We conducted an online survey of participants after the recent Beer Bloggers Conference and, as part of our effort to be open about the conference, I’d like to share some of these results.
Before I do, it is important to understand the five-point scale we use on the survey. In this scale, 1=needs improvement, 2=fair, 3=good, 4=very good, and 5=outstanding. Note we purposefully slant this scale to be difficult, so that the midpoint (three) is “good” and not “fair”.
Overall, thankfully, no one rated the conference a 1 or a 2. Three people rated the conference Good, nine rated it Outstanding, and the bulk of respondents rated it Very Good. The overall score of 4.13 was essentially tied with our 2010 Wine Bloggers Conference, which scored a 4.12. So, great results but room to improve.
The top vote getters among all the different events at the conference were, not surprisingly, those involving beer. The Night of Many Bottles was the top vote getting with an average score of 4.50 while Live Beer Blogging was second with 4.30. The dinners at Oskar Blues and Boulder Beer were close behind.
In terms of “academic” sessions, Erik Boles’ presentation on how to make money from your blog, which was really more about how to build your own brand, and has been affectionately dubbed (by me) “Work Your Face Off”, was the top vote getter with a score of 4.19. Julia Herz from the Brewers Association, who opened the conference by talking about the state of the craft beer industry and how bloggers fit in, was also highly rated at 4.15. Most of the presentations followed with scores in the upper 3s, with our three other keynote speakers (Jay Brooks, Jessica Daynor, and Greg Koch) leading the charge.
The only event of the entire conference that was not well rated was the Women and Craft Beer panel. Many of you pointed out the panel needed a moderator. I’ll take responsibility for that, since I asked Julia to both be on the panel and to moderate it. That didn’t work well. Having said that, the topic itself clearly drew out lots of passion and I would propose we repeat the topic again in 2011, even if we change the format. Let me know what you think.
One interesting aspect of the survey results was 68% of respondents said the mix of educational, beer tasting, and fun activities was a good balance while another 26% said you could use more educational activities. I found this interesting in that the lower-rated activities of the weekend were the more technical educational talks.
Sean from Beer Search Party wrote an interesting post about this, explaining he really wasn’t that into the technical aspects of SEO, monetization, or even how to write to match your readers’ interests. Instead, Sean explained he is into sharing the reality of good beer wth his readers. I think this was true for many of the attendees, a good portion of whom either were not interested in or not ready for some of the technical talks. I have a few thoughts about this:
First, we will continue to involve you in our conference, will go thoroughly through the many suggestions you made in your surveys, and will again ask you what topics you wish to see in 2011. Second, we’ll try to keep the educational balance of the conference but try to have more inspiring speakers (like Erik) who are discussing beer and blogging in a non-technical way. Third, my suggestion is we continue to have some technical presentations. Although many of you might not be ready for SEO, adding a search box to your blog, or trying to monetize, my guess from our other blogger conferences is that you will be. We want to stay ahead of the curve.
Finally, 70% of you said you were very interested to attend the conference in 2011 and 28% of you are somewhat interested, mostly because you want to attend but need to deal with timing and cost issues. Heck, three quarters of you also expressed interest in attending the European Beer Bloggers Conference in London. I hope you can jump over those hurdles so we see most of you next year. Dates to be announced soon.
Please comment if you have any thoughts on this process or post.