I was at the Blog Business Summit all day and weaved in and out of discussions about basic blogging principles as well as a smattering of debate on what this all means to the corporate world that still is just getting a handle on it.
It was great to connect with folks that I’ve corresponded with over the past year and I had more than one occasion where the person sitting right next to me happened to be someone I already knew via their blog, email, or from a phone conversation. Everyone should put a photo of themselves on their blog so we don’t have to crane our neck for their name tag and in that spirit, I just updated mine.
Lots I could write about but here’s the stuff I really enjoyed:
Chris Brownrigg’s story of how he hand crafted Boeing’s first prototype (image map for the calendar!) in response to an emergency call to build a blog using Boeing’s existing infrastructure in 48 hours to the discovery of modern blogging tools. Great plug for Movable Type from someone who has a profound appreciation of how the right tool for the job can make things so much more pleasurable. Notice it is called Randy’s Blog in the prototype and now the site is Randy’s Journal because of the potentially negative/fringe connotations. The debate at Boeing now is if it should be changed to Randy’s Blog now because a “blog” is keyword folks use when looking for this site. My how we’ve come full circle!
Several people talked about the importance of participating in the community in order to build visibility. The days of “build it and they will come” are over unless you already have an established brand. You need to cruise around and leave comments on other people’s blogs which will not only get you on the radar of that blog’s author but also that blog’s readers. Comments that are considered, authoritative and contribute to the discussion will be welcomed and your name and link will draw people to your site to read more about you. This has been my personal experience when I first started getting into blogging at my previous company. Leave your comments enough times and you begin to feel silly putting your company’s top level domain name into the URL field, it adds almost no value. You really need to tie it back to your own profile to give your comments the full context. This is why you need a blog if you’re going to participate meaningfully in the conversation.
Dave Taylor talked about the importance of spending time to pick a good headline for your posts in order to get the right keywords into the search engines. I would add that it’s also an important art because, in the world of RSS readers, it’s going to be the headline that’s going to tease your readers to read the rest of your article – full text feed or not. For an example, John Paczkowski over at Good Morning Silicon Valley is a master at this art. Google claims secondary offering is “for the Christmas Party” – who wouldn’t click through to read that?
DL Byron and Buzz Bruggeman were their usual humorous and unassuming selves telling the “how the heck did we get here?” story of how their blogs told a simple story and rippled out to connect them in ways they never thought possible. Byron telling the story of Clip-n-Seal blog and how they just landed an order from NASA for the Space Shuttle (new way to fasten heat tiles?). Buzz, and how his ActiveWords universe has expanded beyond his wildest dreams and his customer-focused marketing has landed him to site licenses and introductions to very influential executives.
I had to step out but did catch the tail end of Janet Johnson and Robert Scoble in the Dealing with Bloggers session (a provocative title if I might add). This was my favorite session just because it was the most interactive. Robert was running around and the audience was tossing the pair some real good questions. As always, Robert’s candor and shoot-from-the-hip style was perfect. Answering why a company that sells exit poll research to a very select customer base (major network TV stations) should spend limited resources engaging the greater public on their arcane science, Robert shot back that network TV is ultimately dependent on the public for their business. By publicizing their methods to those that are curious, they give crediblity to these networks that use and rely on their research, everyone wins.
Another important lesson from Scoble is what to do when bad news surfaces. Link early to the news and then set off to find the details. The sooner you link, the sooner you take the air out of those that might say that you’re not aware of the problem. Conversations in the blogosphere are like a spider web. The linking and authority ranking around rumors is usually built over the first 24 hours. If you’re not part of that inner circle of links, you’re going to be hard pressed to work your way in when you actually do have something substantial to add.
See you on day two!