is what makes me love this Berlin weekend festival. For one day all the different cultures, countries, communities – whatever you wanna call it – living here get real visibility. What in other cities such as London and New York is everyday life of having workmates from around the world in all kind of jobs and levels, in Berlin all of it many times becomes a bunch of mental drawers.

To say it bluntly, the overview would go like: “…there are the blonde blue eyed locals and of course Irish and English but, whatever, they all look the same; then the Turks, the Asians, the Latinos and some blacks from US and also Africa. Mostly the Berliners “with migratory background” (Migrationshintergrund) who grew up in Berlin work in restaurants and as shop assistants, the foreigners coming from other European countries are working in startups or rather go corporate, but in any case they don’t speak German and usually are a bunch of hipsters.” Yes, I know, it is very politically incorrect to refer to the Berlin diversity in such terms, but it is an unspoken mindset mostly everyone in Berlin shares but nobody would really put like this in public.

Well, KdK is the day in Berlin you see how many blends of Asian, Middle East, European, North / South / Central American, African, Australian and so on we have around. The Parade showcases so many different countries and traditions we usually put in the same box that it helps to break those generalizations of the Berlin crowd. It’s an annual opportunity to reset that mindset and break the invisible barriers. It was inspiring for me the first, second and third time I watched the Parade go in front of my eyes.

So much that on the fourth year, even I, who left El Salvador at age 4, identifies as a Catalan (but not so much as Spanish) and one day actually wants to hold the “Berlin Passport” (allright, German is ok too), got carried away with the KdK fever and ended up dancing in the Salvadorian truck with the typical dress. I bet you will do something like that in a couple of editions too ;)


That’s the magic of the Karneval der Kulturen! Best part, no one cares which passport you carry, you can join any community just by asking with some time ahead.

Here the full list of the caravans in the parade

Important rules for KdK Berlin 2013 Street Festival and Sunday Parade

1. Walk around the street festival at least 2 times, drink the Russian vodka shots that taste like water and will have you drunk with just a sip and DON’T MISS THE JAMAICAN JERK CHICKEN. It is law!

2. Same as in my previous MyFest guide: don’t expect to have mobile reception after a while, too many people around, and be careful with your wallet and Handys. Berlin is really safe, but in crowds all around the world, you better be extra careful.

3. Don’t stay all the time at the same place. Start early in Hermannplatz for example and see how the parade starts. It will give you the opportunity to check out the different music styles and decide what is the one you want to enjoy. Look for the numbers and once you have seen everything, catch up with the chosen one to follow it for a while. The Umzug moves slow, so whenever you need you can go to the front and to the back to change “dancefloors”.

4. If you really want to stay at the same place, then go early to Südstern, get a nice spot and be very patient. If you are not around early, you won’t have a chance to actually see the parade from a nearby area and it gets really really full. So seriously consider following rule #3 :)

5. Enjoy with the cool kids in the already legendary karaoke wagon. I cannot say much about it, just this and this.

6. Charge your phone, smartphone, big camera and have space in your cards to record videos. You will regret it if you don’t go home with plenty of material.

7. It is too full? Then head to Viktoriapark for a romantic stroll, the most amazing waterfall in Berlin (well, there ain’t that many :P) and for some nice views over the city.

8. It always rains one of the days in the KdK. So a small umbrella in your bag won’t hurt.

9. Don’t leave too early on Sunday. The whole Kreuzberg 61 parties up big time and once the parade finishes, all bars and clubs nearby have an special party for you. Monday is public holiday, so you want to keep the mood going on until at least 3 am. Yes, in Berlin we love the Partythons, can you blame us after a long long grey winter?

10. Wear comfortable shoes, bring enough cash to get drunk twice and your best friend. Well, that’s Berlin rule #1 for everyday’s life, if you think about it ;)

Comments? Questions? Other rules I missed? Leave it in the comments!

Here some pictures I took of Karneval der Kulturen in past editions and you can like the Karneval der Kulturen Official Facebook Page

ENCORE: One year, we got really lost with one friend in the Karneval der Kulturen and ended up going home at 5h, but it looked like 13h. Here is the place :D

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