While my last post was very focused on an important session I attended that I felt truly compelled to shed light on, I did want to take some time to recap the conference as a whole. Every year, the BlogHer conference focuses on inspirational stories of women making positive change online. The conference provides an open forum to highlight those stories to encourage the community to continue building their personal brands and using their influence to make the world a better place. While keynotes are focused on sharing these inspiring stories on the greatest levels, the break-out sessions do a wonderful job of breaking down the tips, tricks and skills needed to accomplish them.
Last year, the key themes that rose to the top for me were activism, community and partnership. This year, I could sum up the overarching theme in one category – “your voice.”
All the discussions I participated in truly elevated the concept of one’s online voice. Attendees (including myself) heard how to find and develop an online voice, how to use your voice to become a social media marketer, how to leverage your voice to gain the attention of brands, media and more. Even the session on Perfecting Product Reviews provided applicable techniques for recommending products and services in ways that keep an audience interested and stand out from the crowd.
My top two conference highlights were Exploring Inspiration and Leadership with Indra Nooyi (PepsiCo CEO) and the closing keynote on Women in the Media. With years of marketing to women under my belt at MMC, I still get completely charged up when I hear from powerful, successful women who have overcome adversity.
Did you know Indra took an overnight receptionist job at Yale business school for 35 cents more an hour because that higher wage made the difference in being able to pay her bills? Hearing about how she came here from India with nothing and how supportive her family, specifically her mother was, helped the entire room of women (mothers, writers, businesswomen) relate to her story. At the conference, she used her real voice to empower us all to pursue our dreams.
Similarly, as the CEO of PepsiCo, Indra uses digital communication to stay in touch with her employees. She writes a weekly blog for employees and said that she always reads reactions from the staff even if she doesn’t have the time to respond to every comment. She truly understands the importance of the evolving digital ecosystem and it’s clear that a prime focus for PepsiCo is staying ahead of the curve (as seen by their online marketing initiatives).
PepsiCo, a recurring sponsor of BlogHer, clearly understands the importance of women’s influence. Indra noted that “women represent 70% of the buying decisions around the world.”
The Women in the Media keynote was equally inspiring when it came to developing and using your voice. Ricki Lake and co-panelists Carol Jenkins and Fatemah Fakhraie shared personal anecdotes on how they’re using their online voice to raise awareness for issues important to them.
Ricki was honest about her newness to social media but as she teased, she’s a “quick learn.” In addition to Twitter, I found it most interesting that Ricki used Kickstarter to raise money for a series of follow-up documentaries to “The Business of Being Born.” Kickstarter is a funding platform that focuses on community fundraising specific to creative projects (music, film, art, technology, etc.). She’s now fully funded and looking forward to using social media to continue to amplify her voice when her new documentaries debut.
While Ricki recognizes that her celebrity status allows her to use her voice to educate women on their health choices, she encouraged others to do the same by taking a stand for what they believe in.
Ever since the conference, I’ve been asking myself these two questions:
- Have you re-evaluated your online voice recently?
- How can you use your influence and audience for good?
Have you asked yourself these things lately?
I’d love to know what your BlogHer ’11 highlights were. Leave them in the comments.
Over the weekend, MMC was in San Diego supporting Pfizer Consumer Healthcare (PCH) at the BlogHer ‘11 conference attended by more than 3,000 online influencers. Thousands of women stopped by PCH’s booth, stocked with products and information about exercise, nutrition, and more, and over 70 women kicked off the conference at a PCH-sponsored yoga class. San Diego’s KUSI-TV stopped by the yoga class to talk to Jody Cook, communications director, North America, PCH, about what PCH was doing at BlogHer and why. Check out the interview here.
Each year I attend BlogHer I am reminded about the importance for online marketers to be in attendance at this conference. As a social media expert by profession, I am living and breathing the space 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. However, the majority of that time, I am engaging and experimenting with social media through the eyes of a marketer – looking for engagement opportunities, identifying true influencers, spreading news via multiple platforms online, connecting brands with their online advocates and ambassadors, creating valuable content, etc.
