Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Five Reasons You* Should Go to Blog Indiana 2011

With apologies to my regular readers (both of you), I'm going to get a little meta here and blog about blogging.

Blog Indiana's fourth annual conference on blogging and social media (BIN2011) is slated for August 11 and 12 in Fishers, Indiana. Whether you're a new blogger trying to get yourself heard or a professional blogger working for a Fortune 500 company, these two days promise to be educational, eye-opening, and downright fun.

Here are five great reasons you* should go to BIN2011, or, as the case may be, five great reasons why your* boss(ahem) should pay your way in:

Expand your social media arsenal

Sure, the centerpiece of the conference — Friday morning's keynote presentation — is "Writing Secrets the Pros Use" with Erik Deckers, but this isn't just two days of "How to Write a Good Blog Post" lectures. Nor is it all about blogging. Over the course of these two days, you can also learn something new and wonderful about infographics, online branding and marketing, affiliate programs, online video, and even how to use Foursquare to enhance your business.

Perhaps the session I'm most keen to drop in on, though, is Thursday morning's keynote speech with Jay Baer, "How to Hug Your Calculator: The 6-Step Process to Measuring Social Media." It's getting so that I can't click the Stumble! button anymore without landing on some new post about that analytic pie in the sky: How to measure a business's success with social. But many of those posts are filled with the same empty equivocations and generalizations (ROI isn't just about money! It's about conversation! It's about engagement!) but with very little concrete information that one can use to start building a social media analytics strategy.

Jay describes his six-step process as "sure-fire." If he's right, that one keynote speech will be worth the cost of registration. (I have high hopes, Jay; don't let me down!)

Learn what works from the people who have made it work

There are kajillions of bloggers, Twitterers, and Facebookers out there, and a least a bazillion of them live here in Indiana. But Blog Indiana didn't just pull people in off the streets and slap "Social Media Expert" stickers on their foreheads. Oh no. These are the people who have been doing it well, doing it right, and doing it successfully. And they are all being drawn in to Fishers for one reason: To tell you how they do it.

Put real faces and personalities to the usernames, blogs, and cartoon avatars

Who will be attending BIN2011? A whole mess of people you follow on Twitter, or will want to follow on Twitter in fairly short order. A plethora of writers who create the blogs you already read or that you'll start reading even before the conference is over.

And by the end of the conference, they won't just be 128-pixel-square images anymore.

And that will include you, too, if you go. You'll meet people who read your blog or who will be excited to start reading it soon, and you'll meet people who already follow you on Twitter or who will start following you. They could end up becoming major players in your social media lifestyle.

It has been said so often that it has almost lost meaning, yet it's true: Social media is all about connecting with people. But no amount of tweeting, twittering, commenting, trolling, or flaming can hold a candle to the connections that can be made from just sitting down with someone over lunch and making a conversation.

Get to know these people, and let them get to know you.

Good old-fashioned networking

In order for your blog to be successful, you have to connect with your readers. But the blogosphere has gotten so immense that that's no longer enough; you have to connect with other bloggers, too.

Events like this offer myriad opportunities for the imaginative mind. Hoping to parlay your late-night personal blogging experience into a job blogging for a nice company, with a salary and benefits? You can find opportunities. Got an idea for a great group blog, but just need to find the right bloggers? You'll find receptive ears. Think you have the next great thing in social? You'll find people who want to hear about it.

Who knows what you'll find? Guest bloggers? Corporate speakers? Job opportunities? Or just new friends? (Not Facebook friends, IRL friends. Remember those?)

Refill your mojo

Do you remember publishing your first blog post? The excitement? The anticipation? The hopes you had for your blog, how it would raise awareness for a cause, or get people talking about something you love, or just get you writing more often?

Do you still feel that way when you click the Publish button?

I started this blog almost four years ago, and it certainly hasn't turned into what I thought it would. It started off just being about fun words and wordplay. I had no idea it would lead to things like Three-Word Wednesday, to a limerick about political sexting, or to a sonnet about keeping a girl in a pit on your basement. I never dreamed that I would find something as great as Friday Flash, which would get me writing and posting short-short fiction, and which would lead me to an April Fool's Day blog swap.

But as great as those things are, if you look at the posting dates, you'll see some substantial gaps between posts. I would love to put out a little something fun for every Three-Word Wednesday, and work ahead by weeks to have some polished prose to post for every Friday flash. I might complain that I don't have the time, but really it's a matter of motivation. As much as I want to blog all the time (every bloody day!), I'm just not as excited or motivated as I once was.

And I'm sure I'm not alone.

But if spending two days surrounded by people who do the same things you do — who are excited about it, who want to talk about it, and who encourage it — doesn't energize you, doesn't rekindle that excitement in you, doesn't, as the heading says, refill your mojo, then you're already dead inside.

Blog Indiana is a great opportunity to remind yourself why you started blogging in the first place and to get you excited about doing it some more.

I would absolutely love to go to Blog Indiana this year. It would be good both for me and for the people I work for and with. Until July 14, registration is only $199, after which it goes up to $229.

Unfortunately, the only in "only $199" applies just to people who don't have my checking account. If only someone would read this, see the possible benefits, and pay my way in.

If only...

* By you and your, I really mean I and me.