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Bonnie Harris on Traditional versus New Media (part 1)

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Not every speaker proposal we got for BlogWorld was appropriate. Some were boring, over-done topics. Some were too self-promotional. Some were clearly thrown together in five minutes.

But some were fantastic. I don’t envy Deb, Dave, and Rick in having to pick from hundreds of awesome proposals for the relatively few spots we have open. Many proposals simply got passed up because there wasn’t enough space. Even more got passed up because multiple people wanted to talk about the same thing and someone else had more speaking experience. More still got passed up for other reasons, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t really great proposals. Bonnie Harris from Wax Marketing, in my opinion, had one of those proposals.

Luckily, I got a chance to speak with Bonnie about her top of choice – “Working with Old School Marketers.” In today’s world, there seems to me to be a great divide between those who understand new media and those who do not – which can sometimes cause problems when the two have to work together to create a comprehensive marketing plan for a business. Thank you, Bonnie, for agreeing to share you opinions and advice about this topic with everyone here at the BlogWorld blog!

Allison: Hi, Bonnie! Before we dive into this topic, tell us a little bit about your experiences working with traditional marketers and executives.

Bonnie: Most of the campaigns I work on involve integrated communications strategy.  We believe that a blend of messaging channels – traditional broadcast, combined with social media for example – is a powerful strategy if you pick the correct mix. For that reason I end up working with marketing executives at corporations, traditional publishers and agencies as well as new media consultants and bloggers in a lot of campaigns.

For example, I did a campaign for Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity to help promote  a series of videos on weight bias in schools and medical offices. We worked with the University’s public affairs office, the research scientists, bloggers in the “fatosphere” as well as mom bloggers ,  influencers on Twitter, traditional media such as the LA Times, and Good Morning America, medical trade press interested in obesity issues…the list went on and on.   My job as usual was to manage efforts across all these channels, and make sure they were in sync. We wanted to tweet at the same time our researcher was doing radio in LA, for example.  We blogged about weight bias when Jessica Simpson caught so much flack for her “mom jeans”. We used our celebrity spokesperson Emme to do interviews with mom bloggers and tried to time those just before her TV interviews.  That’s an example of what I do on a regular basis.

Allison: That definitely sounds like a challenging job. Do you find that there’s a disconnect between traditional marketers and today’s bloggers and new media experts?

Bonnie: I’m not sure disconnect is the right word. I think we simply have different perspectives and I’ve met great bloggers who really understand how to present ROI at a corporate meeting and marketing executives who are brilliant at social media. To me, if corporate bloggers and new media experts don’t understand how projects get justified in a corporate setting they will (and do) get very frustrated.  Also, they have to learn a greater respect for traditional marketing techniques and really get at least a baseline knowledge of what motivates sales. Because in effect, driving revenue is the bottom line in any for-profit corporation.

In return, marketing and PR folks need to stop treating bloggers like second class media. I was in a meeting recently where “mommy bloggers” were being discussed in an incredibly derisive tone. I luckily had some recent survey stats that showed the influence of moms on the internet, and they shut up pretty quickly. When we were doing the campaign for Yale, the mom bloggers and the “fatosphere” (they call themselves that, by the way) were the ones that really brought the videos to the attention of the traditional media, not the other way around.

Another thing traditional marketers need to understand is that the first place producers and editors look for sources and stories is the Internet. A strong digital footprint is an essential component of any modern communications strategy. (I say that a lot in meetings, by the way. It works.)

How can bloggers translate traditional stats into something traditional executives can understand?

I’ve never had any trouble with executives understanding web stats. Most of them get the principles of unique visitors, alexa rankings, etc. By the way, they tend to LOVE alexa…it shows them who is a their site in specific demographics, traffic percentages, and other really good information.

The problem is that bloggers need to show executives statistics that are relevant to them.  They could care less about unique pageviews. Show them that as your pageviews grew, it translated to something else that contributed to better customer service or higher traffic on the sales page. Then they’ll listen.

