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Things I learned at BlogCamp.

(Other than there were no tents and I didn’t camp (thanks to H for asking when I got home and looking very confused when I confirmed neither were there)).

If you forget your badge, don’t worry too much about running home to get it as nobody checked them anyway. I wish we’d had name badges then I’d have put more names to faces – though on saying that I use a different name on Facebook to real life so it might have just confused everyone.

I met up with Sophie as she’s only a couple of stops from me on the train, she’s lovely and extremely easy to natter to which made walking into a room where I know a couple of people a LOT easier. We also played ‘Spot The Blogger’ and got them all correct (Sophie is particularly good at this).

Google Campus

Google Campus – all hail the eMac

On entering Google Campus (which is nearly as cool as Google HQ) we located the cafe and got more caffeine in preparation for the Google+ presentation.
At the start I let out the most ridiculous sneeze ever which sounded like a sneezefart, but it came out of my mouth (the refreshing thing – the entire room didn’t burst into giggles like they’ve done at work in the past – I was in a room of adults which was NICE). The aircon wasn’t agreeing with me at all, and made me even snifflier.
So, things I learnt about Google +.

• Circles exist so you can set up groups who can view things (but bear in mind if someone is purposely restricted and someone in your circle shares it, then they may be able to view it)
• Google Hangouts – unlike the Partnership Programme which streams live events (which is costly for Google), the Hangouts are free and for all Google users. You can run apps with it, or stick comedy moustaches and hats on yourself if you feel like it (I’m not sure why though), as well as sharing documents, maps or watch videos at the same time (which gives me a GREAT idea, a Friday Night Google Hangout Disco, as powered by YouTube. But I’m not sure it would work…).
• Google has lots of different kinds of chat – Gmail, Messenger and so on are all different – not like what’s at Google+ which is a lot more powerful.
• If you have a page you can’t interact with someone unless they add you first. With a page, however, you can add multiple managers.
• If you have a personal blog then if you’re doing it as yourself use your own profile rather than a page was the suggestion. I can’t remember why. If you blog anonymously, then obviously don’t go that way.
• Your SEO may be better with a page (not sure why)
Rich Snippets Testing Tool is useful for finding out how your webpages will look in Google/search engines. It will show all the markup things (god I’m so technical) for G+ so you put the right information in there.
• The life cycle of a blog post. Use the +1 button if you like something. Share it with your circles. They might share it with theirs. This all sounded nice, but it never happens (to me. I don’t mind that it doesn’t.). He called this Ripples. I like Ripples but the chocolate kind.
•  I like this suggestion – post as a blog/page then repost as yourself but disable comments – that way if anyone is interested they’ll go to your page, so you’re more likely to pick up readers/page members, etc. He does this and it works for him.

I felt like I needed to know more about G+, got home to try out what we went through (quite a lot of which I already knew), but it still feels alien to me.

Stu Heritage at Blog Camp

Stu Heritage at Blog Camp

There was a chat about How To Deal With Online Criticism by Stu Heritage. It was very funny – having been the moderator of our forums at work for the best part of four years (probably more, I lost count – they were cruelly taken away about as many years ago now) abuse kind of goes over my head, so my only advice would be similar to him
• be self-deprecating (heck, name your blog that way too why not?)
• don’t reply back (unless you want two years of inbox bombarding)
• don’t take it too personally (I have kept all my emails from the abusive Gary Numan fan to cheer myself up on sad days, for the record)

We had a nice chat with Keris Stainton about getting your blog published and what she did – she was really nice and chatty though I have no notes. I do remember lots of talk about NaNoWriMo which I’d love to do if I could be disciplined enough.

StumbleUpon was up straight after lunch, another site I’m a member of but haven’t really spent much time working it out other than liking odd things here and there, but not really knowing why.

