BlogHer co-founder forecasts the future
The next two weekends are going to be a blizzard of hashtags.
This coming weekend, there's BlogHer Food. Held over two days in San Francisco, the sold-out conference features some of the most influential names in the food world, including Dorie Greenspan and Michael Ruhlman. A week later, the food focus widens and swings to Las Vegas, for BlogWorld. (I'll be at both events, and I'll be a panelist at BlogWorld, so please stop and say hi!)
The two food-focused events come at a provocative time: Blogging now shares the stage with micro-blogging, old media's aggressive gambit to make up for lost time, and the Rise of Aggregation a la Eatocracy and HuffPost Food. More important, what does this all mean for food blogging (because, let's face it, all we really care about is food blogging)?
We asked BlogHer co-founder Elisa Camahort Page to tell us what the landscape looks like from her vantage point. She forecast these six trends, and what follows are the highlights of our conversation. Long story short: Far from being "over," blogging is just getting started, she said, adding that food bloggers have more opportunities than every before to find a way to turn clicks into bucks.
--Blogs still rule: "Blogging offers something that the aggregators and applications and satellite tools don't offer: really substantive conversation and a platform for personal expression. All those other things are great because they are avenues to get the word out. We love our Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and all these tools, but we use them as little mini-megaphones that are all around our blogs. The blog is really our personal piece of real estate; it's really our voice."
--If you want to start a food blog, do it!: "Traffic has increased to local networking sites 50% year over year. And traffic, in unique visitors, also increased 50% year over year to blogs. Blogs continue to grow. And that's where people go for recommendations and thoughtful advice, like 'I'm going to buy a car, what should I buy?' That's not really happening on Facebook and Twitter."
--Aggregation = opportunity: "Aggregations means that attention isn't reserved just for 'the A-listers.' In fact, everyone can be an A-lister. It's no-longer all about, 'Here are the top 100 blogs.' Bloggers have a unique position in this world. They're not just a media channel, they are consumers themselves. Even smaller bloggers have a greater opportunity that they didn’t have before."
--And now for a word from our sponsors: "[From the advertisers' perspective,] there is all this opportunity to really target people who are perfect for your niche. Brands want scale, reach and depth, and they can do that if they reach the right 40 food bloggers. ... This means bloggers have more opportunity than ever before. Brands sponsor you, hire you for consulting. ... This is happening for small to medium bloggers now."
--Anyone for 'food'-themed Scrabble? "Publishers like BlogHer and Huffington Post are realizing it's not sufficient to just create content. We need to be experience creators. Mobile really, finally, is coming into its own. We're really at this tipping point where you can do more with mobile than ever."
And data -- such as Facebook traffic -- show that people who wouldn't consider themselves 'gamers' nonetheless love pulling up the keyboard to play Scrabble or Farmville, she said.
"Publishers need to bring the element of play and gaming to the experience. They need to ask themselves, 'How am I reaching my customer in a gaming environment?'"
--Don't turn your food blog into a food vlog just yet... "It looks as nice on mobile devices as on blogs. More day-to-day bloggers are recording a 30-second snippet to post. And we're all crazy for watching video. But it's not searchable, and it's hard to skip around in the video."
BlogHer Food sold out months ago, with the 300 tickets going fast. Camahort Page said the annual conference will "probably" grow in size next year. But that just means there will be more jockeying for tickets, so keep your eyes peeled for BlogHer Food 2011 news.
-- Rene Lynch
Twitter.com / renelynch
Photo: BlogHer 2010. Credit: Justin Hack for BlogHer Inc.
[Corrected at 9:45 a.m., Oct. 6: An earlier version of this caption said the photo was taken at BlogHer Food 2009. It was taken earlier this year at BlogHer 2010.]