My experience at the State of Influence conference

tapinfluence logoI’ve been working with a influence marketing company called TapInfluence since it was “The Blog Frog” and its founder and I were grabbing lunch at the local Mexican restaurant while he showed me his startup ideas for the product on his laptop. It’s been a good journey so far, and it’s darn convenient to have TapInfluence in my home town of Boulder, Colorado. Particularly so when the company invited me to speak at its first State of Influence User Conference on February 10.

Held in the new TapInfluence offices in Boulder, there were about 90 people in attendance for a full day of panels and discussion, with sessions presenting ground breaking research on influencer marketing ROI (not yet published, so I can’t share it here), an open discussion on the how’s and why’s of marketing with influencers from local success story WhiteWave Foods, and separate tracks for us influencers and marketers. Our track included “The Business of Blogging” and “Build Your Influence”, while the other folk attended practical sessions on how to build results-driven marketing programs and overcoming internal and external challenges in social marketing.

At the end of the afternoon I joined two local blogging celebrities Toni Dash (Boulder Locavore) and Yvette Marquez-Sharpnack (MuyBuenoCookbook) on a panel entitled “Authenticity Wins” where we shared our stories of how we became professional bloggers, what types of companies we like to work with and how we prefer the relationship be managed. It was really interesting to hear from both Toni and Yvette how, like myself, they find that brands reach out to them far more often than they send inquiries in to marketing departments or social media directors.

audience at tapinfluence state of influence conference

We then opened it up to discussion and had a great conversation with a room that was approximately 33% PR agencies, 33% brands and 33% influencers and TapInfluence team members. I might have also shaken things up just a bit when I shared a story about how easily follower numbers, likes, comments and views are gamed and how it’s just a matter of a few Google searches to find companies ready to sell “real followers” and “real likes” by the thousand. I pointed out that if you’re a celebrity just joining social media, for example, you can’t be “that guy with 300 fans” so it’s reasonable to assume that purchasing followers is just a standard part of some people’s social media budget.”

Much discussion ensued, though there were a couple of participants who looked a bit like deer-meet-headlights after my comment, and afterwards an agency rep came up to me and said “now I need to go back and re-evaluate how one of our influencers got 9,000 likes on her post…”. Yes, she does.

The conference wrapped up with some great beer, wine and snacks while we continued the heavy networking and conversation about the state of marketing, blogging and social media today and where we think it’s all heading.

All in all, a day very well spent, and I’m definitely looking forward to next year’s event!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of TapInfluence. The opinions and text are all mine.