BlogHer Boston: Better Than Chocolate!
On Saturday, I attended BlogHer Boston. It was better than eating chocolate! The networking was fabulous - meeting many new bloggers in the Boston area as well as seeing long-time blogher buddies and of course, Jory, Lisa, and Elisa. The sessions were fantastic. BlogHer always inspires me and this one did not fail. And judging by reading some of the blog posts from other attendees, like Liz Davis and Candelaria Silva, I am not alone.
After a speed geeking session in the morning where I got meet Julie Hall and finally, Maria Thurell, I was torn between attending the blogging mojo session and can social media save media with Lisa Williams. The other panelists included Teresa Hanafin of Boston.com, Colleen Kaman of the MIT Media Lab's Center for Future Civic Media, and Sarah Corbitt of GateHouse Media which runs the WickedLocal.com network of local websites. As Lisa mentions in her wrap up post, the session ended up touching on the issue of blog policies.
Since I was presenting on the basics track in the afternoon and wanted to get a sense of where people were at, I went to the "I Blog, Therefore I am .. Figuring Out Your Blogging Mojo" facilitated by BlogHer's Jory Des Jardin. What I really appreciate is how Jory does such an excellent job of facilitating a large group discussion, weaving audience questions and insights along with panelists' expertise.
The three top notch panelists included Candelaria Silva Collins, Susan Getgood, and Christine Koh rocked. They shared a lot about how to balance a "public blogging personna" with a private life. The notes from the session can be found at The World of Mar.
I must confess that I sneaked out of the session a little early so I could hang out in the geek lab organized by Sara Dopp. This session was an informal, drop in and hands-on lab where bloghers could ask specific technical questions. Learning over each other's shoulders is one of the most effective ways to really pick up new technical skills and should be part of every blogging or technical conference.
Charlene Prince Birkeland helped us learn over lunch with her presentation on writing a better blog and introduction to shine.yahoo.com - a community of women recently launched by yahoo. I can't find it online, but the one-pager left on our tables, "10 Steps To Writing A Better Blog" is a good piece to share with someone who has just gotten past the basics and hoping to improve.
After lunch, I went to "How Social Media Can Save Your Business" moderated by Susan Getgood of GetGood Marketing The panelists gave a brief over of their advice and experience and then answers questions from the audience. The panelists included Laura Fitton, widely known as @Pistachio on Twitter and Laura Tomasetti of 360 Public Relations. Laura White took fantastic notes. One key take-away for me was the value-added of Twitter that Laura Fitton shared:
1. SEO - naming Twitter account, think of keywords you'd want to spend all your beer money on and use them.
2. Market research - hearing customers talk about your brand informally.
3. Content generation. You can twitter and you don't need your readers to come to twitter to see it by using widgets.
4. Passability: People have culture of retweeting and passing things along, tell other people what people are saying on Twitter.
I left the session early because I had to prepare for my workshop which was next and called Managing Information Overload: Finding Your Blog Community." There were some design challenges - how to keep it basic enough for beginner or novices to leave the room with some starting points, but also not bore the more experienced people - and get them to share their experience. How to engage people at the end of day? I opted for carefully scaffolding the key points visually - and asking the audience to share what they knew. It worked!
Thankfully, Laura White live blogged the session and captured the valuable peer knowledge that was shared in the room. Including the key point about avoiding information overload with your email - use the delete key, make it like eating chocolate!
Speaking of chocolate, I had to stop by the Bill Me Later table for some M&Ms to get my energy back because I asked to fill in for the closing keynote, Change Your Life, Change Your World due to a cancellation. It was talk show style, facilitated by Elisa Camahort and included panelists Dana Rudolph has over a decade of marketing and business strategy experience in the online industry and Isabel Walcott Hillborn, an Internet startup consultant and an expert in strategic Internet marketing, social media, user generated content and online communities.
All in all, a day well-spent.
Beth Kanter, BlogHer CE for Nonprofits and Social Change, writes Beth's Blog.
Follow BlogHer on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/groups/BlogHer-28615
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