If you’re a Mom blogger who is even a teeny bit active on Twitter, it was hard to miss the feeding frenzy last week over the registration for the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, to be held in Disney World this March.
And if you paid any attention to it at all, you’d see that it made lots and lots of people very, very mad.
If you don’t know what happened, here’s a recap: Last year (I promise, this’ll be short) the Disney SMMoms Celebration (not conference) was invitation only. Lots of people were upset about that. It felt exclusionary. And Very publicly, on Twitter, people complained that it was exclusionary, that they felt snubbed. So this year, after months of teasers (from Disney) and rumors from everyone else, Disney announced that 2011’s limited space celebration would be first-come, first-serve. (Once you’re credentials were verified.)
They announced the date and time that registration would begin and we manned our lap-tops, iphones, and anything else that had internet-connectivity and were off to the races.
Only instead of a race, it was a frustrating waiting game. You couldn’t get onto to the site. Or you did, and then you got booted off. Some of us spent hours trying to get registered. And those of us who got through were asked for our blog names and urls, our professional and brand affiliations, our advertisers, our blog, twitter and facebook stats, and the names and age ranges of the people in our family.
The next day, the attendees were announced…and they looked suspiciously hand-picked. One of my friends was told she registered too late, and by the time she did, the slots were all full. But another friend, who didn’t get through until 30 minutes than that, was in.
So while no one knows for sure if all of the attendees were hand-picked, it certainly seems that way. So why the hysterical rush? Why the charade (if it was one.)? Why not just tell people they would look through applications and pick?
Because all the Mom Bloggers would have complained, that’s why. We want to be valued, we want to be taken seriously, we want to be paid for our work. But we also want don’t want to feel like there’s a popular club. We want to be one, big happy family. We’ve even gone so far as to include men in Mom blogging conferences that purport to be about empowering women. We want every single one of us to feel equally valued and loved.
That’s awfully nice, but it doesn’t work that way. If you want to have a big business like Disney to invite you to an event – to effectively hire you to promote their brand – you have to have the goods. In the blogging world, that means a minimum of 5000 unique page views a month, at least a 60 klout rating on Twitter, and a proven track record of working with companies (if you’re a business), generating buzz (through lots of comments, if your blog is personal) or both.
I looked at that list of people attending the conference. And they’re the women I would want if I were a big company looking to get the word out. They’re influencers. They’re smart. They’re funny. Many of them are my friends. I’m happy that they’re going. And the truth is, my stats and my influence just don’t measure up to theirs. They’re earned the right to go to this conference.
It seems to me that a lot of the people complaining about how this whole thing went forgot something very important: Disney wasn’t inviting everyone and their families down to Disney World because they’re nice. It’s because they’re a business. And they want – and need – a return on that investment of time, money, and hotel rooms.
Should they have misled all of us and taken all of our personal information in the process? Of course not. But shouldn’t we, collectively, take some responsibility too? Last year Disney took a lot of flack from the Mom Blogging community for making the event invitation only. That’s our fault. We should have understood that hard work, and good work reap rewards – like increased ad revenue, paid writing and speaking opportunities, and yes, even invitations to blog conferences. By putting Disney in the position to have to defend doing what any other business dealing with any other group would do – take the best of the best – we set ourselves up, and put them in such an awkward position that there was almost no way they could have gotten it right.
As my friend Beccarama pointed out, not everyone gets to go to Harvard. There’s a reason only people like Michael Bloomberg, Steve Jobs, and Warren Buffet are invited to the Sun Valley conference: they’ve earned it. Can you imagine every small business owner in America publicly whining about not being “picked” for that?
So in the end, I end up with this, I don’t approve of the questionable way Disney handled this whole thing. I think it was unfair to put us all through that. But I don’t think we Mom Bloggers are blameless either. If we want to play in the big time, we have to act like big girls, and accept that while for many of us, Blogging is fun, and creative, and a way to be a part of a terrific community, for companies like Disney, it’s business. And businesses don’t invite (really hire) everyone. They pick the best of the best.
And that is fair.