…this blue blanket that Stitchy promptly snatched when I got back to the hotel room.

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Oh, and inspiration, tips, friends, a renewed view on blogging and a nice dose of Disney!

Disney Social Media Moms On the Road

A few months ago I somewhat absent mindedly submitted my information for the 2014 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration – On the Road.  Not truly thinking it was a realistic possibility, I didn’t think about it after I hit submit.  Imagine my surprise (ok, and utter elation!!) when, while prepping for our #MMMEpicSummer2014 Road Trip, I received an email inviting me to the conference.  Seriously?!  My first blogging conference AAAAAND it’s Disney’s?!?!  I’m in.  I’m sooooo in!  I quickly RSVPed not knowing how it was going to logistically happen since we will have just returned from our cruise and two and a half weeks at the Most Magical Place on Earth and would, no doubt, be absolutely exhausted and want nothing more than to be lazy and nurse our sunburned noses and sore feet.  But I knew I would make it work.  My amazing grandparents stepped in and made a week-long trip out of it not only driving, but taking care of our accommodations along the way.  I have the most supportive, amazing family!!

The conference was held at the beautiful Fairmont Scottsdale Princess.  After a little research, I knew this was a beautiful resort, but being used to Disney’s above and beyond service mentality we’d just left, I didn’t know if the Princess staff would measure up.  I’m happy to say that not only was the resort aesthetically wonderful, the staff was great, as well!  We stayed two nights at the Princess, and it wasn’t nearly enough!  Stitchy and the gpa spent most of our stay in the pools and had a great time!  We really barely scratched the surface of the activities, dining options and amenities of the resort, and I know Stitchy is already planning his return trip.  😉

We loved our pool view room!  Perfect location, and, well, that nighttime view was AMAZING!

We loved our pool view room! Perfect location, and, well, that nighttime view was AMAZING!

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On to the conference!  I had seen the social media coverage of the Philadelphia and Chicago conferences and was really excited to see what was in store for us in the Southwest.  After throwing on a slight nod to Jasmine, I made my way to the Princess Ballroom.  Of course.

 

Where else would we be?

Where else would we be?

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I really lucked out with room location here.  With such a sprawling resort, many of the attendees had to take golf carts to the conference center.  I literally turned a corner, went down a floor and walked across the sidewalk.  About two minutes door to door.  Being in a military family, I have to be five minutes early, otherwise it’s considered ten minutes late.  Combine that with the short walk, and registration wasn’t open when I arrived.  Oops.

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Finally, registration opened, the bloggers poured in, and excitement was palpable!

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After mingling a bit, we took our seats, enjoyed a delicious breakfast, and my first blogging conference began!

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The day began with Michele Himmelberg, Disneyland’s Public Relations Director, giving us the lowdown on all the fun at the US Disney Parks this year.  It was especially fun to see the Mine Train since we had just experienced it first hand days after the grand opening.

Hey from the Mine Train!

Hey from the Mine Train!

In addition to chatting about the “crown jewel of New Fantasyland,” she touched on some other fun Disney Parks tidbits including the Rock Your Disney Side 24-hour event, the explosion that is Disney’s Frozen and more.

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Everyone seemed excited about next year’s big Disney anniversary on July 17, 2015.  Yes, of course, it’s the gpa’s birthday, but it also happens to be the 60th anniversary of Disneyland!  Be sure you’re following Disneyland on Twitter, and keep an eye on #Disneyland60 to keep up with the fun!  And if you just can’t contain your Mickey-shaped heart for a year to celebrate, check out the Disney Parks Blog this July 17th for a sneak peek!

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The Disney Parks team also invited us to participate in what’s usually an in-park favorite – pin trading.  In addition to being a highly successful merch idea, pin trading also allows cast members to interact with guests on a deeper level than the typical “Where are you from?” interchange.  With that in mind, the team brought all of us our own pin to trade with our fellow social media moms.  Not gonna lie.  I liked my original pin, so while I mingled, I hung onto newsman Donald.

