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Bloggers are Nice People

In Defense of BlogHer

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One of our favorite events to attend as a team each year is BlogHer. The BlogHer community is always welcoming and we never fail to come home on a positive note. This was the first year we weren’t able to attend. Instead, the entire NMX team headed to San Diego for a marathon team meeting so we could plan our own event. What we love about the blogosphere is the ability to live vicariously through blog posts, videos, tweets and Facebook updates, so that when we do miss out on an event, we can still feel like we were there. We eagerly read all the BlogHer ’12 news and updates.

In many of the BlogHer recaps, attendees expressed a different vibe this time around. They felt the event had gotten too big and lost some of its intimacy. Many wished for a smaller event like in past years and I’d really like to talk about that today. As someone who helps to plan a conference, I feel kind of funny commenting on BlogHer and I hope it’s not out of line to discuss this. However, I also think that this gives me a unique perspective that most attendees may not see.

All Conferences Want to Grow

When I first began working for NMX I was shocked at how much it costs to put on a conference, especially one where everyone wants to have food and fun programs. Some venues will charge $200 to plug in a power strip or ask for $50 per head or more to provide everyone with a $7 sandwich. If the conference has a food or beverage sponsor who wants to provide free or discounted food or drinks, the organizers still have to pay full price for the items in what is called a “corking fee” in the event industry. The organizer also has to hire bartenders and food servers from the venue at union rates (typically $20 an hour or more) as well to serve attendees their “free” food and drinks. Each room or exhibit hall booth space comes with its own set of costs too.  So it’s in a conference’s best interests to grow.

The more people who attend a conference, the easier it is to cover costs. Plus when you have a lot of attendees, there’s a better ability to land sponsors and exhibitors. These sponsors and exhibitors help to keep ticket costs low and allow the organizers to provide food, parties and other fun stuff. It’s not easy to find sponsors for a small conference. When you also factor in people who are, in essence, stealing from the conference by hosting unsanctioned events or suitcasing (selling products and services at an event without purchasing an exhibit space), conferences really don’t make money unless they get bigger. BlogHer is a business and all business owners agree they need to continue to grow and profit to succeed. The bottom line here is that if you want BlogHer to be successful then you should want to see them grow.

A Sign of the Times

There are other reasons to be happy for BlogHer for their growth beyond the business point of view. This growth is a positive sign for all who work in new media and all content creators. It says “we’ve arrived.” Exclusivity is an interesting thing. On the one hand, we like to have our little clubs and niches that other people don’t belong too because it makes us feel like special, early adopters who knew about a cool thing before the rest of the world found out. Yet, we complain about people who lock their tweets or don’t let us into a Facebook group or membership forum because they’re being too exclusive and cliquey. We really can’t have it both ways.

We, as a community of content creators, should be proud when a conference such as BlogHer achieves such growth. It tells us that our industry is growing and reaching the mainstream. Growth tells us there will be more jobs and opportunities in blogging, podcasting, web TV and video. It also tells us that we’re going to be taken seriously and not just written off as a bunch of insignificant bloggers. It tells us finding sponsors for our content is getting easier, and fewer people will be rolling their eyes at us when we say we blog for a living.

Conferences for radio or television broadcasters or book and newspaper publishers reach tens of thousands of people. If we want to be thought of in the same light and prestige as old media, we can’t think of ourselves as an intimate group that doesn’t want to grow. There are more online content creators than there are news reporters or radio disc jockeys. We should be embracing our numbers rather than lamenting them, because the numbers are where the big money and recognition is. The numbers mean there will be a place for us in the future.

The Challenge

Maybe the issue isn’t that BlogHer has so many people. Maybe it’s that folks feel that when a conference begins hosting thousands of people attendees feel as if they’re not receiving the same personal service. Maybe we’re not as upset with the numbers as we are disappointed that we’re no longer attending events where everyone knows our names. The challenge for any event is to not lose the personal vibe with the growth. As long as people still receive good service, and we can still welcome them with a smile and genuine appreciation for their participation we’ll be just fine. The key is to try and maintain the same feeling our community and our industry had when we were small even when we hit the big time.

Congratulations to all the people who organize and help to run BlogHer. Five-thousand attendees is a wonderful accomplishment and an important milestone for new media content creators. Here’s wishing you many more years of growth. All of us at the NMX team applaud your achievements!

Read on for More About BlogHer

Here’s a great roundup of posts about BlogHer so you can feel like you were there too!

