Before I begin, I’d like to send a shout out to my friends Tim Tyrell-Smith (@timsstrategy) and Neal Schaffer (@nealschaffer) who talked me into attending the event and helped to make it one of my all time favorite professional experiences.
Blog World 2010 (#bwe10) was epic. Scott Stratten (@unmarketing) kicked off the conference with bang. His impassioned plea to be awesome in everything we do was electrifying. Beyond his personal charisma, he managed to deliver an an hour chock-full of retweetable stanzas. Like he tweeted to me afterwards, “One of my fave talks I’ve done.” I couldn’t agree more.
(Short rant: Why would Blog World (@blogworld) try to sell me video coverage of the event for $49? Obviously they don’t get the TED model. I would have preferred to link to video of the events I mention in this post. Send them a message on Twitter if you agree.)
Inspired by Stratton, the rest of the day continued on a high note. I attended an insightful panel on selling social media to the boardroom. Zena Weist (@zenaweist) of H&R Block, Jamie Punishill (@jpunishill) of Thompson Reuters, and Chris Baccus (@cbaccus) of AT&T recounted their war stories as heads of social media at their perspective mega corporations.
After the panel Zena and Jamie were generous enough to give me priceless advice on how to approach my new position at Farmers. Zena was especially kind and introduced me to a ton of great people, including Lee Odden (@leeodden) of Top Rank fame and Kenneth Burbary who leads social media at Ernst & Young.
The evening began with the annual pilgrimage to THE Slushie Bar Tweetup. This unlikely tradition started a few years back when the gregarious Jason Falls (@jasonfalls) convinced Chris Brogan to break bread at a steak house called Fat Tuesdays. Three miles of walking later, they arrived to what turned out to be a nondescript side bar in a below average Vegas shopping mall. As Jason recalled the story to us, Brogan took it in stride and they went on to have a blast.
Among the many great tweeps in attendance, we met the fun-loving mother, daughter duo of Laurie and Cara Gourley, who run the AllAboutMexico.com family of sites. They inspect the hottest beach resorts in Mexico. Somebody’s gotta do it! Evidently they purchased their travel blogs for a ridiculously low amount, with the number six in every digit, from a man who believes the world will end in 2012.
The long tail of interests came to life at the Blog World After Hours Party. There were niche bloggers covering the spectrum of the human condition. I met veterinarian blogger Annmarie Hill (@VetLovingPetsHB), the graphic designer Kirsten Wright (@kirstenwright), as well as a lingerie blogger named Marie, and Dan Morris of Brafton. We also cut a rug with the awesome Ellen Gerstein (@elleninthecity) from Wiley. Thanks for the book, Ellen!
Conversations throughout the night stayed decidedly geeky, including a late night (slightly slurred) debate concerning the benefits of FeedBlitz over FeedBurner (a clear winner didn’t emerge). But what struck me most about the first day was the abundance of love shared by what felt like a tight social media family. Everyone was so open to share and leave everything on the table. It was a breath of fresh air in a world conditioned to hold its cards tightly against the vest.
Day two got off to a contentious start. The keynote panel on midterm elections quickly devolved into mind numbing partisan talking points that had little to do with new media. Karen Hughes in particular was not received well and neither was her quip about everyone in the audience being half her age–which could be true if she’s a centenarian. One of the conference’s fireworks erupted when an audience member stood up to the mic and told Hughes that she doesn’t know squat about new media.
Following the political hacks, day two was chock full of panels by social media thought leaders that have blazed a trail for all of us corporate social media types by proving real business value. I particularly enjoyed meeting Scott Monty (@scottmonty), the face of social media at Ford, and David Armano (@armano), respected blogger and SVP at Edelman Digital. It was invaluable for me to meet and speak with other social media executives experiencing similar challenges and opportunities.
After the Expo, we headed to Blogworld Bistro Tasting with Omaha Steaks at the House of Blues Foundation Room. The gathering was expertly produced by Dave Link (@davelink). It featured some absolutely delicious meats like an unforgettable sampling of New York steak and some scrumptious Fillet Mignon spring rolls. I’m totally going to purchase Omaha Steaks for the holidays. Who says there’s no ROI in social media?
We then made our way to the Mashable party at Haze in Aria. We ended up fist pumping on the dance floor with the Double Duty Divas, Cecelia Mecca (@coolbabykid) and Bridgette Duplantis (bridgetteLA), who I watched on a panel earlier that day discussing how to organize a blog network. All in all we had a great time, but the night wasn’t over just yet.
We left Haze and made our way to the MGM Grand where stand-up comedian and blogger Jordan Cooper (@notaproblog) organized the Blog World Late Night “All-In” Poker Party. At my table was the highly talented family photographer Jennifer Wilson (@jenwilsonphoto), who I plan to hire soon for family pictures, as well former astrophysicist and cocktail blogger Ken Moorhead (@kenmoorhead). Unfortunately it was not my best poker showing and my night ended early. Thanks anyway, Jordan!
After a productive breakfast with business strategist Carol Roth, along with Liz Strauss (@lizstrauss) and Terry Starbucker (@starbucker) of SOBCon, day three was off to another great start. My favorite session of the day had to be “From Blog to Book,” where I learned that writing a book is as painful as giving birth, that getting published is nearly impossible and that you won’t make much money directly from your book anyway. It didn’t seem to deter the audience’s optimism.
One such aspiring author was Natalie Sisson (@womanzworld), a woman with a lovely disposition who travels the world on a mission to teach women they can work from anywhere. Next stop is Buenos Aires. Safe travels, Natalie!
David Berkowitz (@dberkowitz) from 360i gave a hilarious presentation on mobile social media. His quirky sense of humor went into overdrive as he conversed with his imaginary friend Lenny, a lego man that answered his questions through a click of the PowerPoint. It was the most ingenious use of PowerPoint I’ve ever seen. Sorry, David, I may have to steal that idea some day! You can keep the Barbie that you pulled out of your pocket with the creepy camera though.
Walking through the Expo, I met Christi McNeill (@christimcneill), the friendly social media voice for Southwest Airlines (@southwestair). A few hours later, I had a rough landing, but Christi’s Southwest delivered me safely back to Bob Hope Airport yet again.
Those were just some of my adventures at Blog World 2010. There were so many more amazing people that I had to leave out of this already 1,000+ word post. I doubt I’ll have a the same great experience next year, but you can count on meeting me there trying.
What were some of your favorite experiences at Blog World? Share your stories as comments!