Just like web admins, bloggers need to think in terms of conversion. Traffic is great…but show them with Alexa that their key demographics are reading your blog. Show them that folks are going to a sales landing page from the blog. Show them that customers are engaging on the blog – or being driven to Facebook or Twitter from the blog and engaging there. Great blog content is a very small part of a corporate blog. You want to prove that it’s both a landing pad from other social media and a launch pad to other parts of the site where they can make money. You also want to show that it’s attracting and keeping readers with target demographics using Alexa stats, subscriber stats, whatever tools you have.

I do a small blog for a hearing aid company, it’s really simple but I post a couple times a week and tweet, etc.  An audiologist in another city saw the blog, and is now a client. That’s the ONLY justification I will ever have to do for that blog in my lifetime –  they are completely sold on having a blog now. It’s paid for itself already!  It’s really simple if you think according to management’s goals, not the goals of the blogger.

Wow, tons of information! So much that I’ve split up this interview into two parts. Check back tomorrow for more with Bonnie and traditional versus new media.

Just Because You Can Tweet Something Doesn’t Mean You Should

Author:

While I love Facebook, LinkedIn, social bookmarking sites, and all others forms of new media, my personal poison of choice is Twitter. I use my Twitter account for both business and personal tweeting, which I actually prefer in most cases, though I know some people have multiple accounts to separate their professional life from their personal life. In either case, I think there’s something key that we all have to remember:

Just because you can say something on Twitter doesn’t mean that you should say something on Twitter.

I’m guilty of saying stuff on Twitter that I realize later paints me in a bad light or otherwise misrepresents me in some way. I think we all have had foot-in-mouth moments or get a little too personal in a moment of poor judgment. But some people make me cringe more often than not. I’ve even unfollowed some people because they don’t have a proper brain-to-Twitter filter. It isn’t about the occasional mistake. It’s about constantly making bad tweet choices.

Here are some things you should consider before you tweet:

  1. If this is the first tweet a new follower reads, are you representing your brand well?
  2. Do you retweet and reply? Or are you a self-centered tweeter?
  3. Will your tweet hurt someone’s feelings? Critical is ok, but hurtful is not.
  4. Are you extremely emotional? If so, calm down before you tweet.
  5. Would you want to know that information about someone else? There is such a thing as TMI.
  6. Is your tweet passive-aggressive? If you don’t want to say it to someone’s face, don’t say it on Twitter either.
  7. Would you be embarrassed if your mom read your tweet?
  8. Would you be embarrassed if a potential client or employer read your tweet?
  9. Is your tweet on topic? You don’t have to only tweet about your blog niche, but if you aren’t relevant at all, followers from your blog may feel duped.
  10. Is your tweet clear? With only 140 characters, messages can sometimes get muddled.

We get so used to tweeting sometimes that it is easy to forget we don’t have to share everything. If your tweets are boring because you’re too prolific about your meals or how cute your cat is, that’s one thing – but if you’re losing potential blog readers because you’re giving followers a bad impression, that’s something else entirely.

Think this doesn’t apply to you? Do yourself a favor about go to your own Twitter page right now, reading it as a new potential follower would read it. What you find may surprise you. I know people who have done that exercise and realize that they come off as extremely harsh or way too emo or really ditzy when they aren’t any of those things at all.

My appeal is simple this: be conscious of how, what, and when you tweet. You can find a lot of success with Twitter, but you can also make a fool of yourself just as easily.

The Step Between Friends and Customers

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When it comes to social media, we have friends whom we know personally and we have customers who we can always count on to buy our products. But how does that jump from friends to customers happen? Declan Dunn presented “How To Turn Friends Into Fans And Customers” at BlogWorld 2010, and he made some super important points about how we categorize our interactions with others. This is the new media game.

“Fans are people who raise their hands and say ‘I want more.'” – Declan Dunn

When you meet someone new using social networking, it is easy to become fast friends. “Oooo, he replied to me on Twitter!” “Wow, someone liked something I said on Facebook!” “Yay, he wants to connect on LinkedIn!”