 

 

BlogWorld is Thrilled to Welcome Our New Blogger – Julie Bonner

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BlogWorld is thrilled to announce that Julie Bonner has joined our team of internal bloggers – covering the latest in social media news and updates!

Julie Bonner I’ve known Julie for … well forever (at least in the world of blogging). At least 4 years now! We first met as bloggers for the entertainment channel at b5media.

Then we had sort of an odd thing happen. I wrote about Junior Celebs. She wrote about Disney. b5media decided those two blogs should be combined, and they kind of forced us to become co-bloggers. Imagine our surprise! As many of you can relate to, co-blogging can be difficult. You really do have to like the other blogger, get on a schedule, make sure you are not covering (or competing for) the same topics. Especially when you’re posting several times a day like we both were.

Typically you get to choose your own co-blogger. This wasn’t the case. BUT – it worked out extremely well. Julie and I immediately got in a groove of what topics we would cover, and we were off without a hitch. A little while later the company decided to split the blogs back out again (let’s face it, the teen entertainment space is pretty hot!) but Julie and I remained friends long after.

And when we were both let go from the company – we immediately joined forces and created our own blog at modOration.com. Independently we both formed other blogs – one of Julie’s most successful being ToyXPlosion.com. Both sites had rapid growth (both hitting over 100,000 pageviews a month in less than a year) and Julie attributes that to consistent writing, making connections with companies and PR firms and of course, social media!

Julie has an amazing way of connecting with her audience and scoping out the most important and relevant information. So, please welcome her as she culls all of the news sources to bring us the latest social media information and releases.

You can learn more about Julie and follow her on Twitter!

Beware the Blogger Rumor Mill

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When I first started working for BlogWorld, I was suddenly exposed to some of the top bloggers in their niches – along with the virtual assistants, guest posters, PR firms, and the other people who work alongside them and form strong opinions. I met self-proclaimed gossip queens and businessmen who claimed to be professionals, but loved to snark about people who weren’t within earshot. Somewhere along the way, people started to trust me, at least a little, with secrets and non-published opinions.

And that’s about the time that I began to find out just how twisted the blogger rumor mill can be.

Don’t get me wrong. I love to dish with people. I like being “in the know” and I like voicing my opinions of people and their sites, even if those opinions might not be quite PC enough for me to want to publish them. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with some off-the-record conversation – as long as you have a little perspective. Beware the blogger rumor mill – it can suck you in if you let it, if you aren’t careful to keep that perspective in tact.

Good Bloggers Sometimes Make Bad Impressions

The snarkiest and most hurtful comments aren’t about blogs – they’re about people. I’m pretty vocal about blogs I don’t like (at least, I don’t try to hide it), but there’s a difference between saying, “I don’t like your blog” and “I don’t like you.”

There are definitely bloggers that I don’t like…but I’ve learned to make these decisions based on my experiences with someone, rather than the experiences my friends have had with them. Good bloggers have a tendency to make bad impressions.

Point in case: Last year at BlogWorld, I heard someone talking about how much they didn’t like a certain blogger they met. They enjoyed her blog, but in person found her to be rude, arrogant, and self-centered. I very much respected the blogger who had formed this opinion, and even though it wasn’t a conscious decision, I started to think badly of this person myself. What a bad blogger. What a bad person.

Later, I was in a situation where this bad person and I were at the same place at the same time. As much as I wanted to dislike her…I didn’t. I couldn’t. She was a lot of fun! And she told me that the first first blogger, the blogger who had such a bad opinion of her originally was someone she found to be flighty and a bit shallow.

To this day, I’m not sure why these two bloggers didn’t hit it off, and it’s unlikely that I’ll ever find out, because I’m definitely not going to bring it up. It just highlights one of the most major problems of the blogger rumor mill – with so many strong personalities, there are going to be a lot of people who butt heads and who aren’t afraid to talk about it. And from there, things can quickly turn from “I think Blogger XYZ is a jerk” to “Blogger XYZ is a jerk.” We forget that opinions are not facts.

Make your own decisions. If somebody kicks your friend’s puppy, that might be grounds for disliking them, but good bloggers often make bad first impressions – and many people don’t stick around for a second. We’re a socially awkward bunch, us bloggers, with many of us suffering from social anxiety or simply feeling a little out of place when we’re meeting people in face-to-face situations instead of with the computer screen buffer. We travel a lot, so are often jet-lagged, sick, and grumpy. Take every opinion with a grain of salt and try to make your own decisions about people. More importantly, be the person who sticks around for the second impression.

