5 Lessons from BlogHer11

By: Alana Brooks As you've most likely gleaned from my previous Likeable posts, I have a big place in my heart for all things blog. Because of this, I made sure I made it to the BlogHer conference this year in San Diego. A special thanks to Likeable for sending me and for giving me the opportunity to report back on my key learnings.

You see, this wasn't my first BlogHer conference. There was Chicago in 09', where I attended as a sponsor with Springpad, and New York 10', where I again came as a sponsor, this time with Paypal. I learned new things and had completely different experiences at each conference. Below are the lessons I learned in San Diego:

Lesson 1: If you're not a blogging newbie, you may learn more out of the sessions than in them. Though this was not my first Blogher conference, it was the first time I was able to leave the expo floor and really attend sessions. There were a few sessions that interested me, but I found many of them were on topics irrelevant to long time bloggers. I really enjoyed attending a session on photography as well as one on digital detox, but I'm not sure either of them will directly affect my blogging performance, as they were more big picture than tactical.

Lesson 2: Check out the expo floor, it's a great place to get inspired by and learn from other brands. I felt more at home on the expo floor chatting with PR people than sitting in sessions. Many brands had large, over the top booths with upwards of 20 representatives, while others only had one or two. It was interesting to see the types of campaigns running and gauge the longevity of its influence. Sure, tweeting with a special hashtag is fun and will get you immediate publicity, but it won't build a lasting relationship. The best practice, in my opinion, is to actually talk to the blogger about their blog and how you can work together in the future. Take notes on what they share, as bloggers who actually come up to your with ideas for how you can work together are better assets in the long run than one off review bloggers.

Lesson 3: Though it may be difficult, step out of your comfort zone and talk to as many people as you can. It's true, there were definitely groups of bloggers that already knew each other and hung out in packs. To be fair, I primarily spent the first day with one friend attending sessions and grabbing meals together. Still, it's important and beneficial to talk to new people. The BlogHer conference is a huge networking opportunity for bloggers, brands and marketers. As a blogger and marketer, I was flattered to receive an email from a blogger I'd chatted with at an offsite party detailing her desire to work with my clients in the future and detailing some more personal aspects of her life. This new relationship was generated entirely on a conversation we shared.

Lesson 4: Swag is fun, but it won't guarantee a review or a relationship. I got so, so much stuff from this event, and to be honest, I'm not sure where all of it came from. Will a coupon for a cleaning product get me to buy it? Maybe, but I probably won't write about it. Will a (really awesome) high heel shaped tape dispenser get me to post a photo on instagram and twitter- definitely, but that's because it is relevant to me. The lesson here is that not all swag nor all pitches will work for everyone, so find those key  bloggers that align with your brand and give them special attention. A coupon or product sample may not get them to write about you, so build that relationship and you'll receive more value in the long run.

Lesson 5: Though online campaigns are important, meeting bloggers in person may be almost as powerful. In addition to attending the actual BlogHer conference, I attended two Clever Girls Collective  parties on behalf of a client. These were probably the most important events I attended, as they were informal, fun and allowed for real conversation. If your brand is able to participate in a party/brunch/meetup outside of the actual conference, I highly recommend it.

 If you attended the BlogHer conference, what lessons did you learn?