I spent this past weekend at WordCamp Boston. If you use (or want to use) WordPress, this event the best use of $20 and 14 hours of your time you will ever spend. The event was well organized, the speakers were dynamic and interesting, and the presentations were instructive and inspirational. As is always the case with a well run conference, its value is equal parts information and motivation. And therein lies the rub…
The agony: So much great information, but my head is swimming with possibilities.
The ecstasy: I have a plan and a blueprint.
While this blog post is – in part – a review of WordCamp, there is also plenty of good stuff that applies to internet marketing regardless of the platform you’re using. In other words, don’t stop reading if you’re not a WordPress user.
One last note: There were three simultaneous tracks running so, obviously, this is my review of the 1/3 of the conference that I saw. I’m sure there was other excellent content and fabulous speakers.
Big Picture: Strategy
A number of presentations covered planning and strategy. As Christopher Penn mentioned in his presentation, “The strategy of, ‘If you build it, they will come‘ only worked for, like, the first five blogs on the Internet.” If you want readers for your blog, and if you want your blog to actually accomplish something, you need a plan.
Don’t Be a Tool
My award for Cleverest Title goes to John Eckman, who had the audacity to suggest that WordPress may not be the best solution for every website. His point was that, too often we select a tool first and then try to shoehorn our strategy into that paradigm. In a humorous and briskly moving presentation, he chronicled the potential pitfalls of selecting a CMS (content management system) and presented five strategies for getting the CMS decision right; business, technology, content, engagement and optimization. Developing these before deciding on the tool will help ensure that everything is aligned.
You can view his presentation on Slideshare: Don’t be a Tool: Content Management Strategy
My favorite presentation of the conference, “How to Market Your Blog (okay, Mom’s reading, now what?)” by Chris Penn gets my award for Best Presentation. I would have paid the $20 and sat in the horrible I-93 traffic just to see this presentation. At the end of his talk, he said “Well, there you go. Eight weeks of marketing education in forty minutes.” And he wasn’t wrong. Chris broke his talk down into three categories; grand strategy (why?), strategy (what?) and tactics (how?). Using a mind-map to illustrate the relationship of the dozens of topics he covered, the presentation was fun and informative.
You can download his mind-map here: How to Market Your WordPress Blog
There was no way I was going to write a review of WordCamp and leave this out, right? The talented and vivacious Karen Rubin gets my Energizer Bunny award for the presentation with the highest energy. Karen delivered an overview of how to implement inbound marketing on your blog with a nice balance of strategy and tactics. Being a certified inbound marketing professional myself, much of it was review but I still took away several helpful tips and nuggets. One that I intend to investigate is the Hubspot for WordPress plugin she mentioned. It has some badges and a call to action feature that looks helpful.
Karen’s presentation isn’t online yet, but hopefully it will get posted to her talk on SpeakerRate: WordPress & Inbound Marketing: How to Generate Leads With Your WordPress Blog
Most of the presentations I saw fell into the category of tactics (as opposed to strategy) and there was no shortage of tips, tricks and advice here.
D.K. Smith grabs my Head-Slap award for the most sobering wake up call in the conference. He revealed some basic best practices everyone should follow in order to put in place a baseline of security that will protect from script kiddies and basic malware. With regard to plugins, he advises that you keep it simple and use these three: Login LockDown, WordPress Firewall 2, and WP Intrusion (could not find a link). Other suggestions include using secure FTP, configuring long passwords and blocking folder indexing using the htaccess file.
Custom Post Types
K. Adam White receives my Rookie of the Year award for his presentation, Stepping Into Custom Post Types. He is a natural at presenting and seemed really comfortable for his first ever presentation. The information was well organized and helpful. While these tactics were obviously quite specific to WordPress, the concept of extending a CMS and making it your own is worth considering. Using custom post types is a way to automate content creation and organize it in a way that makes it easier to develop and maintain.
Check out his presentation on Slideshare: Stepping Into Custom Post Types
Convert or Go Home
Last, but by no means least, my Can I Get an Amen! award goes to Ross Beyeler’s presentation on conversion. With all of the inbound marketing evaluations I perform, the lowest score is consistently conversion. It’s something that is either not done well or completely ignored by an overwhelming number of websites. Ross did a nice job in presenting conversion from a designer’s standpoint and suggested five principles for designing for conversion; audience segmentation, clear messaging, building trust, targeted offerings and clear calls to action.
Check out Ross’s presentation on Slideshare: Converting the Crowd
If anyone else has a review of WordCamp Boston 2011, feel free to leave a link in the comments and I will add it to the body of this post.
From FirstTracks Marketing: WordCamp Boston 2011 Review