I like to let things marinate. Or I’m slow on the up-take. Either way, after letting things settle in, here are my 30+ take-aways (guestimate) from Blog Indiana 2012. They are the lessons and tidbits that resonated with me most amongst the thousands of brilliant sound-bytes at the best gathering of blogging rockstars this side of the Mississippi.
Alison Carter gave a fantastic keynote on visual content strategy. Long story short, photos dominate the web in increasing fashion. See the Roundpeg wrap up post to see just how photos have taken over the Facebook experience. It’s not by accident either. Image search drives 38% of her company’s traffic. Use pics to promote posts by deleting the thumbnail after inserting a link, then upload a photo. Take a photo of the blog post title on a post-it or use Microsoft Paint – it doesn’t matter. Visuals do.
The always entertaining and enlightening Robby Slaughter shared his secret to writing compelling post titles. Steal them. Ahem, look around at competitors and those doing really well and borrow their formula. When in doubt, do a list post. They may not be the most original but bloggers keep using them and people keep clicking so they’re here to stay. Make your posts specific but not labor intensive, human but not too personal, open-ended but not unfocused, intriguing but not controversial. Easy enough?
Chad Richards, local Facebook legend, shared a bazillion tools to measure your Facebook presence, successes, campaigns and more. It sounds like the must-haves in your toolkit are EdgeRankChecker & WhatisEdgeRank (to see how you measure up), Post Planner (for…um…planning posts), Booshaka (to find and engage your most interactive fans) and Viral Wave Generator (for building non-cash transactions – think coupons, petitions, action pledges, etc.).
Jay Baer delivered an expected rousing keynote on why helping beats selling. To summarize (and not do it full justice), stop selling and start helping. It’s a step beyond the solution sale. It’s becoming a ‘YOUtility’. If people need you or what you provide, you’ll increase loyalty and develop life long customers, readers, etc., as opposed to going for the quick transaction. It’s ‘marketing that’s so useful, people will pay you for it’.
Ryan Brock had us talking about dinosaurs for the first 10 minutes of his presentation. Why? Because he wanted to…which was exactly his point. He encouraged us to relinquish our writing filters and write about what we wanted, in the way we wanted. To often those filters control us and limit true expression and emotion which leads to great writing, great readers and beautiful interaction as humans. So expect more posts about Bigfoot from me…unfiltered.
Admittedly, much of Muhammad Yasin‘s session on influencers was above my head. These guys are diving into traffic analytics like a Showbiz ball-pit full of White Castles. I like White Castle (there’s that filter thing again). Any who, he shared Followerwonk, a site that searches twitter bios and influence scores so you can target social media mavens that may be helpful to you – but dig into them a bit to make sure they’re legit (days on Twitter, etc.) as you can now purchase followers and there are some bots that may come up in your search. SocialCrawlytics.com will tell you if someone’s blog or website is ‘social enough’ to be of value to you (number of social interactions, shares, etc.). Lastly, use Statigram to search Instagram for users and be weary of some top influencers on Klout – they may be hard to interact with and less likely to be interested. There’s no shame in reaching out to those one rung lower on the Klout ladder.
In other news, humbly, Sara Croft and I presented on Social Media for Social Good and the attendees raised $1500 on the spot for scholarships for nonprofits to attend next year’s Blog Indiana. A HUGE kudos and thanks to all who donated. You all make the world go ’round. Blog Indiana is a family. And you’re invited to our reunion on August 8-9, 2013. See you then.
P.S. Here’s another great wrap-up post with links to other great wrap-up posts. Interwebs rock.