You Don’t Know Me

The blogger rumor mill isn’t just twisted because of bad first impressions. In fact, as many of you are likely well aware, that’s actually a very minimal part of it. The blogger rumor mill is dangerous for the same reason that all rumor mills are dangerous – we’re playing a giant game of telephone, with few people actually being “in the know.”

I heard that it’s hard to work with So-And-So. I heard that What’s-His-Face is teaming up with That-Girl to release a new product – and they’re sleeping together on the side. I heard that Joe-Schmoe-Blogger doesn’t pay his child support. I heard that Blogger A is a horrible mother and Blogger B is a horrible spouse. I heard that you have no money. I heard that you have a horrible temper. I heard that you are a drunk. I heard…

But wait…I don’t know you. And you don’t know me.

Remember that.

See, we’re quick to judge other people based on what’s going on in their personal lives, but the fact of the matter is that everything told on a blog is told through a filter, and very few people know the true story. It isn’t a matter of lying to your readers – it’s just the nature of the written word. You can’t write down what is happening every second of your life, and for most bloggers, that wouldn’t be relevant anyway.

Food for thought: You don’t have to like what someone is doing in his or her personal life to take the advice on their website because they’re a smart blogger. At some point, you might be so morally opposed that you you don’t want to support someone, but if you’re going to make sure a strong stance, make sure you have your story straight. Remember, the further away you are from the true source, the more diluted and changed the story gets. Don’t make rash decisions if you don’t know actually know what is going on.

And more food for thought: some people aren’t above making up rumors about people they dislike. I’ve seen it happen. Go to the source if you want the true story.

Guilty by Association

More than anything, when it comes to the blogger rumor mill, I hope that you’ll learn to make decisions based on what another person says and does, not the company they keep. As a blogger, you’re going to like some people in your niche and you’re going to dislike some people in your niche. That’s just the way the world works. But if you start disliking bloggers based solely on the fact that they’re friends or partner up with bloggers that you dislike, it won’t be long before the cheese stands alone.

Dislike can spiral pretty quickly in this industry if your sole qualification is the other person’s network. You might not like my friends and I might not like yours, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t like one another. Try to form opinions based on a person’s own merit, not by their circle of friends. I’ll try to grant you that same respect.

The blogger rumor mill and Snarkyville are alive and well, and that’s not going to change. A lot of good can come from it too – good rumors (i.e. positive unconfirmed facts and opinions) can lead to buzz about someone’s products, which can eventually lead to sales. Just keep it all in perspective and don’t let it run your life. It’s easy to get sucked in, but hard to find your way out again.

Meet the Blogger: Tara Wright, Cheapskate Mama

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Meet the Blogger is a feature here at the BlogWorld blog where we introduce you to some of newest bloggers in various niches. Today, we’re talking with Tara Wright, who blogs at Cheapskate Mama. Check out her interview below, as well as the full list of Meet the Blogger interviews (including instructions for participating).

Allison: Thanks for talking with us, Tara! Tell us a little about you and your blog.

My name is Tara Wright and I started a deal blog in November of 2010 called Cheapskate Mama. I am a stay at home mom of two young boys with an unused elementary teaching credential, a flaming passion for writing and research, and an incredibly supportive husband and family. Cheapskate Mama is a resource for people like me. By that statement I mean people with children, financial struggles, bills up to their ears, or even just a desire to scale back without complete deprivation. I have readers who are moms and dads, grandparents, aunts and uncles, college students, and others who are none of the above. I strive to make all of my deals as simple as possible by refusing to make a reader jump through ten hoops to save 50 cents. Therefore, most of my deals are retail buys with directions for replication online or in-stores as opposed to coupon match-ups and grocery deals. I love to save at the grocery store as much as the next person, but grocery couponing is not my area of expertise and it requires more “hoops” at times. My tagline is Full Price Makes Me Angry. I am not kidding–it really ticks me off. That anger acts as fuel to help me find a solution for myself and others like me.

What initially attracted you to blogging and why did you choose to blog about coupons and deals?

