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Blog Camp London

2012 September 21

Roost’s Community Strategist Frankie Holloway reflects on what she learnt at Blog Camp UK. 

Last week I left the Roost Offices for the day and headed up to London for Blog Camp. As both a community manager who runs blogger projects and looks after our Blog Community and a blogger myself, I was excited to see what I could learn from both a professional and personal point of view.

The day was held at the Google Campus in Shoreditch and featured several interesting talks and presentations each concerned with offering bloggers inspiration and practical advice and inspiring debate. After some momentary concern that Blog Camp and Tots 100 founder Sally Whittle was missing (she was caught up in traffic and appeared during the first presentation) the day began!

Ade of Google (Photo by Tots 100)

First up was Ade Oshineye explaining the intricacies of Google +: Ade talked about how Google’s was continuing to develop a seamless user experience across all their platforms.  Some of the interesting points he made included:

  • Google Hangouts, which let you video chat in a group of up to 9 people, are free for all Google users. It turned out the Blog Camp team had already held a meeting over one of these as they allow all participants to share documents and watch videos at the same time.
  • If you do have a personal blog then they recommend promoting it through your own profile instead of through a page, although this is obviously not an option is you blog anonymously. Despite this your SEO may be better if you do have a blog page on Google +.
  • Ade suggested getting around the last point by posting first as a blog/page then reposting on your personal profile but disabling comments. This way if anyone is interested they’ll go to your page and you’ll pick up more readers and page members.

Despite some of these interesting points the reaction to his talk wasn’t overwhelmingly positive with several audience members explaining the difficulties they’d had with Google, but Ade took comments on board – it was great to see that  Google  wanted to hear feedback about Google+ and their other services.

We then heard from Blog Camp rookie, the very funny Stuart Heritage – who set up his own show business blog, which led to him becoming an independent blogger and Guardian Contributor.

Stuart talked about how to deal with online criticism. The main points for bloggers to take from this are:

  • You can’t avoid criticism online.
  • Criticism of your blog can be a good thing because it shows a) that you are being read b) that your writing inspires opinions.
  • There are two ways to try and avoid online criticism a) try being self-depreciating b) try being blander.

Stuart regaled us with his own stories of dealing with online critics which culminated in his encounter with a spoof Twitter account ‘Poo Smegatage’!

Marcel of StumbleUpon (photo by Tots 100)

In the afternoon there was a second speaker from a social media channel, Marcel Puppik from StumbleUpon. His talk seemed to resonate more with the audience than the morning’s Google talk. Interestingly the consensus in the room seemed to be that although a lot of the bloggers there had neglected social bookmarking sites in recent years they would be willing to give them another go. Useful info tips for bloggers included:

  • StumbleUpon is the third biggest social referrer of traffic in the UK with 11% of referrals coming from its site.
  • You can use Stumble Upon to drive thousands of additional visitors to your blog although make sure that your own content is not the only stuff you stumble.

The day ended with an open floor panel featuring Stuart Heritage, Annie Spratt and a PR professional chatting to the audience and sharing their experiences of blogging and working with brands. In summary all agreed that the most important things when blogging is to build your own authentic voice and that the reviews and brand endorsements you feature need to fit with that.

What did I take away from the day?

It was great to chat to bloggers over a slice of cake (photo by Tots 100)

As a blogger who is constantly seeking ways to attract an audience I found myself thinking about new ways I might never have considered, which led me to joining StumbleUpon at the weekend. The tips I received that day also reignited my enthusiasm for my own blog, which I’d neglected of late.

From a professional point of view it reiterated the importance of what we do with bloggers at Roost. It’s not our way to send out a press release from one or our clients and ask a blogger to repost in on their blog. Instead we seek to offer bloggers an experience or brief that gets them excited and allows them to buy into a brand opportunity tailored to their blog, lifestyle and current interests. That’s why when we’re given a client brief we actively seek out and build relationships with bloggers who we believe will resonate with our client.

Overall the part of the day that I enjoyed most was being able to chat with the other attendees. Although we talk to bloggers on Twitter, Facebook and over email nothing beats meeting them face to face and being able to find out what makes them tick.

We are very much looking forward to the next Blog Camp and hope we’ll see you there!

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