Why are the voices of black bloggers important?
Black bloggers are a new generation of media owners. Not only that, but they are the on-ramps to the information superhighway for their families, friends, and communities. They are the early adopters. They are the ones who embrace the latest gadget. They are this vital connection between the black community and the digital age. Not only are they using the technology, but they are producing as opposed to merely consuming. They are image makers and there is nothing more powerful than the ability to tell people what to dream.
In 2013, what are some issues that black bloggers need to be concerned with or informed about?
There are some major policy debates taking place related to media ownership, and black bloggers are almost never mentioned in those debates. These bloggers have much larger audiences than many black newspapers, television networks, and magazines. Yet, none of the initiatives coming out of the advocacy groups in Washington, DC –related to black media ownership–appear to acknowledge that. Bloggers have a vested stake in some of these policy debates surrounding media ownership. They should start paying attention and thinking long term.
What problems affect the survival of the black blogosphere?
Sustainability and scalability. That is our unofficial theme this year. I’ve seen so many brilliant blogs go by the wayside. Black Web 2.0 was one of my favorite blogs and had an important voice. They have not posted since December 2012. I know many bloggers who’ve gone silent; brilliant voices that we need in the digital space.
Sustainability is probably the most important issue. It cost nothing to start a blog. Starting is the easy part, but many bloggers soon learn that the hardest part is to keep blogging when life happens. We have to figure out a way to keep their voices alive. Passion will only take you so far, so bloggers have to develop some type of self-governance to make sure that they can continue creating. This includes how to get access to revenue and capital.
Explain how bloggers need to manage their relationships with corporate sponsorship?
Though Black bloggers are interacting with brands and corporations, they need to remember that what makes them special–what differentiates them from traditional media and connects them with their audiences is authenticity. Too many people think that blogging is some type of get-rich-quick scheme and spend more time creating media kits to impress agencies than building genuine, authentic relationships with their audiences. If you take care of your audience, they will take care of you. The real currency in social media isn’t money, it is relationships, and bloggers can never ignore their relationships with their audiences in search of a pocket of gold at the end of the branding rainbow.
What do you hope the audience will glean from their presence at BWB?
Clearly we want our attendees to use the opportunity to use in-person interaction to strengthen their network. We also want them to maintain their technical mastery in social media and technology. The technology is constantly changing. There are constant updates and a constant evolution of the available tools. This is one time a year when bloggers can pause and step back from the day-to-day grind of blogging and look at the entire social media landscape and see what’s changed. I, personally, use the conference as an opportunity for what I call CBE, Continuing Blogger Education.