Three Takeaways From Mixwest 2013

The conference formerly known as Blog Indiana may have rebranded in 2013 as Mixwest, but the event still offered the same level of opportunity for learning, networking, and fun as it has in previous years.

I was lucky and honored to have an opportunity to present at the conference and learn from my colleagues and friends. But amongst all the learning and festivities, three recurring themes emerged as experts took to the stage to present their concepts and deliver their messages. Here are my three biggest takeaways from Mixwest 2013.

It’s easier to learn from friends

One of the distinguishing characteristics of Mixwest is the laid-back atmosphere that comes with so many of the attendees having professional and personal relationships that pre-date the event. And by the time the event concluded on late Friday afternoon, Mixwest rookies had soaked up the playful vibe and made enough new contacts to crack a few jokes of their own.

Another distinguishing trait is the overwhelming amount of shameless geekery and love for technology that fills the room. “Oh, hi! I’ve seen your tweets!” I overheard someone exclaim from the next table over as attendees mingled on a break Thursday morning. Phrases like “Somebody, please tweet that,” and, better yet, “Please, don’t tweet that,” were frequently emitted by speakers throughout the two days. Douglass Karr even dedicated an entire presentation to a discussion of social media trolls, stressing that today’s online communities have a tendency to blow things out of proportion and rarely ever create a true social media crisis.

Google + has become a necessary evil

Steven Shattuck’s presentation on AuthorRank and Holly Hammond’s look at utilizing social profiles for rankings both rang loud and clear that an active G+ account is the single best way to ensure your content is treated like elite thought leadership in the SERPS. While AuthorRank isn’t actually here yet, Google Authorship is. And while nobody is exactly happy about being backed into a corner by Google to use their social media platform, they’re begrudgingly obliging anyway. If you want to be recognized for your writing, it’s time to polish up that dusty G+ account with fresh content and up-to-date rel=”author” tags.

Sometimes, you just have to reject the experts’ advice

While not the direct message of any session, in particular, I heard multiple people blatantly deduce that some industry best practices simply won’t work in certain circumstances. One aspiring blogger, bound by client confidentially laws, surmised that Google Authorship isn’t the best way to earn public credibility in her industry. Another marketer identified challenges with using Google Authorship when blogging on behalf of clients and the issue of building credibility in a foreign industry. If a suggested best practice doesn’t apply to you, that’s okay. If you’ve educated yourself on a particular topic, explored your options and you still struggle to understand how it can work for you, don’t get worked up trying to make a square peg fit into a round hole.

What were your biggest lessons learned at Mixwest 2013? Which sessions were your favorites? Tell us in the comments below!

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