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Does KitchenAid’s Rogue Tweet Really Matter?


If you check out KitchenAid’s tweets around the time of last night’s United States presidential debate, this is what you’ll find:

kitchenaid tweet

The “irresponsible tweet” to which they are referring was deleted pretty quickly – but not so quickly that no one noticed. After President Obama talked about his grandmother dying just three days before he got elected, KitchenAid tweeted:

Obamas gma even knew it was going 2 b bad! ‘She died 3 days b4 he became president’. #nbcpolitics

As David Griner noted on Adweek, it’s going to be a bad Thursday for whoever accidentally tweeted from the KitchenAid account instead of their personal account, and it’s also going to be a bad Thursday for the people who trusted that person.

But I have to wonder: Does a social media flub like this one really hurt the brand?

That tweet was disgusting. I don’t care who you’re voting for – making a joke about someone’s deceased family member is tasteless. There’s no argument about that.

What I’m arguing is that people who want a KitchenAid mixer probably aren’t going to not buy one because of a rogue tweet by someone on their social media staff. I obviously don’t catch every tweet by the company, but I’ve never seen or heard of them tweeting something irresponsible before. They also corrected and apologized for the tweet extremely quickly. If this was a repeat problem or ignored by the company, that might make me stop and think twice about buying a KitchenAid product.

Simply put, however, this single tweet doesn’t. Someday when I have a bigger kitchen, I fully intend to own a bright red KitchenAid mixer, and I will continue to tell people exactly how much I love using the one my mom owns every time I visit her.

Within the hour of the rogue tweet, dozens of blogs and media outlets had already reported it, and several people on Twitter were angrily responding to the tweet. But are we, as an industry, overreacting?

As a consumer, would you not purchase a KitchenAid product just because of this tweet?

As a business owner, would you fire this social media worker, even if he/she had never made a mistake before?

Social Media and Higher Education [Infographic]


College and universities are embracing social media as a means to connect with the current student body, alumni, prospective students, and donors. According to BestCollegesOnline.com, one in three schools indicate that they achieve better results with social media than through traditional media.

According to recent data conducted by the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth:

  • 98% of colleges and universities report having a Facebook page
  • 84% have a school Twitter account
  • 66% have a blog
  • 41% have a podcast

Check out the infographic below to learn more about how those in higher education are using social media:

Goals Behind Social Media Use

Compiled By: BestCollegesOnline.com


Online Trolls, Toxic Disinhibition, and How We can Change the Internet


This is the story of how Leo Traynor met a Internet troll, and how we can use this as a launching pad to change the Internet. It’s a story every blogger – no, every Internet user – needs to hear, understand, and take action upon.

As he outlined on his blog, Leo decided to leave Twitter. He and his wife were getting derogatory messages from trolls, and although they brushed things off in the past, things got serious when Leo started getting deliveries to his home.

Delivers like a Tupperware container full of ashes and a note that said “Say hello to your relatives from Auschwitz” and a bunch of dead flowers with his wife’s Twitter handle on it. Twitter messages calling him a “Dirty f*cking Jewish scumbag” had now escalated to say “You’ll get home some day & ur b**ches throat will be cut & ur son will be gone.” and “I hope you die screaming but not until you see me p*ss on ur wife.”

Leo was scared. I would have been too, petrified.

And then, with the help of a friend who knew how to trace IP addresses, he found out who his troll/stalker/harasser was: the 17-year-old son of one of his friends.

And so, Leo got the opportunity most of us will never have. He got to confront his troll. Over tea with his troll’s entire family, Leo showed him the screenshots of the abuse, pulled out the pictures of the mail, and told the boy how scared and physically sick he had been.

Then it happened…

The Troll burst into tears. His dad gently restraining him from leaving the table.

I put my hand on his shoulder and asked him “Why?”

The Troll sat there for a moment and said “I don’t know. I don’t know. I’m sorry. It was like a game thing.”

A game thing.

Leo’s story isn’t the only one out there. Remember the story of feminist media critic Anita Sarkeesian, who so angered the Internet with her kickstarter project that people threatened to rape her and kill her. They even created an online “game” where the entire point was to punch her likeness in the face? Or how about the story of Patrick Frey Patterico, who’s critical remarks on his blog led to a SWAT team showing up at his house after phoney calls about him killing his family?

