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Top 20 Tips From Disney Social Media Moms Conference

I have attended many conferences over the years but I must say the Disney Social Media Moms conference I attended in April was tops when it came to mixing inspirational business tips with incredible experiences. Best of all, I went with my three boys (husband had to work) and everyone had a fantastic time. Looking back, there are so many things to share, so I’ll start with the top inspirational tips I learned during the Disney Social Media Conference.

 

 

My first social media share of the conference indicated how happy we were to be at Disneyland!  First as a kid with my family and now as a parent, Disneyland is one of my favorite vacation spots because it allows my whole family to put daily pressures aside and experience sheer happiness, excitement and fun. It also brings my silly side which my kids love to see.

 

 

 

While at Disneyland we also just can’t stop smiling…

dsmm6w

 (Note: my first tip should be to get a PhotoPass because the pictures they take are priceless…More on that later in the post..)


1. The Mickey Check Makes It Easier To Identify Nutritious Choices.

 

Throughout the conference, we had the opportunity to learn about the Disney Healthy Living food options. Disney Healthy Living food options have a Mickey check to help identify them. The Mickey Check website explained: “ The Mickey Check is a tool that makes it easier to identify nutritious choices in stores, online, and while on vacation at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. The Mickey Check can be found on select kids’ meals and fruit carts throughout Walt Disney World® and Disneyland® Resorts, on various Disney-licensed food products sold at grocery stores across the country, and on qualifying recipes at Disney.com/tryit and Spoonful.com. To receive the Mickey Check, foods must meet Disney Nutrition Guidelines developed by health experts and align to federal dietary guideline recommendations.”

 

 

We also had a chance to see what the new Disney-licensed snacks sold at grocery stores around the country will look like:

 

  
 
During the Disney Social Media Moms conference I had the opportunity to try the options with the Mickey Check and they were yummy! Of course, I also had to taste the other fun foods as well – but it was great to have healthier options available. I also appreciate the food carts throughout the park that have all types of fruit, hummus and other healthy snacks for my family on the go such as the Tropical Import Snacks at Adventureland, FairfaxFruit Market in California Adventure and more! Restaurants at Disneyland also have healthy options, but that is the topic of a whole other post I will be writing (too much yummy food to talk about in this post!).

 

Disneyland Healthy Food options

 

Of course, two of my other favorite snacks are theDole Whip from the Tiki Juice Bar in Disneyland and the dark chocolate covered pineapple (with fresh pineapple inside) in the Trolley Treats candy store, Buena Vista Street California Adventure.

 

 

Next we had the opportunity to hear creative tips from Disney Enthusiasts and business experts. Here are a few that I did capture on social media:

 

 

 

 2. Jay Ward from Pixar shared three important parts of the creative process: Quality, Innovation and Storytelling.


 

 

 

 


3. New Disney Adventures include a “Frozen Cruise” and A Disney Resort in Shanghai!

 

 

Tom Staggs shared exciting news about the Disney Shanghai Resort and the new Adventures by Disney itinerary (Norway: Fjords, Bergen & Oslo) inspired by the film “Frozen ” – which is a partnership between Disney and Walt Disney Animation Studios.

 

 

 

 

 

4.  Collaboration, research and extensive attention to creative details a top rate customer experience.


 

Cars Land in California Adventure is a great example of how Walt Disney Imagineering and Pixar Animation collaborated to convert real life emotional experiences (Cars and Route 66) into an attraction that evokes that emotion mixed with the best in entertainment!  At the conference, Kathy Magnum from Walt Disney Imagineering talked about the extensive research they did to bring Cars Land to life inspired by the real Route 66.  Just taking a walk through Cars Land and seeing how every detail is brought to life (such as the beautiful Cadillac Range Mountain inspired design) helped me realize what an amazing experience they created!

 

 

 

 

5. Partnerships can help offer new conveniences to customers.


 
Megan McGuire from Alamo shared that they have onsite locations at Disneyland.  This makes it even easier to rent a car while at Disneyland.
 

 

 

6. “Dream the biggest dream – then make a business plan for that dream”!

 

Maxine Clark was inspirational as she shared her experiences starting the successful Build-a-Bear Workshop as a later in life career change. Two tips that stood out to me where  “Listen to your heart and you can find your true calling” ”Dream the biggest dream.. then make a business plan”.

 

Disney Social Media Moms Build-a-Bear
 

7. A good use of social media for brands is to share experiences, storytelling and humanizing.

 

 

 

8.  To engage an online audience, share your passions.

 

 

 

 

 

9.  Creative use of photos to offer solutions to everyday issues (i.e. What to wear to Disneyland!) also inspires online audiences.


 
Fashionista Leslie Kay created this Disney Bound Tumblr  as a Disney fan site for to share the outfits she was going to wear at Disneyland. As it turned out, so many people enjoyed the photo inspirations that Disney Bound built up a big fan community of it’s own.

 

 

 

 

10. Cats still rule the Internet.


 

 

 

 

11.  ”If you lose a game, don’t let that effect how you live your life” ~ Donald Driver


 

Green Bay’s All-Time Leading Receiver Donald Driver gave us some inspirations from his book “Driven” and stories about the importance of giving back to your community (his endeavor is the Donald Driver Foundation).
 