The problem is that often, people don’t foster that relationship and instead hit people with a hard sell. Woah there, buddy. I just met you. I don’t want to buy your product yet. Relationships take time.

This is where Declan has come in with the concept that you have to move friends into the “fans” relationship level before they can become customers. Fans are people who are opting in to support you. This might mean a literal opt-in by signing up for your mailing list, but it could also be another kind of opt-in.

  • Friends who refer you to others are opting to become fans.
  • Friends who become a part of your blog community through comments, forum posts, etc. are opting to become fans.
  • Friends who promote your stuff on social media, without prompt, are opting to become fans.

That still doesn’t mean that they’ll buy something from you – but what it does mean is that you can approach them without worrying so much about offending them. Defining your fans means a lot less work to chase down those dollars. If you try to sell something to friends, few will make the purchase. They aren’t emotionally invested in supporting you or in need of the information you’re selling. They just like interacting with you. Fans, on the other hand, do want to support you, which often grows from a strong need for the information you’re selling.

The bottom line is this: If you try to sell your products to friends, you’re going to do a lot of work for little reward and possibly even offend a few people. If you try to sell to fans instead, you’ll see much better results.

Thanks, Declan, for a great BlogWorld presentation. His session covered a number of other topics, of course, and if you missed it or opted not to attend BlogWorld this year, consider picking up a virtual ticket to see his session.

Facebook’s New Groups Feature: Is Opting In Really the Problem?

Author:

It’s been a few days since Facebook announced their groups feature upgrades and bloggers are still buzzing about it. What I’m hearing most from people is the sentiment that your friends shouldn’t be allowed to just add you to a group willy-nilly. You should have to opt in – agree to become a part of whatever group they’re creating.

Let’s back up a second though, and first think about who this groups feature was really created to help. Says Mari Smith, Social Media Thought Leader and coauthor of Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day:

Frankly, the New Groups have clearly been designed for Facebook’s “average” user. That is, he/she has around 130 friends and predominantly uses the platform for personal/social connecting, playing games, sharing photos, etc. I can actually see some reasonable benefits for the more personal users to connect with small groups of known Facebook friends and, of course, family.

Mari goes on to talk about why groups has caused such a hulla-baloo in the blogging world:

Those of us who have chosen to optimize our personal profiles with thousands of friends for professional networking purposes and the likes are the anomaly. However, we are the ones at the forefront of any major Facebook change like this, and we feel the brunt of suddenly being “force joined” to Groups we have little or no interest in… that dump a barrage of emails into our already crowded inbox and cram up our Facebook notifications. That is, until such time as we turn off these settings (which I always do; I only have three Facebook email notifications turned on – Page stats, email, and birthdays.)

Sure, we can adjust our notifications and we can just quietly remove ourselves from any Groups we don’t care to belong to. But, we cannot turn off the “option” to be added to Groups.

I was shocked to read on Facebook’s official announcement that we could “use Groups as a replacement for mailing lists.” A forced opt-in mailing list? I don’t think so!

But the question I have is this: Is a forced opt-in really the root of the problem with the new feature?

If you know someone and they share their contact information with you, you have the right to categorize them. Twitter already has this feature  – you can create lists for people. Granted, Twitter does not have a way for you to mass-tweet to this list, but there’s also no opt-in/out going on. People can add you to whatever list they want, so you might show up on some list called “hates-women” even if you do not, in fact, hate women.

When someone becomes your friend on Facebook, they are opting in to be contacted by you. The groups have a lot of functionality problems, which I’ll talk about in a moment, but this isn’t about opting in. If you don’t want a specific person to contact you, don’t be their friend on Facebook.

