Big Ideas Shared at #tbc09

Yesterday The BIG Conference came to Portland, Maine on a drizzly and chilly October morning. Iffy weather did little to keep down a lively and engaged crowd from across Maine and a group of excellent speakers from around New England and as far away as Houston, Texas.

As the guy in charge of the live video feed, I had an excellent vantage point throughout the day and got the opportunity to absorb some of what was truly the “Big” part of the conference: the ideas.

The Speakers

Chris Brogan at Portland, Maine Social Media Conference
Chris Brogan Presents at #tbc09

Kicking off the morning at 8AM was Chris Brogan, whose down to earth personality and seemingly endless energy continues to impress me. Chris was totally in the zone – relaxed and comfortable, he was just a guy with some ideas that he wanted to share with you (ones that might just change everything about how you do business if you think about them hard).

While Chris’ presentation certainly gave me a lot to think of personally, what was most valuable was the way he explained how social media works through storytelling. For the person who just doesn’t “Get” social media, Chris’ presentation would make everything much more clear… And the urgency to embrace it all the greater.

Tim Hayden was on next, giving us some shockingly awesome information on how you can use web stats and analytics to understand how people are using the social web, as well as presenting several case studies of projects he worked on that helped make the whole effort more concrete.

David Alston from radian6 brought us up to the lunch hour with a wealth of information on the how and why of social media monitoring. He, like many other speakers throughout the course of the day, was happy to share his own personal story working with radian6 and using their own tools to track the conversation and interact with it.

Corrisa St. Laurent from Constant Contact reminded us that email marketing IS a conversation, and asked us how many people open a direct mail piece, then get so excited that they put it back in an envelope and mail it to a friend?

Mike Volpe then helped us put the “sell” back into the mix, with a discussion of conversion, landing pages, and calls to action in SEO and social media. His message was NOT to go out and spam your message, but to create useful and powerful content that draws people to your site (these are, after all, the people who coined “inbound marketing”), but that are not afraid to ask for contact after you’ve enjoyed that information. By offering a permission-based opt-in, Volpe reports that Hubspot gets tons of a quality leads, the best of which are big fans of their organization before they ever make contact.

Tim Hayden Speaks on a Panel at #tbc09
Tim Hayden Speaks on a Panel at #tbc09

Finally, there was a short session on “How We Got Started” by local Maine social media businesses using social media as a tool – Laurie Brooks from L.L.Bean, Tami Kennedy from Shipyard Brewing Company, and Fred Abaroa, known to just about everyone as @CostaVidaFred– followed by a Q/A with same.

Closing out the day was a full panel discussion and Q/A session with all of the speakers of the day, where the ideas from the day were reinforced and the major message to all was: if you’re not doing something, start doing something now.

Wrapping Up

As with most events, #tbc09 closed with a networking event and reception which mixed an incredibly intelligent and tech-savvy group of Mainers. These are definitely the people who are turning energy into action and I look forward to seeing the fruits of the connections and ideas that were generated at the Conference.

Mostly, I was proud of Portland, Maine — it’s great to find our fair city able to put on an event that could stand head-to-head with any in Boston and kudos to BoldVision Consulting for bringing together as sharp a group of minds as you’re liable to find anywhere. Let’s hope to keep it “big” again next year.