Bend's 1st Annual Search & Social Conference Rocked

... lame name, yes. Lame content? Nope! The "WebCAM" conference in Bend, Oregon has come and gone, and it was a terrific event with some extraordinary content and speakers. Bend proved why it's often called the "Motherland of SEO," and more importantly, attracted a number of talented internet marketing folks from all over the country.

Who presented?

Lots of awesome SEO and social media peeps: Me (@audette) Dave Snyder (@davesnyder) David Mihm (@davidmihm) Chris Winfield (@chriswinfield) Rhea Drysdale (@rhea) Laura Lippay (@lauralippay) Derrick Wheeler (@derrickwheeler) Marshall Simmonds (@mdsimmonds) Scott Polk (@scottpolk) Todd Friesen (@oilman)

What was the content like?

Stellar stuff including:
  • Derrick Wheeler talked about his framework and approach for managing SEO across Microsoft's massive online portfolio.
  • Rhea Drysdale presented her views on reputation management and shared a few cool case studies and examples.
  • Beautiful Bend Oregon, shot by Laura Lippay
  • Bill Leake Todd Friesen presented on "making search work" and shared some fancy graphs. (Bill Leake was unable to attend the conference and Todd stood in for him.)
  • Dave Snyder had a great session with Scott Polk on viral campaigns, especially focusing on social media. Great stuff from these guys the entire conference.
  • Chris Winfield put on a keynote the second day talking about the social media landscape beyond just Digg, StumbleUpon, and the other bigs.
  • Chris also moderated a social media panel with Dave, myself, Laura Lippay, Rhea Drysdale and Matt Peterson that was fun.
  • Todd "Oilcan" (as my wife mistakenly called him, instead of "Oilman" - his online handle of yesteryear) Friesen and I had a fun session where we provided SEO advice to a bunch of websites from the audience. Straight-up SEO!
  • Laura Lippay brought a unique perspective to the conference as the head of Yahoo's SEO, which is a very large organization (obviously) with many unique challenges. Her session on social media was especially useful for those working on an enterprise level.
  • I presented on how Zappos uses social media as a reflection and extension of its brand and culture.
  • Marshall Simmonds put on a great session about SEO at NY Times and the other large publishers he works on with @adamsherk and @matthewjbrown.
  • Finally was the "hot seat" where a bunch of SEOs dissected websites from the audience. Pretty entertaining and always informative.

Will it happen next year?

I hope so. This conference needs a couple things to really excel:
drunk SEO geeks!
  1. A new name. "WebCAM" - are you serious?
  2. A larger audience. At times I felt the content and audience didn't exactly match up. This conference needs to be promoted out to large metro areas in the Pacific Northwest and beyond.
Overall though it was a terrific conference and the nightlife was even more fun than the sessions during the day. Bend is a gorgeous area in the high desert of Oregon, with a surprising amount of world-class SEO for a town of its size. The idea behind WebCAM was to bring traditional creative marketing into the same space as internet marketing, sort of a freaks and geeks experience. For the most part the format worked well, but I think it could be improved upon to make a really exceptional event. Thanks to everyone involved, especially AdFed and Mark Knowles and Wendy Roe of PixelSilk - you guys rock!
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