BlogWorld Expo Recap: Day 2

October 16, 2009
By Lisa Barone in Internet Marketing Conferences

Robert Scoble is three feet in front of me telling other people how cool he is. Do you see what you’re missing by not being at BlogWorldExpo?   :)

Kidding aside, we just wrapped up another awesome day here at BlogWorldExpo in Vegas.  Below you’ll find some highlights from the standout sessions I covered ranging from news, social media, affiliate marketing and, of course, Twitter.   What’s a blogging conference without endless mentions of Twitter?

How Social Media is Changing The Definition News

So, here’s some back story for you. During this morning’s keynote, an audience member laid out some pretty harsh criticism toward CNN’s Don Lemon, basically calling the news channel arrogant and so far out of the loops that they’re now “entertainment” instead of “news”. And as badly as I felt for poor Don – the criticism was warranted and his reaction to it (which was to get angry and pretend he “couldn’t hear” the critical questions), highlighted why it is mainstream media is failing. Because they act like they can’t hear the other conversations happening. And they ignore it.

That was the backdrop for this morning’s Defining News session. Pretty sexy, right? I thought so. So did speakers Robert Scoble, Mike Lee, Martin Kallstrom and Mark Evans. And say what you want about Scoble’s Ego, it was a really good chat.

Everyone agreed that it’s a sad world when yesterday’s #balloonboy fiasco captures an entire days news. As Scoble and several audience members commented, that story doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t affect anyone or better our lives. If today’s Trending Topic means nothing tomorrow…what are we doing?

Social media is doing two things. It’s changing how we make news and it’s changing how we read news.

Changes in Making News: Newspapers have never been about content. They’re about distribution. And that’s the problem because it means that they have to pander to what people want to read about. All too often that’s #balloonboy. It’s not real news and it doesn’t help anyone, but a whole day was wasted on that story by CNN, Fox News, etc. And that’s happening every day.

If you’re relying on the newspaper industry to get you distribution, don’t. We live in a world where anyone can find an audience. Any kid can get a video camera and start a Web show. You can get distribution without having to go through a committee or have expensive equipment. What people are fighting for now is attention and to get it you need good content. You have to be truthful. You have to be credible. Because people compare notes pretty efficiently on Twitter. We’re fact checking people in real time. This community will not pay attention to you if you write like a fourth grader. The people who produce quality content, regardless of WHO they are or WHAT training they have, will get access to the great stories and their influence will grow.

Being CNN isn’t enough anymore. CNN is not where the great news currently is. They’re losing influence.

Changes in Reading News: Anyone can create news. That means there’s A LOT of it out there and we have to be our own curators and use a healthy dose of skepticism. Otherwise we get hoaxes like the one about Jeff Goldblum’s death. The hope is that bloggers will help us refocus on things that matter because they don’t have to pander to the big audiences. They live in “new markets” where people are looking for very focused, very targeted stories that appeal to small communities.  [I love the idea that blogs are what will “change things”. It’s quite different from the thought that they’re actually responsible for what’s ruining it.]

Affiliate Marketing Blogging Secrets

Sigh. I was a bit let down with this session, probably because I was expecting too much. I was hoping for some more tricks, tools and plugins but all we got were the very basic of basics. Probably because it’s a blogging conference and that’s where people are at – the ground level. BlogWorld knows their audience. I’m just annoyed.

We did have a really awesome group of speakers, though: Angel Djambazov, Brian Littleton, Kim Rowley and Todd Sawicki.  And they brought it.

What did we learn?

If people aren’t responding to your ads, it’s probably because you’re giving them the wrong ad in the wrong space at the wrong time. By learning what your customers want you’ll be able to find advertisers and advertisements that work. Affiliate networks offer a good way for you to hand select and find what people really want.

How do you learn about your audience? There’s a WordPress plugin called PollDaddy that allows you to poll your readers and get important demographic information about them (age, gender, income, etc). You can even ask them to provide interests to help you know what they’re interested in reading/buying. Todd noted that it was a blog poll told them that 70 percent of the ICanHasCheezburger audience has cats. It helps you to get into the heads of people to see why they’re on your site. Once you understand what your customers are looking for, you can give them what they want.

Something you should also be aware of is your RPM – Revenue per Thousand pages. How do you find that out?

