Yes, you read that title right. This is about enjoying a blog conference you ARE NOT attending. Blog Conferences are just about the most fun you can have with your clothes on and I think everyone should go to as many as possible. In fact, if you don’t blog I think you should probably start a blog just so you can go to blog conferences – really. But let’s face it – we can’t all go to every single one. Maybe you’ve got a family wedding that weekend, maybe it’s too far to drive and you don’t like to fly, maybe it’s just not in the budget no matter how much you stretch. Or maybe it’s the same weekend as Parents’ Weekend at your eldest child’s college and he’ll be marching with The World’s Most Dangerous Drumline for his school’s first home football game and there’s no way you’re going to miss that! Oh, was that just me?
Anyway, last weekend was Bloggy Boot Camp in Philadelphia and my friend Dianna was going without me. She’d be hanging with cool people we’d met at Bloggy Boot Camp in Baltimore this spring and meeting new people I was dying to meet in real life. I didn’t want to miss a second of the fun, so here’s the game plan I laid out:
1.) Start at least a month in advance. Find out who’s going. Someone will post a Twitter list. If it’s a Bloggy Boot Camp conference you’re interested in (and it should be) keep an eye on their site and their tweets and follow the bloggybootcamp hashtag on Twitter. Once you start figuring out who’s going follow their blogs and follow their tweets. Interact with them! Make friends. If someone posts a tweet about needing a roommate or having a ticket for sale retweet it – help out!
2.) Check out the sponsors. Look at their sites, show them some love on Twitter.
3.) Check out the speakers and find out what topics they are speaking on. Ask your friends who will be attending if you can tweet them questions you want them to ask the speaker during the conference, and if they will take notes you can get copies of.
4.) Be supportive of attendees the last couple of days before the conference. Spend as much time as you can on Twitter. People are going to be worrying about sick kids, getting bad haircuts, and not allowing enough time for pedicures and eyebrow waxing. They will be sleep deprived and not have anything to wear. BE SUPPORTIVE. Say the things you would want someone to say to you in that situation – be a friend!
5.) The morning of the conference get on Twitter and STAY THERE. No, don’t hide your iPhone in the your bouquet if you’re a bridesmaid in your cousin’s wedding, but be on there as much as you can. My son’s college is a 2-hour drive away and so I’d designated travel time as Twitter time. There were an average of 10 tweets PER MINUTE under the bloggybootcamp hashtag at some points during the day. Read them all, retweet and respond if you want to, but don’t hog the tweet stream. Favorite the ones with links and quotes you want to come back to.
6.) Don’t lose your mind if you get out of the loop for a while. In case anyone is interested an iPhone in certain mountainous, rural areas of Kentucky is like tits on a bull – useless. And screeching, waving the iPhone around the car, and yelling, “I need Twitter!” doesn’t help. Just sayin’.
7.) When you get time and reception go back through the tweet stream and catch up on what you’ve missed. If you’ve missed a lot HootSuite goes back further than TweetDeck so it’s handy to have both.
8.) Check your All Friends column frequently as well. Some of the attendees will be tweeting without the bloggybootcamp hashtag some or all of the time and you don’t want to miss anything.
9.) Keep watching the hashtag through the evening and the next morning as well. People are going to start posting pictures to Flickr and Whrrl and you’ll get to see what everyone REALLY looks like, not just the thumbnail pic or avatar you’ve been seeing. Be prepared to be very jealous at this point, because you can tell from their faces they are all having the time of their lives.
10.) Watch everyone’s blog posts for the next week – there will be lots of recaps with great pictures and hilarious stories. Hit all the sponsor’s websites again – they made all this possible. And of course be ready for the posts from the speakers. They will review what they spoke about so that you’ll get some excellent tips even if you didn’t have anyone taking notes for you.
11.) If you are exceptionally lucky (as I was) you can beg your friend who went to the conference to come over and tell you every blessed detail. Or you can camp out on her doorstep until she agrees to let you in – whatever works for you. Bribery with food, drink, and toys for her kids is optional but strongly encouraged. Be prepared, though. This visit will almost certainly culminate in the purchase of tickets for an upcoming conference. Bloggy Boot Camp San Diego, watch out! These Southern girls are packing up their accents and their enthusiasm and heading your way in March!
Yes, that was eleven – get over it.