And this isn’t a new threat either. Back in 2007, developer and author Kathy Sierra famously cancelled her O’Reilly ETech conference appearance after receiving death threats on her blog, and other instances of online content creators dealing with trolls both online and off date back even farther.

When are we, as the users of the Internet, going to stand up and say, “Enough”?

Disinhibition, Turned Toxic

The barrier of the screen creates a sense of disinhibition among Internet users. For most of us, this disinhibition means that we let our guard down and share struggles and triumphs with online communities even when we wouldn’t share those same experiences with our friends in a face-to-face setting. But for some people, this turns into a toxic disinhibition.

The best explanation of toxic disinhibition I’ve found in my research of this topic is this piece from John Suler’s The Psychology of Cyberspace. According to Suler, toxic disinhibition happens for a number of reasons, which include:

It’s Just a Game (dissociative imagination) – Like in Leo’s story, some people create this “game world” where the person online is just a character to them, and other people are just characters as well. Just like turning off a game, this manifestation of toxic disinhibition leaves the user feeling like they can turn it off because it isn’t real. And just like shooting zombies in a video game, how can someone be held responsible for something they did in a game world?

You Don’t Know Me (dissociative anonymity) – Because users can often be completely anonymous, they don’t feel vulnerable. Their actions can’t be linked to their “real” identity, so they can act out feelings of rage or hatred with no consequences even if those action are completely out of line with who they feel they really are.

We’re Equals (minimizing authority) – When you’re online, other people can’t tell if you’re the CEO of a major corporation or a fifth grader with no friends. The Internet is the great equalizer, and people believe they can say things without disapproval or punishment. They have the ability to be powerful online, even if they aren’t in “real” life.

This isn’t an exhaustive list. I really encourage you to check out Suler’s full article for further analysis of toxic disinhibition.

Beyond toxic disinhibition, it’s simply human nature to want to be part of a group. We have this pack mentality where we don’t want to stand out as the lone person not doing something, and when someone is being attacked, we don’t want to be the next target. It’s easy for lots of people online to gang up on someone when there’s a ringleader (or at least not say anything in opposition). All it takes is one bad egg and a few followers for an entire community to quickly dissolve. This is as true online as it is offline. We all want to be on the “right” side, and sometimes that leads us to make bad decisions.

What We Can – And Should – Do About It

We have a responsibility as online content creators. If you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, don’t say it on your blog, on Twitter, on Facebook, or anywhere else online.

We obviously can’t stop other people from acting in certain ways online, but here’s what we can do, beyond ensuring our own actions are responsible:

  • Stop referring to face-to-face interactions as “real life.” Online is real life too.
  • When you see someone bullying someone else online, speak up, the same way you would (I hope) say something if you saw a bigger kid bullying a little kid at the playground. It’s really hard not to get sucked into the group, but be brave.
  • Vote for politicians who understand the Internet and the laws that govern it, and who will make responsible decisions about trolling laws in the future and appoint judges who can adequately deal with Internet cases.
  • Don’t allow trolls to attack you or others on your blog under the banner of “free speech.” You get to decide what comments are approved on your blog. This doesn’t mean that you should delete all negative comments, but it does mean that you take responsibility for every word published on your site. There’s a difference between debate and trolling.
  • Call the police if someone is harassing you online. Do not be too ashamed. These are real, dangerous situations, and police need to take them seriously.
  • Boycott sites that allow trolling and harassment among community members. Tell the owner (politely) why you will no longer be a member of this community.
  • Reach out to people dealing with online harassment and offer words of encouragement and support.
  • Apologize for past wrongs. If this guy on Reddit can do it after laughing at a woman with facial hair, you can do it too. Admitting that you’re wrong is hard and uncomfortable, but it can make a huge difference.
  • Blog, podcast, or create a video about these issues. If you don’t have a blog, share this post or another post like it. Spread the word that trolling and harassment online isn’t cool. Encourage others to commit to troll-free actions online.

I’ve always identified with the Gandhi quote, “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.” In other words, be the change you want to see in the world. I’m an optimist to a fault, but if everyone reading this post takes action, we can make the Internet – and the whole world – a better place. So let’s do it!

