British indie author Timothy Lewis, who also runs the Begin Self-publishing Podcast, reports on the recent Social Media Marketing World conference in San Diego, USA.
For the second year in a row I have flown all the way from London to San Diego to attend Social Media Marketing World. My books don’t make anywhere enough money to pay for the cost of the conference, so why do I do it?
My books have tended to be shorter, either novellas or short novels well below the length threshold for the Bookbub-style promotion sites, so I looked for other ways of promoting my books. I ended up listening first to marketing podcasts and then gradually onto the path of going to marketing and new media conferences.
The first thing that really attracted me to Social Media Marketing World was the fact that they have an opening night networking party on an aircraft carrier (the Midway). However, of course, that was not enough to drag me half-way around the world. No, the unique selling point of the conference is that the speaker line-up is a who’s who of the social media marketing and online business world.
Almost everyone I listened to in online marketing podcasts speaks there virtually every year: Amy Porterfield, Guy Kawasaki , Mari Smith, Chris Brogan, Jon Loomer, John Lee Dumas and Darren Rowse to name just a small selection of the speakers.
Unlike many conferences, there is no special speaker room, so all of the speakers are much more accessible. As there are so many speakers (around 150), it is possible to talk to a calibre of speaker that at many other conferences you wouldn’t get near to, given the usual hordes of selfie takers.
What I Learned
So what did I learn this year, apart from I need to arrive even earlier to avoid constant jet lag?
- I saw a great talk by Amy Porterfield about the importance of a carefully constructed “epic blog post” with a free gift matched to it to build up your e-mail list and including a video on your e-mail thank you page.
- I also attended a talk by master blogger Darren Rowse, stating the obvious but oft-forgotten point that you need different content on your blog for different types of readers. Some readers have no idea who you are and they need different content from people who have read lots of your posts and you are trying to make sign-up to your e-mail list. The idea that there is a magic “one-sized-fits-all” blog post that is going to get you a person from visiting your blog to buying your books, no matter however cute the cat picture is on the post!
Due to slight over-indulgence at the evening events (which are awesome!) I didn’t go to as many sessions as I would have liked. But given that every live attendee also gets a virtual ticket with recordings of all the sessions, I’ve learned since I returned home from the replays.
So for example in Mari Smith’s session she mentioned an app called Lumyer which allows iPhone users to add lots of cool animated effects to still photos.
(WARNING-this video contains flashing images)
She also mentioned the power of video. Did you know that you can send ads just to people who have viewed your videos on Facebook? I didn’t!
I’ve still got lots of stuff to watch and learn from my virtual ticket as I’ve only watched about a third of the sessions so far (they had about 10 sessions going at the conference at any one time).
Overall it’s a really well-organised conference with a wealth of opportunities to learn and network. Certainly worth considering if you want to take up your online marketing a notch.
OVER TO YOU If you attended Social Media Marketing World, please feel free to add your comments. And if you've been to a different conference relevant to self-publishing and would like to write a guest post reporting on the experience, please email this blog's Commissioning Editor, Debbie Young.