There is the argument that you want to keep in touch with someone but not be on some kind of mailing list for their business. That’s where the “remove” feature comes in handy, in my opinion. You can very well decide that you don’t want to be a part of a person’s specific group, and once you do that, you can’t be added by someone else again. It’s like if someone has your email and is sending you personal notes, business communications, and funny chain letters. You shared your contact information with that person, so you can’t be upset when they contact you. What you can do is email the person and say, “Hey Alli, your funny chain letter forwards* are clogging up my inbox and I’m not really interested in them. Can you stop sending them to me?”What Facebook does is even better – it forces the user to not email you in a specific way any longer. You’re guaranteed not to get my forwards with the Facebook system, whereas with email, I might forget and keep sending them to you anyway.

Opting in is not the problem here, in my opinion. The problems lie with how the groups function. As it stands, they’re nothing more than pages that a current member has to invite you to like. That’s…well…stupid.

Social media expert Lewis Howes has also weighed in with his opinion, which has highlighted some of the core problems with the groups feature:

To be completely honest with you, I was about to take off for a flight to Vegas yesterday and opened up Facebook and saw the new groups. I created one for sports professionals and one for social media and realized that people were active in them immediately. It wasn’t until I landed 6 hours later that even more people were commenting on them, everyone was trying to join them, and I was getting notifications like crazy from people (even some who said they removed themselves from the group because they were getting too many notifications).

I’m still in testing mode, but agree with Mari that it should be opt in/accept instead of automatically putting people in groups without them accepting that request.

Let’s note some of the things Lewis said and why this groups thing wasn’t thought through:

1. Facebook doesn’t have proper easy-to-use documentation on how to use groups, especially for Internet marketing professionals. We have to play around with the settings and see what happens. That’s just not smart. I’m sure someone will come out with an ebook that costs $97 and teaches you how to best use Facebook’s groups settings. More power to you, future ebook writer. But Facebook should have that already. When you company introduces a new feature, it should also release a report that covers the basics of working with it.

2. People get a million notifications. Maybe there’s a setting where you can turn that off, but in general, it just shouldn’t happen. You should only get a notification when the person who created the group wants to contact you. If you’re interested in a thread, there should be a box you can check, like with comments on a blog. Yes, I want to receive further notifications when someone else comments on one of my opinions. No, I do not want to receive further notifications when I say “cute picture!” and a million other people do too.

3. Correct me if I’m wrong (because again, there’s not a lot of documentation on this), but it’s set up so that a member of the group can add other people to it, right? You have to be invited to be a member of a group, but not by the person who created the group. Furthermore, you can request to be a member of a group. Lewis talked about the fact that he landed to find that a bunch of people were trying to become members. It shouldn’t work that way. A group should be for the PERSON WHO CREATED IT. It should be a way for that person to categorize his/her friends. As an Internet marketer, you likely want people to add others to the group because really, the more the merrier, but what if you’ve created a group for…I don’t like, let’s say your work friends. Then someone adds your boss. Sure, your boss works at the same place, but you created the group for your friends, not everyone in the world who could possibly be categorized that way. It should be set up more like events – you can make it public for guests to invite others, but the default is that only an administrator can add people.

Like Mari, Lewis notes that groups should be opt-in. That’s where I disagree. Facebook needs to rethink how they do notifications and how people are permitted to join a group. This whole project was just not organized in a logical way. I already have pages. I don’t want my groups to be made up of the same people so that I basically have to spam two groups when I have something to say. Facebook needs to ask themselves, “What makes groups different for pages? How will users make use of groups? How can it meet the needs of both business owners and for-pleasure users?”

For now, a few things are apparent to me:

  1. Don’t be friends with someone if you’re going to be mad when they contact you. That’s your level 1 opt-in right there.
  2. Do some notification control. Facebook doesn’t make it easy or even intuitive, but you can control the notifications you receive.
  3. Opt out of the groups you don’t want to be a part of. It only takes a second.

If opt-in was the problem, people would have been mad about Twitter lists. If opt-in was the problem, people would have been mad about someone being able to invite them to an event and for you to show up on the page as an invited guest (even if you say no). The problem is the group function itself. Opting in, in my opinion, is just the scapegoat.

