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Last weekend Shashi (Social Media Swami) and I had the opportunity to attend the Successful and Outstanding Blogging Conference or SOBCon which is an advanced forum of speakers and workshops for bloggers. It was held in Chicago at the Summit Executive Center on Michigan Ave on the “Magnificent Mile” in downtown Chicago.

mainroom

We arrived from our quick flight out of Dulles to a cool building with an awesome view of downtown Chicago. When walking into the room it was bustling with people clustered around tables and it reminded me of the blogger lounge at South by Southwest (SXSW). If you took the blogger lounge times four put all of the top bloggers from around the country in one room and added content to the discussions you have SOBCon. An awesome feat to acheive and Terry Starbucker & Liz Strauss did an outstanding job.

(Photo by Geoff Livingston)

Few things new this year:

Corporations that understand social media or are making a great attempt at engaging using social media

Sponsors like Colgate and marketing firms that brought in cool products we know (like Klondike Bars) and things we are going to see soon (reusable soap dispensers) to get feedback and engage a community of people that understand the concept of community and conversation.

Dual tracks the first day

This is only thing I didn’t like because it split the room up and made you choose between speakers you wanted to see. I guess I am more of a Gnomedex person with a single track, but that is just a personal preference.

Outstanding Content Examples from the First Day

3492925932_646b276af0_mSince our flight came in later I missed Chris Brogan and Julien Smith talk about their book “Trust Agents”. These guys wrote the book on trust in building community and participation in a 21st century business.

Photo: JD Lasica

I then was able to finally meet Brian Clark, Founder of Copyblogger and then meet the other half of the book Barack 2.0, David Bullock. I did an bullockinterview with his writing partner, Brent Leary about Social CRM (his specialty) and the Barack 2.0 project in October, five days before the election. David stated that their book was a matter of historical record and was not there to be political but a true analysis of the campaign’s use of social media through election day and beyond. He noted that many of the services used (Facebook, Twitter) didn’t even exist during the last election which was a very poigiant observation as to the adoption and rapid evolution of social media.

We had some other great presentations in addition to awesome networking in the halls and at your table. At the end of the day we had the opening day party at Hotel 71 on the top floor which was spectacular. On a side note, it was used as the set for Batman’s apartment in the movie “The Dark Knight” so you know this place was ultra cool and again showed that Terry and Liz know how to put on a conference.

More awesome sessions and content from Day Two

After a late night of umm, networking, we arrived bright eyed and ready for day two with started with a lively Q&A consisting of Chris Garrett, Lucretia Pruitt, Jason Falls and Zena Weist they had lots of feedback on social media in general and that basically we have only scratched the surface since 24% of people are even aware or planning to use social media.

We were then treated to a change in presentation with Kali Evans-Raoul talking about appearance and her image consulting business. We learned alot of major things (dress and ettiqute) to weird little things (your teeth move and change color over time without you realizing it). It was a very appropriate conversation since most of the mainstream media thinks that all bloggers work in their pajamas this session was to prove that we don’t, well most of us…

geoffAfter lunch Geoff Livingston spoke about how to do a complete customer outreach program that consisted of online and offline components.

Photo by Shashi Bellamkonda

This was followed up by KD Paine and her awesome presentation on metrics and the ROI of relationships in social media. I have embedded the presentation here because it is that good and feature rich.

Wrapping up the day we had fun at Morton‘s in Chicago and many headed off to Karaoke or off to bed.

Heading out and Wrapping Up

On Sunday morning they had a farewell breakfast and wrap up back at “Batman’s Apartment” at the top of Hotel 71. Not to let a good gathering go to waste, Terry Starbucker & Liz Strauss did some experimentation with this year’s conference and allowed sponsors to show a product (physical or software) to the attendees and get their input and feedback along with how they would leverage social media to maximize outreach and promotion of the product.

Think about it… Attendees get tapped for their expertise because they are experts and not just getting pitched to and sponsors maximize the investment in the conference and get some great feedback and free consulting from the top people in the social media space.

This was truly brilliant and I am sorry we had to catch a plane home. There is always SOBCon 2009 and I am looking forward to it next year.

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