 

 

 

 

12.  ”Don’t blog for attention, blog to change someone’s life” ~Donald Driver

 

 

 


13. “Dreams come true if you have courage to pursue it”! ~ Donald Driver

 

 

 

 

14. Social media like Twitter gives people around the world a voice!

 

@stop (Doug Bowman then from Twitter) gave an inspirational talk about how Twitter gives people around the world a voice and connects you with people you want to know.

 

 

 

This tip is one close to my heart: I have connected with an amazing community around the world through Twitter. As a perfect example of that, during the DisneySMMoms conference I decided to share tips with my Twitter community. When I shared the insight from Jay Ward of Pixar about the creative process, a UX Engineer (see below) from LONDON favorited that tweet!

 

 

 

15.  “If you don’t have creative gas, find creative gas station” ~@Gary_Jerry


 
Gary Buchanan (PR & Social Media for Walt Disney World & Disney Parks) is one of the amazing members of the Disney Social Media team along with Leanne Jakubowski  (Director, Social Media, Disney), Michele Himmelberg (PR Director Disneyland Resort) and so much more! The Disney social media team reflects the creativity of Disney as a whole by sharing Disney through authentic and engaging storytelling that communicates the fun and delight that Disney Parks offers.   The Disney team along with and Maria Bailey (CEO of @BSMMedia) did a great job creating such engaging events for the conference!
 
 
And they have fun doing their job!

 
Disney PR and Social Media

Gary Buchanan and Leanne Jakubowski
 

 

 

 

16. Use different ways to practice your own creativity.


 
During the conference they challenged us with a quick exercise of creativity. We were asked to draw a picture of the person sitting next to us. I was happy to be sitting next to one of my favorite social media buddies Rebecca Levey. Even though I only had a few minutes, I tried my best to show her gleaming personality… Ok, well I may not be a master in drawing but it was fun to draw after spending most of my time typing on some sort of device!
 

 

 

 

 17. Maleficient opens at theaters May 30, 2014!


 
As I realized this post would be published on May 30, which is the day Maleficent is finally in theatres, I thought of the fun I had hearing about the movie at the conference and having the opportunity to take my most evil selfie of all…
 

 

 
Maleficent tells the “untold story of Disney’s most iconic villian from the classic Sleeping Beauty“. I know where I am going this weekend (to see Maleficent)!

 

 

 

 

 

18.  “…Building literacy and storytelling (skills) in the digital age is important.”


 

In the digital age it is even more important for kids to make sure they develop literacy skills including reading books and the art of storytelling. At the conference we had the opportunity to hear about two initiatives that are supporting literacy in creative ways. The first one is Disney Junior’s Give a Book, Get a Book Program. The second is a collaboration with Reading Rainbow.
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Here is information from the conference about Disney Junior’s Give a Book, Get a Book Program and the following press release:

 

“Disney and First Book will provide for the donation of up to one million books to U.S. communities in need and will present families with free digital books from Disney Publishing Worldwide, through a new program announced today, Disney Junior’s Give a Book, Get a Book. The program includes a redemption code offering a free Disney Digital book and a way for families to experience giving back by donating books to the community of their choice. Disney Junior’s Give a Book, Get a Book, also includes public service announcements, free storytime events at Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Disney Store locations, and interactive Radio Disney events.”

 

Ms. Kanter said, “With each and every one of our Disney Junior series, we let a child experience the magic and learning that comes with a story well told, and deepen the emotional connection and sense of wonder and adventure that have defined storytelling at the Disney company for generations.” She continued, “The Give a Book, Get a Book program is a way for families to share stories and enter the world of giving in a simple yet effective way.”

 

 

Details from the press release on Reading Rainbow:

 

“LeVar Burton, Cofounder and Curator-in-Chief of the award-winning Reading Rainbow app, spoke about the importance of building literacy and of storytelling in the digital age. Disney Junior stars Ariel Winter and Tim Gunn (of “Sofia the First”) and David Arquette (of “Jake and the Never Land Pirates”) also participated in a storybook reading for event attendees and their families. Genevieve Goings (of Disney Junior’s “Choo Choo Soul”), who hosts the Give a Book, Get a Book public service announcements on Disney Channel, emceed the event. ” Reading Rainbow co-founder LeVar Burton read Young Henry and the Dragon as part of the Disney Social Media Moms conference. LeVar was excited to support Disney, First Book and all the Disney Social Media Moms in your collective commitment in put books in the hands of children.

 

 

Today, Reading Rainbow is more than just the much-loved TV series — it’s the #1 education app in the Apple App Store. To date, children ages 3 to 9 are reading, on average, 140,000 books a week in the Reading Rainbow app — that’s more than 12 million books read and video field trips watched since launch.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

19. Disney Theme Parks even have running adventures!


 
One of experiences at the conference that was new to me was participating in an runDisney event. The runDisney website explained:

runDisney is a series of events that provides runners the unique opportunity to run through Disney Theme Parks at the Walt Disney World® Resort in Florida and the Disneyland® Resort in California, earn Disney-themed finisher medals, experience legendary Disney entertainment & Guest Service, and ultimately celebrate their accomplishments with a Disney vacation. runDisney offers something for the whole family! While marathon and half marathon races headline each runDisney weekend, other offerings include Disney-themed kids races and family fun run 5ks, plus health and fitness expos with guest speakers, product demonstrations and official race merchandise! From the diaper dash to the 48.6-mile Dopey Challenge, there truly is something for everyone at runDisney.”

