Go Viral Festival Ends in Astana

Impressively many people, 2,000, visited the festival, which unites people of media, technology, business and innovations.

June 24, 2023 was the second, final day of the regional festival, which took place in Astana for the first time (before, Go Viral was held in Almaty). Despite quite a cool weather in the capital of Kazakhstan, it was very hot at the festival – from emotions, ideas, speeches.

“We started Go Viral six years ago because we believe we are all in one team and we need to support each other, we need to cooperate to find common ground. It is not easy, yet important, especially today,” said Anand Krishna, counsellor on education, culture and media of the U.S. Consulate General in Almaty.

He believes that the festival gives an opportunity to young participants to find their way via education and networking. “What’s most important is that you can find inspiration at Go Viral,” Anand Krishna emphasised.

The speaker mentioned inspiration for a reason. He told about his first job when he was selling knives. He would go from house to house and offered them to people. But people did not buy knives.

“I did not enjoy what I did, I did not believe in that product, I did not feel inspired. And the reason why I love Go Viral is that I feel inspiration here, I see inspiration.”

This inspiration is in participants of Go Viral, who try to find their way and want to make the place where they live a better place.

Why flamingos are pink?

Yusuf Omar, co-founder of Seen (earlier Hashtag Our Stories), ambassador of mobile journalism and digital storytelling, TEDx speaker, inspired the participants. International journalist with 7 million followers told how to become popular by means of video journalism and how to monetise content.

“Don’t wait. You must make yourself. Some would say that you don’t have enough experience. Don’t pay attention to them. Develop yourself,” said Yusuf Omar.

He said he learned to make video stories by himself, “In 2012, I was in Congo, and in 2014, in Syria, where military conflicts were ongoing. I worked in traditional media and noticed two serious problems there. First one, obsession with negativity. Second, lack of diversity.”

He offered content makers to not go to extremes, as traditional media do now, but find a middle ground, where great stories happen.” Plus, content should be diverse.

You can make viral videos that can make Kazakhstan famous. For example, there are flamingos in Kazakhstan, why not make some content about it? Or just tell why flamingos are pink. The answer to that question is rather simple, “You are what you eat. Flamingos are pink because of the food they eat.”

“In fact, equipment does not matter much. Content and idea matter,” Yusuf Omar said.

Instruction to success

Kazakhstan-based speakers provided much valuable information to participants of the festival.

Zhanar Abrayeva, 3d CG designer and artist, who is on the global Forbes list due to her virtual graphics, showed in detail and told how to work in a special application and create AR masks for Instagram. She made an AR mask for Go Viral with the golden eagle, the bird depicted on the state flag of Kazakhstan, right in front of participants.

Kanat Beisekeyev, famous director and photographer, revealed the key rule to create a successful documentary, “Make sure that the story you want to show via the picture is interesting. It should be interesting not only to you, but to your potential viewer. There are many popular documentaries, which are based on fragments of conversations on Skype, not just beautiful images.”

Photo of: Kanat Beisekeyev

The director had some cases when everything went wrong during recording: some footage failed, characters could not tell their true feelings, and more.

“In such cases, I was saved by editing. I had to put all my efforts to this process to have a quality product in the end,” said Kanat Beisekeyev.

Quality first, then targeting

At the panel discussion “Loyalty to brand: how to double sales without paying for promotion?”, Nurzat Tanat, PR director of Harmony School Astana, emphasised that the key thing in business is human resources, which helps to attract customers.

“In most cases, the beauty of the building, a good promotion do not matter when opening a new school. The most important factor is teachers! It’s a teacher who makes school a school,” Tanat said.

Harmony School Astana asks parents where they learn about the school. “The word of mouth works great. Image of key managers, business owners matters. A small portion of parents come to us via promotion: banners, targeted ads,” the speaker said.

Aset Shorman, business and media producer, said, “A person’s belief in something plays a key role in marketing. When we buy Nike, we believe their footwear is of high quality. That’s why marketing forms quality, disseminates trust in their product.”

Asemgul Tuyakpayeva, marketing specialist, expert in loyalty, agreed with this statement. She noted that when business is started, much money is paid to marketing, use of bloggers. “They think if business has targeting specialist, mobilographer, SMM manager, it will thrive. This is a delusion. It’s better to make an emphasis on quality services.”

Aset Shorman reminded that people follow people and a businessman should develop their personal brand.

Networking could be an important component in business and career. Asem Nurgaliyeva, managing director of Kazpochta, co-founder of Technowomen Central Asia, said how to establish new quality connections. “Before you start networking, you should determine your goal. If you identify your goals clearly, you can find right events and people for networking. Start talks, ask questions, show interest in other participants in your sphere. Offer your help, share your knowledge and experience.”

Photo of: Asem Nurgaliyeva

Nurmakhan Akhmetov, stand-up comedian, resident of Qazaq Stand Up project, inspired the audience for making Kazakh-language content.

He was asked by a participant, “If making content in Kazakh, there are lower chances of monetisation. What to do?” He said that it was an obsolete statement and the number of views of Kazakh-speaking projects (e.g. web series) was very high.

“We cannot provide enough Kazakh-language content. There is audience, especially in some regions of Kazakhstan, where people speak mainly Kazakh, but there is no content for them,” Akhmetov said. “Make content in your own style, in your sphere, and advertiser will find you.”

According to the speaker, it’s time to get rid of the slave mentality. “We must admit that we suffer from the expansion of the Russian language and we should continue to develop. We should assume responsibility. TikTok solves many problems now: news, search for information. So, you can find your clients via TikTok. The people of Kazakhstan mainly use TikTok, just like content makers and users do,” he suggested the platform for development.

Go Viral phenomenon

Daniel Rosenblum, U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan, said at the closing ceremony of Go Viral that he was full of emotions due to the energy he felt and creativity he saw for two days of the festival.

“I am not surprised with the dynamic community: I see it all the time across Central Asia. But these days have exceeded all our expectations. This is an amazing mixture of talents, ideas and networking. Go Viral is the platform to inspire you to collaboration, innovations, search for solutions, and to progress in media, technology, business and culture.”

He reminded that we encounter many problems that could be solved by joint efforts only.

“I like the Kazakh saying, “Kosylgannyn koly uzyn, kos keruennin zholy uzyn” (from Kazakh, “Those who have united have a longer arm, and the bigger caravan has a longer way to go”). I urge you to keep working together, develop networks you made here, and explore new opportunities for collaboration,” said Daniel Rosenblum.

The ambassador expressed hope that diversity of views and experience represented at the festival will contribute to positive changes of every participant.

Afterwards, the results of the contest that lasted for two days of the festival were announced. The winner who made the most creative content on Instagram about Go Viral became Aigerim Batyrbayeva. She won the certificate of English language course located in the United States.

“I will give my certificate to my sister,” Aigerim said. “She needs it more because she was going to learn English.”

It was probably the key outcome of the festival – its participants are ready to inspire people beyond Go Viral.