I have always been a shopaholic, but having children quickly made me realize that my frivolity could have an effect on the extent to which we are able to provide for them. With a strong desire for financial stability that did not depend on how many trips to Target I took that month, I knew I needed to make some changes and reprioritize. When I started to fuse my determination with a natural online research obsession, I realized that I knew so many other moms just trying to make ends meet that could truly benefit from my deal hunting tips but could never afford to dedicate the time to do it themselves. Anyone can do what I do, there is absolutely no “secret” involved, but who the heck can afford 8 hours a day to scour the web or has the ability to drop everything and jet to the store to confirm a huge deal rumor? Not many of the people I know. So I started to do it for them. I created a Facebook Fan Page right before Thanksgiving to expose my favorite Christmas shopping deals and hot tips and within a week or so, word had spread and I had a little cult following. After hearing good feedback and some success stories, I decided to jump on it and bought the domain name CheapskateMama.net to start a blog.

Most people start a blog and then move to building social media profiles, but it sounds like you started the other way around, by sharing deals on Facebook and then building a blog. One of my biggest problems with Facebook is that I find it difficult to move people from there to a blog. Can you share some tips with us – how did you get your Facebook readers to move to your blog?

I did do that, didn’t I! To be perfectly honest, I had no idea what the potential was for Cheapskate Mama when I first started. It really was to take it away from my personal profile so I wasn’t clogging the news feeds of my FB friends on one of my really good “hunting” days. Once I created the fan page, I was actually shocked to see people get as excited as I did for 75% off diapers and whatnot, so it really made me feel like I had something there. It was tough for the first few weeks to really pull people away from the familiarity of Facebook, but I had to learn not to “give the milk away for free” so to speak. Once I started posting teasers with a link to my site and kept the details solely on my blog, it got easier. In addition, I occasionally love to use bribery– I mean incentives 😉 A deal blog is the perfect spot for a giveaway or contest, and I try to have them regularly to thank my readers for their support and loyalty. Currently I am running a 1,000th post giveaway, and they have to visit my site for the entry link, but they can score additional entries for commenting on Facebook, retweeting, or reblogging VIA Tumblr.

I do seriously love the power of Facebook for my type of blog, because a hot deal can spread like fire when people can’t help but share with friends. Because that is where I started, I will always nurture the connection with Facebook fans. My blog is my home though, and Facebook and Twitter are like my vacation homes.

What made you decide to use Tumblr rather than WordPress, Blogger, Typad, or any of the other older content management systems from bloggers?

A couple of weeks ago, one of the mom bloggers I follow on Twitter stated that she was annoyed to have to write any more than 140 characters. And so it is in our new world–people want the info, they like it to the point, and as fast as possible. Everyone is looking for clean and uncomplicated, and as a “micro-blogging” platform, in my opinion, Tumblr is just that. With Tumblr, I can get a post out with a link and a pic in under 2 minutes if necessary–if a deal is hot, I don’t want to take ten steps to post it.

When I search through Tumblr, I find the most amazing, artistic, funky, and sometimes weird content. I consider myself to be a little kooky, artistic and “out there” sometimes, so I feel right at home. I am very happy with my choice, there are some fabulous Tumblr blogs and I hope to be at the top of them someday soon.

What’s the single most important lesson you’ve learned so far as a blogger?

I have to remind myself daily to stay true to my philosophy and not pay attention to what others are doing. I see the biggest coupon and deal bloggers throwing up 20 posts a day and it makes me doubt myself, my content, and whether I even belong. I am a little guppy in a wide sea! But then I remember something I learned from Gary Vaynerchuk. For it to really be your passion, you have to stay true to yourself–people can sense the BS a mile away.

What blogging topics do you hope to learn more about in the coming months?

I am currently playing around with some frugal grocery shopping with NO coupon tips and features plus budget recipes, and I would also like to start a regular “deal mission” post, where a reader can submit an idea for something they’d like to buy at a deep discount and I will exhaust my resources to help find the deal. One day soon, I will get up the courage to post a little vlog too. But it will have to be on a day that I actually get dressed and have good hair.

Thanks for the interview, Tara! Readers, make sure to check out Cheapskate Mama, like her Facebook page, and follow Tara on Twitter @cheapsk8mama.

#Blogchat, Social Causes, and Responsibility (part 2)

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In the middle of writing about this topic, I realized that the post was MASSIVE, so I decided to break it into two parts. You can head to Part 1 to read about cause fatigue and branding in relation to using new media and blogs to promote social causes. In this part, I want to talk about hypocrisy and responsibility.

