Those of you who follow me on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter would have seen my excited squeals last week as I attended the Digital Parents Conference 2012. I bought my ticket back in November last year and have been impatiently counting down the days. As a self-professed geek, this was my dream come true! An event centred solely around social media *bliss*. After heading off child-free for another week in a row, I drove down the Hume to Melbourne and could barely contain my excitement – until I hit the Melbourne traffic and my not-so-trusty sat nav took me WAY off course. But, that was all ok, because I was child-free (fist pump) and heading to DPCON12!
There were around 200 women and 7 mean at the conference and I did my best to soak in as much of their awesomeness as I possibly could (awesomeness is totally a word!). Thankfully, the organising team had arranged for those of us who were conference virgins to be teamed up with some veterans. I was lucky enough to be paired up with Donna and Caroline and we met up before walking up the staircase to a room full of ‘familiar’ faces. Although the faces were familiar, I actually knew none of them! Such is the nature of the beast in Social Media. You feel a kindred spirit in certain people after reading all about their life, and chatting with them on Twitter and Facebook; yet in reality you’re total strangers. I wrote that morning about how I was a little star struck over it all! Donna sat us down and the day began.
We started off with a quick speed dating session. Yes, really! I met a number of people, exchanged business cards and had a good laugh. What a brilliant way to break the ice, right?
DPCON12 is one of the few conferences where it is not only acceptable to tweet, type and Instagram to your hearts content, it would be odd not to. So the room was abuzz with the clicking of keyboards and the snapping of images right from the start.
Our first speaker of the day was Darren from Problogger. He was talking about ‘Social Media for Social Good’ and it really opened my eyes to what people can achieve with SM nowadays. I’m going to talk more about that in a separate post tomorrow. There’s so many people making a real difference in the lives of others with their SM influence, and they deserve more than a quick paragraph.
During the lunch break, I was able to meet some of the brands who were there and I stepped out of my comfort zone by about 10kms! I walked up to the Hallmark team first, asking how they work with bloggers and had a lovely chat about their initiatives. After this first triumph of stepping up and exchanging business cards with a brand, I took myself around to the other stands and found them really engaging. I also had a go at putting together a mini Dyson for the chance to win a life-size version – I WON taking home a Dyson handheld which is every bit as fabulous as my upright.
The next session that really caught my attention was the ‘Working With Brands’ panel. There were two gentlemen representing brands, and the inspiring Andrea from Fox In Flats. If you didn’t know what an amazingly savvy business woman she was before, you sure did following this session. I love to see women in business who know their value and have a clear and driven plan to achieve their goals. It was truly inspirational. She spoke about the brands she’d worked with and how she approached them. It’s not about sitting back and waiting for them to come to you. Your blog can be your business (or a strong part of it) and we all need to work smarter, not harder and know the value of what we’re doing. The PRs weighed in at this point and Twitter pretty much went into meltdown. The ‘brands’ suggested that bloggers should not be asking for payment in return for sponsored posts (a product exchange would suffice) as readers would become disenchanted knowing there was money changing hands. The bloggers in the room hit back with full force, with Nicole (the session moderator) telling them that “We can’t feed our kids with a bottle of moisturiser”. The truth is that many in the room generate an income from their social media persona. They have found a niche and created a community. That community was self-evident after the tweet stream that followed.
It was quite amusing to see people in other rooms (attending different sessions) asking on Twitter what the heck was going on! The power of social media at its best!
I really loved the next session which was titled ‘Blog To Business’, because I make no apologies about the fact that I hope to make an ongoing business and career from blogging. Some people are purists and against the idea of ‘monetising’ a blog, saying it should be all about the writing. I see blogging as the new version of newspapers and magazines. Nikki from Styling You moderated this panel and my favourite quote was from her: “Stop looking over your blogging fence and concentrate on your own blogging back yard”. She was talking about how so many people compare themselves to what other bloggers are doing, and this can create a lot of negative energy. I think this quote can be applied to any business, it’s important to take note of your competitors, but it’s also really important to focus on your own successes. Sometimes you simply can’t compare.
After a quick break, Eden (of Edenriley.com) made an announcement that had the whole room clapping and cheering. Following the conference, she would be heading off to Niger, Africa on behalf of World Vision to try and bring some media attention to the food famine that is currently gripping West Africa. She had just received confirmation 30 minutes before and you could see she was nervous and excited all at the same time. Follow her journey on Twitter with the #EdenInNiger tag or via her blog. It’s truly inspiring.
The afternoon was dedicated to several bloggers sharing their own journey and some had us in tears of pain, while others had us in tears of laughter. It was really motivating to see where blogging can take you.
I really could go on forever about this day, and I guess I will via a series of posts to give more credence to some of the highlights over the coming week. My mind has been so filled with new ideas to for posts, and social media that it has given me writers block until now. I know that sounds strange, but there are SO MANY things I want to say about DPCON12 that I simply couldn’t organise my own thoughts. This morning I sat down with a pencil and notebook and wrote an old-fashioned list! Amazing how embracing the ‘old school’ way of doing things can help a tech savvy miss like me. All I really needed was an HB and a piece of paper…