Wow, WPPI 2012 in Las Vegas is done and over with. What a week! It’s taken me a few days to recover; the traditional post-WPPI general exhaustion hangover…

I arrived in Las Vegas a few days before WPPI really got going with Heidi from HM Photography. Last year, we arrived the day before WPPI really got started, and never left the hotel, so this year we decided to get there a few days early to give us time to relax and see something else of Las Vegas besides the MGM Grand and Convention Center.

We arrived on Wednesday this year. We spent that day getting settled in to our 2 bedroom suite at the MGM Signature, then went to the Grand Wok for sushi, just like we did last year. Boom! New WPPI tradition born! We like it there because it’s relatively inexpensive (by Vegas standards) for good sushi. Living about as far from an ocean as possible in Minnesota, we take the opportunity to get good sushi whenever we can. We crashed by 10pm that night, thanks to jet lag and a tiring day traveling/unpacking.

Another friend, Rousey Johnson III arrived on Thursday morning, beer in hand at 9 am. He had rented a car for a day, so we took the opportunity to run out to the Whole Foods store just south of the main Strip area and stock our kitchen. Last year, we stayed at the MGM Grand, and spent a small fortune in breakfast and lunch food out, so this year we opted for our own kitchen and our own food, for considerably cheaper. $300 for breakfast and lunches for 4 people, and we still had stuff to bring home. Completely worth it. I’ll never do WPPI any other way again. I’m not a morning person, so making myself presentable just to go downstairs to get a small, expensive Starbucks breakfast is not appealing. After getting a bunch of healthy groceries, we went to Jack in the Box for a bacon shake (surprisingly yummy) and to In-and-Out Burger for lunch (pretty good). We spent the afternoon at Red Rock Canyon, hiking around and taking photos, and working off the 4,000 or so calories we each ate at lunch. I would have loved to spend a few days here, but no such luck this year, too many other things going on. We cooked steak dinner in the room and generally relaxed for the evening. Not a bad thing, considering the rest of the week would be exhausting!

Friday brought the arrival of our 4th roommate, Chris Meyer. We chilled out for awhile in the room, went gambling for a bit, went to lunch at the Hard Rock, then went back to the casino floor. I play the penny slots, so a bit of cash can go a long way at the casino. Friday night was our first night out the Las Vegas nightclubs; the Haze in the Aria to be specific. Nice club, I liked it, good music.

Saturday was a workday. We went to altF’s studio to pick up stuff for the Pro Photo Deals booth. Awesome guy, if you haven’t seen his work yet, go do so now! We got the booth set up and ready to go, then went out again, this time to Vanity nightclub at the Hard Rock. DJ Pauly D, yes, Jersey Shore’s Pauly D, was DJing, though not until 1 am (we arrived at 10pm-ish). It was another good club (I’m no nightclub connoisseur, they were all cool from my perspective), the guys from Three 6 Mafia came by and did a few raps also. That was definitely cool. I left just before Pauly D came on; headache and sore feet, this girl can’t club back to back nights easily!

Sunday was my first day of scheduled platform classes. With each registration, or guest registration, you can preboard for up to 5 classes. My first one was Catherine Hall, Carpe Diem Through Social Media. I feel like I learned quite a bit from this class, especially about Google+, which I’ve been pretty blah on adopting. I’m still working on getting a handle on Facebook and Twitter…

One of her main points was that it all starts with your branding; there’s no point in doing anything if the branding and voice isn’t consistent. Your logo, brand colors, fonts, patterns, and voice all have to match. The best thing you can do for yourself is have a graphic standards document; it defines exactly how to use each element of your brand, such as the logo and colors and fonts. Everything from your Facebook to Twitter to blog to emails has to all look and sound the same too. One thing I noticed, the really stood out to me as an example, was she was wearing the same top in class as she was in her WPPI profile headshot that went into the class catalog, same as her Facebook and Twitter pages. That’s consistent branding, because it connected it all together. She also talked about being authentic in branding your personality, rather than copying; copying will inevitably fail because you are by definition not being authentic. Jasmine Star works because she’s Jasmine Star; you or I can’t work trying to be like Jasmine Star because we aren’t Jasmine Star.

A few other things I learned that were new, or that were stuff I already knew but could use reinforcing on:

  • Be informative, and be professional. You can be personal without being unprofessional. No one cares about your shitty day on your business related profiles, keep those to yourself or your personal profiles. Keep every social media network professional.
  • Make it easy to contact you. Ditch the contact page that only allows you to inquire about a wedding date. Include your direct email address, facebook page, twitter page, phone number, physical address, ect. Don’t make it at all difficult.
  • Respond to people. If they comment on your facebook page, talk back. Tweet back to mentions and retweets on twitter. Have a conversation, and people will be more likely to remember you.
  • Be relevant. Not all the social media networks are the same, so craft each message to each outlet. No hashtags from twitter on your facebook page! Posting from services like Hootsuite make this easy, so try and avoid it. Facebook can have a very flowery, fluffy tone, whereas Google+ has a more technical, no nonsense tone. Post accordingly to have the most effect.
  • Use your social media networks to cross promote your favorite vendors. Have a recommended section on your blog, do a #ff (follow friday) on your twitter, send a shout out on facebook. Talk about why you use them and how great they are, and make sure they know you’re talking about them. Hopefully they’ll return the favor, then you both benefit.
  • Be efficient. Figure out when your followers check each of their social media networks, and post at those times. Most popular times for facebook and twitter are mornings and lunch, same for blogs. Google+ seems to be in the evenings.
  • Party hop with a purpose. Don’t use all the social media networks if only one actually works for you. If you get the most feedback from google+, and very little from twitter, then spend more time on google+ than twitter. Use your stats to find out what gets you the most bang for your buck/time.
  • Use newsletters. They’re way underutilized. Come up with some good content and get one going, yesterday.
  • Don’t push the same blog post out to all the social media networks exactly the same. Craft each snippet for each network.
  • If you want to gain followers, and you have the content part down, try having a contest. Encourage comments and tagging too.
  • And always, always, get permission from your clients before posting them all over the social media networks. Some people are more private than others, and that should be respected.

If you have the chance to hear Catherine speak sometime, I’d definitely suggest checking her out!

And wow, this is getting long! I’ll break it into a few different posts during the week, so we don’t all get bored 🙂

Coming next will be a review on Sarah Petty’s platform class, Anthony Vasquez’s platform class and the overall tradeshow experience.

(I know, no photos. I got too wrapped up in things and it all slipped my mind. Plus, my friends were taking all the photos, likely contributing to me forgetting…Bad me!)