Blogfest 2012 has ended, and as I do after most events I attend, I'm serving up a piping hot plate of review and recap.
For those of you who have never heard of it, Blogfest is a three day event organized by Kravet:
"the second annual New York City design event hosted by Kravet Inc. that brings together editors from top design and lifestyle magazines, great brands and A-list industry designers and celebrities."
Rather than taking you through shit day by day, I'm breaking down my observations into tasty, morsel-y bites.
1. Kravet deserves a shitload of credit for dreaming this puppy up and organizing it.
Now look: was this the most perfect conference I've ever been to in my life? No. But perfection is pretty damn hard to come by, ppl. And in the meantime, I think we all need to give some props to the folks at Kravet for even doing this in the first place. It's not like Kravet is a social media co, or an agency, or a company that most people would have guessed would be putting together a conference targeted toward bloggers. This was an out-of-the-box idea for them, and 99.9% of companies out there today are terrified of out-of-the-box ideas. So, for someone like me who's job out in the real world is basically dreaming up ways to get people to pay attention to shit, they had me at hello.
As I learned throughout Blogfest, Kravet is an old family company, and they seem to be doin somethin right as they apparently own almost every other fabric and home decor line on planet Earth, and have a gaggle of happy employees working for them--I think these are telling facts. And yes, I ate two delicious shrimp rolls for lunch at their showroom and gazed on at 9 billion swatches of lovely fabric while lounging comfortably in a centrally air conditioned room, on a cushy Kravet fabric-ed sofa while soft light shone down on my rosy cheeks…so perhaps I drank a bit of the Kool Aid too. But wharves--Kool Aid tastes good, ppl.
*so props to all the Kravet folks cause clearly it takes a village, but espesh to my girl Jennifer Powell who is just awesome, and helped me anytime I had a question, and always had a smile on her face, and hooked me up with an iPhone battery after I missed em at check-in, and also has an undying appreciation for Poodle art.
2. I'm not sure if this thing should be called "blogfest" or "designfest"
Here's why: it did feel like the group was mostly made up of interior designers who maybe also, kinda, sometimes, were bloggers. Now don't get me wrong: there were definitely some full-on bloggers there who've never decorated a damn thing aside from their own house, but it felt like we were in the minority. This is neither good nor bad information…it's just information. But if I'm right re: the demographics (and for the record, I'm practically never right about anything so that's a big if), I do think it might be worthwhile to change up the format a bit next year. For instance, my favorite part of Blogfest was our morning at Hearst where we got to hear from editors from House Beautiful and Veranda mag, as well as some interior designers that were featured in their magazines. But as a blogger, I'm interested in way the hell different things than I would be if I were a full-on interior designer…and some of these things were actually touched upon (the way Pinterest has taken over the scene, how social media is changing some practices in publishing), but some things were not. As a blogger, I want to get down-n-dirty with magazine editors and hear what their take is once and for all regarding photography rights, whether or not they want to hear pitches from bloggers or are open to doing joint promos (and if so, which kinds), which blogs they love to read, etc. I want to hear about everything bloggy, ya know?
One of my fave speakers (as well as my official Blogfest 2012 boy crush) was the fabulous Mr. Call. He's a young, adorable NYC interior designer with a new design business called Mr. Call Designs. And trust me folks: this dude is going places. He delved into things like the thought process of coming up with a name, figuring out how to market himself, and tools he uses to experiment with getting the word out. While he was specifically speaking about his business, he touched on so many great points that bloggers should also be on top of as they try to grow and expand their reach and build their own personal brands. I could have listened to him talk for another 45 minutes...and that's WITHOUT getting up to go get another mini croissant.
So yeah: if this stuff is really, truly meant for bloggers, I think it would be fab if it were a bit more targeted toward bloggers and our unique needs and challenges. Or perhaps there could be two tracks: the designer track (for interior designers who also happen to have a blog) and a bloggers track for straight-up gangsta design bloggers?
3. This-n-That: Blogfest nitty gritty
Here are some random thoughts about everything:
* Buses from event to event were awesome…such a nice touch. And they were air-conditioned AND full of snacks. Don't think we didn't notice.
* The show houses were waaaaay the hell too crowded. I don't even have claustrophobia and I almost had to start breathing into a paper bag at the Elle Decor show house. I left feeling like I didn't dig either Elle Decor or the Kips Bay show house mostly cause I was miserable the entire time I was there because I couldn't move, couldn't breathe, couldn't sit down and was hot as hell. And ok, I also kinda hated Kips Bay cause I just mostly hated the designs, but that's another story. I think it would be fab if show houses were an optional visit in the morn: 8-10am. Let people get there on their own and then have a bus leaving every half hour or so to the next spot. Or even just one hour is fine…I just think it's something that pretty damn hard to do as a group, so breaking it up like that and keeping it optional might alleviate some of the chaos.
* We really need some time for dinner each night…please! Champagne and cheese and crackers, after a looong day of doin stuff, doesn't cut it. I'm pretty sure I reached my code red "hangry" state on both Mon and Tues nights.