 

Before I became a parent I used to work out 5 days a week, but between working and parenting, finding time for workouts is a challenge. The runDisney event at the Disney Social Media Moms conference allowed me to train for the event and connect with fellow moms who did the same. That team support as well as the joy of running through Disneyland inspired me to start training 3 times a week for a few months and finish the 2 mile run at the required pace.   Little did I know that after getting up at 4:30 am and joining a great warmup session by New Balance (that also supplied sneakers for us to wear) – I would be so energized and excited to run! After taking off close to 6:30 am and seeing the beauty of Disneyland in the morning (before the park officially opened) - I had to force myself not to stop to just take it all in! Well, I did stop for a few pictures and attempted a selfie but realized I really needed to keep pace with the group.  The runDisney event was so inspiring that I ran my fastest time ever (selfie time included)…
 

runDisney Disney Social Media Moms 2014 TechMama

 

 

Crossing the finish line with my fellow runners  was inspiring (I even had to the chance to see the fabulous Michele Himmelberg who is also with Disney PR). Seeing my smiling boys as I crossed was priceless. I hope that this is setting a good example to my sons that fitness and fun can exist every so happily together.
 

 

 

 

runDisney at Disney SocialMMoms 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

20. Don’t forget to capture family memories!


 

 

Make sure to live in the moment and enjoy family time, but also capture the memories at key times. After many trips to Disneyland (especially this one where I did not have my husband to help with taking pictures) I realized that capturing the priceless memories are important but a challenge. The Disney PhotoPass allowed me to relax because I knew that I would have professional pictures without worrying about taking them myself. I even had the opportunity to be IN the picture.
 
DSMM14p1

 

 

The Disney PhotoPass Photographer came up to us while we were at California Adventure a few hours after the runDisney race was over and asked us if we wanted a picture. Of course I said YES!  I was so thrilled to have done the race and then getting the opportunity to spend time with my family at Disneyland that I wanted to capture that moment. I look back at this picture whenever I need to smile, which extends that Disney magic with me whenever I need it!

 

 

 

Disclosure: TechMamas.com was invited to the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration at Disneyland. My family and I attended the conference and were given complimentary items, special discounts and other benefits such as food and entertainment. I paid my own conference fees. The press release information was supplied to conference attendees for informational purposes. All opinions and words are my own.

 

 

BlogHerPro 13: Brand and Bloggers Keynote Discussion


 

 

Last week, I posted details (and a discount) for #BlogHerPro ’13 Conference For Professionally-Minded Bloggers.  This week, I would like to highlight a subject covered at the October 23 discussion, where I will be one of the speakers. The topic is, “Monetization: Brands & Bloggers Keynote Discussion” with some fantastic fellow social media professionals including Ana Picazo of Finding BonggaMom, Jim Lin from Ketchum PR and Busy Dad Blog, and Sarah Penna from Big Frame.

 

When the panelists held our first organizing conference call a few weeks ago to prepare for the conference, the conversation was enthusiastic and covered much ground. We could have talked the whole day about making money from our brands. Here are some of the key concepts I will be covering. Please comment with any thoughts you have on Monetization: Brands & Bloggers!

 

Because I am a believer in plans (per my book “My Parent Plan”), I decided to give my Brands and Blogger tips in the form of a 5 year plan based on my 6 years of blogging, looking over what made money and what could have been done better to monetize. I started blogging from a passion for technology but waited years to assemble a business plan to make money.

 

I believe that anyone considering professional blogging or social media entrepreneurship should create their business plan from the beginning to help them create a monetization structure that supports their business. In social media, there needs to be a balance between creating a community and creating a business. Many parts of creating an online community do not involve monetization, requiring engagement, listening, giving information and sharing perspective. As Guy Kawasaki expressed in his book, Enchantment , you need to “enchant” your customers to have a success business.

 

The key for anyone setting up a social media business is to engage the target community while also building a business, all the way being very clear what social posts are “editorial” and which are “advertorial”.  These rules are important for both FTC disclosure compliance rules as well as keeping an authentic relationship with your audience. Another key part of a business plan includes creating a monetization structure to get paid for “work” (which means not working for FREE). As many social media professionals have learned, that balance can be a challenge.

 

Every business person needs to feel empowered to get paid a relevant wage for their work.  “Relevant” means that the wage should be reasonable when compared to what is being paid in the market for that service, taking into consideration factors such as audience, influence and engagement.  At the same time, there is no magic formula to determine pay in social media so just analyzing numbers or statistics may not show the true influence of that engagement.

 

I chose early on to focus my blogging content on technology because I realized that women are the power consumers of technology and want to participate in that conversation (editorial and advertorial).  As Jennifer Elias wrote in her SV 411 article about BlogHer Pro13:

 

Listed below are TechMama’s recommendations on a 5 year Business  Plan for Professional Bloggers/Social Media Entrepreneurs:

 

 

By Year 1:  Develop your PLAN (incl. working w/brands):

  • CREATE BUSINESS PLAN:
  1. Define business goals, online brand, niche, target audience, social media platforms and tools, media kit, brands to build relationships  with (press &/or paid),  when/if you need to hire help and how you will enchant your customers online.
  2. Define monetization strategy (what are your service & rates) Ask yourself:          

If you are your own “start-up”, then how will you get funding?