As I’ve noted on the first post, I do realize that this is a highly emotional topic and not everyone agrees with me. In fact, my opinion does not necessarily reflect the opinions of any other members of the BlogWorld team or BlogWorld as a whole. I welcome comments on this topic, even if you don’t agree with me, because I think there is merit to many facets of this topic.

Hypocrisy

How many people retweeted a link to some social cause out there? Almost all of us have at some point or another. Now, how many people have actually donated? That number will likely be much smaller. Does that mean that we’re a society of hypocrites? Maybe…but not necessarily.

We all have our causes, causes that are close to our hearts. For me, it’s TWLOHA, an organization that helps people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicidal thoughts. When I have extra money to donate somewhere, that’s where it goes 99 percent of the time. That doesn’t mean that I don’t care about other causes. There are some great charities out there. Even if they are causes close to my heart, I can definitely appreciate movements like #sxswcares, for example.

So, I pass on the link, just once, to followers who might be interested. I don’t want to get to the point where I hit cause fatigue for my followers, so unless I’m passionate about the cause, I don’t send multiple tweets about it. But I don’t think I’m a hypocrite for passing on the link even if I don’t donate myself. One of my followers might be passionate about the cause and wouldn’t otherwise know where to donate. (I’d like to note that I do think that if you want to support a cause, you at least need to explain it by passing on a link. I talked about the whole “changing your avatar” thing before – it doesn’t make sense to me to follow a trend without actually being vocal about the cause.)

Responsibility

I personally grapple most with the concept of a responsibility to use social media or your blog to promote causes. On one hand, if you’re someone who carries some kind of clout on Twitter or Facebook or wherever, it seems like the least you can do to promote a good cause. On the other hand, why should anyone be responsible for anyone else? It’s a very Ayn Rand way of thinking, and I’m definitely not her hugest fan…but this is a concept that definitely makes sense to me. I work hard for my money and I don’t like being guilted into thinking that I have to give it away to those less fortunate.

Not that there’s not something to be said for karma. Whether or not you believe in karmic forces, I think we can all agree that it’s a pretty scummy thing to rely on the charity of others when you’re dealing with a tough time in life, but then refuse to contribute to others when you’re in a position to do so. I’m just suggesting that it is okay to keep the money you make or spend it on yourself and your family. I don’t believe that anyone has a responsibility to donate to charity or even promote a cause, no matter how influential they are. Choosing to do so (or not) does not dictate whether or not you are a good person and it definitely does not dictate whether or not you do anything of value.

In other words, whether or not someone donates to charity does not tell me much about how good they are at their job. At the same time (I told you, I grapple with this issue), I like giving my money to someone who is a philanthropist, since it means that some of the profits they made from me will go toward something good in the world. So, even if we don’t have a responsibility per se, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good business decision.

Which brings me back to the “profiting from tragedy” issue. If you’re only donating because you want to look good to your fans, is that a bad thing?

Maybe…but does the charity really care? A dollar is a dollar, whether you gave it just to feel good about yourself and didn’t even tell your followers or you gave it to help build your brand in some way.

Is there an easy way to wrap up these two posts? I don’t know. I struggle with how to best use my new media accounts and the small amount of online influence that I have. I like how it make me feel to promote great causes, but I always want to make good business decisions and use my money wisely. One thing is certain – I do not like how so many people lump others into groups when it comes to causes. The “if you don’t donate, you’re a bad person” argument doesn’t sit well with me. Nor does that “the least you can do is promote this cause” argument. We all have our reasons for supporting or not supporting causes, and it usually isn’t black and white.

#Blogchat, Social Causes, and Responsibility (part 1)

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On Sunday nights or Monday mornings, I usually post “Overheard on #Blogchat,” a weekly feature that pulls some of the best tweets from a popular Twitter chat where people share blog tips. This week, I wanted to do a special edition of Overheard on #Blogchat because I have more to say than usual…and some questions that are not easily answered and require all of us to do a little soul-searching.

Also, before talking about this topic more, I wanted to make something exceedingly clear: My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of anyone else working for BlogWorld Expo or BlogWorld Expo as a whole. One of the awesome things about Rick and Dave (the duo behind BlogWorld) is that they encourage people writing here to voice varying opinions. People on the BlogWorld team often disagree, and I think that’s awesome. The BlogWorld blog also loves posting guest posts from people who don’t always agree with the opinions of writers here – and I’d definitely love your comments on this topic whether or agree or not!

