On the morning of May 23, the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center was teeming with people, hundreds of attendees heading to registration desks to get their badges for one of two business summits. For the first time this year, social media conference BlogWorld & New Media Expo colocated with BookExpo America, making its East Coast debut with three days, 200 speakers, 150 sessions, and more than 100 sponsors and exhibitors. The extension from Las Vegas, where the five-year-old Internet convention has seen rapid growth in its in-person and online audience, was a strategic move by the event's C.E.O. and founder, Rick Calvert, to build a bigger brand that targets the widening demographic of bloggers, app-makers, new media entrepreneurs, and social-media-savvy marketing executives.
In addition to requests from attendees to expand to another city, Calvert explained the idea to launch an East Coast BlogWorld was prompted by the rise in attendance as well as New York's population of media professionals. “New York is the capital of traditional media, particularly traditional journalism in the U.S. Many traditional journalists, editors, and publishers have no idea how new media works,” he said. “By being in New York, we make it much easier for them to attend and learn about new media firsthand from successful bloggers and podcasters, instead of through a filter.”
So, when BookExpo America approached Calvert and his team about hosting BlogWorld alongside the literary industry event, Calvert jumped at the chance. “BookExpo America has more than 1,400 registered press. That alone would make the event a success for us,” he said. “We had hundreds of attendees coming to our show from B.E.A., and our attendees were walking the B.E.A. aisles and speaking with their exhibitors and attendees. There is no other opportunity like this, where new media and traditional media can network with each other.”
The partnership also allowed the conference to launch in less than 11 weeks' time and the team used a similar format to the outings that took place in Las Vegas previously. This entailed sessions for content creation, new media, niches, education, legal, publishing, and mobile, as well as the three-day social media business summit track introduced last year. Speakers included personalities like Andrew Breitbart, pioneers such as PodCamp founders Chris Brogan and Chris Penn, and dedicated new media specialists like Funnyordie.com head of marketing Patrick Starzan, CMJ.com editor in chief Lisa Hresko, and Blogger at Google product manager Chang Kim. On the expo floor, companies like WordPress.com and Network Solutions joined return exhibitors like Wiley and Newstex to showcase equipment, software, and other wares.
In its first New York iteration, BlogWorld drew more than 1,400 attendees—a number that doesn't include pass-holders from BookExpo America who visited the show—and Calvert plans to bring the conference back next year, along with some new additions to the program. “We will definitely be experimenting with new communities specifically for the New York audience in 2012. Fashion and finance are two communities that we think are a perfect fit,” he said, adding that BlogWorld will once again colocate with BookExpo America. “We will have some other surprises up our sleeves, as well.”