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Sunday, July 20, 2008

4 Unexpected Observations From BlogHer

Dsc_0810_2 I spent all last week attending events from two Mashable parties to the PSFK conference. Along the way I had the chance last thursday evening to attend the opening parties for Blogher - the conference dedicated to women bloggers. The first party was co-sponsored by Alltop and Kirtsy and held in Guy Kawasaki's house in the backyard (see all my photos on Flickr). It was a great relatively exclusive affair with just about every top female blogger you can imagine and just a few guys thrown in. I managed to score an invite thanks to the super nice Kirtsy gals (Laura, Gabrielle and Laurie) and the fact that I was giving away some copies of PNI and all the attendees were wearing their own Nametag 2.0s, which technically made me a sponsor. As I spent the evening being vastly outnumbered by women and getting just a taste of the excitement of the Blogher Conference (which I unfortunately missed the rest of due to the fact I had to be in LA the day after).

As I spoke to more and more people at the party, I learned a few things about the blogosphere, blogging and women bloggers that struck me as worth sharing:

  1. Woman blogger does NOT equal "mommy blogger." There were quite a few women bloggers who were writing professional content, or hobby related content that clearly wasn't in the category of mommy blogging. Sometimes the easy assumption the many marketers make about Blogher is that it's a network of mom blogs. Actually, there's a lot more to the group than that one category of blogger.
  2. The first question at Blogher isn't about what you do. Most of the time, there is a temptation at many social media networking events to focus on what your job is and what you do as a first way to get to know people. At the Blogher parties, people were not introducing themselves in this way. As a result, I got to know much more of the personal stories of people as I met them, like where they live or whether they have kids or what they were excited about from the rest of the weekend. The networking was much deeper as a result.
  3. Rockstars were distributed and size didn't matter. At many other social media events, some bloggers are treated like complete rockstars. I have written before about how this feeds a delusion LINK TO OTHER POST that we all need to fight. At Blogher, whether you had a huge blog or a small blog, people were not basing their interactions on your percieved importance. As a result, bloggers of all levels of fame could feel comfortable at the event.
  4. There was very little conference fatigue among attendees. Many of the women at Blogher were not on the conference "circuit." They hadn't been to twelve other social media events and were not as cynical as some people who attend too many events and have seen just about everything. The level of excitement was therefore much higher about this conference because for many of the attendees, this may be one of only events of this type and scale that they attend all year.

I've been reading many more real time observations from others who had the chance to attend the entire event, and it has made me completely jealous that I was not able to be there for more of it. I am definitely going to do my best to be part of their next event and if you happen to be a female blogger, I highly recommend that you consider it too. Along with SXSW, Blogher may very well become one of the best events of the year for social media types.


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Hi Rohit - thanks for these observations. I think you succinctly and accurately sum up the kind of personal and deeply rooted relationships BlogHer attendees often strike up, in person and in social media spaces. I had a bit of a similar experience - though by missing BlogHer this year - on Twitter (I know, I'm a few yrs behind on this epiphany) and wanted to share with you:

Hope you're well!

Thanks for the insights. I really need to make it to BlogHer and look forward to getting info from those of you who did make it.

Hi there --

I think you need to modify Observation #1. My assumption is that what you mean is that you assumed "BlogHer" is a mom-blogger conference, therefore you were surprised to find it's not just mommies talking about being mommy stuff and has a wider demographics than you expected.

Of course there's the possibility that you really do thought adult female bloggers were all mommy bloggers talking about family and kids, but I'm disinclined to go that way; otherwise I'd be really wondering which world you were in until days ago, when you came into this world, where women are not just wives and moms but also professional people and just human.

Hi Sngl,

Actually, the first observation is not so much based on my experience as what I know some others had assumed about BlogHer and about what some female non-mommy bloggers were quick to talk about when I spoke to them. The majority of my personal experience with female bloggers has been one sided to the type you describe, the professional people who are blogging about business and marketing and happen to be women. Nonetheless, for many the fact that BlogHer was not just a mommy blogger conference is news and worth mentioning.

Well said, Rohit. I agree with your observations.

It was a pleasure to speak with you at the Kirtsy/Alltop/PNI(!) party. I'm so glad we had the chance to meet. I've started reading PNI and love it already!

Very nice to have met you at the AllTop/Kirtsy party! My plans to read PNI would have started on my flight home had I not been so exhausted! I really enjoyed the Nametag 2.0 fun with interpretations of my mantra ('you aint got to lie to kick it') and how it was used as the conversation starter.

As a typical conference-going-PR-person, it was refreshing to feel the energy you mentioned from the amazing group of women who attended BlogHer. I came into the conference slightly shamed to be a marketer among bloggers, but I feel like I got the respect for properly engaging in the conversations and even pressed to why I hadnt pitched certain people yet (your pitch will come soon enough ;) ). I will say that there were moments of frustration (MB session: ethics, policy, and outreach) between the bloggers and the PR-types but it wasnt anything more than typical issues with growing pains (when to its right to $, how to disclose that, and how we can all work together for the greater good).

I also found myself talking a lot less about my job and more about my role as a 'puppy momma' to my precious dog, Besa. Maybe theres a puppymomma blog in the works...

I, too, witnessed your second observation and was pleasantly surprised by it. I found myself talking about personal matters first, and blogging efforts last, which is how I would have preferred it.

Just wanted to add that while there isn't a conference burnout, as you would find in a prof setting, there is a social anxiety that attendees struggle with. This leads to a post-conference crash. The amount of one on one personal disclosure, versus online disclosure, can be exhausting for many attendees.

Not sure how this plays into a marketing initiative, but wanted to share my thoughts as an attendee/panelist.

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