Last night, the theme of #blogchat was using your blog and social media accounts to do good. With the recent natural disasters and nuclear meltdown in Japan, there have been pushes across Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and more to donate to the Red Cross or other organizations. One of our own, Deb Ng, got heavily involved with fundraising efforts at SxSW, and what they did was nothing short of amazing (I think totals are over $100,000 raised at this point). This isn’t the first time we’ve seen people come together on social media sites to promote donating money or use their blogs, even in unrelated niches, as a way to filter news and pass on relevant links.

I struggle with this concept, though, using blogs and social media to promote causes so others donate money. Part of me thinks it’s great. Another part of me thinks that it is problematic at best.

Cause Fatigue

At any given time, there’s some tragedy somewhere that needs help. Whether it’s a one-time disastrous event (like what happened in Japan) or a cause like breast cancer or autism, there’s always a hashtag for you to learn more about a cause that’s close to someone’s heart. There are just not enough hours in the day to promote everything, and there are definitely not enough dollars in my bank account to send money to everyone.

But I think a more important problem is that it starts to become white noise to your followers. People (hopefully) follow you because they are interested in your blog, your projects, your life, and while promoting a cause occasionally can easily fit into that, if you promote every cause out there, you start to lose relevance to your fans and readers. I’ve unfollowed people in the past because it seemed like all they did was hit me up for me (albeit, for causes, but it’s still someone asking for money all the time without providing much value).

Causes and Branding

I’ve seen a lot of people complaining about companies using a tragedy to promote a brand, to somehow profit off of the situation. The idea that someone is making money from what’s happening in Japan right now creates a knee-jerk feeling of disgust for me, and I bet it does for you too. But thinking critically, looking at the bigger picture, just because something bad happens in the world doesn’t mean that your business should stop. It’s ok to consider your brand in this context, in my opinion.

Here’s an example of what I mean: Let’s say that you’re a day care facility. One month, two high school groups approach you at the same time asking for money. The first group asks for $100 to support the local food bank. The second group asks for $100 to go toward renovating your community’s children’s library. As a small business owner, you only have enough money to give to one group – which do you choose?

Clearly, the library project fits more closely with your brand. Both are excellent causes, but one just fits more with what you’re doing. If you were a restaurant, it would make more sense to donate to the food bank.

Or, let’s say that you’re a hair salon and two high schools groups approach you with these requests for me. Except with Group B, you’d get your name on a plaque at the library if you donate. It just makes more sense to go with that cause. You’re technically “profiting” from the situation, but you’re not a bad person. You just haven’t turned your business mind off for the sake of a cause or tragedy. That’s different than saying that you’re collecting donations for a cause but actually pocketing most of the money for yourself. Yet, so many people don’t really draw a line in the sand between the two. If you profit or consider your brand in any way, you’re automatically bad – something I think is a problem.

Head to Part 2 to read more. (This post was just getting too massive to be a single post!)

#SXSWCares: Real Time Social Giving

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If you’re watching the Tweets come out of Austin, you may have seen the hash tags, #sxswcares or #sxsw4japan. Today I’d like to tell you a little about those hashtags, how they were born and how they evovled.

Date: Friday, March 11
Time: 1:00 p.m.
Place: Samsung Blogger Lounge at SXSW
Players: Leigh Durst and Deb Ng

On Friday, I returned to my hotel room to SXSW after a brief “freshen up” and news break. On the way back to work, my head was reeling from all the news and pictures of the destruction in Japan. I walked in to the blogger lounge where I met Leigh Durst for the first time and after a few pleasantries talk shifted to the crisis in Japan. Leigh and both expressed how surreal it was to be enjoying the blogger lounge festivities while people were hurting on the other side of the world. “We could totally do something here.”  Leigh was right. In a room filled with the most influential people in the world, if we couldn’t do something to help Japan, all our talk about influence is simply just talk. Watching everyone drinking the free booze and eating free chicken and listening to live music almost reminded me of Nero fiddling while Rome burned.

“We need a hashtag,” Leigh said. From that hashtag, #SXSWCares, a campaign of social giving came to life.

Soon after creating our hashtag it was pointed out to us that there was another hashtag going #sxsw4japan and that dude even had a website up.

Enter Rob Wu and Jessica Lin.

Rob, the Founder of CauseVox, a platform for social giving, had started his own campaign and we decided to join forces. Leigh and Rob bent heads over a website and Hugh MacLeod, who was sitting near us in the blogger lounge, drew us up a logo on the spot. Me? I walked from table to table asking all the influencers to do what they can. I asked them to share our hashtag and encourage donations to the red cross. I asked them to go beyond the retweet and reach into their pockets. I asked them to post on their Facebooks and Twitters and blogs. I was probably a little annoying.

