Blogging is all grown up… or at least enough so to have its very own conference. Media professionals, C-level executives, and amateur bloggers alike attended the BlogOn conference, held October 17-18 at NYC's Copacabana. According to conference organizer Suw Charman, BlogOn received between 350 and 400 attendees each day from organizations like AOL, DaimlerChrysler, Disney, Intel, McDonald's, Microsoft, Sprint, and Yahoo!.
Not surprisingly, Charman hosted an event blog, in which she discusses Guidewire Group's findings that an increasing number of businesses have incorporated blogs into their marketing strategies. Show organizers viewed BlogOn as a litmus test to gauge how much of an impact blogs are actually making into organizations' larger business plans. According to Charman, "Over the last 30, 40 or 50 years, businesses have been used to a broadcast model to communicate with their customers; now they will have to communicate on a one-by-one basis. Marketers are going to have to stop thinking about demographics and start thinking of their customers as a collective unit." Many believe that blogging will be part of the solution.
Charman, who is also a blog consultant, journalist, and author, feels that--despite the usual challenges in presenting new material to large numbers of people--BlogOn was a success. "We had quite a few people who were new to blogging and social media," says Charman. "I think it's challenging for a conference to introduce material like this to people. From day one, the intention always was to try and attract people who knew a little about blogging but wanted to learn more."
BlogOn offered sessions with topics that included social networks, online communities, and monitoring the blogosphere, but attendees were also able to get a first hand look at a variety of blogging tools. Exhibiting vendors were excited about the burgeoning opportunities blogging promises.
Robin Hopper, founder and CEO of iUpload, a content management and corporate blogging software company says he feels that BlogOn marked a shift in audience and content. "The blogging market has moved to the point where business is trying to look at it as a tool to solve communications problems," says Hopper. "The show itself supported a lot of the survey findings that showed that corporate blogging is entering its hyper-growth cycle."
"Everyone's trying to figure out how to make money," according to Pito Salas, project leader and programmer of BlogBridge, a blogging company and consultancy. "Right now blogging as a business is still embryonic."
Bill Cromie, VP of operations from Buzznex, had somewhat more cynical take on why businesses are suddenly so focused on the power of blogging. He says, "It's all about FUD--Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt--being instilled in the minds of the businesspeople that are here today. Customers can now share their thoughts and feelings about a company's products, no longer in the mainstream media."