 

Are you making a living from social media or another job(s)?  

 

  • CREATE CAREER PLAN:  Types of jobs, work skills & what you need to earn. Define what is “paid” work and what is professional brand building.
  • DEFINE COMMUNITIES FOR OUTREACH (community = engagement)
  • MANAGE RELEVANT LEGAL ISSUES : Learn about (or hire lawyer ) FTC/Disclosure  & contracts (esp.  service, exclusivity, name/likeness)
  • ANALYZE  MARKET TRENDS:  implement tools to keep AHEAD!

 

 

Year 2-5:  Focus, Assess and Revise Plan (no pain, no gain)!

 

  • FOCUS: Refine “business” to focus on specific services (paid) and brands (i.e campaigns, spokesperson). But always put your AUDIENCE first. Keep “press” relationship with brands for editorial content.
  • ASSESS & REVISE:  Assess ROI of your business. Do you need to make changes to your business strategy to reach your business (and financial) goals? IF so – create new business opportunities or pursue another job .

 

PRIORITY CHECK : Always make sure your personal life (family) and medical/financial health are a priority!

 

Along with creating a business plan, social media entrepreneurs should also spend time to understand the different types of relationships they can have with brands. Here are the ways I define my relationships with brands:

 

EDITORIAL: First and foremost I value the press/editorial relationships I have with brands because it allows me to obtain information that I can then share over my social media channels to my audience.  If community = engagement, then engagement = editorial sharing. I find that my audience wants to hear my editorial perspective on the topics I cover and share their perspectives with me. I feel that type of conversation is the most important to have in social media. It is also good to look at working with brands for editorial purposes as also building a (mutually respectful) professional relationship. Although this type of relationship with brands does not involve any sponsorship, it may at a future time (with proper disclosure).

 

ADVERTORIAL (SPONSORED): This type of relationship with brands that involves either sponsored posts, advertising, ambassador, spokesperson or other paid projects. Before working with brands in this manner I always suggest to have a media kit to provide clear information on what services you offer and what rates you charge. To understand what are the relevant rates to charge, it is helpful to have an understanding of are market rates for specific services or if  you have special factors for charging a premium. I feel it is important to feel empowered to get paid for work and look at your ROI (return on investment) for the amount of time you spend on a project versus what you are being paid. In the 5 year plan “focus” phase, this is especially the time to review ROI and say “no” for projects that don’t meet your criteria.  I also feel it is important to always keep an authentic voice when working on advertorial posts.

 

This is also a phase where understanding contracts (or as I said hiring a lawyer to help) is very important. For example, I focus close attention on sections in my contracts such as exclusivity, services, name/likeness, compensation and ownership. But each contract is different and I learn new things every time. Luckily I had a great lawyer help me understand contracts for the first few years (and still use them on occasion).  The FTC Disclosure rules are also something very important to comply with for all advertorial posts.

 

PERSONAL BRAND BUILDING:

Another type of relationship with brands is what I call “personal brand building”. For those starting out, it may be mutually beneficial to work with brands (non sponsored) in your niche to build up experience and meet new communities.

 

As I mentioned before, it is always important in any phase of your business to share an authentic voice with your audience and give “goodwill” back to social media communities you participate in.

 

Please share your tips for interacting with brands and what type of business plan you found helpful for your social media business.

 

Disclosure: This is a sponsored series. My words are my own.

 

GoDaddy launched a new brand strategy last month that revolves around small businesses. ‘It’s go time’ is a comprehensive company-wide messaging transformation supported by a refined GoDaddy user-experience and reinvigorated products sharply focused on helping small business owners.  Check out this article by The New York Times.

 

 

 

 

#BlogHerPro ’13 Conference For Professionally-Minded Bloggers

*GIVEAWAY IS OVER – BUT PLEASE FEEL FREE TO USE FRIENDS DISCOUNT SHARED BELOW!.

BlogHer as been a big part of the most “important” reason why I got involved in social media: Community! I joined in 2006 because I had pivoted from a career in a top consulting firm to starting my own business. Over the years I have gained the value of not only meeting a great community of social media entrepreneurs but also learning so much  from BlogHer and the BlogHer conferences. That is why I am especially excited to attend BlogHer Pro 2013 as one of the Keynote Speakers on the  Monetization: Brands & Bloggers Keynote Discussion with some fantastic fellow social media professionals including Ana Picazo of Finding BonggaMom, Jim Lin from Ketchum PR and Busy Dad Blog, and Sarah Penna from Big Frame.. BEST YET – I have a discount code and am giving away TWO BlogHerPro13 conference passes! Can you tell that I am excited to be sharing the fun with others?

 

Just check out the other BlogHer Pro 2013  panels and speakers that include content management, mobile and business intensive workshops. Here is a link for where to  register for BlogHer Pro 2013 and more details: “BlogHer PRO is a multi-track conference for professionally-minded bloggers looking to take their business, marketing, and technical skills to the next level. Improve your knowledge and hone your skills on everything from personal brand to personal finance to personal privacy.” Honestly, this conference is also for anyone in business that wants to learn more about the powerful medium of blogging and social media for business.

