Social media conference begins Thursday | ParkRecord.com

Social media conference begins Thursday

by Andrew Kirk, OF THE RECORD STAFF

Stars in the world of social media are coming to The Canyons Resort this week for the first annual EVO Conference, June 24-26.

Rachael Herrscher, president and CEO of the social media site TodaysMama.com, co-founded and coordinates the EVO conference. Focused on the evolution of women in social media, Herrscher said its purpose is to better arm men and women with skills to improve their blogs, better their businesses through social media and become movers and shakers in the medium.

Even though it’s for everybody, EVO is focused on women because some of the most compelling evolutions in social media are being created and driven by females, she said.

"They create and consume more content than any other group online," Herrscher explained.

Keynote speakers include Andrea Wishom, supervising producer of "The Oprah Show;" Jon Sinclair, vice president of development and creative services at Oprah Winfrey’s HARPO; Brene Brown, author of "Wholehearted;" Karen Walrond of the blog Chookooloonks.com; and Lesli Rotenberg, vice president of children’s media at the Public Broadcasting Service. Also speaking on Thursday are bloggers Nirasha Jaganath of MommyNiri.com, Heather Spohr of TheSpohrsAreMultiplying.com, and Stephanie Quilao of BackinSkinnyJeans.com.

Booking some of Winfrey’s people was a major score, Herrscher said, because they’ve been innovative in using social media to promote the show and its causes.

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Social media isn’t so much an alternative to mainstream media as it is a tool that is being slowly adopted by the mainstream, she said. Eventually, the power and influence of mainstream media will dominate and reinvent social media. The medium is in constant evolution hence the name of the conference, she explained.

Utah is the right place to host this conference because two qualities seem to be inherent in its population: a comfort level utilizing new technology and an entrepreneurial spirit, Herrscher said.

"It’s like a mini Silicon Valley," she said. "We’re a hotbed of women in social media. There are some really big bloggers here it’s a natural extension of our community."

The conference had more than 300 registered attendees by early in the week and many arrived early to enjoy Park City before meetings begin, she said.

Because many blogs begin as family logs and evolve in a more entrepreneurial direction, much of the conference is aimed at helping users improve their usage from a business angle.

"There’s an inspirational track, a hands-on instructional track in a computer lab, a track for foodies, even a photography track featuring the lead photographer for Kodak," she said. "On every level people are using (social media) differently and it’s feeding different parts of your life."

One success story to be featured is Spohr’s experience using her blog to raise $100,000 for the March of Dimes after her own 18-month-old baby died from complications after being born prematurely.

"There’s power in community and sharing personal stories online. Really compelling stuff happens online and we want to talk about that, too," Herrscher said.

The Make a Wish Foundation will be sponsoring a workshop in which users sharpen their skills for creating an online marketing campaign for a social good.

"It’s about building relationships; it’s a two-way street," she added. "To engage you must be authentic and real. You must engage on a personal level."

Mass communication used to be a conversation from one to many. But people crave the more traditional conversation that occurs one-on-one.

"The success stories are built on practical relationship common sense. If someone talks to you, talk back. Follow basic relationship rules," she said.

Social media can serve a business, but if a new friend only wants to talk business, it can get boring. That’s still true online, she added.

Using a computer is a solitary experience, so users want to bring real people together to share collective experiences. If a site brings people together to make new connections, it can expand the network in a big way, Herrscher explained.

Despite the emphasis on women, there will be a panel presentation of "daddy bloggers."

"A man will not be alone at the conference," she said.

Herrscher said it’s been a struggle to get technology firms to recognize the innovations women are making. She approached several to be sponsors of the conference. The most interested companies were producers of consumer goods.

"There’s a bit of a divide women need to be represented better," she said. "As time goes on, I hope tech brands will pay more attention to this demographic as important users of this technology."

Registration for the conference can be done at http://www.Evoconference.com by selecting the "register here" button. Use the code word "UTAHLOCALS" for a $150 discount, she said.

EVO Conference

"Focused on the evolution of women in social media"

Starts June 24

Register at evoconference.com


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