Also, clearly Facebook should hire me to be quality control for features they roll out. :-p

Some more opinions on the new groups features of Facebook:

*Note: I hate funny chain forwards and don’t send them; this is just an example.

65% Of Marketers Surveyed Say They Do Not Use Twitter

Author:

For five years now I have been saying Social Media (I still prefer to call it New Media) is still in it’s infancy. Here is the latest proof. In SmartBlog’s most recent weekly reader poll they asked:

What do you think of Twitter’s new home page design?

Surprisingly for some more than 65% of their readers said they don’t even use Twitter.

  • I don’t use Twitter, 65.10%
  • Love it, 22.15%
  • Complaining about it now, but I’ll probably get used to it, 10.07%
  • Can’t stand it, 2.68%

Now when you think about this response for a moment its even more significant. This is a reader poll by a site that has a very social media savvy readership. That tells me the real number of marketers who aren’t using Twitter is even greater.

Just keep reminding yourself every time you think New Media has finally really blown up and hit the big time you have not seen anything yet. Am I crazy?

Five Ways to Keep Up with all this New Media Crap

Author:

So, if you’re reading this, you’re likely a blogger. The idea of a blog probably sounded pretty good when you started – the freedom and flexibility of a low cost publishing platform, whether to promote yourself, your businesses, or maybe you’re paid to blog and promote someone else’s businesses.

But now, you need to Tweet your posts, Retweet other people‚s posts, cultivate your Facebook Fan page, add your photos on the Flickr, submit your posts to Stumbleupon and Digg, record YouTube videos, and comment on other blogs. It’s not smelling like roses anymore, is it? Well, here are a few tips and suggestions for keeping up with all this new media crap (tongue-in-cheek).

Batch Your Work. Productivity gurus have long since said that batching your work is more efficient, and it is true. I use Hootsuite to spend 15 minutes every Monday and setup interesting tweets and Facebook updates for the week. Just like you sit down to read the newspaper, I sit down and go through my RSS feeds and pull out things of interest to others. Batching doesn’t hurt anybody and in fact offers you the opportunity to send out updates at a time more convenient for readers in another time zone than you.

Continue Reading

The New Media Way Is Better Than The Old Media Way

Author:

The New York Times ran a story yesterday on a new group known as The Coffee Party. What follows is a classic contrast in how old media handles a news story vs. how new media handles a news story. Leave your politics aside for the moment and look at this excerpt from Le-gal In-sur-rec-tion:

Update: Interesting, I received a phone call from Kate Zernike, the author of the NY Times article, who felt that I did not sufficiently credit her article with disclosing Park’s background and motives. Specificially, Zernike pointed out that the Times’ article said the Coffee Party “was formed in reaction to the Tea Party” and offered “an alternative” to the Tea Party. Zernike also felt that the pro-Obama nature of the Coffee Party was adequately disclosed because the article pointed out that one of the organizers in California (not Park) had campaigned for Obama.

I explained that I did not feel that the NY Times article adequately disclosed (i) the depth of the connection to the Obama campaign reflected in Park’s background, or (ii) that the specific purpose of the Coffee Party, as expressed in Park’s Tweets, was to undermine the Tea Party.

I told Ms. Zernike that I would do an update to this post, and I hoped that she would do an update to her article to explain Park’s Obama connection and apparent motivations. Ms. Zernike declined, explaining that she had to limit her article to 700 words.

There are several points here.  First kudos to NYT writer Kate Zernike for even engaging with Mr. Jacobson (Legal Insurrection’s author). That’s the new media way. In times past her article would have received at best heated letters to the editor that would have most likely been ignored.  Unfortunately she chose not to (or is not allowed to by her editors) comment directly at Legal Insurrection. That’s the old media way.

If you choose to read the 60 comments on the post you will see there is a vibrant and quite heated debate about the merits or lack thereof in the original NYT piece (warning lots of comments with adult language). Thats the new media way.

Mr. Jacobson updated his post as soon as he had new information and shared Ms. Zernike’s perspective. That’s the new media way.