 

DISCOUNT CODE: First of all I have a friends discount code to share (because my readers are my friends of course!Use Friends Discount code, PRO13FF, for 30% off registrationRegister today!

 

GIVEAWAY:  Second, I am giving away ONE CONFERENCE PASS to BlogHer Pro 2013 for TWO WINNERS (one conference pass will be given to each winner – 2 winners total).

TO ENTER: Please comment on this blog post (by Oct. 11, 12pm PST) and then share on Twitter that you have entered this contest.

DETAILS:  PLEASE COMMENT ON THIS POST BY OCT 11, 12PM PST. To enter, please comment on this post then tweet out “I entered @TechMama’s #BlogHerPRO ’13  giveaway  http://bit.ly/GDRZf4″.  For the comment please share what type of questions you have about being a social media professional? Do you have legal, SEO, content, questions about interacting with brands or general questions about how this all works? Or I would love to hear your story on how you use social media professionally.

 

WINNER CHOSEN AT RANDOM: The winner will be chosen randomly using Random.org and will be notified by Oct. 11 at 2pm pst. Winner must respond with confirmation by October 14 2pm pst.

 

Rules: 1. One Blog Post comment per person. One Blog Post comment is equal to one entry (so only one entry per person)  2. Winners are limited by geography to US residents only 21 years of age or older. 3. If a valid email address is not provided in the entry, another winner will be chosen. 4. The prize is not redeemable in cash and must be accepted as awarded. 5. Approximate value of prizes may vary. 6. All decisions are final. 7. All Federal, State and Local taxes and travel expenses associated with receipt of prize is the sole responsibility of the winner. 8. By entering any giveaway on this website you release Techmamas.com from any liability whatsoever, and waive any and all causes of action.

 

 

Disclosure: As a speaker on the Keynote Panel discussion for BlogHer Pro 13, I was assigned conference passes that I decided to share with my readers. All of my words are my own. The idea for this giveaway was also my own.

 

Dent The Future Conference 2013 Press Trip: Sun Valley

I was lucky to be invited many years ago on a magic bus ride to CES, which was the first time I had a fun adventure with the team from Parnassus Group (Steve Broback, Jason Preston and more). Over the years they always had the pulse of social media,  organizing events such as Tweethouse and It Won’t Stay In Vegas at CES.   So when I was invited to join the (pre) Dent The Future 2013 press trip in February (to check out the location) organized by none other then the Parnassus Group, of course I said yes!

 

Dent The Future (March 24-27 in Sun Valley Idaho) is a new conference that “explores the magic and science of visionary leadership and groundbreaking success. They aim to translate the success of great leaders in business, politics, or charity into a set of lessons for those who would “put a dent” in the future.”

 

While I had some scheduling challenges (including Spring Break for my kids) so I won’t be able to attend Dent this year, I already put it on the schedule for next year. I will look forward to bringing my whole family with me to enjoy Sun Valley while I experience Dent 2014.  Those who will be following the conference from afar like me can do so by following Dent on Twitter (hashtag #Dent2013).
 

 
Listed below are some of the details from the “Pre” Dent 2013 press trip in February. We had an amazing trip that was not only filled with fascinating discussions on social media, but also with the beauty and fun of the fabulous Sun Valley Resort. I will be writing another post with more details (and sharing my pictures) about Sun Valley Resort (which was a highlight of the trip!).

 

 

This is a picture I tweeted from Sun Valley on our last night of the trip – enjoying a great dinner at a local restaurant.
 


 

#dent2013  @sbroback @bikehugger @pop17 @scobleizer  @svalleysunshine  @techmama @visitsunvalley  @shaunacausey  @jasonp
 


 

Our group lunch on Bald Mountain included yummy food, beautiful location and lots of social media talk!
 

#sunvalley @sbroback @jasonp @scobleizer @chasejarvis @pop17 @shaunacausey ..@techmama @neilblecherman #dent2013 pic.twitter.com/qyOkry58

 

Here is a summary of some of the locations we visited (post with full details will be published soon):

 

  • Yummy places we ate during our trip included: Knob Hill Inn, Della Mano Restaurant, The Kneadery and the Konditorei for breakfast. But there are many other places to eat.
  • Zenergy Health Club is a great location for a workout and spa treatments! http://zenergyts.com/
  • Here are the two websites to find out more information about Sun Valley Resort: www.visitsunvalley.com  and www.sunvalley.com. We stayed at the Sun Valley Resort Inn and it was beautiful. There is a great transportation system to go to the mountains, it is not crowded and the weather is usually sunny (per the name “Sun Valley”).  The resort is very family friendly – and even has a mountain that is perfect for beginners or family skiing called Dollar Mountain. The other mountain (Bald Mountain) is great for Intermediate to advanced skiers.  The Sun Valley Snowsports School has lessons for all levels (and even family lessons). I was excited that they have a “fundamentals” day program for kids (8:30 – 3:30) that includes lunch. There are also programs for Intermediate or Advanced kids as well. There are other winter activities such as ice skating and sleigh rides.

