I’m tempted to wait a bit longer to write this “recap” post from this weekend’s Mom 2.0 Summit, but two things are forcing me to charge ahead: (1) the realization that I won’t have much more than five minutes between now until the end of the week to pull my thoughts together, and (2) I’m afraid if I wait too long, I’ll be too intimidated by all the “this was the best! conference! ever!” posts to share what I felt were some real challenges of this years conference.
So, for better or worse, here goes…
The people. As always, the best part of any blogging conference is the chance to meet (or reunite with) other bloggers. This year I was able to make some genuine connections with new friends, renew relationships with old friends, and discover that bloggers whom I truly respect are wonderful, down-to-earth people. I also got to see some of my favorite PR people and was proud that other bloggers got to meet some of the best of the best in their field.
Sessions with actual take-aways. My favorites from this year included an Entreprenuerial Strategy session with Stephanie Smirnov, Erica Diamond, Shelly Kramer, and Gabrielle Blair, and a session on Writing with Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy. I took feverish notes in both sessions and left with actionable take-aways that left me inspired and motivated.
The emphasis on social good. From the new “&you” campaign launched by Johnson & Johnson to the IKEA exhibit furniture which would be donated to local shelters, from the feature on the MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center to the actual playground build performed by conference attendees and Let’s Play/Kaboom leaders – this year’s Mom 2.0 made an impact with focusing on social media for social good.
The opportunity to speak. Although I have some serious misgivings about what went down this weekend, I can never thank the organizers enough for giving me my first chance to speak at a conference. True, I was ultimately given less than half the amount of time I was told I’d have (due to the conference running very late…see “misses” #1), but this opportunity was no small thing. It put me in the company of many amazing people, and I know there will be long-term benefits of that.
Disorientation. It was difficult to keep up on time changes, room changes, and just the general layout of where things were. I don’t think the conference ran on schedule for the entire weekend, and after a while the confusion became very frustrating. It also seemed impossible to have a conversation in group settings without having to yell over one another. I’m not sure if the space was too small or the group was too large, but by the time I left the conference, I was on auditory overload and I had practically lost my voice.
Sessions with too much self-promotion. This might be my biggest complaint of this year’s conference. I sat in on too many sessions that boiled down to “This is who I am, this is what I do, this is how I got to where I am, there is what I’m doing next.” I could have read their About Me pages and blogs to find all that out; what I wanted to know was “What about me? How can I do these things?” After all, that’s what people are paying good money for – not to learn about the session panelists, but from them.
Certain exhibitors and the expo space. I have a whole post I want to write about Nintendo (and how much they annoyed me), but I’m still pondering the wisdom of that. I do want to say that having the expo lined up along the routes to each of the session rooms was very distracting and I found myself confused between not wanting to ignore them, but not wanting to get sucked in, either. When I did stop to talk, it was tough to get away, and I ended up late or absent for a few sessions. I’m not sure what the balance would be here, but I think it deserves a second look.
What I Could Have Lived Without
Mom 2.0 Summit is emerging as a conference that seems very concerned with the finer things. Hence its connection to the Ritz Carlton and the growing attraction to “Destination” locations for the conference. For two years it was held in Houston, but who wants to come to Houston? Where’s the pizazz in that? So this year it was in New Orleans, and much was made of the French Quarter location. Next year it will be held in Miami, with what I imagine will be even more emphasis on outside opportunities to party and play. All of this is lost on me. I want to come to learn, network, and yes, have a few laughs, but I don’t look at attending a blogging conference as a vacation. I don’t need an exotic destination or outside programming as part of the bill. I freely admit that I may be in the minority on this one, but it’s true, and it does affect my conference experience.
From the receptions to the food to the la-dee-dah, I just feel like Mom 2.0 could benefit by scaling back on the Wow Factor and getting back to tightening the nuts and bolts on schedule, content, and programming.
Ultimately, I’m glad I went to this year’s Mom 2.0. The networking and connections alone were priceless. I respect the organizers of this conference and can only imagine that they will be analyzing everything and looking to see where they can make improvements for next year. And while I’m not sure I’ll attend in 2012, I would hope they look at ways to feature fresh content, new speakers, actionable take-aways for attendees, and get back to their original mission of opening conversation (versus promotion or the hard sell) between marketers and bloggers.