If you’ve got this far, does your blog have sharing buttons for StumbleUpon? They account for a quite high percentage of traffic to a page – so it’s worth making them active. Here’s what I learnt:

• It’s available on all mobile devices – so make sure your website is optimised for mobile – over 25% of stumbles come that way
• Be visually appealing – use an image. Just text is boring. (I’m boring, but hey)
• See those thumbs up or down buttons? They’re not there for the owner of the page to see – they’re for your own algorithm so you don’t get similar content – so don’t feel bad about using the thumbs down if something isn’t for you at all – but you don’t have to use it.
• You can stumble as many of your pages as you want, but do make sure to stumble others pages too (they recommend that)
• A family spend Friday nights looking at pictures of the world. He said it much nicer than I am right now, but the sentiment is the same – make sure your keywords are appropriate, maybe if you’re putting pictures of nice places they’ll stumble across you one Friday night. It doesn’t have to be about increasing viewers – it can be about sharing things you like.
• Stumble Couples. I got a bit lost with this. It lets you know if someone else likes your stumble or similar, but then the chatting around me got a bit loud so I missed what he said – if anyone can help me that would be great.
• If you like a site you can like it if there’s an option which will increase the recommendation (again I missed a lot of this, sorry)
• You can’t currently view only UK sites (as opposed to worldwide right now)
• StumbleUpon will get even better over time
• There’s a widget you can add to your page over at www.stumbleupon.com/dt
• Paid Discovery. I missed a lot of this too, but you pay to have your pages increase in rankings from what I could gather? www.stumbleupon.com/pd you’re guaranteed 100% engagement (not sure how though, can you ever guarantee it?)
•  There’s a StumbleUpon widget which is similar to LinkWithin which you can install on your site. It looks pretty good, though I think you’d need to submit a lot of pages first to make it worthwhile. It looks fairly straightforward to set up too.
• Try to avoid using pop ups on your site if you submit something to StumbleUpon

Sally said they’d set up a Tots100 document so we could all add our StumbleUpon names to it, to follow each other. I think I’m understanding it a lot more and it seems a lot less time sensitive than G+ is – especially if you have buttons to share. I don’t have time to sit and study something for an evening – it needs to work for me quickly to use it, and this talk has certainly helped.

Cross Pens! Pens oh pens. I love pens. Doesn’t everyone? We got a goody bag with a posh pen in it which was nice – and was used to draw a picture of what Mum Friendly is all about for a competition and it was really nice – unlike my picture which was pretty rubbish. They’re VERY nice pens and come in VERY nice boxes. See?

Cross Pens at BlogCamp

Very Nice Cross Pens at BlogCamp

Oh, and we all got to try out more YooMoo flavours – I picked some up way back when Ocado had them on offer, then spotted Asda had the smaller tubs going cheap too – but never in my life have I had such a delicious frozen yoghurt than the one which included vanilla pumpkin seeds. Oh MY. Too good.

YooMoo at Blog Camp

YooHoo YooMoo Goodness

I think that’s it. My notes weren’t as thorough (as usual) as I thought they’d be. I met a few bloggers I’ve emailed in the past – the very excellent Joanne Mallon who is a lot taller than I thought she’d be (I don’t know why I thought this), Jax at Making It Up (who has the most gorgeous little boy who I pulled faces at), Kate at Another Goldfish and Anne at Oh My Geek, and Mummy Is A Gadget Geek (who took loads of notes by hand so I kept peeping when I missed things – thankyou) as well as Mags over at Red Ted Art, and I finally got to meet Lucy at The Princess Poet’s Life Adventures as well as a brief hello to a very heavily pregnant Lucy from Dear Beautiful Boy. I met Sally Whittle, then had to leave pretty much as soon as it had finished, if only to spare my germs from everyone (but weirdly as soon as I got out of the room my nose stopped running and I stopped coughing – stupid air conditioning). So that’s it.

I’ll be at BritMums 2013 and Cybher 2013, so see you there?

Disclaimer. All photos were taken on my iPod and my hands were shaking. This doesn’t excuse the rubbish quality, but does explain it. Sorry.

Oh, and. I did have a conversation about nothing in the loos, as feared. I did manage to stop myself. Phew.