Event professionals continue to flock to social media--in the latest online poll from Special Events, 34 percent of respondents say they now blog and intend to keep doing so. Right behind, 31 percent say they don't have a blog now but plan to start one. Nine percent say they started a blog but no longer keep it up, while 25 percent say they don't blog now and don't plan to start.

For many active bloggers, their blog's payoff is exposure, pure and simple.

JUST SAY IT

Chicago-based wedding planner Frank Andonoplas, MBC, posts his "Frankly Speaking" blog after anything from enjoying an interesting meal to attending a trade show to working on an event.

Andonoplas takes a pragmatic approach to his blog, saying it's "not fancy" but "gets the job done." And how does he know it works? He says simply, "People read it."

On the other hand, some other event pros have turned their blogs into business tools that are paying off—and they can prove it.

GOING TO THE DAWGS

For example, David Merrell, head of Los Angeles-based AOO Events, has found that his Design Dawgs blog has taken on a life of its own—a profitable one.

Design Dawgs features new posts twice a week, focusing on various aspects of event design from the professional's perspective. Plenty of guest bloggers keep content fresh.

Although the AOO team was not sure at first where the blog process would lead, "Now we have advertisers and approximately 2,500 to 4,000 hits a month," Merrell says. "I've literally had people say to me, 'Oh, you're the Design Dawgs guy'—they had no idea who I was but they sure knew the blog!"

EVERYBODY IN THE BLOG

Powerhouse agency Jack Morton Worldwide, based in New York, makes its blog Jack do double-duty, says vice president and digital director Leesa Wytock. Not only does the blog allow staffers in a wide range of disciplines—digital, creative, strategy, production, administration and more—to express themselves, it also serves as the wellspring to generate content for the company's social media channels, website and client messaging.

The big corporate staff means that the Jack blog features seven to 10 posts a week, Wytock says. But there is no heavy corporate hand editing posts. "Everyone is invited to join and blog, posts are not censored and contain a variety of content," Wytock notes. "Topics are not client-based; the blog is an opportunity for people to share cool ideas in various sectors."

The Jack blog stands out, Wytock says, because, "The design is super cool, the ease of use is terrific and the fact that we have so many contributors gives it very dynamic content." The experts agree; Jack has won awards for both its design and content, Wytock says, including nods from the famed Webby Awards.

MADE TO MEASURE

Emee Pumarega, CMP, knows her blog works--that's because she measures it.

The owner of EJP Events, based in Portland, Ore., uses tools from Google Analytics to rate her blog's effectiveness.

"There are quite a few reports you can generate but I would recommend that beginners look at their traffic sources/referral report--where they are getting incoming visitors from," Pumarega says. "If you are paying for web advertising, you should use analytics to make sure your advertising is converting to website/blog visits. Also, how much time do people spend on your site? Do they 'bounce'—that is, hit the first page and then leave? If your bounce rate is high, you're not offering your blog readers what they want."

She also recommends looking at some blog basics.

"Which blog posts gets the most comments?" she asks. "If the blog is cross-posted to your Facebook page--which I recommend--do you get interaction about your post on Facebook?" She reminds bloggers, "The bottom line: You don't want to put all that effort into blogging if no one is reading."

Pumarega's readers have turned into clients. "I definitely find new clients from the blog," she says. "I just picked up a destination wedding in Mexico last week from our blog post about having your wedding in Mexico."

FOR BETTER BLOGGING

These successful bloggers learned some things the hard way.

Wytock advises choosing a blog platform carefully: "It makes a big difference depending on what type of posts and the content that will be generated," she says.

Merrell recommends focusing on photos over text. "Too many words make you go cross-eyed," he says. "People seem to be searching for one or two really cool ideas; not a ton of content is needed."

Merrell adds that a teaching angle—versus aggressive self-promotion—keeps readers coming back. And posting regularly is vital: "If you don't constantly feed the beast, you won't get regular readers."

Pumarega advises against trying to cover absolutely everything in a blog. "Niche, niche, niche," she says. "You do not have to be everything to every reader."

Next week, we will look at event professionals who prefer social networks such as Facebook over blogs.

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