 

**My next post will share more details about the beautiful and family friendly Sun Valley Resort.

 

Disclosure: Travel related expenses were provided to the press covering this event.

 

BlogHer ’12: How To Prepare And What to Wear

 

BlogHer’s 8th annual conference will be held in New York City on August 2-4, 2012 and for the sixth consecutive year I am heading out to join in the fun, connect with my fellow bloggers and hear about the latest blogging & social media tips, tricks, trends and strategies. As I shared in a recent post about what people learned from previous BlogHer conferences: “Because blogging is an isolating activity – BlogHer also invigorates me by connecting with the amazing network of “BlogHers”!

 

I will be speaking this year (i.e. getting my geek on) at the BlogHer 12 Geek Bar.
Check out the schedule and make sure to sign up for some great sessions. I am leading the discussion titled, “ Managing Social Media Via Mobile: Android OSMaximize your mobile device to get the most of social media! Learn best practices, top apps, and security precautions you need for Android”. ANDROID OS users – PLEASE SHARE your favorite ways to use social media on your Android device by commenting on this post. I also look forward to hearing tips from others at the conference.

 

Because I’m a BlogHer veteran, here are my tips for how to prepare and what to wear to BlogHer 12 – NYC version!

 

STEP 1 – “The Schedule”:  The first step is to confirm all of your travel arrangements including hotel and transportation. Many of us made plans months ago (especially those of us traveling to New York City). Five weeks before BlogHer, I always like to circle back and confirm my travel arrangements. One year, I realized that I had made an airplane “reservation” but not purchased the tickets (luckily I still was within the month before so I made a new plane reservation).

 

The next step is review the BlogHer12 agenda and start putting together your schedule. Check out the official BlogHer ’12 party plan and update your schedule with some nighttime fun. It is important to make sure you plan time to visit the BlogHer Expo to see the exhibits and interact with the sponsors. Those who want to start early can attend the BlogHer Evening at the Expo Hall event the night before the conference. If you are new to BlogHer, there are official parties every night that offer additional opportunities to network. Those who have been to BlogHer before may attend one of many other social events that go on around BlogHer as well. But my key piece of advice is to network as much as is comfortable – but not overdo it.  Don’t pay attention to all the crazy plans that everyone else is setting up – create a schedule that works for you and allows you to connect with the bloggers most important to you. Also make sure to reach your hand out and introduce yourself to people you don’t know and make new connections.

 

 

Step 2 – Take Your Schedule Mobile: To prepare for the busy conference schedule, make sure your personal schedule is not only organized but also on your mobile device via an online calendar or mobile app. One important mobile app to download is the official BlogHer12 mobile app that is available via iTunes for iPhones or the BlogHer12 app for Android phones on Google Play. The CrowdCompass page will also have other mobile apps that are available for BlogHer12. For those with Windows Phones, The Windows Marketplace also has great mobile apps for networking.

 

I also like to have “backup” paper printouts of my schedule just in case my battery runs out (but some prefer not to use paper). On the topic of batteries – I suggest everyone bring a mobile battery charger because batteries can run out and you will not have time to charge during the day. I will do another post on battery chargers – but I am always happy to help people find one that works for them. The key is not to buy the cheapest – but buy the one that really works. While there are budget friendly mobile device battery chargers that work well, the key is to test it before you leave for the conference and keep the packaging/receipts just in case it does not meet your needs.

 

 

Step 3 – Prepare Your Networking Materials: With all the technology available to share contact information, I still prefer good old fashioned business cards. Therefore, my next tip is to make sure you schedule time to print business cards before you leave for BlogHer. I usually print around 500 to have enough for passing out to old and new friends and at the BlogHer Expo hall. Some of my colleagues prefer to print even more. At past conferences I have seen bloggers use creative ways to share their own professional brand by giving away branded screen cleaners, business card holders, bags, bracelets and tee shirts. I have also seen creative business cards that fold and have headshots printed on them. When preparing materials for BlogHer, it is important to comply with the guidelines for sponsored bloggers.

 

But there are also technology options that can enhance the sharing of contact information. For example, if you print a QR code on your business card then those with QR code readers can scan it to load your contact information. Or even have your QR image on your mobile device to share. Many mobile apps (even SMS applications) share contact information, but when sharing contacts via mobile devices it is also important to consider the security implications. I will cover some of my recommendations in another post  and please do share your favorite contact sharing mobile apps if you have some recommendations.

 

 

 StI'll be wearing cute shoes to BlogHer '12ep 4 - What to Wear: When attending a conference one of the key questions is what to wear. For social media conferences, all outfits should be camera appropriate for all the pictures and instant uploading that takes place. Personally, I also focus on comfort for my feet to survive all the walking of long days in big conference halls.
I’ll admit it… I love wearing heels. I’m always on the hunt for comfortable, stylish shoes and went through years of trying different brands of shoes with heels. I have even tried to find comfortable flats and stylish sneakers. While sneakers are of course the most comfortable, I did not want to give up on my search for the perfect pair of heels. Luckily, several years ago I bought my first pair of Sofft shoes and they passed many years of walking miles at the Consumer Electronics Show. After I had already decided that Sofft shoes were my comfortable and stylish shoe of choice and filled my closet up with different pairs, I did get the opportunity to review some of their new 2012 Spring Summer shoes (disclosure – I received shoes as part of that review, but all of my words are my own). I had already been a Sofft Shoe customer for years before the review opportunity.

