I’m a reluctant BlogHer attendee. As someone with a limited conference budget I wasn’t sure in the past that BlogHer was the best place to invest in my blogging and social media education. Tales of swag rooms and brand courting only served to keep me away as this wasn’t as important to me as the educational experience. Plus, many of my friends and colleagues in this business are male and I enjoy meeting up with them on these occasions.
BlogHer also has a reputation for being a “Mommy Blogger” conference and though I blog and I’m a mom, I’m not a “Mommy Blogger.” I have plenty of thoughts about mommy blogging and why I don’t think all the attention paid to Mom Bloggers is well directed, but I’ll talk about that another time. Today, I have BlogHer on my mind. Specifically my opinion of the exhibits.
When I walked into BlogHer yesterday, I was there as someone who has been to blogging, interactive and tech conferences to learn about blogging and social media, plus the latest tools and technology. The exhibit floor for many of these conferences are always filled with vendors having to do with, well, social media and blogging, plus computers, Internet and maybe other types of business or tech services.
Blogher is a whole different animal.
Very light on the tech and social media, the BlogHer exhibit floors featured photo taking with Dora the Explorer, Marmaduke, Elmo, the Hillshire Farms Sun guy, Bruce Jenner and Padma Lakshmi.Booth space was taken up by brands hawking their wares. There were plenty of food samples and I could even have a makeover if I was so inclined. Many women walked the floors lugging several swag bags chock-full of cheese samples, lip balm, girdles, purse holders, Play-Doh and cereal containers. Clearly BlogHer is not the place to go for laptop stickers and mouse pads.
I wandered the floors looking for vendors who I could talk to so I could learn about the latest widgets and plugins for my blog and didn’t find a single one. No one was talking about the newest social network, nor were there host and serving companies hoping to get us to switch hosting to their service. I saw no blog ad networks or podcasters doing interviews from the showroom floor. This made me wonder: Were these businesses not invited? Did they feel BlogHer wasn’t an important enough event? Or were they not interested in the demographic? Why, at a conference for bloggers, was there nothing on the exhibit floor having to do with, well, blogs?
When one vendor asked me if I heard of social media I almost died. Why would anyone ask that at a blogging conference? From the second I entered the exhibit floor I realized this was a conference unlike any other I’ve been to. If I were to form an opinion from the exhibits only, I wouldn’t think BlogHer had anything to do with anything tech or social media. It was clearly a place for brands to court consumers. Now, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with this if your reason for blogging is to receive free stuff and talk about cheese wedges. I’m not sure what someone who wants to learn about building and growing a social media career will take away from the exhibit floor.
Not Done Yet
Again, if your reason for blogging is to review stuff, I suppose this all makes sense. Maybe if I started attending BlogHer from the very beginning I might “get it” more.
I’m not done yet, though. Today I’m attending educational sessions to learn more about blogging and social media. I’m not only attending in a learning capacity, however. I’m also attending as someone who helps to choose the educational content for a different social media conference. I’m going to be watching the speakers, listeing, learning and especially watching the audience to see how they react. I’m looking forward to sharing this with you next.
I don’t want you to read the above and think I’m having a negative experience, because I’m not. I’m enjoying the time with my team, but I’m also enjoying the time with other BlogHer attendees. I bumped into old friends and made many new friends. I tried wines that aren’t even on the market and I had some spectacular meals. Anyone who ever attends a social media conference will tell you much of the enjoyment is derived from the networking and the good company, and BlogHer has that in droves.