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Go Where The Geeks Are: Why Tech Events Matter for Tourism And Travel

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Panel: Tourism Currents workshop on social media for tourism
Speakers: Sheila Scarborough and Becky McCray
Date/Time: October 14, 09:45 – 5:00

Those who want to connect with visitors online need to speak their language, understand their communication tools and appreciate their culture and etiquette. Your CVB (Convention and Visitor’s Bureau) cannot make smart decisions about destination marketing in a digital environment unless youíre smart about how your visitors function in that environment.

To really comprehend how wired people use social media and technology – particularly mobile devices, in ways you probably don’t expect – you have to be immersed in their world. Saying hi to your teenager on Facebook (IF she’ll friend you back!) only gives a partial picture.

You need to do what networking expert Thom Singer calls, “Run With the Herd of the Nerd.”

Tech events are one giant market research opportunity. Watch how people use Twitter, see how they shoot photos and send them immediately to Facebook from their phone, note how they conduct quick hallway interviews with handheld video cameras and how they look for ideas on where to eat and party (hint: it’s probably Yelp/UrbanSpoon or Gowalla/Foursquare, not a brochure from a hotel lobby rack.)

This is why we’re excited to bring tourism organizations to BlogWorld; it gives them the chance to connect with some of the thousands of bloggers, podcasters and other online content creators who can help spread the word about a town, city, heritage highway, state park or downtown cultural district.

We’re designing a hands-on, no-fear social media seminar that will introduce tourism folks to our “geek world” and show them how it can upgrade their communications work. Rather than have people come to this huge tech event and be rather overwhelmed, we will take the time to give them the lay of the land, and show them how to listen online and how to connect with the people who will want to talk about their town and help tell its stories.

There is no other event that gives tourism professionals both an in-depth educational session plus the opportunity to meet thousands of online publishers, in one economical package in one place.

(And pssst: you can get 20% off of a BlogWorld pass with the code TC20. Jussayin’.)

The flip side is that many bloggers have no idea that there are organizations that exist solely to promote tourism and travel to wonderful places.

Are you a travel blogger? There are CVBs that would love to meet you.

Are you a food blogger? Plenty of CVBs would be happy to tell you about their wine trails, restaurants and agritourism opportunities on local farms.

Are you a parenting blogger? There are tourist boards who are full of ideas for family-friendly fun in their town.

Are you a craft or quilting blogger? There are tourism folks who can show you amazing craft shows and quilt trails.

Tech and social media stuff moves fast, and organizations need to keep up in order to make intelligent decisions about whether to incorporate the latest whiz-bang thing into their marketing efforts. Don’t feel intimidated, though; we feel strongly that technology is for everyone, not just wired geeky types.

At events like BlogWorld, you will be surrounded by the future of communications….right now….today.

Sheila Scarborough is a writer specializing in travel, tourism and social media. Along with Becky McCray, she is the co-founder of Tourism Currents, an online community focused on social media and technology training for tourism professionals. She thinks everyone ought to have a passport and experience jet lag. You can follow her on Tourism Currents and Sheila’s Guide to the Good Stuff. Sheila is also on Twitter @SheilaS and @TourismCurrents

Bump Your iPhone to Add Social Network Connections!

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Who needs business cards anymore? Bump 2.0 was just released for the iPhone, making it extremely simple to exchange information with another user … just by bumping your phone!

The version 2.0 of the app features an updated interface and the ability to instantly connect on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. You can also share photos, contacts and calendar events.

The app works by using your phone’s location and accelerometer features. When the app is running and you shake your phone, Bump searches for another phone that is also being shaken. When it finds a match, the app assumes you want to exchange contact info and pushes your user IDs!

We certainly have come a long way from business card scanners. I’m definitely downloading it for my conference this week (especially since I forgot to order new business cards). I just hope that other people have the app installed.

Ways A Small Business Can Use Social Media

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I hear a lot of small business owners who say things like: “I am not a huge company and cannot invest the time or money into online marketing. What can I do?”

Dave Peck

My response is you do not need to have a huge budget or invest tons of hours into social media for small business. Here are some easy and simple tips I will give you in list form. As people like lists:

  • Change your brand/companies message to fit the social network you are on.  So you may post “@pizza is here to help with  all your pizza needs” on Twitter.  Well that will not fly on say Plurk or youtube. (Always have to work Plurk into a blog post, it is just fun to say.) Make sure you know the basic ins/outs of the site you are on. Think of it as when you travel to a different country. There are different customs in each you should follow. Things you do and things you do not. (This actually is good practice for any size business or brand.)

