IZEAfest Delivers Drama, Scares, Learning, Ice, Pizza
Oh the salacious things we could tell you about IZEAfest which occurred this past weekend in Orlando. But we're not going to because you don't read Adrants for that stuff, right? You read it for the compelling and in-depth advertising news we provide. Wait, what? Did we just write that sentence? Have we turned into Advertising Age?
Hell no but we're not the industry's giant asshole either. Suffice to say there was puking, a high profile Twitter account hijacking, a lost iPhone debacle, a Twitter cat fight, a Zuckerberg/Lacy-style session trashing, a theme park line cutting incident and an act of contrition which was, well, less than contrite. But none of this is important. What's important is IZEAfest held a wonderful conference at which there were wonderfully informative speakers, wonderful attendees, wonderfully planned social events and a a chance to learn a lot about how advertising isn't the same advertising it once was.
Upon arrival Thursday, the Renaissance Hotel pool was the place to be. Julia Roy and Sarah Evans were among the many drinking in the sun before a few hundred of us hopped on some buses for a ride across the state to Busch Gardens where the park was holding its annual Howl-O-Scream event. Just imagine an entire theme park turned into one gigantic scare zone and you have Howl-O-Scream.
Six of us got a VIP tour of the place complete with a behind the scenes presentation describing how the scares throughout the park are created and how the entire event is marketed. Hundreds of actors are hired each year to play various roles in the themed scare house through which you walk while they jump out at you, scream, bang things or just creepishly follow you around or jump out at you from dark places.
Following the tour, some of us got to ride the craziest roller coaster in the land. Others, well, that's another story.
On day one of the actual conference, IZEA Founder Ted Murphy took the stage and with his highly motivational style whipped the audience int shape for the day building expectations for what was to come. Following Ted, Copyblogger Founder Brian Clark took the audience through a detailed explanation of how the various elements of blog content, style, design, tone, links, headlines can directly affect its success, traffic and Google Juice. He urged the audience to avail themselves of SEO-friendly blog platforms or themes such as Thesis and the seemingly millions of blog geeks who are more than happy to tweak your site to perfection for a mere few hundred dollars.
Sadly, we missed the panel led by Wayne Sutton with Sarah Austin and Julia Roy during which the pair discussed their rise to fame in the world of online video, how they got there, the tools they used to help them get there and the trials and tribulations of video babe fame. We hear there was discernible difference between the two, how they rose fame, the expertise they gleaned from the experience and how they use that expertise in their professional lives. But, since we weren't there, it would be unfair to comment.
The panel immediately following lunch on Day One led by Michael Gray and Rae Hoffman who focused on SEO and the tips and tricks website owners can apply to increase their site's findabiliy and popularity. The pair approached the session in workshop format analyzing audience member sites and, at times, bluntly informing people their sites needed some serious work. It was all constructive though and gave the audience usable takeaways which they can apply to their own sites.
Another panel entitled Tweet Me: Personal Brands on Twitter led by Sarah Evans examined the unique role Twitter - and all social media - has played in building personal brands. Sarah gave the audience tips on how to manage your personal brand online and when it's important to make a distinction between one's personal brand and one's company brand.
After the completion of the first day of IZEAfest, the pool was the place to be again until it was time to get ready for the party at Icebar. Icebar is just what it sounds like. The entire bar isn't made out of ice though. There is a separate room - basically a gigantic walk in freezer - made entirely out of ice. Even the "glasseware" is made out of ice.
When walking into the freezer portion of the Icebar, you are handed a winterized poncho and gloves to keep you warm while you're inside. Though with zero humidity and no wind, it really doesn't feel all that cold inside. Inside, you can choose from any number of flavored vodkas, sit on sculpted ice chairs and marvel at the work that went into creating - and, no doubt, maintaining - the place.
The evening at Icebar also included a Karaoke competition that Sarah Evans won hands down with her American Idol-quality singing. Amazing. She shared her prize with me since I told the judges they, hands down, had to vote for her. Of course, nothing needed to be said. She clearly blew the rest out of the water by miles. Not that it wasn't fun to watch the others. It was. It's just that you don't expect a real singer to show up at a drunken Karaoke contest.
Following Icebar and the Karaoke competition we all headed back to the hotel and ended up in a hotel room where there was plenty to drink and plenty to eat thanks to Ted Murphy's pizza delivery skills. Oh and there was a great banana photo opp too. Just check out the photo album.
And all of this is just day one. Stay tuned for Day Two.
Here's a collection of all the pictures.