Photo Credit: Bigstock

New Media Expo Announces Scholarship for Content Creators #NMXU #NMX


There’s no denying New Media Expo offers valuable learning opportunities.  With almost 90 educational sessions presented by the leading experts in new media content creation, podcasters, bloggers and webTV and video producers always return home inspired and ready to put what they learned to good use.  We love that our attendees  take time to share with us that we’ve provided such a valuable educational opportunity, but we also hear from content creators who would love to attend our event but can’t get here for a variety of reasons.

We’re about to make it easier for one person.

Throughout the month of October, we’re accepting applications for the first ever (and hopefully not the last) New Media Expo University scholarship. Offered as part of our new New Media Expo University (#NMXU) educational project, this scholarship will provide a complete educational experience at NMX in Las Vegas from January 6th through 8th 2013 for one lucky recipient.

What does the #NMXU Scholarship Entail?

The beneficiary of the #NMXU scholarship will receive a complete educational experience while at New Media Expo. The scholarship recipient is going to receive airfare from within the Continental U.S., four nights hotel at the Rio Hotel Suites & Casino in Las Vegas, and a three day Blogger/Podcaster/WebTV & Video pass (Excluding BusinessNext). Also, two runners up will also receive a three day Blogger/Podcaster/WebTV pass.

Now, this is no random drawing and we’re not awarding you a spot on the party plane to Vegas. This application is open for people who are truly interested in learning how to take their content creation to a whole new level. There’s even a scholarship application form complete with essay question. Since you’re all creative people, we’re allowing the essay question to be in the form of a 30 second video, 30 second audio, or 250 word paragraph so you can totally stay in your comfort zone and we hope you’ll have some fun with it.

Don’t forget. The #NMXU scholarship is, first and foremost, an educational experience open to all content creators. For this to work, we have to have a few guidelines in place before getting started.

Ready? Here they are:

  • The scholarship is only open to content creators. Since NMX focuses on blogging, podcasting and webTV/video, we request all who apply for the scholarship fall into one of these categories.
  • The #NMXU scholarship is open to folks who are in the early stages of their careers or who are promising up and comers, but don’t necessarily have the financial means to get to #NMX. We’re totally going to be asking you why you feel you should receive this scholarship.
  • We can only get you to Las Vegas from the Continental U.S. That doesn’t mean we’re not accepting overseas candidates, however if you’re from a different continent, you have to land on U.S. soil before we truck you out to the conference.
We have some fine print too, mostly having to do with you not being related to certain people to make it fair. You can find all the details you need, including fine print, on the landing page for the #NMXU Scholarship.

What’s the catch?

This is to be an educational experience. As such, the winner is expected to:

  • Attend at least 10 educational sessions while at NMX
  • Attend at least two networking events
  • Spend at least two hours on the exhibit floor learning about the latest tools and technology
  • Complete at least one guest post for the NMX blog describing your experience so future scholarship applicants can see what a great time you had.

Who Are the Judges for the #NMXU Scholarship?

To make this a fair and level playing field, we brought in a few judges to help us. All are experienced content creators with expertise in blogging, podcasting, webTV/video.

Deans (aka judges) include:

  • Rick Calvert – Co-Chancellor, NMXU (CEO/Co-Founder, New Media Expo)
  • Dave Cynkin – Co-Chancellor, NMXU (CMO/Co-Founder, New Media Expo)
  • Deb Ng – Dean of Students, NMXU (Director of Community, New Media Expo)
  • Kelby Carr – Dean of Blogging, NMXU (CEO Type A Parent )
  • Todd Cochrane – Dean of Podcasting, NMXU (CEO RAW Voice)
  • Mark Friedlander – Dean of WebTV/Video Series, NMXU (National Director, New Media for SAG-Aftra)

How to Apply for the #NMXU Scholarship

  • Fill out the application at the bottom of the landing page and include as much information about yourself as possible.
  • Tell us why you want this scholarship
  • Make sure you take special care with the essay question, which can be given in the form of a 250 word paragraph or a link to a 30 second video, 30 second audio.
  • We’ll let you keep your first born. We’re easy.

Well…what are you waiting for?

