WordCamp Atlanta 2010 and The Use of the WordPress Platform

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It's all about WordPress and the WordCamp Atlanta on this week's episode of The Bella Buzz. Desiree braved the icy roads of Atlanta to attend the Conference on Saturday for a chance to network with over 200 attendees interested in hearing about best practices and upcoming enhancements to WordPress.Wordpress-logo-cristal_thumbnail-300x300

The WordPress platform can be called a blogging tool, a publishing platform or a content management system (CMS).  Whatever the terminology, it has become a factor across the web for developing vibrant web sites.

The open source tool was first launched in 2003 by Matt Mullenweg, and according to WikipediA as of September 2009 is being used by 202 Million websites worldwide.

Bella Web Design and Fluid Media both use the WordPress platform as part of the tool kit we use with clients who are looking to establish a solid web presence.  Based upon the flexibility of design and functionality, it has become a logical choice when looking for ways in which to present content.

(Attention: WordPress designers you can enter a contest the Bella Web Design is hosting, check this site for details and how to enter.)

When considering the use of WordPress as your web platform, there are choices that you can make based upon needs.  Plugins are available to add practically any functionality that you can imagine for your site, and from a design standpoint you can look into Themes.  Themes are available for free that can be easily implemented into a site for a nice graphic feel for visitors, while advanced implementations can include custom themes designed to achieve specific graphic standard requirements you may have.  It can be an interesting business model for a designer to focus exclusively on building and marketing themes via the "freemium" model.  Freemium by the way is a term coined by Venture Capitalist Fred Wilson for when web services are offered at a basic level for free, with the intention of moving users into paid versions with additional features.

The WordCamp Atlanta Conference was a multi tracked event with beginner, intermediate and advanced tracks, with many quality presenters including locals such as Amani Channel, Dougal Campbell, and Rusty Tanton. As well as national figures such as Mitch Canter and Aaron Brazell.

We will update this post as the video presentations from all of the sessions are posted in a single location, but check out the Speakers page of the Conference web site to see who presented so you can search for presentations.

If you are interested in seeing what other people are saying about WordCamp Atlanta, search for the Twitter hashtag #wcatl.

Our discussion veers into a little segment about the changing role of "spec" creative in the design world. In the past, any client who asked a creative shop to provide designs prior to awarding the work was looked down upon or simply avoided.  Today, the approach has changed to where entire web sites such as Template Monster and Boxed Art have sprung up to handle the demand of creative work distribution.

As we turn the corner on 2010 and get into conference mode, keep an eye out for the next Metro Atlanta event SoCon10, January 29 – 30, 2010.

Theme music for The Bella Buzz is Fallen by Digital Chemistry, available for download at the Podsafe Music Network.

You can subscribe to The Bella Buzz directly from ITunes by following this link, and we would be happy to receive listener feedback and ratings at The ITunes Store.

Your First 100 Days of Social Media Marketing: A Guide for Business Owners

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To borrow a completely random time line from the mainstream media covering politics these days, the hosts of The Bella Buzz podcast Desiree and Joe discuss ways to counsel new clients on their first 100 days using Social Media tools.

It is sometimes hard for us to remember what it was like when we first started using these amazing communication tools which are now a common element in our everyday lives.  We didn't adopt them overnight, there was a gradual incorporation of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and the myriad of other networks into our activities. We work with our clients in helping them understand the process of adopting these elements into their online marketing strategy.

For a business owner who is hearing the social media buzz in the press and trying to determine how they will incorporate all of them into their business, it can be a very daunting challenge.  Joe put the question to Desiree, "How would you go about assisting someone who has come to you looking to start participating in the world of social media?"

Her immediate response is that you need to have a solid foundation to work from and that foundation would be a great website.  In her words, "a fast loading, easy to view web site that represents your brand"…."the web site is the more formal voice, while social media is the more informal voice" .. From there the next place is to start writing a blog.  By crafting a blog about your business or area of expertise, the very thing that you are passionate about, it will provide a comfort level for communicating your ideas in a concise manner. It will also provide you some content that you can multi-purpose by integrating it into the social networks.

Working with clients, the push back against the development of a blog or adopting social media comes in various forms; time constraints, concerns about writing skills and fear of putting too much information out there in a competitive environment are the most common.  In each case there are counter-arguments to be made justifying the efforts in the long term.  The competitive issue we will save for another podcast, but while we're on the topic, a podcast is a great way to overcome the writing and or time concerns because it takes a simple conversation and turns your authentic voice into content for the blog.

The next tactic is to determine one social network where you will participate and focus by creating a profile.  Attempting to jump in and participate in too many of them at once might lead to burnout and dissillusionment so our recommendation for the first 100 days is to choose one and become involved.

Something to keep in mind is that 100 days is just an arbitrary timeline and using these tools for that time period will not provide you with the full scope of the experience. You will only scratch the surface of what you can discover. It is a place to start and provides a milepost to measure your progress and comfort level of using social media.

Once you have had a chance to sample the networks, you may find that differences in the way that each community interacts will be more or less suited to your own personality.  Jamie Turner, The 60-Second Marketer, once told Desiree that Facebook is like a pub where there are established friends sitting in comfortable places.  Twitter is more like a cocktail party where there are different conversations about different topics happening all around you, and LinkedIn is more like a formal business networking event.  Find the one that is most comfortable and start participating.

How have you handled your first 100 days participating in social media? What would you have done differently? And how would you help out a friend who is looking into participating in the conversations? 

Let us know, we'd love your feedback in the comments or via Twitter.