As a lover of design and all things digital, Jef Kalil recalls a specific moment that sparked his passion for online media: watching the VT100 animation “Bambi vs. Godzilla” at Digital Equipment Corporation when he was just 8 years old.

Later on in his life, he followed his heart and pursued an Architecture and Design career in Boston which led him to study abroad in Germany. There, he discovered the Bauhaus and the real meaning of “less is more” which may have very well helped in establishing a second passion of his – to deliver content in 140 characters or less.

Now, Jef is the Social Media Marketing Manager of the pioneering online auction-house and startup, Auctionata, where he combines his love for design with technology on a daily basis. His weekly paper, the Antiques & Antiquities Roundup caught our attention and we wanted to learn more!

Auctionata is a Berlin based start-up that is disrupting the traditional auction-house model by making it possible for anyone to watch and, or, participate in auctions.

Have an item at home that you think is valuable? Snap a photo and send it to them and they’ll let you know what it’s worth! With experts around the globe, they are able to discover rare items and pieces of art worldwide, assess them and provide appraisals, quickly and efficiently.

How effective is it? Well, their auction model just surfaced the watercolor masterpiece Egon Schiele’s Reclining Woman after almost a century. This week, this piece will become the most expensive artwork to be sold on an online auction, with opening bids starting at €1 million Euros!

Let’s meet Jef!

How did you start your career in social and how did you come to be Social Media Marketing Strategist at Auctionata?

Early in my career I had the privilege of being project manager for Parahouse (an internet project that ran at Ostranenie97, the International Electronic Media Forum.) For the Parahouse project an entire art center was wired with video surveillance cameras and microphones. Video, audio and text messages were streamed live to the internet over a 72 hours period. And yes, we were still using dial-up!

I returned state-side and spent several years in New York and Boston working in digital and online marketing. Recently, I returned back to Germany under the contract of a leading startup in Munich. When Auctionata contacted me, I realized that the combination of social marketing and design was an opportunity that I could never refuse.

Tell us about Auctionata

As the world’s online auctions pioneer, Auctionata offers the gamut of services of a fine arts dealer and auction house. It offers evaluation, appraisal, authentication and marketing of rare and valuable objects, along with all associated logistics.

How do you see that the internet (and social) has changed the auctioning business?

People have the need to talk, and share about what they have found, bought or sold. Social media creates an unstoppable buzz. It makes finding and offering opinions on art and antiques easy. It creates a platform where anyone can share and comment regardless of their location or certification.

How are you using technology and social networks in the auction process?

Every Friday, parallel to the live internet stream, our auctions are being broadcast on social channels, specifically Twitter. @auctionata is being used as a second screen to power the auction room, and bring together like minded “social experts.” Under the hashtag #auctionatalive anyone can share, comment and follow the auction. We’re using social media to dominate the second screen and fuel conversations about the live-stream auction. This in turn drives user discovery and loyalty.

How does location, language and culture influence your auctions?

From Berlin, we broadcast HD-quality video into living rooms, offices and mobile devices worldwide. Art and antiques are quite universal. An artwork, such as Egon Schiele’s Reclining Woman, knows little boundaries. While the current launch is based in Europe, Auctionata uses social to drive its local marketing strategies in the EU, United Kingdom, United States and Canada.

Which networks are you using to promote Auctionata/ Which ones do you find most successful and why?

I focus on the big three, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, but Twitter is the network that yields the most success during live auctions. This is because the channel offers the closest experience to live conversations. Twitter is real-time, just like our auctions, and it fuels live conversations.


How have you been using

During the weeks there are auctions, I’ve been experimenting by  launching a paper based on the specific auctioning theme. I have found success on establishing “auction-based” themes and showcasing our own videos and auctions. For example, two weeks ago we published a paper with the  “watches” theme and then we did an “ancient arts” one and so on.

When auctioning an item through Auctionata – what is the process like?

Besides selling through its online fine art and antiques shop, Auctionata streams live auctions from its own TV studio at 6pm CET every Friday. Fine art, antiques, collectibles and luxury vintage articles streamed during the themed online auctions are offered for sale in real time. This way, bidders are given an unprecedented opportunity to participate live and direct from their own computer, tablet, or mobile device. No matter where they may be in the world!

Thanks to this concept, which is based on their own patented real-time technology, Auctionata is the first company to offer an authentic traditional auction experience on the internet – live and in HD.

The best way to experience Auctionata – visit the Shop or Online Auction Fridays! Tweet This

You have a challenging job moderating Twitter during auctions. What tools are you using and what does your prep look like before hand?

My toolbox covers the spectrum from listening to analysis to reporting, so there are many tools in the mix. I can say that one of my go-to tools is Hootsuite. It gives me both thirty-thousand feet reporting as well as deep-dive insights. During auctions Twitter’s Tweetdeck is also used to post and monitor conversations in real time and Twitter’s advertising dashboard is used to pace and analyze tweets in real-time.

Preparation is quite an extensive process; spreadsheets, content plans, scheduling and real-time planning for the “what ifs”.

What challenges have you faced and what are your biggest challenges that lie ahead? (or success stories, bloopers)

Luckily we are still a startup, so current challenges are usually Twitter limits or internet speed. Fast forward 12 months, when multiple auctions are running per week or even day, and I see a balanced mix of real-time conversation and automated messages as the challenge. I believe we will see social auctions, social shopping and even social bidding!

Is there an upcoming auction that you think we absolutely should not miss?

You definitely won’t want to miss auction 9: Paintings, Works on Paper and Sculptures on Friday June 21, 2013. Auctionata will sell an original watercolor by Egon Schiele (his work, Reclining Woman). Opening bid is set at $1.3M (EUR 1M.)

For the first time in history, a full-service German auction house has managed to obtain one of Egon Schiele’s most important works for an online auction. It could be the most expensive item to ever be sold at an online auction. Don’t miss the show! Click here to register and watch.

Update: History was made! The original watercolor by Egon Schiele (1980 – 1918), Reclining Woman, became the most expensive item to be sold on an online auction at with a final selling price of €1,500,000.00. Congrats, Auctionata!


Magda Alexandra Torres
Magda is a Social Media and Communications professional. Her main interests include corporate communications and social networking. She also enjoys traveling, blogging and learning. You can reach her on: Google+ and @MagdaATQ.

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