  • Cool it with the cross posting. For those of you do not know let me give you the definition of cross posting. It is when you take the same single message and post it on multiple social networks and forums.  Sure it makes your life easier one post that hits many websites. I get it. The problem is that the same people may follow you on Twitter, Facebook, Plurk, etc. You need to mix it up. I promise you that if you post the same message to all your networks, you will lose people from your community. Also, I think posting a link on Facebook directly looks a lot better then just placing the url.
  • Time Shift your messages. So when you want to post about a special going on or a blog post you just wrote, do it on different days at different times.  Some people may be online at 10:00 am others may be on at 4:00 pm. Thus, they maybe more likely to respond and see your message at different times. Play around with it and mix it up. Personally,  I have had a lot of success updating my networks late at night. It allows me to get the attention of people I may never have.
  • Do not post the same exact message over and over. Twitter has begun enforcing the TOS of not allowing recurring Tweets on Twitter Accounts. Why? Its annoying, plain and simple.  Though I do not see why you can not mix up the message and tweak it throughout the day. I have used Tweetlater aka Socialoomph with much success. (No doubt I’m going to get some nasty comments about my thoughts on this one.)
  • What is in it for the customer? Part 1. Have online discounts and promotions. I always get clients who say “I want millions of Twitter followers” or “I want everyone to join my fanpage.”  My response is “What is in it for them?”  Why should they follow you  and fan you? You need to give them something back. It can be a coupon code, a special time sensitive discount, or even early bird passes. There needs to be something in it for them.
  • What is in it for the customer? Part 2. In reference to the above item, you don’t have to just give specials and discounts. It could be insight to why your company does what it does. Maybe behind the scenes videos, podcasts or blog posts. You can communicate directly to people who follow/fan you, so do it!! Make them know your listening by talking to them. This has value sometimes that is worth more the items in Part 1.
  • There is more to social media then Twitter & Facebook. There I said it. Heck this should be a blog post by itself. (Actually I think this will be my next post.) If you targeting people who like wine, find a social network about wine. You want to sell comic books, there is a site for that. Heck.. just check out  Ning you can find anything.

BONUS: So let us say your company is Ed’s Vacuum Cleaner Repair. Why not start a Fan Page, Twitter Feed, or Ning site about Vacuum cleaners? Create an online community for people you know will have a need/like for your product! Bottom line: If you cant find it online, create it yourself!

Dave Peck is a Social Media Strategist For Palo Alto Research Center (PARC). Follow him on his Website: www.thedavepeck.com or on Twitter

Developing a Personal Social Media Policy

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Your identity is shaped by your social media profiles.

Earlier today, Nikki posted about the importance of Creating a Social Media Policy for Your Business. This is something that too many companies overlook, so I was glad to see her address the issue. I’d like to talk about something related – having a personal social media policy as a blogger or even just as an individual.

Let me tell you a short story.

Allison’s Short Friend-of-a-Friend Story

A friend of a friend worked for a small video game company. The company was working on a few games, and when they were bought out by a larger video game company, her team was replaced and she was laid off. It happens. Fast forward a few months down the road, and she was hired by a competitor to the large game company.

Every year, there’s a huge video game event in Los Angeles called E3. It’s only open to press and people working in the gaming industry, and after the event every night, large companies typically have after parties and networking events. While at E3, she attended the after party event of the company where she used to work, which is understandable, as she hadn’t seen her coworkers and friends in a few months, and this was an opportunity to have a few drinks with them.

The problem? She tweeted about it from her personal account. Come Monday morning, she was fired from her job. Apparently, her boss followed her on Twitter and wasn’t keen on the idea of her attending social events of a competitor or promoting it on Twitter.

Justification?

While I do think that my story is an extreme instance of an employer using Twitter as a reason to fire an employee, they were justified in doing so, even if she was tweeting from a personal account. Having a personal social media policy is extremely important if you’re working for someone else, or even if you’re just blogging for yourself.

Why were they justified in firing her?

  • She was working for one company, but publicly promoting one of their competitors.
  • They had no history with her, so they had no way of knowing whether or not they could trust her to be loyal to their company.
  • She was at the event on their dime, so she should have been doing work for them, not hanging out at any party, competitor or not, unless authorized to do so.