Ms. Zernike stated she was unable to update her article due to an arbitrary 700 word limit. Thats the old media way.

Mr. Jacob has no such limitation and I am sure will continue to update his post as more information becomes available including any further replies from Ms. Zernike. That’s the new media way.

Ms. Zernike gathered the facts pertaining to her story and then she and her editors decided what was relevant and she presented a summary of that information. Thats the old media way.

Mr. Jacobson researched her story, and provided his sources right in his post including past Tweets from Annabel Park (the subject of the original article) and YouTube Video that Ms. Park helped to promote online. Mr. Jacobson then offered his conclusions and his transparent views about the Coffee Party and Ms. Zernike’s story. That’s the new media way.

Ms. Zernike of course provided no background on her own inherent views an political leanings coming into the story. Thats the old media way.

The old media way believes professional reporters are able to completely ignore their personal views and “just present the facts”. We all know that’s baloney.

Mememorandum (Techmeme’s sister site focused on politics) then picked up Legal Insurrection’s story as a hot topic in the blogosphere including links to the original NYT article and more than a dozen blogs who were also commenting on the original story and Legal Insurrection’s post. That’s the new media way.

What is the lesson here?

The new media way is the better way and the reason the old media is dying a horrible and painful death.

Any other differences between the new media way and old media way that I left out?

Please leave them below in the comments section.

ps.

That’s the new media way by the way 8).

BlogWorld isn’t SXSW (and Vice Versa)

Author:

In the last few days I’ve been seeing a lot of “BlogWorld or SXSW?” type Tweets. Most of them are from folks who can only afford to attend one conference this year and aren’t sure where their money is best spent. While both BlogWorld and South by Southwest are “must attends” for much of the social media world, the two conferences aren’t the same. Comparing  is almost like comparing apples to oranges.

Two Different Conferences

To me, the biggest difference is that SXSW isn’t a social media conference. It’s an interactive conference (with a film and music conference also taking place at or around the same time.) To decided whether or not to choose one over another you’ll have to define your purpose for attending first. BlogWorld is more defined, it’s a blogging/social media/new media conference. It’s smaller and more intimate. SXSW is huge. This isn’t a bad thing, again, it depends on what you’re going for.

Parties

Each conference provides opportunities to meet and network with creative people. SXSW tends to have more parties and events happening, though there were more “official” BlogWorld events in 2009 than previous years. I’m not a party person. My preference is to enjoy dinner or drinks and conversation with both old and new friends. I don’t like shouting over a crowded room or watching others down too many complimentary drinks. So for me, the nightlife is all about the restaurants and the conversation. Both Las Vegas and Austin have the best of the best.

Sessions and Panels

Both events provide informative classes and discussions, my main reason for attending. If you come to learn, learn you will. Again, BlogWorld is more niche oriented while SXSW runs the gamut. Session titles at BlogWorld 2009 included:

  • “Stimulating Brand Conversations with Women in the Social Mediasphere”
  • “LinkedIn for Viral Campaigns”
  • “Why Blogs are Your Number 1 Social Marketing Tool”
  • “How Social Media is Changing the Definition of News”
  • “How to Build a Large Loyal Audience with Podcasting.”

The BlogWorld panels more or less touched on blogging – including niches such as mommy blogging, real estate blogging, sports blogging and milblogging. Sessions also discussed community management, affiliate and relationship marketing, podcasting and business.

South by Southwest Interactive does include many social media type topics, but also, anything that appeals to geeks outside of the social media spectrum. Behold some “Southby” sessions for next week:

  • “Cooking for Geeks: Science, Hacks and Good Food”
  • “Dude, This is My Car!”
  • “Web Fonts: The Time Has Come”
  • “Are Content Farms Good or Evil”
  • “Can You Copyright a Tweet?”
  • “My Three Year Old is My Usibility Expert”

In addition to session and panels, South by Southwest also has “Core Conversations.” These aren’t sessions but instead interactive discussions revolving around a certain topic. I led a Core Conversation at last year’s SXSWi and it was an incredibly rewarding experience. I like that it enables the audience to be a part of the entire discussion rather than getting in a few questions at the end.