Do you think you’re a good fit? The application is open for the entire month of October so you have time to come up with some unique and creative ways to respond to the essay question. Do you know someone else who can benefit? We’d be so grateful if you can share the news about the #NMXU scholarship with your community.

Click here to get started, and good luck!


Could You Write with the World Looking Over Your Shoulder? One Novelist is Giving It a Try


Fantasy author Silvia Hartmann is writing a novel via Google docs. Read about her public novel writing project and why this might be a very good—or very bad—idea.

Writing is a pretty personal endeavor for most people. More and more, however, authors are using social media and other online tools not only to connect with fans and drive sales, but also to create their actual content and allow readers to interact with characters.

One author is taking it to the extreme, though. Silvia Hartmann (aka Nick StarFields) isn’t just crowdsourcing for her next novel. She’s allowing fans to read her content every step of the way, giving feedback and suggestions as she goes. Silvia is writing her novel in a public Google doc, so you can see the entire process from first draft to finished product. She’s calling it “The Naked Writing Project” and announcing writing sessions via her social media profiles on Facebook and Twitter. (Read more at The Guardian.)

The Advantages of Crowdsourcing

Although she says that she’ll ultimate go with her gut, even if readers don’t agree, Silvia will ultimately get tons of suggestions and opinions from her fans and curious bystanders. With readers involved in every step of the writing process, she’s creating a brand new crowdsourcing experience with readers watching her write in real time. While the prospect might be a scary one for most writers, this type of crowdsourcing also has its advantages:

  • Fans feel like they helped write the novel, which may make them more likely to purchase the book after it is published.
  • Allowing fans open access to this novel helps promote anything else she’s written or will write in the future. If people like this one, they’ll probably check out her other work too.
  • Fans can be extremely creative and intuitive. They aren’t as close to the work as the writer, so they can more easily spot plot holes and come up with ideas the author herself may have never imagined.
  • This kind of project, to my knowledge at least, has not been done before. So she’s going to get people checking it out just because they’re curious and people (like me) writing about her because it’s a unique way to write a novel. It’s a great way to find new readers.
  • It holds her accountable. Raise your hand if you have a half-finished novel or book somewhere on your computer. You can’t see it, but both of my hands and a foot are raised right now and I bet most of you out there are “someday novelists” too. By writing in such a public way, the author is committing herself to this novel. If she doesn’t log online and write, fans will get cranky.

Potential Public Writing Problems

Of course, any writing process is not without its problems. Putting your first draft online for the public to watch you write has several issues:

  • Silvia already said that she’s not going to listen to fans when her instincts don’t agree. This could potentially lead to angry readers who stop participating or refuse to purchase the book because she didn’t listen.
  • Whenever you put your writing online, you’re going to have to deal with trolls, not just valid comments. Along with trolls, she’ll also have to deal with negative criticism and even if it is constructive, some people are pretty rude online. All of this negativity can really weigh on a person trying to do something creative online.
  • If fans are reading the novel every step of the way, they may have no motivation to actually purchase the book when it is finished.
  • Most writers jump around during the writing process. If Silvia writes scenes out of order, readers won’t be surprised by plot twists. Even if there are no big reveals in this novel, it can really affect a plot to read it out of order. You see the complete picture, but you don’t have the experience of reading the story as it is meant to be read.
  • Having drafts of your book online can affect the publishing deal you get in the future. Publishers typically want certain rights, and having your novel online in draft form, even if it is later removed, can affect this contract, potentially scaring some companies away.

Would You Ever Write a Book Publicly?

Despite the disadvantages, I think this is a really cool experiment and I’ll be watching it to see her progress and how it affects her writing progress. It’s a brave new media world we’re living in, and it’s interesting to see people using online tools in innovative ways.

Would you ever consider such a public writing project? Leave a comment to tell us what you think about Silvia’s project!

Google+ Cheat Sheet [Infographic]


Whether it’s a Word doc or a social media platform, there are always tips and shortcuts that can help us do things more efficiently.

For those of you who are active on Google+, check out this helpful infographic from Blue Rise Media. (And, if you want to learn how to effectively use Google+ hangouts, be sure to read  “25 Brilliant Bloggers Talk About Google+ Hangouts.”)




Reprinted with permission from Blue Rise Media.

Will Social Media Users Determine Who Wins the White House?