But let’s back away from this specific situation a bit. Say you’re not an employee anywhere (or at least not anywhere that cares about social media). You’re just Anonymous Joe/Jane, tweeting about your day. Why is it justifiable that anyone persecute you for anything you say on Twitter or any social media site?

You make the choice to put your feelings on public display. You can keep things to yourself if you want, and people don’t really have the right to persecute you for your personal beliefs. If you bring those personal beliefs to a public forum, though, it is open season.

The “Anonymous” Internet

Unlike the girl in my story, you don’t have to connect your social media persona to your real life identity. In fact, I know many people who don’t, just to maintain anonymity. Something that I wish more people would realize thought? Just because you’re saying something anonymously doesn’t mean that it is OK to be a jerk. Too many people use the Internet as a dumping ground for thoughts that they’d never dream of saying “in real life.” Um…the Internet is real life too, kids. There’s something to be said for gaining confidence as someone who is shy, but if what you’re saying is too rude or mean to say to someone face-to-face, it is also too rude or mean to say online.

Developing that Personal Policy

In a round-about way, what I’m trying to get across to you in this post is the need for you to have a personal social media policy that you keep in mind when using sites, even if you aren’t in danger of being fired for your tweets. It boils down to three main questions that you should ask yourself every time you tweet (or update another social media profile:

  1. Would I be ashamed if my mother/spouse/kids/boss/etc read this update?
  2. Does this reflect the image I want to portray of myself to my readers/followers?
  3. Is the opinion reflected in a clear way, so as not to cause confusion about what I really mean?

And, the overall question that you should be asking yourself is this: Will I be upset if people unfollow/unfriend me because of this update? A good example of this is that I tweet about having a glass of wine while working from time to time. Some people might think badly of me for drinking “on the job,” but to be honest, those people aren’t really the people who I want on my friends list anyway. So, if you read that tweet and decide to unfollow, that’s fine by me.

If nothing else, I hope that this post reminds you that people are watching your activity online. Tweet at your own risk.

Allison Boyer is a writer for BWE’s blog and the owner/manager of After Graduation. Despite her love of a nice Reisling, she doesn’t accept payment for her freelancing services in wine. Yet.

Image credit: sxc.hu

Scott Stratten and Jeffrey Hayzlett BWE10 Speakers!

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We are pleased to announce TWO keynote speakers! Scott Stratten, President of UnMarketing, will be opening the Social Media Business Summit conference.

Follow Scott on Twitter: @unmarketing

 

In the afternoon on the same day, Jeffrey Hayzlett, author of The Mirror Test, will be giving an insightful keynote presentation to the businesses in attendance. Not to be missed!

Follow Jeff on Twitter: @jeffreyhayzlett

 

Other news and tips across the blogosphere this week (June 25th):

The Blog Herald: Will Blogger’s New Video Player Challenge WordPress’s VideoPress?
After taking cues from YouTube, it looks like the boys and girls at Google have decided to update the Blogger video player in order to make it user friendly.

Copyblogger: 20 Warning Signs That Your Content Sucks
Admit it … you’ve wondered!

Daily Blog Tips: 5 Reasons Why You Should Respond to Every Comment
It just seems rude, but for some reason it has become standard for bloggers not to reply to comments made on their post.

ProBlogger: Does A Bloggers Age Matter?
Darren gives his take on this question!

Mashable: Improve B2B Sales Productivity with Social Media
As it specifically applies to sales, now more than ever our work is about relationship building and facilitating a buying decision through social selling.

Nikki Katz is the Managing Editor for the BlogWorld Blog. Feel free to follow her Twitter @nikki_blogworld and @katzni

Image Credit: SXC

Looking for Social Media Volunteers!

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Are you talented and passionate about the world of social media? Do you navigate daily on LinkedIn, love the power of Facebook to share stories, tips and ideas, or live for analytics?

The BlogWorld Expo 2010 Social Media execution team needs a few more great people. Have fun with this talented and creative bunch- work hard and have a great time building the buzz for a fantastic Expo. The volunteer commitment will be for the next 4 months building up to BlogWorld Expo 2010 and 1 month of event follow-up.

If you are interested, please send one of us an email with your background and area of interest, and we will get back to you with the details.

