Another year, another (pound sign) BlogHer conference.
Meh....*sigh* / *eyeroll*
This was BlogHer's 9th annual conference and I had never been.
As a mom working full time outside the home, I wasn't sure I could spare the block of time to attend even if it was in my backyard. I was excited to receive an invite to the Verizon Wireless Time Shift party as a #VZWbuzz Ambassador. At the very least I would do that, but sadly the blogging gods were against me -I came down with a burning fever and never made it.
Friday morning still feeling feverish and undecided - all I kept thinking is that if I didn't go, I would regret it. So I decided to work from home; rushed through my work, threw my hair back, some clothes on, and headed out. BlogHer13 or bust! I wished I had some car window paint just to make it official.
My plan was to make sure to get in on the Guy Kawasaki keynote. If there wasn't room, I would buy just the Expo only ticket (less than half the price) float around and observe. I didn't know what I was in for so I didn't want to buy online. I tried calling the BlogHer phone line to find out if there was onsite registration but there was no answer. I guess they were all at the conference, duh!
My other plan was to observe and see what all this hashtaggery was about. Here is a summary of my four hours at BlogHer.
-There is onsite registration. I was sent from one person to another, it was slow and nobody explained anything. They handed me a brochure, a lanyard with a badge and sent me on my way.
-As I walked into the keynote room I saw pods of people already in groups and seated. There were still a lot of empty tables but some had signs and I wasn't sure where to sit. That's when I found a new friend Danielle Thompson . I asked her how this whole thing worked and barraged her with questions. She was so gracious and friendly and broke my initial impression of clique city.
-This was the first time I had ever heard Guy Kawasaki speak in person. I really enjoyed it and found
myself morphing into a groupie as I waited around with a slew of others
for a photo opp and chance to say hello. I also snagged a free
download of his APE book. I can see how these keynotes can leave a person warm, fuzzy and motivated all over.
-Walking into the Expo hall reminded me a little bit of Willy Wonka when the kids walked into the factory. Lots of samples and goodies and swag - oh my! ( Just observing the buzz of bloggers was pretty fascinating. I saw more pitches in two hours that I have seen an entire season of major league baseball!yes kn
-I counted 80 brands/sponsors on the brochure. I found it interesting that only a few were being truly interactive on and offline during the event. Most were just broadcasting. They would ask you to tweet (of course to win a prize) but never following or actually engaging. That is one of my biggest pet peeves about brands doing social media. One of the stand outs was Verizon Wireless - not because of my affiliation but because they were doing an awesome job. They had people from anywhere tweet an image to be drawn on a white board at their BlogHer booth. The Verizon artists would draw it, and Verizon would tweet back to the person on Twitter. People like to feel acknowledged - period.
-Although I didn't attend any of the break out sessions (workshops) there were are lots of them. I think I counted fourteen per day. Anything from tools and tech to, politics and activism. Add in keynotes, meals and parties. One thing that stood out as I reviewed the website is that the online agenda could be more user friendly-way too many clicks to find stuff.
I took an informal after survey because I was curious about the impressions and thoughts of others. Of the people I spoke with more than half paid their own way. The opinion was split on whether the atmosphere was friendly or clique-like. Some attended alone, some attended with a friend. Most had attended previously. The takeaway is - that the experience is what you make of it.
There is so much to say about this conference that one post is not enough. I'll be doing a series of follow ups of my thoughts and what I observed. Add yours too!
Thanks to new friends for helping me out:
All photographs taken with my Samsung Galaxy S4 phone - courtesy of Verizon. All opinions are my own. For example: what's a phone these days without an awesome camera! #VZWbuzz