 

Here are 5 of the 7 pairs of Sofft Shoes I have purchased over the years…

 

 

My clothing strategy is to plan something comfortable for the day, that can withstand the heat of New York City in the summer -but also has layering to adjust to air conditioning indoors. Sometimes I will bring a dressy top to change into if I don’t have time to switch clothes before the night events. I also bring some dresses to change into for those nights I feel like taking it up a notch. I try to choose outfits that fit within my personal style, but also feel comfortable when I am sitting on the floor at sold out conference sessions. I have also learned that just because I love silver sequin tank tops together with a jacket does not mean that it photographs well on me (sequins can accentuate a twin mom’s tummy). I realized that for my shape I like to have solid black or jewel tones, throwing in accent pieces with patterns that works for photographs. I also like to layer with either a shirt, wrap, sweater, jacket. Lately I have been obsessing over the look of women’s tailored jackets over tee shirts as a great way to have outfits with clean lines.

 

 

 

Step 5 – At the conference, have an open mind to learn, network, have fun and meet new people: Go to BlogHer 12 with an the goal of learning, networking and having fun. Set a goal to not only connect with old social media friends but also meet new ones. Introduce yourself to the person sitting next to you. Check the pictures of some of the social media BlogHers you read about online but have not yet met and introduce yourself. Take the time to meet new people and ask them about their site and interests. At the same time, try to catch up with your existing social media friends because social networking is not complete without the “live” connection.

 

I look forward to connecting “live” at BlogHer!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Macworld Expo 2011 Jan 27-29 in SF – Conference Not To Miss!

Fresh back from the Consumer Electronics Show (and still loading my pictures from that..), I am back in conference mode and heading to Macworld Expo in San Francisco.

For anyone that has any Apple products in their life, Macworld Expo is the place to be to see exhibits and attend sessions. To find out more about Macword, I talked with Paul Kent, Vice President and General Manager of Macworld about the conference. Here are some of the details we discussed:

  1. Macworld is for veterans & first-timers alike. It is a very inclusive environment focusing on discovery & education, ie. new products, new apps & new tricks on how to use them. I went last year and the only Apple product we had in our house was a MACbook for my son, but because I cover Apple products I wanted to learn about the product marketplace. I left with lots of important information.
  2. While Apple does not have a direct presence, Macworld Expo remains a vital showcase for the fast growing third party Apple products marketplace. Wikipedia has details on the history of the Macworld Expo. There is also a website called Macworld which is different from the Macworld Expo.
  3. FAQ’s: Best way to learn more about the show is to stop by – it starts today in San Francisco! Here are some links to learn more about Macworld Expo:

Timing for the Jan 27- Jan 29 show: http://www.macworldexpo.com/hours

List of the more then 230 exhibitors for the show (over half of them are first time exhibitors): http://www.macworldexpo.com/expo

Here are some more details: Press releases that show events and announcements, Featured Artists, Mobile Apps Showcase, and the most important – Women in Technology session!

For PC folks that are curious about the Apple side, stop by!  I am packing my Windows 7 PC and iPad to head to the show, they do allow PC’s in the conference!

RMXWWMDSTWD6

 

Hanging at the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) Line Show NYC

I am excited to be heading to NYC to attend the CEA Line show June 22/23 to listen, discuss, learn and speak on a subject near and dear to my heart: consumer electronics.

Natali Del Conte   (CBS/CNET Correspondent) is the Conference Chair and Suzanne Kantra (Founder and Editor in Chief Techlicious) is the CEA Line Show spokesperson. They will be there along with speakers on the theme "Consumer Tech Reality Check '10".

I am speaking at the CEA Line show on something I obsess, read, discuss and rant about every day: Mom Tech. Fellow mom tech Andrea Smith from ABC news is also speaking.

 

Heading to 140conf NYC for Panel: Born Today – Innovating for our future

I am heading to NYC for the fun and always engaging 140Conf. The conference starts tomorrow and the website stated that the focus will be "taking a hard look at something Jeff Pulver
calls “The State of NOW” and the continued effects the worldwide
adoption of social communication platforms such as twitter is having on a
number of industries including: Celebrity, “The Media”, Advertising,
Politics, Education, Music, Television, Comedy, Real Estate, Public
Policy and more
."

My panel will be 4/20: Born Today – Innovating for our future

Participants:

Alice
Wilder
(@alicewilder)
- Psychologist and maker of Kidos, Blues Clues, Super Why and Think It
Ink It

Beth Blecherman (@techmama

Maya Bisineer (@thinkmaya) -
founder of @memetales

Stephanie Aaronson (@SAGalluch) – Senior Director, PBS Kids
Communications

We already had a fascinating discussion on our panel pre-call. I am sure the panel will be just (if not more) fascinating.  The concept of innovating for our future (kids) is very relevant, especially taking into account the way our children already absorb and understand technology on a deeper level then their parents.

Not that I am talking about our own family..(ok, I admit it – I had a fear of creating an iPod playlist because there were so many options so my 11 year old did it for me.. geez..)

