Wednesday, August 05, 2009

BlogHer '09 a Few Belated and Brief Observations

Whilst strolling the halls of the BlogHer '09 Expo, I kept hearing comments about the sheer volume of vendors targeting the so-called (and somewhat controversial) "Mommy Bloggers." These are the group who blog about their kids and their families. Many of them toss in additional stuff, but by and large it is, well, Mommy Blogging.

In a couple of the sessions I attended, there was also a bit of barely suppressed venom and not a little bitterness about the perceived attention the Mommy Bloggers were receiving, not only from the vendors, but in the actual agenda, as well.

There were questions, occasionally in voices quavering with anger, about how and why the Mommy Bloggers were getting tons of ad revenue and requests for product reviews and so many dedicated BlogHer sessions, and even observations that the non-MBs felt left out, second-class citizens of the blogosphere, in fact.

Many of the vendors did cater more to the family-oriented blogger:

  • Tide
  • Bounce
  • Walmart
  • Ragu
  • all
  • Bertolli
  • Bissell
  • Disney
  • McDonalds
  • Playskool
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Jump Start
  • Sprout
  • Safe Kids
  • Safety 1st
  • Leap Frog
  • Family Fun Night
  • PBS Parents
But then there were also:

  • Pepsico
  • Chevy
  • Liverty Mutual
  • Microsoft Office
  • Bing
  • Bill Me Later (a PayPal Company)
  • Brother
  • HP
  • T-Mobile
  • Wiley
  • Geek Squad
  • Nikon
  • Nokia
  • eos
  • Intel
  • Intelius
  • Frontline/PBS/digital_nation
  • Orbitz
  • she's geeky
  • Engage Her

This isn't a comprehensive list for either side, of course, but it seems to be, if not perfectly, then pretty well balanced between the two camps. And of the actual sessions, only six were specifically labeled as "MommyBlogger" with another two that could have been. There was also a nod to the growing number of male participants, with a session entitled " Vaginally Challenged Bloggers--the Men of BlogHer."

There were 24 sessions devoted to the "geek" aspects of blogging, everything from blogging 101 for newbies to using HTML to making your blog more accessible to how and why to use Twitter, to CSS, CMS tools and SEO. There were also sessions on using social media to promote your blog and video blogging tutorials.

So I'm not sure where the bile came from. In one instance it seemed to be solely for the amusement of one blogher's friends as they had to sit and listen as she bitched about the whole thing to someone on the other end of her phone call. All. The. Way. Through. Lunch. Trust me. I was sitting right next to them. She complained about the Mommy Bloggers. She complained about the swag (perhaps she missed the vibrators in room 704?). She said that no one came to BlogHer to learn anything--it was all about "Mom's gone wild in Chicago." (In her defense, there were a lot of cocktail parties.)

So for Whiny Phone Girl and all the others complaining about it, don't go to BlogHer in New York next summer. Don't worry about the fact that you can actually learn a few useful things. Skip the opportunity to make a few new connections and meet some of the women whose blogs you do read. BlogHer '09 sold out four months early. There was a waiting list. A lot of people who wanted to be there couldn't be there. So stay home. Let these other women come instead and have an opportunity to learn some of the things you mocked.

I didn't go to a lot of sessions this year. The geek stuff scares me (I know, it shouldn't), and some of the others just weren't up my alley--and yes, that includes some of the Mommy Blogger sessions. I had almost convinced myself that I wasn't going to go next year, until the last session I attended. And if BlogHer announces that Neil Kramer and Amy Turn Sharp are going to be on a panel again, I'll book the tickets just for that.


Neil said...

Thanks for the kind mention. And you make a good point that there were plenty of products and sessions that were not geared to the "mommybloggers." I feel guilty now, because there were times when I was one of those complaining about the mom bloggers, when we should be applauding the success story of this sector of the blogosphere. It is great for ALL OF US that they are taken so seriously by companies. That said, the Sheraton was a bit overwhelmed with the corporate presence, but that is what happens whenever something becomes a success. Hopefully, next year there will be a better balance of old fashioned blogging and corporate networking.

Melanie K said...

Don't worry--I felt a little guilty too. When I saw the initial list of sponsors, my thought was "oh, jeezus. here we go again." I thought about not going, but I was hoping for at least a bit of brain candy and, well, I wanted a vacation too.

I've always resisted the "mommy blogger" label and generally offer a quick correction. I am a mom. I do blog. But I don't just blog about that. Especially during an election season :)

And I suppose the rationale for the ever-increasing number of sponsors is that it allows BH to keep the conference fees down. But I agree that striking a better balance would be helpful.