Total Revenue/ Page Views x 1000

Given the new FTC regulations, I found it interesting that Kim went out of her way to note that she does NOT disclose affiliate links on her site She masks them with tools like SkimLink and AffiliateNinja because she doesn’t want to turn people off by showing them its an affiliate link. She doesn’t like to click on affiliate links, so why would they. The FTC is going to require that affiliate links are disclosed as ads, but we don’t really know how they’re going to do that yet. We’ll have to see. It’s interesting, especially for someone like Kim where her entire “blogroll” is really just a bunch of affiliate links. [Worth noting: Her site is three years old and pays her mortgage and then some.]

How do you make relationships with affiliates and get approved?: If you’re applying to an affiliate network, you need a site that is live and active and shows you as a legitimate seller. To get into a merchant program, it’s even more important to show credibility. Give them all the information about you that you can. Tell them to email/call you if they have any questions. Brands are entrusting their logo with you. They want to make sure they’re being placed where it’s appropriate to their customers.

Todd mentioned that the Cheezburger network gets rejected all the time because affiliate managers go to their site, see it looks silly, and then immediately reject it. Ha, that’s awesome. With 1 billion page views…I think ICanHaz should automatically get approved for everything. :)

Social Media: The Bad and The Ugly

I wrapped up Day 2 with a panel all about social media and how you’re doing it wrong. Speaking on this afternoon’s session were Robert Scoble, Amber Naslund, Wayne Sutton, and Patrick O’Keefe.

The panelists went over some trends present in social media:

The Unforgiving Nature of the Loud Minority: There are always people waiting for you to fail so they can perpetuate it and make it live on forever. Don’t be the guy known for crying fail. Do so and everything you say will be questioned. Before you tweet or engage in social media, think of the long-term accountability of what you’re about to post. People act really fast and sometimes we get caught up in the mob mentality. Kanye West made a mistake, but did he deserve the mass attack and bandwagon jumping he received? Maybe. Maybe not. Know the full story before you retweet something. Don’t just listen to your network and assume they’ve done their homework.

Ironically Robert Scoble, the biggest blogger baby of them all, says that people need to develop a thicker skin. Just because Loren Feldman doesn’t like you, it doesn’t negate all the other people that do. [Loren is so misunderstood. He’s really a nice, reasonable guy. :)]

Unreasonable Time Expectations: How do you engage people who have lots of people vying for their attention? You get on their radar by being a good citizen and educating yourself about their audience so you have something intelligent to say. Scoble responds well to people when they demonstrate that they’re familiar with this audience and give him something of value. Don’t assume people know who you are. Always introduce yourself and build that relationship.

Amber joked that humans don’t scale. Sometimes we have to understand that people have limited bandwidth and time. Respect that. If someone doesn’t get back to you quickly, try to remind they’re human.

Self Entitlement: The reason someone has more followers than you is probably because they’ve earned them. Don’t assume that you are OWED attention. Everything you do draws attention to you. People doing things get attention. It kind of makes sense. Amber gave a good common sense reminder saying that follower numbers don’t matter. She’s more concerned about the work she’s doing than who’s following her. When this whole social media bubble goes away, no one will care how many followers you once had. They’ll care about the work you did for a client. True words.

Forcing everyone to use all tools and communities the same way: People don’t like how Guy Kawasaki Twitters. Robert doesn’t like how Chris Brogan Twitters. People don’t like that Seth Godin doesn’t allow blog comments. We all don’t have to use tools the same way. Get over it and stop bitching.

Sock Puppets – Want to come to my poker tournam, err, I meant power tournament that I saw somewhere. : Disclose who you are when entering communities and promoting things. People will put it together if you try and hide what you’re doing. Don’t be that guy. Robert told a story about an HP press conference where they had a Twitter stream up following all the positive comments about a new product. Only, the product wasn’t out yet so where did these positive reviews come from? HP was seeding them and it looked stupid. Don’t be stupid.

Why do I care if social media grows?

Social media has reminded us how people want business to be done. She cares about social media because she thinks its defining the next wave of what good business looks like. She cares that business treats people more human, they remember why they started and acknowledge that they’d be nowhere without their customers. Awesome.

And that’s it for Day 2 of BlogWorld. Thanks for hanging. We’ll see you tomorrow where there’s a keynote with PUNKY BREWSTER! [No. Really. There is.]

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