Internet Summit 2011 Wrap Up

I’ve had the pleasure of attending every North Carolina-based Internet Summit since the very first one back in 2008. Four years ago, the first Internet Summit was held in the UNC Friday Center and drew around 700 attendees.  With a keynote by the Triangle’s own Bob Young, the event broke new ground for technology centered conferences in North Carolina.

As the region’s premier Internet conference, Internet Summit 2011 did not disappoint. Just like last year, the pre conference sessions were a notable highlight. Of all the conference sessions I attend each year, these represent the best value. The pre conference sessions are concise, yet highly informative. They tend to dig right into the juicy details that that other mainstream presenters typically gloss over.

One particularly interesting thing I learned is that brand weight matters in Google’s new algorithm. If your brand shows up with a high number of searches for a particular product, then your website can rank highly for that particular product even if your website is poorly optimized and your brand isn’t included in the search!

For example- lots of searches for ‘handbags’ include the terms ‘Prada handbag.’ Even though Prada has a poorly optimized website, they still show up in the top ten results for ‘handbag’ because ‘Prada’ + ‘handbag’ are frequently searched for together. The popularity of your brand matters!

The opening day keynote panel session paled in comparison to Gary Vaynerchuk’s energetic presentation. Gary’s a gifted entrepreneur whose perspective on marketing and technology trends makes him a wildly successful businessman and bestselling author. He agrees that the Internet age is creating the most significant cultural divide in world history, and I appreciated how he believes that we’re heading back to small town values. With the domination of social media, our reputation once again matters. As search providers begin to incorporate the recommendations from our network of online friends, we will have the benefit of personally recommended results.

One of the most exciting presenters was DJ Relm; the Internet’s most famous meme DJ mix master. He discussed the importance of online video in website conversions, and even had time to showcase his skills on the wheels of steel.

A Small Orange CEO Doug Hanna was in attendance as well, and gave a great presentation on reputation management.

I also got introduced to an exciting new company featured at Internet Summit’s Demo Showcase. INRFOOD is a company who has invented a new mobile app for tracking food ingredients and additives. Their software allows users to scan barcodes, and view a color coded list of corresponding ingredients. If the food contains elements that are against your editing restrictions, (Kosher, vegan, vegetarian, etc.) the app will let you know.

It also gives you a list of potentially unhealthy ingredients as well. Over time, your intake of healthy and unhealthy ingredients is tracked, so that you can see exactly how much of them you actually consume. When the INRFOOD app launches in a few weeks, it will give us the ability to eat healthier by counting more than just our food’s sugar, fat content.

Internet Summit attendance has grown steadily each year, making this the biggest one yet with nearly 2,000 attendees. As a business strategist, I find it to be the most valuable conference that I attend.

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