Mixed feelings about Blogworld’s first conference day

Today the Blogworld and New Media Expo 2009 took off in Las Vegas. Our first time at Blogworld but our third time at the New Media Expo and first for all of us at the combination of the two. What striked me immediately after entering the event is the size of it. More participants, more speakers, more tracks and more lectures than ever. And some very interesting and promising keynote speakers, such as Chris Brogan, Guy Kawasaki and Anthony Edwards (you know, Goose from Top Gun)

The opening keynote came from Laura Fitton (@Pistachio). Laura shared with us how she came completely hooked on Twitter and how it can change people’s lives. Absolutely convinced by its power she recently started her own consultancy on Twitter for Business, PistacioConsulting.com. In addition she wrote Twitter for Dummies. After her energetic talk I don’t think that anyone disagrees with her when it comes to the unique value of Twitter. That said, she spoke to the already converted.

It was packed, people were sitting on the floor as there were not enough chairs available. After the keynote the audience spread out to the several parallel track sessions only to come back together to the next keynote half way the morning and during the lunch break. The latter was maybe not the best chosen way of offering a keynote. When having lunch, I prefer to network and meet people, share ideas and experiences. But no, we had to silently consume our lunch, while listening to a discussion on stage which was hard to follow due to bad quality sound. Not surprizing people started chatting again.

Overall, the track sessions were disappointing. That is the sessions I attended. I had great expectations of the Medblogging track. But I did not really get any new information. Yes, individual bloggers like doctors, patients and nurses can generate their own community and yes some of these communities (especially of patients) can be of great help to the individual patient in managing his/her disease. But what’s new? Interesting question to me is: how can we truly make a difference in healthcare with Social Media? How do we get all stakeholders involved? Where is Big Pharma? Insurance companies? Governmental institutions? Hospitals? Do they blog? Or any other kind of Social Media activity? Do they care? Those parties need to get involved or at least approached and brought into the discussion in order to get a true sense of the impact of Social Media in Healthcare.

We still write. We still make notes. Electronically that is. Most participants carry their laptop around. Either to make their private notes, summarize what’s being said in their blog or share the quotes of the day through tweets. But not later than after lunch. Because all batteries ran out. And there were hardly any power plugs. How can you organize a conference for Bloggers and Social Media geeks without providing the life essence of their existence: electricity! Please give us more power tomorrow….

Blogworld audience2

Was it all misery? No, I’ve titled this post ‘Mixed feelings…’. Cause the best thing of the day still had to come. Or two things to be exact (three that is…we had a great dinner with friends we met at previous editions of the New Media Expo). The last track session I attended was a panel about Social Media and crisis management. With Dallas Lawrence (Levick Strategic Communications), Maggie Fox (Social Media Group) and Shel Holtz (Holtz Communication + Technology). With the latter we had an interview last year. Social Media can truly help organizations to manage a crisis situation. transparency and authenticity are keywords here. And be prepared because a crisis always knocks on your door unannounced. Prepared meaning: have a strategy ready how to deal with a crisis and be present in the online space (and that does not mean only with a website!). Shel referred to the damage done to United Airlines by an erroneaous publication by Bloomberg that UA was close to bankrupcy. By the time UA had corrected this error, it had lost 70% of its stock value. Their response was through the traditional media channels. Had they had a blog, their response would have been much faster and less damage would have been done on UA.

Chris Brogan closed the day with a remarkable keynote. Why we are in Social Media, what do we want with it and where do we go from here. It’s nice, being at a conference like this, with all like minded friends. While we should get out there and convince others. And all this in sentences of not more than 140 characters. The tweet fountain in the back could not keep up with all the tweets that were produced. A few of his oneliners (of less than 140 characters):

– If you’re a bad person, get good or get offline – quickly

– Your community will fall on a sword for you, your audience will watch you fall on it.

– Listen to Master Yoda: do or do not, there is no try

– Social Media is the new nervous system of your organization.

And that closed the day. With inspiration. Now I’m curious what tomorrow will bring. Because overall it has to do better than today. Otherwise Blogworld and New Media Expo 2010 has to do without me.

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