Thanks!

Social Media Guidelines Now Available in AP Stylebook

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The 2010 Full AP Stylebook now contains 42 new social media guidelines. The Associated Press Stylebook is traditionally an A-to-Z listing of style that is the general standard for the journalism industry. The book is a reference for consistency and accuracy on points including clarification on topics such as abbreviation, capitalization, grammar, punctuation, spelling, numerals and titles. Now there is an entirely new section devoted to social media, including items like:

  • The term “Web site” is now “website”
  • Break out”smart phone” into two words
  • Hyphenate “e-reader”
  • A variety of acronyms used for texting and IMing (ROFL, BRB, POS)

Also included is standardization of terms such as app, blogs, click-throughs, friend and unfriend, metadata, RSS, search engine optimization, trending, widget and wiki. Along with these standards, the Stylebook offer basic rules for how social media should (and shouldn’t) be used by journalist.

How did AP up with the changes? They solicited reader suggestions for this new Social Media section and received 237 responses. Did you contribute?

Nikki Katz is the Managing Editor for the BlogWorld Blog. Feel free to follow her Twitter @nikki_blogworld and @katzni

Image Credit: AP

Blogs & Social Media Sites Land in Top 1000 Sites List

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Google came out with their Top 1000 Sites list this week, and I have to admit that I’m not surprised Facebook landed at #1! There were some other blogging and social networking sites that made it into the top 20 – including WordPress, BlogSpot, and Twitter. And of course there are a variety of blogs that make it onto the list, albeit somewhat further down. Take a look at the list and see if you rank within!

Other news and tips across the blogosphere this week (May 28th):

Copyblogger: How to Monetize Your Site Without Causing an Audience Revolt
There are so many bloggers out there with very large audiences who find themselves incapable or unwilling to monetize by launching a product. Learn how to avoid this issue, prepare your audience for your prices, and learn how to charge higher prices for your products.

Daily Blogging Tips: 10 Ways to Convert Your Blog Visitors Into Dedicated Readers
Do you want your blog to grow, increase your readership and subscriber numbers, have your content constantly spread, and make more money? Then you need to convert your blog visitors into dedicated readers.

ProBlogger: How to Pitch Bloggers – Make it a Win/Win/Win Situation
Tips for companies or individuals pitching to bloggers to link to their products, services, events, sites

ReadWriteWeb: Facebook Rolls Back Some Key Privacy Changes
Facebook has rolled back some of the biggest and most controversial changes to the site’s privacy settings made since December.

Mashable: Google Buzz Adds Reshare Option
Google Buzz is releasing the “Reshare” option update to the social aggregation platform.

Nikki Katz is the Managing Editor for the BlogWorld Blog. Feel free to follow her Twitter @nikki_blogworld and @katzni

Image Credit: SXC

Dear Gurus: Let's Talk Less and Listen More

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Dear Gurus: It’s Time to Talk Less and Listen More
By Hadji Williams

It’s been about three weeks since Keith Elam, one of the most accomplished artists of my generation passed away.

As one-half of Gang Starr, Elam was truly a Gifted emcee who pioneered an ill poetic street corner philosopher’s eloquence not yet heard prior. Between his Gang Starr catalog and his groundbreaking Jazzmatazz work, he proved to source of seemingly Unlimited Rhymes. And his willingness to discuss everything from the writing process to manhood to parenthood to politics to crime made his lyrics truly Universal.

Looking back, April 19, 2010 saw the passing of perhaps the only non-east Indian who could rightfully call himself a guru with a straight face. Elam’s death also got me thinking about all the other so-called gurus out here…

A while back I met a guy who’d penned the definitive book on Twitter. I know it was the definitive book on Twitter because he said so. And so had his publisher. Now the guy admitted to never having worked for Twitter. To my knowledge he didn’t even know anyone who did. He hadn’t even been using Twitter very long himself. But no matter.

He had a book, a title, and full schedule of speaking gigs and media appearances to validate his self-inflicted gurudom.

Now, the easiest thing would be to insult, slander folks like this. That’d be the one-off sureshot that would garner plenty of RTs, comments, and e-daps. But instead, I wanna try something different, beginning with a question:

What if all the gurus, particularly those of us in marketing, PR and social media, just said—out loud:

“I don’t know.”

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BlogWorld isn't SXSW (and Vice Versa)

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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.

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