May 26, 2011 Posted by geordie in blog

Save $1,500 at BlogWorld NYC

Hot off the conference center floors of the Javitz Center for BlogWorld 2011 NYC, and let me tell you, it's all about social media! I traveled from southern Mexico, spent at least $1,500 going to this trade show and am now freely going to give you some of the best tips I got from the show. I hope you can get as much enjoyment from the knowledge as I hope to gain.

The first day started with conferences and Blog World didn't have any shortage of experts or big names. I caught Jay Baer at the Now Revolution speaking about Social Media and Blogging. What did I learn? Well for starters a home building company called Martell Homes in New Brunswick, Canada has increased their sales by 400% in two years by actively engaging their community with social media like twitter and Facebook, and by blogging. They increased their margins by reducing the need for directly assisted sales through real estate agents from 90% to 12%. This directly affected their ability to grow the company, and transformed the company from barely surviving to thriving. They took an unusually long sales cycle of 6 months, and slashed it by 60%, with the shortest sale record being 32 minutes. The CEO explained that the customer was already coming to them informed about their products, and didn't need to kick the tires for 6 months to make a decision.

Some recommendations made by Jay - Use Video and don't get hung up on quality. Example - Taylor Guitar's response to United Airlines breaking a guitar during a flight. This video was done quickly which is why it was so effective. As of this writing, it has 550,000 views. I guess it worked.  Sweet Leaf Tea uses social media to reward customers for either loyal comments, or to win back disgruntled customers with gift coupons. They usually respond within an hour to any comments made about Sweet Leaf Tea whether they are positive or negative. Use tools like Kurrently to track your social media profiles in real time.

Another powerhouse speaker was Lee Odden, founder of TopRankBlog.com who spoke on how to dominate your niche with Social Media SEO and Blogging. Packed into an hour, his material covered some of the finer skills of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and presumed that none of his audience were newbies. Some of the more useful tips were to think about what your blog stands for and to be specific and show proof through stories. Interview your customers, and your employees. Blogging is a lot of work, so encourage it company wide to take some of the burden off of a particular person. Lee recommends creating a Keyword Glossary early on, and setting up an editorial calendar that provides a schedule to stick by and target a specific keyword.

Some useful tools Lee uses to keep track of the social conversations happening around his brand are Postrank Engagement Information and Social Mention. Use these tools to find out what your customers are searching for and what are their problems? Are you helping them to resolve their problems? If not, how can you.

At times it became difficult to choose which conference to attend because there may have been 3 or 4 great ones happening at the same time. I stopped in to an engaging conference given by Lori Randall Stradtman. As I was feeling my attendance was already on the heavy side of using Social Media to promote blogging, I wanted to gain some insight in other areas of the conference speakers and ducked out early. The next day I bumped into Lori, and she remembered me leaving and asked whether I liked her presentation. I was stunned as there were 200 people in the room. I could tell from the beam of light  shining from her eyes that I'd made a mistake leaving. For anyone that wants to use her services, or listen to her speak, I can presume she'd be excellent as she's lovely in person. Lori, I wished I'd stayed!

Christopher Penn gave an informative discussion on Facebook analytics, and breaking down campaigns on a detailed level to know which areas of your marketing are being most effective. Some useful information he gave is a link to Facebook Soup to Nuts how to by Shoemoney.com, and an e-book written by Avinash Kaushik called Web Analytics 2.0. If you are mildly interested in this topic, you will have more than enough information to successfully drill down into your metrics to find out where and what users are doing when they come to your site. Another interesting point that Chris made was that Facebook posts convert well, meaning they are shared to friends, over the weekend. Facebook expert Mari Smith also recommends trying this, it's worth experimenting what resonates with your facebook community.

One of the more animated speakers was getstoried.com's Michael Margolis. Michael's event was entitled the New About Me, Who taught you to write your Bio? Well, he brings up a great point that unless you're a big time CEO or celebrity, we all write our own bios and we could all use a little help. Some of the questions he raised were, what are people really buying? You. What causes the power of your story to grow exponentially? Make your audience the hero of the story so they can relate to you. Show your audience that you've learned valuable insight along life's journey, which gives you unique perspective and makes you an authority on your particular niche or topic. Michael ended the session with a 50% off value for his course, which I promptly signed up for, he was that good. You can download his free e-book, thebelievemebook.com, I think you'll be glad you did.

The following day, we visited the 50 or so vendors that had set up booths.

Noteable Mentions:

LiveFyre.com - This company creates a more robust commenting system and can plug in to WordPress. Stay tuned, we'll be highlighting this on our blog soon.

WebDoc.com - This was one of the more impressive demonstrations I found at the show. It allows non-technical people, the majority of us out there, to create simple but compelling looking short posts that we can send as emails or as posts to various social media outlets. This is great for Hotels that want to send out easy announcements.Mycroburst.com - One of the more brilliant ideas we found at the show. Submit a design proposal to a few thousand designers, and have them send you back design ideas. Then, select the one you like best. No more guess work involved, you can select the designer you want to work with, the design is already completed, and you can pre-select the budget you are willing to spend. Below check out a quick sample I made using the service, and take it easy on me, it's my first one!

    SocialRewards - This is a company that has travel and hotel related social media reward program for people that tweet out to their networks and can earn points for any purchases. The company has opened up a few hotels in Las Vegas, and is starting with Social Media NYC champ, the Roger Smith Hotel (Gemm Interview here).

ExactTarget - This company is similar to a constantcontact.com but they can take metrics for all of your marketing campaigns including various Facebook accounts, twitter feeds, SMS and email. It's a pay as you go service, so no matter the size of your community, the pricing seems reasonable.

MarketSharing.com - This company just launched on Wednesday with a B2B group discount service. They have solid financial backing, and smart brains behind them. Stay tuned to see some good things from them, and if you're in the NYC area, check them out for some deals or run some company specials. Their focus will be on corporate deals, and rewarding their vendors with repeat service, a complaint many Groupon vendors have with their lack of loyalty.

Vanilla Forums - Initially we sat down at this booth because they had some nice couches but we got sucked into the story. A small but quickly growing company based out of Montreal, Quebec, they focus on creating simple but functional forums that are hosted using SaaS (Software as a Service) business concept. This company follows the 37Signals mantra of Keep It Simple! No frills, just simple and pure goodness. We signed up on the spot for one of their forum packages and will be rolling it out on one of our blogs.

Hashable - After going through my business cards collected from the show, I've become a fan of social media start up Hashable. This company takes a twitter handle or email, and sends a digital business card to the person you are meeting. It's really handy if you are caught without a business card, as I was many times. Easy and free to install on iPhone and Android. If you down load it, send us an invite, we'll follow you back @gemmsupport.

Of course there were many other things going on at the NYC Blog World, but for the amount of money and days that I traveled to the show, these are some of my favourite vendors and ideas. Feel free to learn from them, or pass them on to anyone you think might benefint. If you found yourself here because you have interest in any of the above technologies why not leave a comment.

We're technology geeks at heart, and supply Internet and Interactive solutions of our own to hotels in Mexico.

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