Small Business Trends has been a media partner of BlogWorld Expo for several years but this is the first year I attended the show in Las Vegas. I just got back late last night, so while it’s still fresh in my mind here’s a report of 5 trends about blogging I noticed from the show:
1. From Early Adopters to Mainstream
BlogWorld had over 4,000 registered attendees this year. The show just keeps getting bigger each year. So if nothing else, it suggests that interest in blogging is not declining, but growing.
And when you look at the different conference tracks, you see just how broadly blogging has woven its way into our society. No matter what your occupation, your passion or your circumstances, it seems there’s a blogging community for you. You could see these different interests at BlogWorld. For food bloggers, Jenn-Air had a large exhibit booth with a stage where they held cooking demonstrations, including food for the audience to sample. Military bloggers had a substantial presence — the U.S. Army was even a show sponsor, with members of the military visible in uniform. There were specific blogging tracks for health, sports, travel, real estate and causes.
These are just more signals that blogging has reached the mainstream. With blogging appealing to so many different groups for very different reasons, it’s easy to see how far blogs and bloggers have “infiltrated” society.
2. Blogging and Social Media Go Hand in Glove
Along with blogging, the world of social media also had a key role in the event. While some commentators suggest that social media has replaced blogging, that’s an oversimplification. Social media and blogging are not “either / or.” Rather, they complement one another. Bloggers often amplify their blog posts through social media — spreading the word through social sites about blog posts they want to share with others. Bloggers also know the power of social media to develop community — to reach out and engage with a community of like-minded people on other platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and the like — and introduce them to their blogs.
Brands that want to raise their profile online also understand the relationship between blogs and social media. Notice the sign (pictured above) of one of the show exhibitors, The Macallan, with a Twitter suggestion for bloggers.
This symbiotic relationship among blogs and social media was apparent in many BlogWorld sessions and keynotes. They inevitably touched on both social media and blogging — often in the same sentence.
3. Entrepreneurship and Blogging
A noticeable group of the attendees was the entrepreneurs who either want to make a business out of blogging or currently run blog-based businesses.
What I found most revealing is the mindset so many have, that one can actually create a business around a blog. Quite a number of bloggers seemed to be there to answer one question: “How can I make money with my blog?” For many, blogs are part-time endeavors or fledgling enterprises. Still, the connection between entrepreneurship and blogging was hard to miss.
Consequently there were companies on hand that cater to small businesses and startups. For instance, CorpNet, which provides incorporation services, was an exhibitor. Network Solutions (see their show schwag pictured above) hosted a Have a Taco lunch for influential bloggers. (Note: I am a member of the Network Solutions Social Media Advisory Board.)
4. Books and Bloggers – What a Combo
We publish business book reviews here at Small Business Trends every Saturday. Quite a few of the books (perhaps 40% or more) are written by bloggers or have a blog set up specifically for the book. So it should not have been a surprise to see books so prominently featured at BlogWorld. Yet, I was surprised by just HOW MUCH of a presence books and traditional publishing had at BlogWorld.
For instance, there were 2 panel discussions devoted to book publishing, including representatives of publishers Wiley and Greenleaf (see picture above).
Borders had a large booth stuffed with books written either by bloggers or with a blogging connection — many more books than I realized. Authors like Rohit Bhargava, an executive with Ogilvy, were there to sign books. Wiley Books was a sponsor and had a booth at the show with blogging authors like Jim Kukral there to meet fans and do book signings.
From listening to one of the panel discussions, it’s clear that publishers and authors consider blogs and bloggers a key channel to generate interest in traditional print books. In fact, the representative of Wiley went so far as to say that reviews from influential bloggers bring a good “lift” to book sales, yet appearances on the Today and Oprah television shows don’t bring nearly the response you might imagine.
5. Blogging’s Impact on the Stream of Commerce
You couldn’t walk through the BlogWorld show floor without seeing evidence of how important bloggers are to brands. From Jenn-air (kitchen appliance maker) to Ford (car manufacturer), to Johnson & Johnson (family products company), to the U.S. Army, to Google — these are just some of the wide ranging brands that want to be seen in front of bloggers.
On top of that, an entire segment of exhibitors was on hand to help bloggers figure out how to make money. They included advertising solution companies like Infolinks and Izea, to video solutions like UStream, to affiliate networks like MarketHealth.com. Anyone who thinks there isn’t money in blogging isn’t looking at it from a broad enough lens.
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There you have my impressions of key trends based on observations at BlogWorld. If you attended BlogWorld, what do you think about these and other trends?