By// Kendra D. Cusic
Stacey Ferguson plans to take the blogosphere by storm. When Ferguson co-founded the Blogalicious online community the mission was to create a platform for women of color to take advantage of the opportunities social media has to offer. In the founders’ efforts to grow an online community that celebrates “digital diversity” they created the Blogalicious conference that meets this weekend in Las Vegas. Stacey spoke to JETmag.com about what to expect at this year’s event and the steps entrepreneurs should take to make the most of social media.
What inspired you to start Blogalicious?
Blogalicious was started because we wanted to create an outlet for women bloggers of color to come together and form a community and basically know that there were more of us out there. The second mission of Blogalicious, was to educate marketers on the importance of working with social media influencers of color, because we are a very influential consumer.
What is Blogalicious doing to attract the marketers?
We’re showing them that women of color are generally the decisionmakers in our households. So of course, marketers want to work with people who are controlling the pocketbook. For example, we created a network called The b-Link Marketing Network, where we connect bloggers of all different ethnicities with brands. So for example, maybe a company like McDonalds wants to get the message out about their new restaurant design, they reach out to us and Blogalicious connects them with bloggers — in cities all over the country — who fit their target market and are able to work with them to write blog posts and work on campaigns that are social media related.
Tell me about the idea behind this year’s theme, “Make It Personal”?
The reason for that, is now-a-days social media is very saturated. Everyone is on Twitter and everyone has a blog. So, in order to stand out, the key is to have a personal connection with your readers, followers, and clients.
What we want to convey to our bloggers coming this weekend is that they have to go the extra mile to find ways to connect with their audiences on a personal level. That could be about sharing more on how to be a personality or the face behind the brand or it could be writing in a way that is really personal to readers that evokes emotion.
What can we expect from this year’s event?
We have a great lineup planned and I’m really excited about our keynote speakers this year. We have a really fantastic roster. We have Mario Armstrong, Emmy-award winner and tech expert. He’s going to be teaching our bloggers how to go from writing for free to charging a fee in 21 days. It’s called the “21-Day Challenge,” so that should be really interesting. We also have another session called TMI: How to be personal without over-sharing and that’s going to be facilitated by Harriette Cole. She is an editor and Today Show correspondent. People today tend to share a lot of personal issues because it’s so easy, but you have to make sure you’re not over-sharing. We’re going to have a media training workshop that will be headed by Teresa Albert, who is a TV personality from the Food Network in Canada. We have something for everyone, and that’s really the important thing.
How important is it for female entrepreneurs or women, period, to get involved in social media in order to advance in their field?
It’s critical and you cannot avoid it. We all know that if you want to have a business you have to have a web site. It’s the same thing — if you have a business you must be on social media. Otherwise you will be left behind the curve. And, frankly you’re missing out on a lot of opportunities that come at no cost to you. Having Twitter and Facebook at least allows you access to people that you would normally have to pay a publicist for. You can do it all on your own at little to no cost.
For those who can’t make it to the conference this weekend, what are three tips you can give women who are starting to build their brand?
I would say make sure you have a streamlined and consistent web presence. Whatever your brand name is, you have to make sure you own that name on all your social media profiles. Also, you want to do research. You want find who your target audience is and find ways to connect directly to them. Focus on and pay attention to your target market. Finally, really jump in on the social media tip. Don’t be afraid or intimidated and you don’t have to be on every social media platform. Pick one or two and do those really well.
For more information on the conference and how to join the Blogalicious community visit their website.