Today I’m fortunate enough to be in Sydney in the blogging contingent at.
As usual at these things there is a lot of content to listen to and many people to meet so I’ll keep my impressions so far (three quarters of the way through day 1) brief.
Myspace – Shawn Gold Session
Shawn Gold, CMO of Myspace, was interviewed in the keynote space this morning and while there wasn’t a great deal of ‘new’ information it was I was fascinated by the glimpse at the whirlwind journey of the last three years that has been Myspace.
His reflections upon the keys to social media sites resonated with me. They included (and this is a bringing together of many of the wide variety of things that he covered):
- Letting Users define the direction of the Site
- Giving Users the tools to express themselves as individuals
- Build something that empowers people and makes their lives more efficient
He also reflected upon two aspects of young people (teens and young adults) that Myspace taps into:
- Identity Production (or personal branding) – one of the things that most teens go through (and have always been through) is asking questions about identity. They ask questions about who they are, how they’re different from their parents, how they connect with wider culture etc. Myspace (and other social networking sites) is a space that young people explore who they are and express that journey.
- Down Time – between school, sports, part time work and other extra curricula activities (combined with the fear of many parents that doesn’t allow some kids to get out as much) there is less ‘down time’ or ‘hanging out’ going on in teen years. Myspace is being used by many young people as a ‘down time’ medium. Instead of hanging at the ‘mall’ they hang online.
Quote of the day – ‘it’s a great time to be lonely on the internet.’
Des Walsh, Mark Jones, Ross Dawson and were on the ‘blogs as a marketing tool’ panel and covered a variety of topics including blogging ethics, advertising on blogs, approaching bloggers and astro turfing.
These sessions are always difficult as there is such a variety of people there (there must have been 150+) from so many different backgrounds (and blogging is such a massive topic to cover that there are full conferences dedicated to it) but they pulled off a good discussion and it was great to meet them each having seen their blogs online and yet never having met any of them (except Mark) in real life.
I also got to meet ProBlogger reader Paul Woods.
Looking forward to connecting with more bloggers at the bloggerstonight.
Social Networking and Consumer Generated Media Session
This session was a little difficult as it was attempting to cover so much ground so quickly but it contained a few gems. Speakers were from and/or covered Bebo, Second Life and Habbo Hotel (a strange mix).
It also featured Edelman PR’s Marcus Bottay who had some interesing things to say about youth culture (a topic that has long fascinated me). This might not relate tightly to blogging (although for some it will – depending upon what type of blogs you run) but his statement – ‘everyone wants to be known as a superstar’ probably sums it up well.
He talked about how Baby Boomers taught their kids that they could be anything that they want and have anything that they want and that their kids grew up believing it.
A whole lot could be said about the good and bad of this but his comment was that virtual worlds and social networking sites are tapping into this and are creating spaces for people to actually be the superstars that they were told that they could be (sometimes actual superstars and more often virtual ones).
I’ve been talking about ‘making readers famous’ for a while now (as one way to build a readership) and I think that we’ll see more and more online spaces built on this.
Trends in Online Travel and Hospitality Session
I’m not sure quite why I went to this session (it was a time slot where nothing much appealed) but one quote that remains in my mind was from Cameron Holland from Lonely Planet who was reflecting upon user generated content (mainly people submitting reviews of hotels and travel destinations) when he said that at the moment people are willing to generate content for sites for free but that he felt that increasingly users will expect to get something back (either money, prizes, recognition) in return for their content.
Also in this session someone from Tourism Australia (no name in the adTech program) answered questions about how to generate traffic from Web 2.0 sites by advising companies against starting up social networking sites – but instead engaging in current ones. While I think there’s definitely a place for people to keep developing new social media tools I think our nameless Tourism Australia speaker was onto something.
Recently I’ve been talking with people about identifying where your potential readers currently gather online and participating in those communities. Note – I didn’t say ‘spam those communities’ or ‘manipulate those communities’ – but participate in them. Out of this genuine participation and engagement opportunities often flow.
Where’s the Bookmarking?
One more quick reflection. Perhaps the blogosphere is a little obsessed with social bookmarking sites like Digg, Delicious, StumbleUpon and Reddit – but in 5 sessions of presentations on online technology I’m yet to hear any reference to social bookmarking or any of these services. The buzz here is social networking (probably because the Myspace Keynote set the tone) and video (YouTube) but I wonder if the Aussie tech space is missing some of the story.
The other word that is completely absent so far is ‘Linkbait’. While I’m not really disappointed that the word isn’t present (I’m not a big fan) the idea behind it (quality content that causes people to link to it) has not been mentioned despite there being sessions on search engine marketing and search engine optimization.
Apologies if this is a little rushed and for my jumbled collection of thoughts – but I’m on the run. More tomorrow.