* The blog face book thing-y = GENIUS! So nice to have a concise, easy to read list of everyone who was there so that we can connect and stay in touch afterwards (Kravet created a yearbook style brochure with everyone's pictures, a bio, their logo and links to all social media).
* Would be fantastico to have every speaker's website/twitter handles in the actual program sked. Sometimes they were up on a screen before they spoke, but even that was tricky cause if you missed it, you were S.O.L. Having them on our sked would ensure that we were all tagging and hashtagging correctly.
* In general would be nice to only go to spots that could fit us all. I know this is a hard one…espesh in NYC. And espesh when thing has become so popular. But when we were in spots where we each had chairs, could move around, walk freely etc, it was sooooooo much more enjoyable (like I was ready to move into the Hearst conference space and/or the Savant showroom).
* Was so great that you guys left time for attendees to meet speakers (and take photos) after each event. I'm not a picture taker myself (I said to Alexa Hampton that I felt like I was coming up to sit on Santa's lap), but everyone else really seemed to dig that. And from a marketing perspective, it was VERY smart (I'm a marketer, so I always think about that shit).
* Speaking of Alexa Hampton, she rocked my socks off...way more of her, please.
* The party in the Savant showroom was awesomesauce. And Savant is ah-mazing. If anyone reading this has a home, unlike mine, that is more than 700 square feet I would suggest you immediately call them up and have them connect up your house. You'll be able to control almost everything with your iPad and your iPhone and your life will become magic, and you'll only have Savant to thank. Oh, and me, of course.
* Speaking of parties, for some stupid reason I thought hte party at the GE Monogram showroom was going to be totally boring, but it was loads of fun and the food was delish. And apparently everyone who works for GE is from the midwest, cause they were all super duper nice, and had cute accents, and made me want to just give em all a hug.
* Not sure if there were some fakers or what, but everyone I met was so super duper nice. From the attendees to the Kravet staff, to all of the speakers. Really was just a lovely, great group of peeps.
* Speaking of meeting fab ppl, I finally got to meet Jamie from Furbish Studios and it was kinda like this:
4. Social Media Instruction Manual
Ok, now I'm going to switch into asshole mode for a mo just cause I got to get this off my chest. I am super duper glad that companies out there are realizing that they need to be in it to win it with social media now…however most of em still have a very fuzzy idea of exactly what that means. Case in point, there were a couple social media tie-ins/contests throughout the event that were either just flat out silly, and/or didn't reflect a deep understanding of how to actually connect with bloggers in order to get yourself attention.
Case in point: Traditional Home mag informed us that they were running a contest where they were giving out a guest bloggin prize to the blogger who tweeted, blog, tumblr'd and Pinterest-ed the words "Traditional Home" mag the most. They even asked us to send our "count" (i.e. how many times we mentioned the mag) to their social media editor.
1. I give you some props for trying to get your head in the social media game, Traditional Home mag.
2. I'd recommend that you don't ever do anything like that again.
And let me tell you why. Were you looking for me to create something like this?
It was so great to see this month's issue of Traditional Home magazine. I especially loved the cover of Traditional Home magazine, and really though that some of Traditional Home magazine's photography was really beautiful. I think about my approach to design a lot, and I've realized that my favorite projects are always in Traditional Home magazine. So I decided to subscribe to Traditional Home magazine, and now I get so excited every month when I arrive at my mailbox and find that there's a Traditional Home Magazine waiting there for me to read! Even my husband likes to read Traditional Home magazine, and sometimes (true confessions!) I even read Traditional Home magazine to our dog, Oliver! I know it's silly, but I just love Traditional Home magazine so much I can't help myself! Do you subscribe to Traditional Home magazine? If not, you definitely should subscribe to Traditional Home magazine! Traditional Home magazine is the best!
See what I mean here? This paragraph above makes me look like a moron (and a spammer), and does nothing for creating the sort of buzz around your publication that you were actually looking for. Yet based on your rules (most mentions), I likely would have been the winner of your competition.
Hey media companies: let me save you the $200/hr you'd spend to hire me as a social media consultant and just give you one important piece of advice that you should never ever ever forget: make this sort of stuff all about me and not about you--at least on the surface. Trust me: this technique works EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
When you make these sorts of promotions about the blogger (or reader or whomever), instead of making the entire focus about you and your brand, you will get way the hell more participation and buy-in on all fronts. Without requiring more mentions, you'll get sooooo many more mentions, and the virality and penetration of these mentions will go much deeper and last much longer.
For instance, what if you did a promo asking bloggers to send in links to any projects featured either on their blogs or other blogs that would make a great Traditional Home mag feature? They could tweet links to you and then hashtag it #tradhomeblog. Bloggers could enter as many times as they like, and you would end up choosing 5 winners, who would each get to guest blog for 1 day on the Traditional Home blog.
In this case you would:
* allow bloggers to express their own personal taste and curation abilities
* promote their own blogs as well as your brand
* gain insight into what bloggers *think* would be a good fit for your mag (whether they're right or not)
* potentially find new blogs that focus on traditional homes to follow
* see which bloggers enter the most, and potentially choose to engage with them more in the future
* track your media mentions with each hashtag
* track the perceived value of "guest blogging" on your site (to use or not for future promotions)
* gauge the level of blogger participation and take notice what types of bloggers are excited about teaming up with you (maybe they are not the sorts of bloggers you would imagine…or maybe they are).