With all of those priorities, I regularly need to bring myself back to the core aspects of social media – community participation and connection, opportunity to express and share online in a public forum, information exchange right at your fingertips. The BlogHer Conference helps me do just that.
Social media is powerful. So powerful that it is important to be aware and educated on the downside of putting yourself out there and being accessible to anyone, anywhere. It could be a result of MMC’s recent work with Secret deodorant’s Mean Stinks program, but prior to attending BlogHer, the session I was most interested in attending was “Cyberbullying Isn’t Just Teens: What to do if You’re the Victim of Trolls, Haters…and Worse.”
The panelists and content blew me away. It was quite the reality check to realize the microscope so many of the fabulous writers and bloggers that I work with personally are under – how their strong and influential voices on the web have the potential to put them at risk.
Without going into the personal stories of terror and triumph of the panelists, I thought the most important takeaways from the presentation was being armed with the information and tips of what to do if you’re targeted on the Web with bullying, harassment or threats. As the space continues to grow, I can’t help but think that some of these negative effects will grow as well.
Here are the collective tips from panelists:
Tip 1: Report, report, report. The number one piece of advice was not to sit back and take this treatment. Stand up, use your voice and get the right people or authorities involved. 75% of the people in attendance raised their hand as having experienced cyberbullying, yet only a few actually reported their experiences. In order to change perception that this is acceptable behavior, victims need to stand up for themselves.
Tip 2: Document everything. A comment that goes over the line today, could be a person harassing you on Twitter tomorrow. Should a situation spiral out of control, having your own evidence in the form of screenshots of the abuse or bullying will be crucial.
Tip 3: Set guidelines on what is and isn’t acceptable in YOUR community. Being proactive in what is and isn’t acceptable on our site or blog helps set expectations up for the community in advance. One suggestion was to tell the offender “your action is unacceptable and I’m reporting your behavior.” Then continue to report until you’re taken seriously and action is taken.
Tip 4: Persistence. Social media is still new, which means all other professions are still learning how to navigate how their world and profession has changed given technology and digital advancements. It may take multiple complaints and a lot of time to see action against someone who has gone too far on the Web.
Tip 5: Use your community. Rallying your own audience and community to speak out and deal with an issue can be beneficial. Sometimes communities can act more quickly and efficiently than formal authorities. When it comes to Facebook and Twitter, you may be able to garner attention quickly and efficiently from these platforms with multiple complaints from multiple users, rather than your single complain or report.
Hi All, I’m Live-Blogging from this year’s BlogHer Welcome Address. Keep checking-back for updates throughout the presentation.
9:43 am: ”Speed date networking” is starting. Stay tuned to the blog for more updates and recaps from BlogHer. Leave questions in the comments and we’ll do our best to answer from the ground.
9:40 am: Just announced: BlogHer 2012 is returning to NYC August 2 – 5, 2012. Registration open now!
9:38 am: BlogHer’s focus on sustainability continues with the swag exchange suite, video screens to cut down signage, online only conference guide (not meant to be printed).
9:34 am: BlogHer also has the virtual conference online. There will be video, photos, liveblogging and section transcription.
9:33 am: If you’re not here in person, you can follow the conversation on Twitter. Attendees will be using the #BlogHer11 hashtag. BlogHer founders also recommend following hashtags if you are in attendance (I know I will). It’s the best way to “be in two places at once.”
9:27 am: We love all the stats shared yearly at the welcome keynote. Here’s another – 80% of BlogHer’s audience has made a purchase based on a recommendation on a blog.
9:25 am: Facebook and Twitter are not threats to blogging, they are a blogger’s best friends. They serve different purposes. Women are still going blogs for the information they crave, but social networking helps community and audience build in a more real-time fashion.
9:21 am: BlogHer Nielsen survey shows that blogs are now most valued online source for women who read them. Blogs have bridged the authority gap and now beat corporate websites and social networks.
9:18 am: BlogHer by the numbers: 7th year of conference; 3,600 attendees; 100 sponsors
9:16 am: Welcome begins
My flats are packed, my itinerary is printed and I’m totally psyched to meet and see so many of the bloggers and editors I work with every day at this weekend’s 2011 BlogHer conference in San Diego, CA.
