Social Media has definitely grown out of its infancy. Although, according to all the geeks that attended the first integrated edition of Blogworld and New Media Expo in Las Vegas. More than 2500 bloggers, podcasters, consultants and other new media mavericks visited Sin City for 3 days to talk about and share experiences on Social Media. Close to 300 speakers gave dozens presentations and panel discussions on a large variety of subjects. Without going into detail of all of them, I will give you the highlights of the conference.
If there was one subject that was mentioned in almost every discussion then it was Twitter. With great passion Twitt-lebrities like Laura Fitton (@Pistachio), Robert Scoble (@scobleizer) and Aaron Strout (@aaronstrout) shared the power of Twitter. “The power of unisolating people”, according to Laura. “And it’s not about the writer, it’s not about the number of followers you have but it is about the message you share. People are made to socialize, also in business. For that it is important to surround yourself with inspiring people. Twitter is a great tool for that.”
Guiness World Record
Thanks to Twitter a Guinness World Record was set during Blogworld. The highest number of social network mentions within 24 hours. And last Monday the record was confirmed by Guinness World Record: a total of 209,771 social network mentions of #beatcancer in one day via Twitter, Facebook and blog posts. As a result eBay/Paypal and MillerCoors offered a donation of $70.000 to four non-profit cancer organizations (Spirit Jump, Bright Pink, Alex’s Lemonade, and Stand UP to Cancer). As the campaign continues, you can still donate and help promote this initiative via Beatcancereverywhere.com.
More good causes-support from eBay/Paypal. Their booth was completely dedicated to this theme. One of the good causes was Shoe4Africa, a non-profit organization aiming at ‘empowerment through sports and education, creating unique health initiatives, and promoting AIDS awareness.’ Cornerstone project is the development of a children’s hospital in Kenya, which will be the first public hospital in Kenya and the largest children’s hospital in Africa. The project is supported by Anthony Edwards, who sat in the keynote Celebrity panel. Although not yet very active in Social Media, Edwards understands the difference he can make as a celebrity using Social Media to spread the word around this project. So at Blogworld, he lost his Twitterginity and made his first tweet. Follow him on @anthonyedwards4. We also had a short interview with him which will be published shortly.
And of course we ran into Vincent Everts, a webexpert and trend-watcher. Vincent presence at Blogworld was to promote yubby.com, a video aggregator the collect videos from over 30 popular video sources. Previously known as Dik.nl, but you can imagine, not a name that would work well in the US (although, flickr didn’t change its name for Holland…) And of course, Vincent not only did his upmost for yubby, he also worked on his own brand. Being very present at various sessions and as member in one of the panels, the success of his quest was confirmed to be successful during the closing keynote. When one-time talk-show host Guy Kawasaki asked the audience who has not heard of Jenny the Blogess, Vincent raised his hand as one of the few. Guy looked at him and said ‘oh, that’s that guy in the white suit’. An interview with Vincent will be launched shortly.
If there is one Social Media guru that is reaching superstar status without losing it, it’s Chris Brogan. I think he is the most mentioned, quoted, RTweeted and appreciated speaker of Blogworld 2009. And true, Chris is a very sympathetic and respectable person, but moreover, he is a visionary and true knowledge expert in the field. His keynote on day one was for me the most inspiring of all sessions. ‘Stop tapping each other on the back, but get out there and start working. There is so much to do out there’. And he is right. Social Media has grown out of its infancy. As much as we liked the pioneering atmosphere at New media Expo 2007, those days seem to be over. Social Media is becoming true business. Moreover, we shouldn’t call it Social Media anymore. It’s Human Business.
Trend for 2010
On the exhibition floor, there were several companies that demonstrated applications based on aggregation of content. We already mentioned yubby.com as a video aggregation site, but aggregation goes beyond video. Zemanta is an application that helps you look for content related to the blogpost you are writing. While you’re writing, it ‘looks over your shoulder [..] and gives you tips and advice’. It analyzes your content, suggests keywords and related articles. With Zemanta, your blog becomes more visible and generates more traffic.
Regator goes even further in aggregation. There is an enormous amount of content available within the blogosphere. Regator ‘gathers the world’s best blog posts and organizes them in a way that’ makes it easy to find the things you need’. This selection is not purely done through some fancy algorithm, but through a team of editors. Yes, real people that search the web for valuable content. In fact, they decide for you what’s valuable or not. Regator uses criteria like regular updates, topical, well written, originality and whether or not your blog is ‘awesome’ based on which you can be added to the selection. The last criterium is rather vague and subjective, but that’s admitted by Regator.
Content is still king in new media. But finding the right content becomes like a monk’s job. For that we need aggregation, and we predict aggregation becomes the trend for 2010.
Was it all highs in Vegas? No, there was definitely a bummer. As there were more than 5-6 simultaneous tracks, you had to make up your mind what session to attend. Obviously, that was challenging as interesting presentations were scheduled at the same time. At New Media Expo in the past all participants were given the opportunity to download the audiotracks of all presentations. For free (or better, at no additional fee). Blogworld changed that policy: audiotracks are now available for $15 per session. Not funny. I can’t split myself up in 6, but feel that I have paid close to 1200 bucks to make all these sessions possible. Therefore I plead that all participants should have access to all recorded sessions (at least audio). And I was not the only one complaining about that. Organizer Rick Calvert should make up his mind or consult Tim and Emile Bourquin, former organizers of New Media Expo.
Another disappointment was that there was not much on the use of New Media for internal communication, in our view the way to learn what New Media is, to gain experience and in addition, to improve your internal communication, which in many organizations is underdeveloped. Truly win-win. A separate track should have been developed for this topic. Hopefully the organization considers this for the next edition.
Further, there was a strong focus on blogging, too strong to my liking. New Media is more than just blogging and Twitter. The focus overall was too much on the technology. There was hardly any attention for the development of a New and Social Media strategy. If we really want to go out there and help companies adapt New and Social Media, we need to understand that this is key to success. From that perspective I didn’t really hear anything new in these three days.
Conclusion for Blogworld and New Media Expo 2009: a lot on technology (and then mostly blogging) and too little on strategy. A lot of panels, some good and some which had a tendency towards too much ‘incrowd’. Some very inspiring speakers, a good atmosphere and at night awesome parties. Overall, a more than average event. Rick Calvert only has to solve this audio issue and I will certainly consider attending Blogworld and New Media Expo 2010.