* get yourself additional "real" coverage on blogs from the bloggers participate in the promo and, as a result, choose on their own to give you more publicity.
Are you pickin up what I'm puttin down here? Would have been waaaay more win/win for everyone.
And truth time: I know I was an asshole and called em out, but Traditional Home is so not alone. I called them out this time, but trust me: they're on a very, very crowded bus right now with many other companies who still don't get it. The fact that they were at least trying, does in fact, put them ahead of the game, so don't all go and put your heads in the oven just yet. You'll get it...just keep practicing.
And finally, this doesn't really have much to do with Blogfest, but:
5. WTF, Brooklyn Contessa??!!
Now look, as much as I like to keep it real on here, I don't make it a habit of calling out individual ppl and telling them how much I'd like to punch them in their lady parts…however, in this case, I'm making an exception: BROOKLYN CONTESSA: SOMETIMES I WANT TO PUNCH YOU IN YOUR LADY PARTS SOOOO VERRRRY HARD.
Why do you seem to be so hell bent on making a career out of being a professional online asshole?
I mean I'm very clear about the fact that I have no fucking clue what I'm talking about most of the time, and despite my very strong opinions about virtually everything, everyone should feel free to ignore them all. Srsly. Or not. I don't really give a shit.
But somehow, you don't seem to have ever gotten the memo that every single solitary little thought that you have swimming around in your head is not meant to be shat out as a tweet. Have your opinions, express yourself, but newsflash: publishing a tweet does not mean that whatever you've said is registered into the universe as a bonafide fact.
Facts are things that are just true. Your opinions are not facts, so stop acting like they are.
Speaking of facts, here are some:
1. Tweeting is not blogging…or even microblogging. Microblogging is done on a little site called Tumblr. I know you understand what Tumblr is, cause you now have one…and you post some really cool things on there! I actually think you have lovely taste. But for a long time, you were riding on this whole "tweeting is microblogging" train and that train has never pulled out of the station…except in your own head.
2. Just because you follow a company and they don't follow you back, it doesn't mean it's a horrible, no good company that no one anywhere should ever pay any attention to or patronize. You want to know what it *does* mean: it means that they haven't followed you back. That's it! Maybe they only follow people back in batches, maybe they just fired their social media person, or maybe they've looked through your tweet stream and decided that they just don't want to follow you. Whatever the case may be, not following someone back is not a capital offense that deserves to be punished by public hanging. If someone wants to follow me, go for it. If I want to follow them back, I do…if I don't, I don't. Gay people can get married in some states in our country now…we all have lots and lots of choices.
3. You're a "photographer" who doesn't have a portfolio site…that doesn't make any sense. Like none.
4. You rant about really, really stupid stuff. Case in point:
Do you *honestly* think that Blogfest 2012 included packets of ketchup in as gifts to attendees? Honestly?
Obviously those were accidentally dropped in there, or someone else had the bag first and took their kid to McDonalds and oopsie! a ketchup packet fell in. Or they served some other purpose like stain control or something. I don't know! But even someone like me with a weed delivery guy and a reduced number of brain cells has enough sense to understand that a packet of ketchup was not meant to be your "gift." And yet you chose to publicly call out and attempt to embarrass Kravet and Blogfest with your inane tweet?! Why??
In fact, look at all the gorgeous stuff that WAS in the gift bag...but you made no mention of any of it.
You could have easily said something like: Ha! Found a crayon and ketchup packet in my #blogfest2012 gift bag…so crazy! Good thing there was lots of other good stuff in there.
Or if you *still* hated the gift bag, you could have said: "wish there was some more xxx in the #blogfest2012 gift bag…maybe next year"
ORRRRRR here's a crazy idea! Maybe say nothing at all!?
I mean you showed up in the very final hours of Blogfest, after missing the entire thing and all the sudden you're the expert on everything they should and shouldn't be doing? You're lucky they still had a gift bag for you! In fact, some might guess you came *just* cause you wanted to the gift bag. I didn't make it to the last day's activities and I didn't even get a gift bag...but that's my fault, not Kravet's.
Look, I'm guessing you're going to respond to this all with a barrage of angry, curse-y tweets at me with detailed instructions regarding how I can go fuck myself 9000 different ways. And that's fine. But also:you really might want to think about relaxing with the hate tweeting.
I'm here to attest to the fact that there is, indeed, room in the design world for people like us with strong opinons, but there's a very fine line between being a critic and being a straight up asshole. I do struggle with this myself quite a bit, so I get what it's like...but you gotta figure out how to dial shit down when needed. It's really not you against the world...I promise.
Anyhoo, I digress.
All in all Blogfest 2012 was a lots of fun...and I drank a LOT of champagne. Please remind me at Blogfest 2013 to drink way the hell less (fyi: that was my aha moment, House Beautiful mag! Does that count??).