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1. Northwest Arkansas and Bentonville are essentially synonymous, but only to airports and travel agents.
I’m just going to come right out and say that traveling from Orlando to Bentonville was not easy, although it was worth it. The Atlanta airport, where I enjoyed a 2-hour layover, does not seem to recognize Bentonville as a valid city. Instead, they call it “Northwest Arkansas,” but they don’t tell anybody. It’s like a fun scavenger hunt you didn’t sign up for. After a great deal of Home Alone-style airport frantic-ism and precisely 4 Starbucks drinks, I somehow ended up in the right place!
Romper: Sophie & Trey (Use code SSTSTEPH10 to get 10$ off) | Sandals: Similar Here | Watch: Michael Kors | Bracelets: J. Crew and Similar Here | Monogrammed Bracelet: 9th & Elm | Monogrammed Necklace: Gift from The Darling Prepster
2. Bentonville actually does have a claim to fame: The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. It’s legitimate.
I’ll be honest about my lack of art culture and admit that I had no idea what was in store for us at the Crystal Bridges Cocktail Reception sponsored by Kraft. This museum is breathtaking, from the views overlooking the ponds to the structure’s creative architecture to the impressive collection of American artwork itself.
I had to post a montage of shameless outfit selfies because I don’t believe any of my photos accurately depicted how boss this Lulu’s Top Notch Ivory Midi Dress really was. J. Crew cardigans just tend to take the sexy out of clothing.
The decor was divine, but the conversations were even better. This networking event combined all bloggers, brands, and Collective Bias representatives for the first time, and I had the opportunity to chat with some amazingly seasoned individuals in the blogging and social media industry.
3. Beauty bloggers are actually the best kind of bloggers.
This was my first blogger conference experience, and I’ll admit I had no idea what to expect when it came to fellow attendees. Luckily, RIMMEL selected myself and two other beauty bloggers, Casey from Beauty 101 and Kristie from Blushing Basics, as their VIPs, and I couldn’t have picked two more lovely ladies to get to know. We had a ball, and playing together in the RIMMEL brand salon, which just so happened to share a room with Conair, was like a beauty blogger’s euphoria. Not only did I get my eyes, lips, and hair done on the reg, but segments of my old RIMMEL makeup tutorials were featured on their huge salon TV, so that was pretty dang cool.
4. If you’re not utilizing Google Plus, Google hates you.
One of the ladies I quickly took a liking to was Jimmie Lanley. Not only is she a doll, but she was SoFabCon’s resident Google+ expert. I’ll admit I knew nothing about Google+ before her session, and now I feel like such a dork for not utilizing it more efficiently. The long and short of it is that Google+ is a direct line to Google’s ear, and utilizing its platform is the fastest way to build a legitimate online empire. The most important steps are to make sure that your profile is complete and that you take some time each day to comment and +1 individuals or brands whenever you engage in activity.
Oh, and have you heard of Hangouts on Air? I hadn’t. They’re a great way to further monetize your brand and have some fun with fellow content creators in the process!
5. “I look weird on camera” isn’t a viable excuse for avoiding YouTube.
Long story short, video content is 50 times more likely than written content to show up in Google search results. If you’re not on YouTube, or at least considering YouTube, you’re doing yourself, your brand, and your bank account a disservice. I’m still a little nervous about the production quality aspect, but still, when I see some of the newb vloggers who are making mad cash money, I’m pretty confident I can compete.
6. I want to live in the RIMMEL brand salon.
From professional makeup artists to a handful of free RIMMEL products, the brand salon was hands down my favorite hideaway. Plus, they had a monster TV playing clips of ads, and their marketing department chose to feature my posts on their promo reel! Pretty darn cool, RIMMEL and Coty!
Plus, all the attendees got a ton of free stuff from both RIMMEL and Conair. Thanks, Coty, for being rockstars.
7. #MealsTogether is a real cool deal.
Another one of SoFabCon14’s amazing supporters was Tyson Foods, and they sponsored an open #MealsTogether outing, where we were shuttled to nearby restaurants for quality time and to continue building relationships. I, of course, went to dinner with my two fabulous fellow RIMMEL VIP bloggers, Casey and Kristie, and we had such a great time at Carrabba’s, which just so happens to be one of my favorite restaurants… all on Tyson’s tab!
8. Hashtags and Alt Text aren’t just for kicks.
Although the hilarious Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake’s hashtag spoof made me reconsider my approach, there is an undeniable power of effective hashtagging. Not only is it a great way increase your content’s visibility, but they also facilitate easy searching for similar content. Similar content=similar bloggers=possible strategic alliances.
Literally every single presenter had something to say about the importance of alt coding your pictures. It’s the most effective way to boost your SEO, as well as facilitate easy pinning, all from a single picture.
9. The Weinermobile lives on.
So turns out there really is a Weinermobile that travels cross country for various promotional events, and it just so happened to make a pit stop at SoFabCon14! In addition to playing inside the decked out bus, receiving our very own Weenie whistles, and singing the Oscar Meyer theme song on camera, the Weinermobile added an ambiance of humor and general WTF-ness to the already light-hearted agenda. Naturally, Casey and I had to get a linked arm bblogger/Weenie Whistle picture for memory’s and nostalgia’s sake.
Yes, I realize how ridiculously disturbing this looks, especially with my retro-glam eyeliner deal going on. #YOLO.
10. Forget 1999. Collective Bias parties like it’s 2014.
No joke, Collective Bias is one of the most friendly, knowledgeable, and all-around fun companies I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with, and I would’ve never known that had it not been for this experience. Casey, Kristie, and I found ourselves pretty much only hanging out with the CBias crew, so when it came time to celebrate the company’s 5th Birthday at their Masquerade Ball, we knew it was going to be epic.
The wine was flowing and the food was fabulous, but the celebration really started when the party people hit the dance floor. I’ve never had so much fun dancing the Haarlem Shake and taking 89 #selfies in my entire life. Oh, and I should also mention that Hunter, one of the Collective Bias team members, performed a jaw-dropping version of Beyonce’s “Single Ladies”… maybe ever better than Bey herself. Anyways, I think it goes without saying that I’ve been diligently practicing via YouTube to attempt to get on his level. I’m failing, though. Boo.
And after we partied the night away, it was sadly time to leave the following morning. I felt like a preteen at the end of summer camp. We all exchanged numbers (some fancy people traded cards, which prompted me to order mine last week) and followed each other on various channels of social media, and I literally cannot wait for SoFabCon 2015 next year. I will say, though, that I’m crossing my fingers for a New York or Texas debut! Bentonville, you’re alright, but I think the conference could be so much bigger if it were in a more popular location. Cough*NYC*Cough.
Have you been to any blogger conferences lately? Any suggestions I should look into? I’ve been bit by the blog conference bug, and I want to meet all of you!