Last Friday, I attended my first Blog Indiana conference. It was a great opportunity to learn from social media gurus and network with other Indiana bloggers (Although I admit, I didn't do as much networking as I wanted to. I was trying to keep a nasty cough in check, which I discovered today is actually bronchitis. It's not contagious, though, so don't worry if you sat next to me at a session!)
Friday's session opened with a keynote from Chris Brogan, president of New Media Labs and blogger at chrisbrogan.com. Chris is an engaging speaker who alternates from singing Weezer to making vivid analogies about what not to do with social media. I can't remember the Weezer song, but I'll never forget his description of offensive self-promotion as "sticking your tongue down someone's throat when you first meet them." Chris offered lots of great advice on how to utilize social media during his talk, but the main point I took away was to focus on building trust and relationships, not just followers on your social media networks.
The next session I attended was about online brand reputation and management with Krista Neher, CEO of Marketess. Krista had some reservations about following Chris's lively talk, but there was no need for her to be concerned as she did a fine job with her presentation. I learned a few new things during Krista's presentation (such as the importance of submitting your business to Google Local and creating a profile for it on LinkedIn), but mostly she reaffirmed practices that I've already adopted for dealing with our online brand management. So it's good to know that I'm on the right track!
Then I attended a talk with Chad Richards from Firebelly Marketing on search optimization for video. I knew nothing about this topic, so his presentation was very informative for me. Now that I know how to optimize the videos, I guess I have to make them, right? :)
After a lunch break, there was a Q&A session with the conference panelists. It's a difficult session to summarize because the topics of conversation were so varied, covering everything from proving the value of social media to debating if the social media "honeymoon" was over. Hopefully you'll be able to glean some further information from my notes (provided at the end of this post).
During the next session, I listened to Carolyn Tang, Kristin Kinsey, and Tricia Meyer discuss affiliate marketing. The presentation was geared toward bloggers who wanted to become affiliates, so as a merchant, I technically wasn't the target audience. But I did gain insight into how affiliate marketing works and who to contact if we ever wanted to start our own affiliate program.
Although I was quite intrigued by the session entitled "Building Your Corporate Mullet," I opted to end my day at Blog Indiana with a presentation by Shawn Smith of indymojo.com on internet advertising. We're increasing the amount of money we spend on online advertising, so I thought I should ignore my fascination with mullets and tune into this session instead. This was another presentation geared toward bloggers, but as an advertiser, I still found value in it. Shawn did a good job describing the basics of ad terminology. The statistics that he provided also helped reinforce that it's a wise investment to put more money into online advertising, as it's one of the few areas of advertising that's actually growing.
All in all, my first Blog Indiana experience was a great one, and I'm looking forward to next year's conference! You can download my notes from the meeting here: Download Blogindiana_notes