Something else to consider is that who gets to speak on panels is sort of like a popularity contest at SXSW. Potential speakers submit proposals but they’re put the vote. Though SXSW also has a committee to appoint speakers, if a potential speaker has a huge network to vote for him, he’s a shoo in. At BlogWorld, a committee looks over each panel and decides on which sessions will best serve the BlogWorld community.

Money, Lodging and etcs.

SXSW is a more expensive event for me mostly because the hotels cost more money, especially if you want to stay close to the convention center. The flights cost about the same and meals are about the same. However, the Las Vegas monorail is cheaper than taking cabs around Austin. For the most part, you’ll be able to stay in a hotel close to the Las Vegas Convention Center when you attend BlogWorld. Not so in Austin. Hotels fill up a year in advance and if you don’t book extremely early you may find yourself staying miles away and having to pay a $20 cab ride each way.

When you’re in Las Vegas for BlogWorld, you can take the monorail or a cab to get to the various parties, hotels and activities. Austin’s clubs, pubs and restaurants are usually within walking distance, though some are a brief cab ride away.

Edited to Add: Ooops thought of one more MAJOR difference. South by Southwest is much longer. While Blogworld can last two to three days, expect to spend at least five days in Austin if you which to attend as many sessions and events as possible.

BlogWorld or SXSW?

Again, you can’t compare. Both BlogWorld and SXSW are different events. I enjoy both events and take away something different from each. My preference (and not because I happen to blog here) is for BlogWorld for one reason – it’s more intimate. It’s big enough that it’s a “big event” but not so big you’re overwhelmed. I walk down the hall and know almost everyone I see, even if it’s on a “wave hi” basis. I’m not a party person and I’m not a crowd person. Though both SXSW and BlogWorld are my “never miss” events each year, if I had to choose one place to be it would be Vegas, baby.

How about you? What are some of the differences you see between BlogWorld and Southby …and do you have a preference?

Deb Ng is founder of the Freelance Writing Jobs blog network.

BlogWorld isn't SXSW (and Vice Versa)

Author:

In the last few days I’ve been seeing a lot of “BlogWorld or SXSW?” type Tweets. Most of them are from folks who can only afford to attend one conference this year and aren’t sure where their money is best spent. While both BlogWorld and South by Southwest are “must attends” for much of the social media world, the two conferences aren’t the same. Comparing  is almost like comparing apples to oranges.

Two Different Conferences

To me, the biggest difference is that SXSW isn’t a social media conference. It’s an interactive conference (with a film and music conference also taking place at or around the same time.) To decided whether or not to choose one over another you’ll have to define your purpose for attending first. BlogWorld is more defined, it’s a blogging/social media/new media conference. It’s smaller and more intimate. SXSW is huge. This isn’t a bad thing, again, it depends on what you’re going for.

Parties

Each conference provides opportunities to meet and network with creative people. SXSW tends to have more parties and events happening, though there were more “official” BlogWorld events in 2009 than previous years. I’m not a party person. My preference is to enjoy dinner or drinks and conversation with both old and new friends. I don’t like shouting over a crowded room or watching others down too many complimentary drinks. So for me, the nightlife is all about the restaurants and the conversation. Both Las Vegas and Austin have the best of the best.

Sessions and Panels

Both events provide informative classes and discussions, my main reason for attending. If you come to learn, learn you will. Again, BlogWorld is more niche oriented while SXSW runs the gamut. Session titles at BlogWorld 2009 included:

  • “Stimulating Brand Conversations with Women in the Social Mediasphere”
  • “LinkedIn for Viral Campaigns”
  • “Why Blogs are Your Number 1 Social Marketing Tool”
  • “How Social Media is Changing the Definition of News”
  • “How to Build a Large Loyal Audience with Podcasting.”