The United States presidential election is heating up, and both incumbent Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney are turning to the Internet to garner support for their campaigns. But are they using social media correctly?

And will it matter?

Check out this video from Voice of America:

In the last presidential election, Obama had a huge presence online, and his following has grown since then. Romney has a smaller following when you compare his Twitter followers and Facebook page likes to Obama’s, but that is in part due to the fact that he didn’t spend the last several years as president.

This isn’t just about tweeting and sending out Facebook status updates, though. Both campaigns are attempting to get a little more personal with their social media followers. For example, the Democratic National Convention hosted a tweetup for Obama supporters and the Republican National Convention confirmed that they have several staff members dedicated to reaching out to online voters, according to France 24.

That in-person touch is what will really make the difference, not Facebook likes.

In 2008, I was an Obama supporter (I am currently undecided for the upcoming election). I followed him on social media, but I wasn’t a strong fan and I certainly never considered giving money to the campaign until I attended a rally in Scranton, Pennsylvania, near where I was living at the time. Seeing him speak in person and getting to shake his hand were what really convinced me to vote for him.

Yes, he blew John McCain (the Republican nominee in 2008) out of the water with his online presence, but he only won because he was able to connect with those followers in an emotionally-charged way.

Social media is great, but neither candidate has the time to send individual replies to followers. These accounts are run by staff members. If you look at either candidates’ streams, you’ll see little interaction. They’re just methods for broadcasting, like political ads on television. It’s not a two-way conversation.

That’s not to say social media has no impact on political elections, but it’s important to realize the power of personal communication. In my opinion, that’s why Obama won in 2008. It wasn’t that he had more fans online; it was that he got out there and spoke to those fans about issues they really cared about. Social media is just a tool for finding people who could potentially vote for you, not a method for convincing them to cast their ballot in your favor. In 2008, the candidate who was best able to connect with the people outside of social media was the candidate who won.

Ultimately, I think that’s who will win in this upcoming election as well – whoever can better connect with people about their needs, not whoever gets more retweets.

Do you think social media matters in the presidential race?

Did You Miss Out on 44 Publicity Opportunities Last Week?


Help a Reporter Out (HARO) is a great resource for those looking to build up expertise and credibility in a field by offering information to reporters and PR professionals. The brainchild of Peter Shankman, HARO currently boasts over 200,000 sources as members, and I suspect that many of the savvy NMX blog readers are among those in this number. HARO provides a great opportunity for an individual (and sometimes a related business) to gain publicity and credibility via a variety of mainstream and alternative media outlets. When a reporter is looking for a source for a story, they post an inquiry to the HARO list, and folks can respond and offer their input. This can lead to being quoted in the story and often a backlink or referral from a highly-trafficked website (not to mention the ability to say “as seen in [insert well-known publication here]”.

Recently I started noticing a trend in the various HARO requests.

They want photos.

Lots of them.

Bloggers... with photos... at BlogWorld I counted… during a recent week, forty-four HARO requests asked for photographs. Sometimes it was of an office, product, or situation, but more commonly it was of you, the source. In order to get the free publicity (and arguably, credibility) that comes along with being published as a result of a HARO inquiry, you would need to submit a decent photo of yourself. For several years now we’ve heard that photos and graphics help drive reader engagement with our blog posts, and when a journalist or author is creating content of their own the same remains true. If they’re going to write about your experiences or cite you as an expert, there’s a good chance they’re going to want a photograph.

We often think of blogging as a text-centric medium, and we increasingly hear about vlogging and podcasts, but still photographs are an important bit of supporting material. If you don’t have some decent photos of yourself, I’d suggest that you should obtain some… they can be an important part of a blogger’s tool kit. As a professional photographer myself, I’m biased in suggesting that you find someone who knows what they’re doing to create your photos. You should be able to find someone near you who can create a professional business portrait for you. It doesn’t have to be stiff or formal…when I work with my clients we create images that reflect their personality and flair. If you don’t know a photographer or haven’t seen a recommendation from someone you trust, head over to the Professional Photographers of America’s Find a Photographer directory. You can search by location and find someone who’s a member of the professional organization. If you’re not in the US, see if there’s a professional photographer association in your locale.

