The other day while eavesdropping at brunch I overheard a man insist to his companion, "The Internet is the future." Seriously. In 2010. Well, sorry to ruin the anticipation dude, but forget the future, the Internet is now. And contrary to what our favorite purple-clad know-it-all, Prince, declared to the press recently, the Internet is not going anywhere anytime soon.
Stalking your ex on Facebook and Chatroulette-ing aside, when it comes to business, the Internet has provided seemingly limitless real estate for young entrepreneurs to stake claim and turn innovative ideas into big money. But without a "now what?" plan, and without new media marketing savvy, that success can disappear as quickly as it came. With so much competition, how does one set themselves apart from all the white noise?
Current Sr. Manager of SEO and Online Marketing at MySpace, Tony Adam insists the biggest asset a start up can have is strong online marketing strategy and that's exactly what he hopes BlueGlass L.A. -- the July 19-20 conference co-created by Adam -- can bring to L.A.'s next start up superstars. These days, terms like "social media" and "viral marketing" are tossed around in conversation ad nauseam but only few individuals seem to correctly use those tactics in their business' favor. Whether you think you're a pro or just getting started, BlueGlass' goal is to show up-and-coming business owners how to work smarter, not harder -- something we could all use a bit of guidance on these days.
L.A. Weekly: You've been to a lot of conferences and start up events. What were the things you saw at other events that weren't working or not engaging people enough that made you want to take action in the form of BlueGlass?
Tony Adam: Essentially, the reason I was really amped about getting BlueGlass going out here was the fact that, like, you've been to Twiistup, there's all those entrepreneur events out here but there's nothing for the small business online marketer or the online marketer in general. L.A. has this awesome mix of start ups, technology professionals and also the main media and entertainment crowd. There's nothing really that says, "How do we market ourselves from here?" So that's huge and why I wanted to get BlueGlass out here. I wanted L.A.'s tech ecosystem to have an online marketing presence with it.
One of your specialties is Search Engine Optimization. Is SEO an oxymoron? Can one really optimize their company's organic search results?
Tony Adam: Yeah, I think that's the core of what the conference is all about. It is about search marketing. The core of it all, though we do touch on other topics, SEO is where everyone at this conference got their start, from people like Greg Boser who have been doing SEO for years to Vanessa Fox who was on was on the Google webmaster tools team and really understands search at it's core. It's definitely a possibility for anyone to optimize their organic search listings. We've turned this conference around and said there's SEO and other core things, but there's also the community aspects. There's the social media marketing, the viral marketing, and the overall marketing aspects that people overlook but that are actually needed... that's all the type of stuff that we're bringing with this event.
What's one thing you hope people can take away from BlueGlass that they can't find in another conference in L.A. these days?
Tony Adam: I'd say a solid understanding of social media and viral marketing in the sense that, everyone is talking about Twitter and Facebook but we're really going to get into the depths of how do you actually build a brand through social and how to you actually spread virality across the web, and not just through Twitter and Facebook.
What's an example of a company that you think does this well?
Tony Adam: Zappos, the online shoe company that was just bought by Amazon. They're one of the darlings of search and social because they supposedly saved approximately $10 million in advertising a year because they were able to instill this social marketing culture that was pervasive through Twitter and all kinds of other venues. And then on the local side you've got the Kogi BBQ taco truck and other businesses that run 100% on social media and never spent a dollar on marketing. There's some really interesting entrepreneurial stuff there... clothing shops on Abbot Kinney, things like that. L.A. has such an amazing entrepreneurial spirit. There are people starting all kinds of businesses in entertainment and retail and whatnot, but if you get your social online marketing right, you can cut your marketing expenses down by 75%. And that means, at times, the success or failure of a young company. Because every young company is strapped for cash. It's the kind of conference you're going to want to go to, especially a start up or entrepreneur that's trying to run real fast and dirty with marketing, with less budget than your average big brand and is going to want to own a corner of the market.
Who came up with the initial idea for BlueGlass? How long did it take to put together?
Tony Adam: When I was at Search and Social Summit in Florida in early May, I reaized that I really wanted at a conference in L.A. No other major online marketing conference is in L.A. and we need to have one. [Laughs] I'm a big L.A. tech ecosystem evangelist and approached Chris Winfield. About a week and a half later we decided to go ahead with it. Literally we put together the conference and we're less than a week away and it's only been two months. We've been running hard and fast to get this out there. The main organizers are BlueGlass Interactive and myself.
Out of all of these marketing tactics the conference is going to touch on, what's the most important for a new company to start with?
Tony Adam: Honesty, SEO. At any one of the talks or any one of the presentations you're going to hear SEO come up. It's such a cost effective, ROI driven marketing channel that you can't overlook it, especially being a small business owner or a start up. We'll touch on social media but we'll touch on social media to tell you how to help your SEO efforts. That's really were the core of your business is at. Whether your a small business that needs to push product or whether you're a publisher that has evergreen content you're going to want to consistently pick up traffic from, it's SEO. For businesses, SEO is not optional anymore. It's an absolute requirement to do business in 2010.
How much of going viral is left up to luck and how much is strategy?
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Tony Adam: There is a bit of falling into the right place at the right time thing, especially with Kogi because the truck scene was heating up and they picked up on it. Kudos to them. But a lot of it really is, "Are you creating stellar content or product that people want to consume?" You create great content and it will go viral, though obviously you still need a bit of that influential push, and that's some of the stuff BlueGlass will be covering, but if you don't have great content and you don't have things people want to share then nothing will ever go viral.
What's the absolute worst thing a company can do?
Tony Adam: Sit still. The worst thing a company can do is sit still and do nothing about SEO and online marketing in this day and age.
BlueGlass L.A. will be held at the Marina del Rey Marriott Hotel on July 19-20. For more information and to buy tickets check out http://blueglassla.eventbrite.com.