The SheCon Conference was the reason for my first trip to Miami, and the Shelbourne South Beach Hotel was the home base during my brief stay. I say brief because within 24 hours of my arrival, I was booking my departure. While I met some amazing bloggers and brands, the overall impact of my trip showed there are lessons to be learned.
In this three-part post, the first focus will be on brand engagement at social media conferences. The second post topic will be on how hotels can be better prepared to host Bloggers. The third and last post will offer suggestions to better enhance a positive blogging conference.
While experiences can vary from Blogger to Blogger, there was much expressed dissatisfaction during the two days in Miami. From brands that were extremely disappointed in the outcome of the conference return on investment (ROI), to fellow bloggers who were disappointed in information; the common response was that they would not be back.
Despite my own personal frustrations, I found myself having to justify Blogging conferences. Explaining to brands that not all Blogging conferences are alike and encouraging Bloggers to consider Blogging Conferences as a whole. Yet, the overall theme is research. Brands should do due diligence for conference participation and sponsorships, and Bloggers should consider factors such as cost and opportunities.
First, is the mission of the conference clear, and does it meet your brands’ mission? What do you want to get out of the conference? Is it just name recognition? Is it one-on-one engagement with Bloggers/Brands? Is it establishment of a long-term partnership? Is it to pass along written materials? Allow hands on interaction with the product?
Second, where is the conference being held? What are the space options? Does it allow for brand/Blogger mingling? Does it showcase your product in the way you want it to be showcased? Does it showcase you in the way you want to be showcased?
Third, who is hosting the conference? Do they have conference experience? Have they planned a conference before or assisted with a conference before? Do they have conference planning references? If the answer is no, what is the level of risk your brand wants to take on an unknown factor. It could be a big splash or a big flop, so clear understanding of the risk factor is key. The greater the risk, and/or the less tolerance for it, may determine ultimate participation or overall investment.
One brand I spoke with offline was very disappointed in the outcome of their investment at the SheCon conference. Furthermore, their entire social media budget was riding on this conference. According to the brand representative, the total traffic to the booth was 50 people, which for them, did not justify the cost. I ended spending time in the booth, not talking about the product, but about conferences, the value of bloggers, and urging them to considering giving both another chance. (In the conference space, I had a similar conversation with a couple of Bloggers too.) I managed to change their minds. However, for the brand, a blown budget and a now ‘gun-shy’ CEO who will need to be convinced to invest in us again, their re-engagement won’t be until 2012. Thus, 2011 will be a year of lost opportunity, for both them and us.
So the point is, even if you did not attend SheCon or if you did and had a wonderful experience, if you have been to other conferences or not, we should all be concerned with this feedback. We want brands to be engaged with the Blogging Community, and to spread the word about the power and pizzazz of women bloggers. Conferences are a great start and starting point. We all need to rally behind Blogging conferences to urge their success as it can reflect on us as a whole. Yet, quantity is not as important as quality. So if you are considering hosting a conference, think about whether your conference is value added, whether you can do it justice and the overall impact it could have on the brand/blogger community.
We have all heard the phrase; it is not just the journey, but also the destination. In this instance, it is not about tenacity, but the final perception and the lessons learned, for all of us.
Image Credit: by svilen001 via stock.xchng
I’ve seen lots of blogging conferences popping up lately. It’s so important for the organizers to have experience in large event planning OR tap into a source that does to make sure both sponsors and attendees feel it’s a good value.
I am so glad you are writing this. It needs to be said, and it certainly needs to be discussed.
I’m very glad to hear such honest feedback. I’ve been wondering if all of these conferences really are helpful to both bloggers and brands.
This is a fantastic post, and I can’t wait to read the rest of the series. A few things from the brand perspective: I think I’ve engaged and networked with more bloggers on behalf of my brand by attending conferences as a *person* rather than sitting behind an exhibit table. I’m amazed at how many brands are throwing money at bloggers and blogging conferences (did I REALLY need a glossy 5×7 photo of myself holding a flower, Claritin?) and sending representatives from PR firms who don’t have a personal connection to the brand. Making real and lasting relationships with bloggers doesn’t require a dog and pony show.
Wow…so interesting to read about how SheCon turned out. I initially wanted to go to that, but didn’t have enough vacation time after I started working full time. Now I’m kind of glad!
What a wonderful summary of lessons learned, both for bloggers and businesses. They should all take note! My first conference experience will be BlogHer in August. While the money I’ve already paid says that I’m going no matter what, this certainly makes me want to clarify my reasons for going before I get there. Thanks for a great post!
I was at SheCon and I agree with the comments of dissatisfaction. The thing is, I’ve been to many great conferences (BlogHer BET, Blogalicious, etc..) whose ROI has been amazing from inspiration to contacts. But for those you have never attended or sponsored a conference, situations similar to SheCon would discourage further participation.