The BlogWorld panels more or less touched on blogging – including niches such as mommy blogging, real estate blogging, sports blogging and milblogging. Sessions also discussed community management, affiliate and relationship marketing, podcasting and business.

South by Southwest Interactive does include many social media type topics, but also, anything that appeals to geeks outside of the social media spectrum. Behold some “Southby” sessions for next week:

  • “Cooking for Geeks: Science, Hacks and Good Food”
  • “Dude, This is My Car!”
  • “Web Fonts: The Time Has Come”
  • “Are Content Farms Good or Evil”
  • “Can You Copyright a Tweet?”
  • “My Three Year Old is My Usibility Expert”

In addition to session and panels, South by Southwest also has “Core Conversations.” These aren’t sessions but instead interactive discussions revolving around a certain topic. I led a Core Conversation at last year’s SXSWi and it was an incredibly rewarding experience. I like that it enables the audience to be a part of the entire discussion rather than getting in a few questions at the end.

Something else to consider is that who gets to speak on panels is sort of like a popularity contest at SXSW. Potential speakers submit proposals but they’re put the vote. Though SXSW also has a committee to appoint speakers, if a potential speaker has a huge network to vote for him, he’s a shoo in. At BlogWorld, a committee looks over each panel and decides on which sessions will best serve the BlogWorld community.

Money, Lodging and etcs.

SXSW is a more expensive event for me mostly because the hotels cost more money, especially if you want to stay close to the convention center. The flights cost about the same and meals are about the same. However, the Las Vegas monorail is cheaper than taking cabs around Austin. For the most part, you’ll be able to stay in a hotel close to the Las Vegas Convention Center when you attend BlogWorld. Not so in Austin. Hotels fill up a year in advance and if you don’t book extremely early you may find yourself staying miles away and having to pay a $20 cab ride each way.

When you’re in Las Vegas for BlogWorld, you can take the monorail or a cab to get to the various parties, hotels and activities. Austin’s clubs, pubs and restaurants are usually within walking distance, though some are a brief cab ride away.

Edited to Add: Ooops thought of one more MAJOR difference. South by Southwest is much longer. While Blogworld can last two to three days, expect to spend at least five days in Austin if you which to attend as many sessions and events as possible.

BlogWorld or SXSW?

Again, you can’t compare. Both BlogWorld and SXSW are different events. I enjoy both events and take away something different from each. My preference (and not because I happen to blog here) is for BlogWorld for one reason – it’s more intimate. It’s big enough that it’s a “big event” but not so big you’re overwhelmed. I walk down the hall and know almost everyone I see, even if it’s on a “wave hi” basis. I’m not a party person and I’m not a crowd person. Though both SXSW and BlogWorld are my “never miss” events each year, if I had to choose one place to be it would be Vegas, baby.

How about you? What are some of the differences you see between BlogWorld and Southby …and do you have a preference?

Deb Ng is founder of the Freelance Writing Jobs blog network.

Three Days in Vegas – BlogWorld & New Media Expo 2010 When and Where

Author:

Quentin Tarantino

I am seeing a huge number of searches now that we are in the new year all looking for Blog World 2010.  People are searching I suppose to find out the details since we are about 10 months away from the event.  The other issue is probably related to the the fact that 150,000 people were geeking out in Las Vegas with each other and are looking forward to SXSW and Blog World Expo. We have not yet worked out the venue details at this time, but the show itself is going to take place on October 14-16, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  The first day of the show on October 14, 2010 is the Social Media Business Summit.   The final two days will be the trade show and convention featuring the exhibitors on the show floor.  Once the show venue is determined and those details are confirmed and completed we will be making that announcement.

Until then, feel free to get it on your calendar, and start making your initial plans. Once the other details are confirmed, we will be able to provide more precise information about hotels, parties and all the other fun that we have for three days in Vegas.  Three days in Vegas is either a great title for a Tarantino movie or perhaps my next blog post.

Now I have to run off and see if Mr. Tarantino is on Twitter.

Photo via FusedFilm.com

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