With a #1 trending topic on Twitter, a parade of celebrities, incredible energy from thousands of bloggers and a robust set of sponsors wooing social influencers – BlogHer15: Experts Among Us delivered what I’ve come to expect from one of the biggest moments of the year in the blogosphere. The content was based primarily on input from the online communities, in addition to new areas of focus and interest infused by SheKnows Media, a digital media company that recently acquired BlogHer to form the largest, female-focused digital property in the world.
Having attended virtually all of their events over the past 11 years, I expected the variety of thought-provoking content and an emergence of impactful trends that would resonate throughout the rest of the year. What I didn’t expect was the emergence of such powerful, concentrated themes that popped up in nearly every major session, reception and casual conversation. I was excited by what I saw on day one and began to notice the emergence of four major themes, along with their potential impact on brands:
1. Girl Power
While the opening keynote featured journalist and philanthropist, Soledad O’Brien, and Girl Scouts CEO, Anna Maria Chavez, the stars of the show were five impressive young women who embodied the success of the speakers’ respective efforts via the Starfish Foundation and the Girl Scouts. Putting girls “front and center” was a theme that continued loud and clear throughout the event via the Femvertising Awards (SheKnows new awards that honor pro-female advertising) the new and very well-done Hatch Labs program (a digital literacy mini-conference for kids held on-site) and the whole “Next Gen” track of programming.
Implications: Helping girls find their power, their voice, is clearly top-of-mind and is motivating those girls (along with their parents) to purchase, engage and buy. I expect this trend to continue for some time and also wonder, what about boys? Will the next variation of this kid empowerment trend focus on bringing boys back into the picture?
2. Personal Brand
With an entire track of sessions under the theme of “You as Brand,” there is great emphasis by bloggers and social influencers to build authentic, meaningful, personal brands for themselves through words, visuals, stories and causes. The Hatch Labs program even held a session on Personal Online Branding for kids 8 to 18. So it’s not crazy to anticipate your still homebound kids having their own personal brand strategy in the near future. How much personal brand is too personal? Privacy issues are part and parcel of this topic as bloggers discussed how to juggle their own online identity while protecting their children’s identities.
Implications: This focus is helping bloggers become more confident in themselves and their business proposition, which, in turn, will be beneficial for brands and marketers looking to find true matches. I see personal branding for individual influencers as a ripe business opportunity.
One of the hallmarks of the BlogHer conferences is the near absence of session power point presentations. Why? Because it’s all about stories rather than communicating data points and information. From Soledad O’Brien telling the story of the origins of the Starfish Foundation and the Girl Scouts talking about their appearances on the Today Show to Gwyneth Paltrow sharing views on “curated commerce” and Christy Turlington Burns bringing awareness to maternal health challenges, it’s all about the stories that illustrate the topics. Even the people staffing the booths in the Expo this year seemed more adept at telling stories about their brands rather than just sharing information or a promotion.
Implications: Big brands need to learn from compelling storytellers and up-the-ante with their ability to tell stories about how individual people are impacted by the brand (click to tweet).
4. Advocacy and Mission
At BlogHer, there is a palpable sense that “we are all in this life together” and it’s everyone’s responsibility to make your world better; whether that’s paving the way for young women, making the internet a safer place or using your voice for good. Tweets like, “everybody has a duty to speak out against injustice” were some of the most favorited of the conference.
Implications: There is a loud call-to-action among these influencers to do something and use their voices. I think they will soon expect the same type of action from most brands. As HuffPo tweeted, “there are no exceptions.”
All in all, #Blogher15 was a powerful and motivating event that will help me elevate my work on behalf of clients moving forward. I’d love to hear your thoughts on these trends or your impressions of BlogHer15 in the comments section below.