No one said no and a website and movement were born.

Leigh was able to work with the Red Cross so 100% of all donations made through the #SXSWCares website go directly to the Red Cross, with no fees taken out ever. By 4:00 we had a couple of thousand dollars in the kitty and by 6:00 were were almost at $5,000. As of this writing we’re just a hair shy of $40K.

Things spun out of control but in a good way. Leigh, Rob and I were asked to speak on a panel about #SXSWCares and using social media as a platform for giving. Leigh, Rob and Rob’s girlfriend Jessica Lin, and Chris Noble, as well as several others have set up command central outside the blogger’s lounge and have been securing matching donations. Samsung, who sponsors the blogger lounge is giving $1 per retweet. They’re fielding interviews from the press, bloggers, video bloggers and podcasters alike.

Though I haven’t done as much of the work as Leigh, Rob and Jessica, I’m proud to be a part of this campaign and to continue to encourage my friends in social media to help. This campaign has indeed been a testament to the power of social media and if we can whip up a little something to help in a crowded lounge at a conference, imagine what we can do collectively when back at our own desks.

How can you help?

Spread the word – The hashtag is #SXSWCares

Retweet: #sxswcares to @samsungtweets and Samsung will donate $1.

Give – Visit SXSWcares.org where 100% of your donations go to the Red Cross
Share- Again, spread the word beyond the SXSW community.

Please note: Some companies have been using the #SXSWcares hashtag to raise funds for their own Japan campaigns which is awesome. We’re so happy to many folks are giving and sharing. However, we want to be sure all of your money goes to were it’s most needed. Please make sure that when you do give, you choose a campaign that sends100% of all funds to where it will do the most good, and doesn’t take a cut for themselves. SXSWCares sends 100% of all donations to the Red Cross to be used for Japan and rebuilding Japan.

Now – how are you going to help?

Ask the Notables: What Was Your First Blog?

Author:

This week’s Ask the Notable question …

What Was Your First Blog?

Don’t forget – we consider YOUR answers to be notable too – so jump on in and answer the question with a comment below!

Amy Lupold Bair
@resourcefulmom
Resourceful Mommy Media

My first blog that was called a blog was ResourcefulMommy.com, but I remember creating a Geocities page in the summer of 1997. Ahhh, Geocities…

C.C. Chapman
@cc_chapman
C.C. Chapman

Same one I have today except it started out being called Reality Bitchslap. Started on July 2, 2002

Chris Garrett
@chrisgarrett
chrisg.com

It is a matter of some debate and depends on your definition because I blogged before there was a thing called blogging 🙂

Back in the mid-90s I had a website about science fiction (TV shows like Star Trek, Dr Who, Red Dwarf etc) that was reverse chronological
and allowed people to comment so I guess it was that. I didn’t start a personal diary type site until 1998 when I felt I had something to
write about (we got married, I started a new job, and was trying for a baby).

Jason Falls
@JasonFalls
Social Media Explorer

An old newspaper column that I self-published because the paper I wrote for didn’t have a website. It was called “Falls, off the Rocker.” The URL now points to my personal blog where I still get frisky from time to time but mostly just post pictures of my kids.

Jay Baer
@jaybaer
Convince & Convert

This is my first blog, although I wrote magazine columns for more than a decade before starting Convince & Convert.

Jeremy Wright
@jeremywright
Ensight

Oh wow, I don’t even remember the domain! In 2002 I started a b2evolution blog (pre WordPress) and it was basically me trying to get my thoughts out of my head. But it was too scattered and didn’t make any sense and the responsibility of blogging burned me out. It wasn’t until teaming up with Aaron Brazell (@technosailor) and others that my current (largely dormant these days) blog at Ensight.org came to life – it started out (2003) as a group blog focused just on the intersection of business and technology.

Maggie Fox
@maggiefox
Social Media Group

All I’ll say is it was on Blogger and it was 2004. Since archived.

Zac Johnson
@moneyreign
ZacJohnson.com

My first blog is my most important blog, ZacJohnson.com. I started the blog on St. Patricks day in 2007, and have been focusing on it’s growth ever since.

Next Week: What is your favorite thing about blogging?

Ask the Notables: What Kind of Car Do You Drive?

