BlogWorld Expo West 2011

Erin is a managing partner at House & Hoffman Consultants, which provides on-site management services to BlogWorld Expo, the first and only industry-wide conference, tradeshow and media event for all new media.

A blogger, a marketer and a programmer walk into a bar.

No joke—that’s what happened at BlogWorld Expo in Los Angeles last weekend. Of course, the bloggers, marketers and programmers were joined by mobile developers, graphic designers, podcasters, affiliate networkers, video editors, and ebook publishers, and they spent some time at the LA Convention Center, too. With so much digital know-how under one roof, the event made a great case study in how to apply communication technology. Here are three ways we are applying social media in the real world:

How to Make Friends and Influence People

While working the crowd at an evening networking event, one first-time attendee asked me how he could find and connect with like-minded people. We downloaded a simple Twitter app, and I showed him how to follow the BlogWorld conversation by searching for its official hashtag, #bwela (more than 7,000 people tweeted about the event, hitting 30.4 million followers with 323 million impressions). It brought up attendees’ real-time reactions, and he quickly found a couple comments that resonated. He responded to them in-kind and arranged opportunities to meet that night or later that weekend. He even set up an appointment with a potential vendor.

Moral: Social media is a searchable database of what the world is thinking, and who specifically is thinking it. Research and reach out!

Breaking News

Event staff and attendees live or die by the conference brochure, which lists the dates, times and locations for every event, along with speaker bios, the list of exhibitors and directions to the bathroom. It’s the end-all source for conference information…except for when it’s not. Exhibit booths are moved, speakers cancel and the west bathrooms are closed for cleaning from 1:00 to 2:00 instead of 5:00 to 6:00—last-minute changes that a pre-printed publication can’t communicate. That’s why future BlogWorld events will feature a conference app complete with schedules, bios, evaluation forms, GPS-enabled maps, and important updates direct from the conference staff. Now, staff and attendees can communicate in real time with the right information.

Moral: If you have a central “bible” for your event, project or client, use technology to put it in a digital location where it can be easily accessed and updated.

Say It to My Face

Events like BlogWorld exist because even social media experts know that technology cannot replace in-person communication. More than two thousands attendees solidified business and personal relationships with handshakes, hugs and the other 95% of non-verbal communication, but where does that leave the tens of thousands who could not attend? BlogWorld was careful not to leave them out in the dark by offering a virtual ticket—the ability to listen to and watch presentations in real time or post-production, expanding the event’s intellectual footprint even further. With 22 simultaneous breakout sessions, the virtual ticket was a must, even for event attendees.

Moral: Social media is rarely meant to exist in isolation. It’s a communication add-on that increases audience and adds dimension.

Closer to Home

BlogWorld provided a couple particularly valuable developments for House and Hoffman, as well. First, we have the opportunity to expand our influencer relations program by teaming up with the host of a popular podcast for bloggers. While interviewing successful bloggers over the past three years, this individual has built a thorough network of influencers. He is interested in helping them find business partnerships that will fund their projects while exposing their audiences to quality products and services.

Second, we have the opportunity to become affiliates with BlitzLocal whose mission is to create a million jobs through social media marketing for small businesses. We will train with their enterprise clients and test their small business analytics and marketing software.

Third, our contract with BlogWorld is being extended to June (New York City) and November (Los Angeles) of 2012, so stay tuned for more punch lines.