Archive | November, 2011

What I Learned (or Didn’t) @BlogWorld: An Authentically Cynical Review

9 Nov

“Be authentic and passionate.”

“Be an authority for your niche.”

“Listen to your audience.”

“Know your deepest intent.”

“Eat your fears…they will sustain you.”

Did I accidentally miss BlogWorld (LA Convention Center West Hall) and stumble into Tony Robbins’ “Unleash the Power Within” event (LA Convention Center South Hall)?

During the two days I spent at BlogWorld, these jargon-heavy phrases kept coming up over, and over, and over, and over. As a three-day expo in Los Angeles dedicated to promoting all things new media, blogging, social media and digital innovation, needless to say I was underwhelmed.

These nuggets of wisdom represent the newest, cutting-edge information that blogging and new media thought leaders have to offer? When did blogging turn into a self-help-athon? And when did blogging also become about reiterating what everyone else said as if it’s gospel?

Maybe I’m not listening, or maybe I’m being really cynical. Or both.

It’s not that I disagree with these sentiments–I absolutely agree that authenticity, transparency, and narrow authority are all keys to success in any business venture, especially social media. As someone who actively reads blogs but has no intention of trying to earn a living from one (authenticity at work right here), I wanted to come away from BlogWorld with a wealth of new information that I could incorporate into building social media strategies for brands. I certainly got some good insights, but generally felt, well, the information was too general and top line.
Here are the highlights (or not) of my experience:

THE GOOD

As opposed to asking “What’s the best time to post a press release,” for example, the better question is “does the date/time of posting a press release matter?” Tom then walked through statistics that showed how 1) it doesn’t matter what time you post, just as long as you do and 2) the time/date question is industry and brand specific – hence “do your own work.” You should know best when and where your readers are accessing your content. When companies post content that suggests best times and places to post, they are relying on what works for them.

In Tom’s words, “data generated for the purposes of content creation is inherently incurious.” The best, most helpful phrase of the conference. Thanks Tom!

  • Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere address: The blogging curation giant revealed some great new data here, including:
    • The #1 influencer for bloggers is other bloggers: influencers influence influencers.
    • LinkedIn is the 3rd largest social media traffic driver.
    • Sixty-one percent of bloggers are hobbyists, and seventy percent of bloggers blog to share their expertise and experiences with others.

However, the woman read the slides verbatim. Not exactly engaging. I could get the same info if Technorati posted the deck on SlideShare.

  • Have Bloggers Replaced Radio Programmers as Curators of Pop Music Culture?: I attended this music panel out of sheer interest as a music fan. The bloggers’ attitude and approach were refreshing–as opposed to overarching statements about passion and authenticity, they shared specific ways on how they find music, the pros and cons of creating music in a new media world, and attracting audiences to their niche music blogs. Straightforward without the fluff. Thanks guys. (Are there any female music bloggers out there, BTW?)

THE NOT-AS-GOOD-AS-I’D-HOPED

  • Chris Brogan & Guy Kawasaki’s panel on Google+: Authenticity FAIL. This felt like a giant infomercial paid for by Google. I truly admire these guys and thought I would leave with pages of notes on Google+ best practices. Granted, I arrived late, so perhaps they covered this in the opening. Or, instead of giving away the goods in the session, perhaps they just want us to buy their book on Google+.
MY TAKEAWAYS & RECOMMENDATIONS
  • Let’s move beyond the obvious and lose the jargon, people! If I hear about “opening the kimono,” “engage your audience with passion and authenticity,” “leverage your online relationships to build offline strategy” or whatever, I’m going to lose it. Can we think of any more creative ways to communicate how social media works? I’d love to go to a panel where these words are used MINIMALLY or NEVER.
  • Leverage the Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced tracks more specifically. There was no consistency or explanation by the event organizers as to what constitutes experience level. Perhaps directing attendees according to experience could eliminate the bouncing between sessions (like I did).
  • The more specific, the better. Sessions should include specific case studies that demonstrate the general takeaways.
Thanks for letting me vent.

The 3six5 Blog: 11/1/11

1 Nov

Earlier this year, I signed up to write an entry for the3six5 blog. Each day for 365 days, a different person writes a diary entry about their thoughts or experiences for their assigned day. Not only does it give a snapshot into an entire year as told by people around the globe, but also gives a platform for individuals to express and connect. Each author also includes their own photo or image. It’s a fantastic crowdsourcing concept.

Here’s my post about 11/1/11:

Griffith Park & The Hollywood Sign

Rabbit Rabbit! 11/1/11. A new month, a new day for auspicious beginnings.

So goes my internal pep talk.

Is it horrible to feel plagued by options?

After more than seven years in LA, it’s still remarkable to wake up to 80 degrees, blue skies and sunshine. My Chicago roots make me think this version of November is unfair, or somehow cheating.

My gut keeps nudging me that LA isn’t forever. Chicago is my home, where my family lives and misses me. I miss them too. But California has gotten under my skin.

I used to live in Santa Monica, 13 blocks from the ocean. It’s beautiful, but sterile. I moved to Silver Lake, trading saltwater air for a bedroom view of the Griffith Park foothills. The neighborhood is grittier and more hipster-y, and I love it. I’m more creatively engaged and invigorated.

But the mountains taunt me today. I broke my ankle four months ago and I’m still recovering from my surgery. While I’m grateful for being able to walk, I’m not quite ready to go jogging around the 2.2 mile Silver Lake Reservoir loop or hike past Griffith Observatory. An outdoor active lifestyle is one of my top 10 reasons for living in LA—along with In-N-Out Burger. Although I’m healing, seeing the mountains makes me feel trapped in my limited physical mobility.

But, really, my life is as movable as ever. Now that I (thankfully) no longer work in the film industry, I’m not tied to LA. The freedom of consulting is just awesome—I work when and where I want.

The tradeoff is that I’m usually alone. I live alone, I don’t have a central office (except my adopted coffee shop), my family isn’t here, and I just ended a long-term relationship. I love my liberating lifestyle, but I want to grow roots, too.

So I’m evaluating my options. I’ve given myself until the New Year as my deadline for making a decision. Weather and friends? Family and hometown roots? Will a change of scenery help me fill in the blanks for what’s next?

But I keep these questions in perspective. There’s a lot to explore beyond the mountains.

About the author: Julie Epstein (aka @tastyjules) is a Digital Strategist withAjax. Chicago-born & LA-living, she’s a live music fan, marathoner & foodie.
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