Author:

This week’s Ask the Notable question …

What Kind of Car Do You Drive?

Don’t forget – we consider YOUR answers to be notable too – so jump on in and answer the question with a comment below!

The responses (and not everyone responded to every question – so you may see some different people next week!) in alphabetical order are:

Amy Lupold Bair
@resourcefulmom
Resourceful Mommy Media

I actually drive my mom’s hand me down mini van! It is ten years old and gray. However, I do still have my first car from when I was 16, a silver anniversary Mustang convertible. It is in storage all winter long, but I do have it here at the house from spring to fall. That car was the subject of my second blog post. Picture here!

C.C. Chapman
@cc_chapman
C.C. Chapman

2010 Ford Flex. I’m not a car guy, but this was the car we needed that can hold my family, our dog AND everything we need for a weekend away. Picture here!

Chris Garrett
@chrisgarrett
chrisg.com

Ugh, will get back to you when our car situation is settled – the government of Canada still thinks I am a hobo because my paperwork is
still in flux. Once I have a credit rating then I will be able to answer 😉

Jason Falls
@JasonFalls
Social Media Explorer

A 2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI. I was featured in the summer 2010 edition of Das Auto, even.

Jeremy Wright
@jeremywright
Ensight

Car? CAR?! Haha! No, the new motorcycle (finally arriving just after SxSW) is a Yamaha FJR-1300AE, kind of like this one (attached). It’s a perfect mix of power, speed and comfort (for those road trips to Chicago for WordCamp and SOBCon). There are few feelings more zen than a nice roadtrip on a great bike.

Maggie Fox
@maggiefox
Social Media Group

Ford Flex [client]

Zac Johnson
@moneyreign
ZacJohnson.com

My first car was a 97 Ford Explorer, then I upgraded to a brand new 2000 Ford Mustang, then I really upgraded to my dream car a few years ago with a 2007 Hummer H2. What’s next?…. I don’t know. I always wanted a Hummer H2 and not looking for anything else for the time being.

Next Week: What was your first blog?

Ask the Notables: Where Would You Buy a Second Home?

Author:

This week’s Ask the Notable question …

If you could buy a second (or third or fourth) home anywhere – where would it be and why?

Don’t forget – we consider YOUR answers to be notable too – so jump on in and answer the question with a comment below!

The responses (and not everyone responded to every question – so you may see some different people next week!) in alphabetical order are:

Amy Lupold Bair
@resourcefulmom
Resourceful Mommy Media

If I could buy a second home anywhere, I’d have a tough time choosing between two locations. I’ve always wanted to restore an old farm house and would love to buy a farm in rural Pennsylvania where I grew up. We live in the suburbs of Washington, DC, and there is just nothing like being able to run around on acres of open land. The other location would be Orlando, Florida. My family and I have more than just a little Walt Disney World addiction, so it would be a great investment for us to own a home there rather than always staying at the house of mouse.

C.C. Chapman
@cc_chapman
C.C. Chapman

I’d love to have a cabin in White Mountains of New Hampshire and and another in the hills of Sedona, Arizona. I’m a complete chill out in the woods sort of guy so while everyone else is buying beach front property I’d rather be in the woods.

Chris Garrett
@chrisgarrett
chrisg.com

Melbourne Australia and Antibes, South of France

I live in my first choice since we just emigrated to Canada, but I loved visiting Australia and most of our summer vacations were spent in the south of France

Jason Falls
@JasonFalls
Social Media Explorer

Within walking distance of PNC Park in Pittsburgh. I can’t help it. I love the Pirates.

Jeremy Wright
@jeremywright
Ensight

Holy Island, in England. It’s that place I go in my head when I’m too stressed or just need to breathe. The entire island, community, history and area calms me down completely, so having a house overlooking the ocean would be killer!

Maggie Fox
@maggiefox
Social Media Group

Paris – it is such a livable, wonderful city and I have come to realize that I am quite French in my feelings about food – nothing makes me angrier than something that is not well prepared. Don’t confuse that with complexity, however – it’s about the best ingredients, thoughtfully brought together.

Zac Johnson
@moneyreign
ZacJohnson.com

I’ve always said I’d like to live in the internet hot spots within our country (NY, CA or FL). I currently live in NJ, so NY is just an hour away. CA and FL are always nice to visit, but I wouldn’t mind having another home in a tropical climate, right near a crystal clear beach.

Next Week: What kind of car do you drive?

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