So, admittedly, this was my first year attending BlogHer and I was not disappointed. The energy and excitement was palatable. Eager bloggers, hungry brands and lots of people like me who just wanted to experience the collective chaos.
I’ve attended and even spoken at many blogger conferences and while each one is a little different, none compare to the size and expectations of BlogHer. So as I was studying each brand, the experience they provided bloggers and analyzing the bloggers’ response to each experience, I couldn’t help but find commonalities in the successes and failures.
So if you’re planning on activating at BlogHer ‘14, here are a few tips I learned this year.
This might sound simple on the surface, but brands like Coca-Cola received harsh criticism for trying to play up healthy lifestyles. For those of you who weren’t at BlogHer this year, Coke gave every registrant a pedometer and asked attendees to track their steps for their “Steps to Wellness Challenge.” The blogger with the most steps wins a fabulous swag pack (more on swag later!). Now fast-forward to the Coke booth and what you’d find is group fitness classes being led in public with professional trainers, brand ambassadors and any blogger willing to work up a sweat (in their conference attire, no change of clothes provided). After a workout session you could grab a Dasani Water or any other Coke product for refreshment.
The problem here is that Coke wasn’t launching a new, healthier product. They weren’t reducing the amount of high fructose corn syrup, artificial dyes or taking the genetically modified ingredients out of their soda. They were trying too hard to be someone they just aren’t. Think of all the amazing things Coke could have done to engage bloggers. Instead, they left a bad taste in our mouths. Check out this bloggers reaction to her Coca-Cola BlogHer experience.
At BlogHer you will be swallowed up by a sea of brands and for the most part, it’s a sea of sameness: “We love bloggers,” or “Post this picture on Instagram to win,” or “Follow Us. Like Us. Subscribe to Us.” It was very hard to tell one booth apart from the next, except for a select few. The brands that broke the mold and spiced up the experience had the most foot traffic.
Trojan wins, yes even with parenting bloggers, for having the most foot traffic and most engaged audience. Their strategy? Get 5,000 female influencers into the same room and ask them to talk about their sex life in front of total strangers for a chance to win luxury “personal” prizes. (But hey, even that sounds like fun after 20 different brands make you pose with their product for a chance to win.) Trojan’s booth was simple: a spin wheel, free lubricant for all and a chance to win one of a variety of “personal” prizes after answering a question. The disruption paid off and the line was wrapped around the hall at all times.
A little less risqué but equally compelling was Verizon. Their booth was simple and it showcased brand new technology. From the Vgo Robotic Telepresence to Tagg the Pet Tracker, who doesn’t love robots and pets? On top of experiencing this technology first hand, they also surprised everyone at BlogHer with a live artist who leveraged Verizon’s Twitter stream for inspiration. Bloggers could tweet Verizon using a specific hashtag to provide the artist with inspiration (i.e., unicorns and bunnies). Some were funny and some were clever but the end product was a massive mural crowd sourced by the bloggers themselves. Group art allowed everyone to participate and feel a sense of ownership over the final piece.
Swag on Steroids
If you’re going to BlogHer you better be ready to shell out the cash for swag, because let me tell you, you are going up against a pretty awesome collection of it. Forget the fact that a lot of these bloggers have to fly home, they will check a bag to salvage the goods they receive at BlogHer. Full-size beauty products, month long subscriptions, exclusive unreleased products you can’t even purchase yet—that’s what bloggers are exposed to at BlogHer. So if you want to stand out, invest in quality giveaway materials. Brands that unloaded coffee mugs, pens and other sales collateral they clearly took out of their storage room ended up in the trash can (or actually the recycling bin, yes they have a recycling bin for swag). If you want to make it home with the bloggers, think long and hard about what you give away.
Relationships vs. Reach
If you think attending BlogHer is going to generate millions of impressions from bloggers talking about your brand, the chances are, you’re going to be disappointed. Instead, think about BlogHer as a way to build relationships. It’s a jumping off point. It’s not the end game. Take the time to get to know these bloggers, follow up with them and start to build mutually beneficial relationships that you can leverage over the long term.
There are many more lessons to be learned from BlogHer. If you attended this year or in the past, I’d love to hear your thoughts.