As I review my mental checklist of things I need to do before boarding the plane, I thought it would be helpful to share some last minute prep tips with other conference goers.
- Don’t forget to pack your business cards…a lot of them! I made this rookie mistake at my first BlogHer Business conference. Luckily it was in NYC and my colleagues messengered a box of cards to the hotel. Networking is probably the biggest benefit of these conferences and business cards (I’ve even see business card bookmarks) are the easiest way to info exchange.
- Download the new BlogHer ’11 App for iPad/iPhone, Android and Blackberry. What could be easier than conference information right at your fingertips while you’re on the go? ShePosts has a great write-up of the app that does everything from hosting the conference map to scheduling what sessions you’d like to attend. My favorite part of the app is the ability to tweet right in the app with the hashtag automatically included.
- Organize your Twitter profile for easy conference connecting and be sure you’re following the people you’re hoping to meet. I even created a Twitter list to track all the bloggers attending the conference. Another tip is to follow BlogHer’s new conference handle — BlogHerEvents. This way you can stay on top of the latest and greatest conference updates directly from the BlogHer founders.
- One of the hardest things about attending a conference so focused on technology is determining which gadgets you should pack. Do you really need your Blackberry, iPad, laptop, flipcam, iPod, digital camera, etc.? Multi-tasking items are always my favorite. I’ll be packing a laptop, a camera that also takes video and my Blackberry. When you’re dealing with electronic devices, you’ve also got to be mindful of their corresponding chargers. Be sure to charge all your items in advance and pack chargers with you for any necessary charging throughout your trip. The only thing worse than forgetting your camera at home is forgetting your chargers.
And now for a quick plug – if you, too, are on your way to BlogHer, be sure to check out booth #501 to learn more about Pfizer Consumer Healthcare (one of MMC’s clients). We’ll be there with fun, interactive and educational activities to make your BlogHer experience memorable.
Tweet me @samarafinn if you’d like to meet up in San Diego. Safe travels!
It’s no surprise, or secret, that new Social Media Conferences are springing up every month in a variety of categories. It’s important to make the most out of each conference attendance and use your time wisely to network, meet new people and solidify relationships with the people you’ve been connecting with online. Even though we’re living in a digital age, face-to-face communication can’t be beat!
The MMC Social Media Team really enjoyed participating in BlogHer 2010 and the Healthy Living Summit conferences and offer the following tips that can be applied to any trade show participation.
- Find Your Niche: The Healthy Living Summit (sponsored by our Arnold/Oroweat and Thomas’ Bagel Thins clients) was the perfect conference for a food company to sponsor. In general, food bloggers are very eager to take pictures of each of their meals, in addition to the ingredients that make up those meals. Not only did they post product reviews, but they also linked to brand websites, coupons and included branded tips during and after the conference.
- Engage in Advance: It’s important that we share our participation – be it through sponsorship or hosting a booth – with conference attendees before we hit the ground. In a highly cluttered space, knowing where you’ll be, when you’ll be there and what you’ll be providing can make all the difference. In the weeks leading up to BlogHer 2010 (sponsored by our Audiovox/RCA client) , we corresponded with all of our online influencers asking them if they’d be in attendance and letting them know where we’d be so they could stop by to say hi. Our booth traffic was significant as a result of our advance engagement.
- Media Monitoring Strategy: While online coverage is not a primary objective of most conference sponsorships, there are instances when placements may result from participation. It’s a great idea to have someone at the office conduct media monitoring every few hours to capture placements and tweets in real-time. If you secure placements while you’re still at a show, you’ll want to see them immediately and this way you can quickly pull top-notch placements on a BlackBerry or laptop.
- Capture the event: A strategy we encourage is to work with a photographer to document the event. Even if you can’t afford a professional, be sure someone from your team is snapping a ton of pictures to be uploaded to a photo sharing site like Flickr or Facebook so influencers can tag themselves and use those pictures in future posts.