Just as you’re probably prepared to give someone your elevator pitch, you should be ready to supply them with a photo if requested. Avoid disappointment of what would be an otherwise-great publicity opportunity because you don’t have a photo ready.

Want to Find More Fans? The #1 Place You Need to Be (And It’s Not Facebook)


Want More Fans? Go Mobile! We talk a lot about how you have to find your audience online. Go where they like to hang out, whether that’s Twitter or Facebook or Pinterest or somewhere more niche like a community forum about your industry. It’s solid advice that you can use to build your business online or find more traffic for your blog, podcast, or videos.

But are you missing out on the number one place where your audience is hanging out?

Forget about Facebook. Say ta-ta to Twitter. The number one place you need to be to connect with your fan is on their mobile devices. This week, Pinterest released new mobile apps to connect with their social network via your Andriod phone, iPhone, or iPad, and this was a much-needed, smart move for the company. If your audience uses a mobile phone (and chances are good that they do), you need to be there.

Mobile by the Numbers

Mobile is growing at astounding rates. When Tom Webster talked about the state of social media at BlogWorld New York 2012, He kept mentioning over and over again how millions of people are accessing social sites via their mobile devices. According to a June 2012 report by mobiThinking:

  • As of the end of 2011, there were 6 billion mobile subscribtions world-wide. This is a huge increase from 5.4 billion in 2010 and 4.7 billion in 2009. Even when you take into account the fact that many people have more than one subscription, there are an estimated 4.2 billion people world-wide who are connected via their mobile devices.
  • Sales for mobile devices were up over 11% from 2010 to 2011. These sales are expected to grow another 7% by the end of 2012.
  • In 2011, over 470 million smartphones were sold (up over 60% from 2010). IDC predicts that in 2012, 686 million smartphones will be sold.
  • 68.7 million media tablets sold in 2011. This is predicted to rise to 106.1 million units in 2012.

In other words…mobile is important!

Taking Your Content Mobile

So how do you get a piece of the mobile pie? There are three main options, and I suggest that you explore all three:

  1. A mobile version of your website
  2. Mobile advertising
  3. A mobile app

If nothing else, it’s very important to have a mobile version of your website. Don’t point to your stats and say that no one mobile is visiting your site. Of course they aren’t if the site isn’t mobile-friendly. I can’t tell you how often I go to a site using my mobile phone and there’s some kind of pop-up feature that completely blocks everything and is so big I can’t click out of it. Even if you don’t have that problem, though, your site probably has teeny tiny text and is hard to navigate on a smaller screen. And let’s not forget about data costs. If your site isn’t optimized, it’s going to be expensive for someone to load, as well as taking a long time. So, install a mobile version of your website or develop a responsive design.

Mobile advertising is also a facet of this conversation to consider. If you’re a small business, use geo-targeting to reach people in your immediate area. But even if you’re not, you can make use of mobile advertising. Think about the huge number of apps that are downloaded every year and consider purchasing advertising with some of these apps that fit your niche/industry best.

Lastly, you may want to consider developing your own mobile app. App development can be expensive and if you aren’t a tech-savvy person, it can seem impossible. However, before you go out there and hire someone to create a custom app for you (or write it off completely), check out the affordable options offered by companies who specialize in helping small business owners, bloggers, and others online create their own apps. Some require more knowledge about app development than others, but at least you have options:

If you work in a specific industry, there may also be customizable apps you can choose. For example, here at NMX, we’re in the conference/trade show industry, so it makes sense to work with a tool specifically for events.

Not everyone needs an app, of course, but don’t ignore this option. If done properly, an app can bring you tons of new fans and customers.

Be Mobile

For a long time, I made the mistake of saying how much I hate my smartphone. I complained often about how I wish I could just have a phone that made calls and nothing else. I think a lot of people are in that same boat. But it’s the wrong boat to be in.

If you truly want to be successful on mobile, you have to understand how mobile devices are used. That doesn’t mean becoming an expert on the technology behind mobile, but it does mean having first-hand mobile experience. How do you use your smartphone most? When it’s your primary means of connection, what are some of your patterns of use? What are some of your biggest mobile frustrations? These are questions you can really only answer by being a mobile user yourself. So pick up your phone and learn to use it so you can see how your audience is using it too.

In Defense of BlogHer


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!



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