A little over a week ago, I was checking Twitter on my commute home from work when I noticed several people using the hashtag #BWENY. Further investigation revealed that this was the official hashtag of the BlogWorld & New Media Expo in New York City. I knew that the conference was coming up soon, so this made sense. I joined the conversation and began tweeting away with other bloggers and social media enthusiasts who were talking about BlogWorld. I had read that they would be giving away free passes to the conference, but I didn't think much of it. Imagine my surprise when I saw a tweet announcing that I had won a pass! I was shocked, but excited. Wednesday rolled around and I found myself walking the Exhibitor Floor at the Jacob Javits Center with my co-worker Cara. I spoke to people from dozens of companies providing fantastic services to bloggers, brands, and agencies. I was already familiar with some, like Groupon, Posterous, and Wordpress, but I also learned about some really promising new companies. Some were better than others, but I plan on trying them all out. Have a look and tell me which ones you like best!
Think Groupon, but with a B2B twist. This site offers some amazing daily deals for businesses to take advantage of. The Wednesday of the conference, it was $50 worth of Dunkin' Donuts coffee for $25. That's enough to satisfy all the employees at your small bussiness! They're New York City based, but the rep I spoke to told me that they are currently negotiating with several chambers of commerce to become more universally available. I think they could definitely be a site to watch out for in the coming months.
If you blog or work in social media like I do, you've probably dabbled in Google Analytics or Facebook Insights at some point. Raven strives to make the SEO and social media management process simpler. They provide the data bloggers and brands need to determine the success of their campaigns and they offer many tools that make it easy to manage and improve on their strategies and methods. I can see this being useful to agencies who want to provide their clients with a more uniform look at their web presence as a whole.
I was super impressed by these guys. So impressed that I'm using their tool to write this post. Zemanta is a blogger's best friend. It generates contextual content to insert into your blog as you write it. I had just written a post for our company blog the week before and I was thinking that it would be amazing if someone offered a service that would suggest content for me. Zemanta is the solution to that problem. As I type this post, Zemanta is analyzing the text and recommending images, links, and related articles that I may want to use or highlight to enhance my writing. It's my first time using it, and I already love it. It's available on all the major blogging platform and content management systems, so I highly recommend checking this out and seeing what it can do for you. And best of all, it's completely free!
This is another amazing free product that solves a problem I've long struggled with. I hate the native WordPress commenting system, and I found Disqus to be an adequate replacement, but once I heard about the social and interactive capabilities of ECHO, I was no longer satisfied. Like ECHO, Livefyre is a cross-platform commenting system that also pulls in Tweets and comments on Facebook links and adds them to the comment area of your blog. When you post a link to your latest blog on Facebook or Twitter, comments to that link appear below your blog in the comments. What distinguishes Livefyre from ECHO is that Livefyre is completely free. You really can't go wrong with that. I'm trying it out now, so tweet up a storm about this about this post and let's see how well it works!
Before you dismiss Groupon because you already know about them, hang on. What got me excited about their booth was the announcement of the Groupon Now! program. Instead of waiting until the next day to redeem your coupon, you can search for hyper-local deals and enjoy them right away. Right now they're testing it out in Chicago, but New York and other cities are on the way soon. This could drive huge sales to small businesses. If your bakery is offering half-off cupcakes on Groupon Now!, you better believe a flash mob is going to show up at that location and get in line. That can mean a huge buzz for relatively-unknown businesses looking to go viral.
Those were the highlights of BlogWorld 2011 for me. Were you there? What impressed you the most? What startup or service are you the most excited about these days? Let me know!