 

TechMama is Traveling – With None Other Then The “Traveling Geeks”

Million Mile Frequent Flyer Status is not all it is cracked up to be

Before I joined Deloitte, I was an international computer auditor.  This gave me the opportunity to travel to Mexico, Spain, Sweden, England, Puerto Rico, France and all over the United States. The business trips were back to back for weeks at a time and luckily they were all BK (before kids). I thoroughly enjoyed the travel but I had no – um - personal life.

Now I have the personal life, but fitting in travel is not easy…

With three amazing but extremely active boys, a wonderful husband (Neil Blecherman) and multiple blogs to manage – I try to limit my traveling to only key events. My involvement in social media has given me the opportunity to connect with an amazing network of bloggers from both BlogHer and the Silicon Valley Moms Group. My programming/systems project management background led me to also show my geeky side by connecting with technology and social media bloggers. I created a personal blog to discuss my perspective as a tech mom (TechMamas.com) and am starting a vlog called GadgetSpin with Eliane from Ubergizmo, TechieDiva, and Ponziarelli. But no matter how much I develop my online network, attending conferences/events to have old fashioned “live interaction” is still the best form of networking.

Bloggers gone traveling...

There are some amazing social media connectors and community builders and when they call about an event – I jump on board.  They look for stories that need to be told or discussions that need to be sparked – then match bloggers to the stories to bring information online. One connecter is Guy Kawasaki who organized an amazing blogger embark on the USS Nimitz and introduced me to Alltop (now I have MyAlltop!). Robert and Maryam Scoble and Steve Brobeck organized a blogger bus to CES last year that gave me the opportunity to spend time with an engaging group of bloggers. One of the bloggers on board was Christine Lu. When she informed me about the ReThink Hawaii conference, I decided that was a great work-cation opportunity. I also view my partners at Gadgetspin as connectors. Eliane and her Ubergizmo team just recently organized Ubergizmo10 – well worth the drive to San Francisco. There are also multiple circles of moms who have used their community building, shopping and writing skills to form online networks.

I have been following Renee Blodgett for some time and enjoy her insights on social media. I also view  Renee Blodgett as a social media connector and community builder. She is one of the co-founders of a group called Traveling Geeks . The Traveling Geeks website describes it best: “Traveling Geeks is a consortium of entrepreneurs, thought leaders,
authors, journalists, bloggers, technology innovators and influencers
who travel to countries to share and learn from peers, governments,
corporations, and the general public in order to educate, share,
evaluate, and promote new, innovative technologies. The initiative was
founded by Jeff Saperstein and Renee Blodgett in 2008.

Traveling Geeks 2009 – Paris

When I was invited to join theirTraveling Geeks/Paris trip, I knew that was one adventure not to miss (no matter how many mom-planning-loops I had to jump through). I can’t wait to see what is in store for the Traveling Geeks Trip to Paris, which includes attendance at LeWeb. I plan to be online sharing the trip with my readers as much as the international connections allow. The Twitter hashtags for the trip are #TG09, #travelingeeks. Their is also a Facebook fan page and a Twitter ID: @travelinggeeks.

Now back to my search for an unlocked GSM smartphone international data plan and international Broadband card!

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My Work-cation at ReThink Hawaii

When Christine Lu contacts me about an event, I do everything I can to show up. She is one of those connectors that brings interesting people together to spark amazing discussions. My husband Neil Blecherman and I decided to join go to the ReThink Hawaii conference after she notified us. We not only looked at it as a chance to network and  but as a vacation; we had not been away for longer then a day together in 10 years – since we started our wonderful family of 3 boys!!.

Here is a picture of the ReThink Hawaii attendees, my husband and I are in the middle left – Christine Lu is at the front. Because we wanted to spend some time at the beach, we did not get to attend all the sessions. On the last day we enjoyed going to TEDx Honolulu just before we jumped on the plane. I enjoyed seeing the TEDx video to explain the passion that is spreading around the world. The TEDx Honolulu organizers (including L.P. “Neenz” Faleafine and Traci Toguchi and also did a great job of pulling together a compelling program. I look forward to when the TEDx  Honolulu videos are loaded. Of course, I am somewhat bias because of my excitement to hear my husband’s TEDx speech (Neil Blecherman).

Being in semi-vacation mode, I decided to cover this trip via smartphone – using Twitter to capture my thoughts.My husband attended the Sustainablity/Eco session we both attended Social Media Business Summit Co-organized by Christine Lu, Rick Calver, Jim Turner.  I enjoyed speaking on a panel at the summit about Parent Bloggers with Jim Turner. The “Re-tweets” below with my picture are from an attendee who shared some of my key thoughts as I spoke. I also enjoyed hearing Jim Turner’s perspective as one of the original parent bloggers who also runs a successful media business called One by One Media. We both shared that we don’t make money from blogging – blogging is a way for us to share our voice. We have other businesses that compliment the blogging. I summarized a few of my key answers when asked why I blog.  Why TechMama blogs: “blogging a great platform for creating an online brand and image, blogging creates my voice but make money on other things (i.e. books, consulting), the three overall reasons I blog is community -relevance – voice. that’s why

Here is a summary of my Twitter stream from the conference. I will be looking at new ways to micro-blog, including trying the BlackBerry Whrrl app I just loaded.

TechMama’s Twitter Stream from ReThink Hawaii:

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