What can I say?  He spoke to my BA in Journalism.  ;)

What can I say? He spoke to my BA in Journalism. 😉

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Erin Glover, Social Media Director and Disney Parks Blog superstar, took the stage next to give us a look at the inner workings of Disneyland’s social media crew.  We chatted with Alex Shipman, Walt Disney World social media, for a bit about social media at last summer’s Walt Disney World Agent Education Program, so I was happy to get to go a little more in-depth with Erin.

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Being a major part of the Disney Parks Blog, Erin knows the work all bloggers put into their content.  While the actual act of posting may not take much, the post is a mere 10% of the process.  The other 90% (aka countless hours) is spent researching, photographing, creating media, planning, getting the post out to the public and then analyzing all of it.  So, bloggers, there’s a reason you’re exhausted after putting up your latest post.

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Not surprisingly, Disney is all over social media, but did you know that much like the parks, the social media strategy follows the hub and spokes model?

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Most content from the blog is customizable to the other social media channels, but as you can see, the arrows go both ways.  If you follow the Disney Parks Blog often, you know the blog and YouTube often go hand in hand.  Erin touched on YouTube content a bit pointing out the challenges when working with (as the old adage mentions) kids and animals.  Recently the social media team worked with internet sensation Grumpy Cat.  While the finished product looks like social media perfection, she let on that they had to rewrite on the fly, as the star wasn’t always ready for her close-up.

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Next up was HP’s Lori Lorenz, Senior Director of Direct Print Services.  She began her presentation by showing us the power of pictures.  After working though years of IEPs and school challenges (working in SpecEd the last several years, I know what a hurdle those can be), her daughter made her way to commencement, but even better, after going back to school to get her Masters, Lori was graduating at the same time!  Now, this is an inspiring story in itself, but the pictures take it to the next level.

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If you’re familiar at all with Magic, Memories, Mayhem, you know this blog is probably 50% pictures, so here is where I knew Lori was a gal after my own heart.  She showed us so many ways HP printers can help make our every day easier.  I had to laugh out loud when she mentioned the last-minute gift option.  I am 100% the girl up the night before the last day of school printing pictures, cutting up printed gift tags and putting together photo cards for end of the year gifts.  Apply to Valentine’s Day, Christmas, birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and, if we ever have to give gifts for St. Patrick’s Day, that one, too.  If you want to kick it up a notch, check out TwoSmiles by HP, where you can not only print a picture, you can print a gift card!  And I, of course, print these out on my HP printer!!  Even better, some printers are now equipped with the ability to automatically order new cartridges when they sense you’re running low on ink.  How amazing is that?!  Lori wrapped up by giving all of us, yes – all of us, a gift from HP!

All who sent their Disney Side photos received this packet-o-fun!

All who sent their Disney Side photos received this packet-o-fun!

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After a short break to mingle and fawn all over our Disney Sides, it was back to business with what was probably my favorite presentation of the day.  Tracey Clark, founder of Shutter Sisters and one of the fabulous Disney Sisters trio, was ready to share her mobile magic with us.  Now, I love my DSLR, but I was pumped to develop my iPhone cam prowess.  Develop.  See what I did there?  😉

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The cell phone camera is such an integral part of social media these days with some platforms being completely dedicated to images.  Learning to wield that teeny camera can really help establish your online presence.  While a lot of Tracey’s points can be applied to general photography, learning to implement them into cell phone photography is a huge asset in this instant world.  I’ll be honest, I was often in “snapshot mode,” as Tracey calls it, when I pulled out my phone in the early days, literally using it as a point and shoot despite my photography genes.  However, newer phones have pretty powerful little cameras inside of them, and with a basic knowledge of photography and the plethora of editing apps, there’s no reason not to be able to put up some incredible visuals on the go.

Your photography tool kit!  If you have your camera, all of these are at your disposal.

Your photography tool kit! If you have your camera, all of these are at your disposal, your vision being most important, I think.

“You are the only one who sees the world like you.” – Tracey Clark

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The proud Disney Sisters watching Tracey!

The proud Disney Sisters watching Tracey!

Maria Bailey of Mom Talk Radio and BSM Media moderated a panel of Huggies MomInspired grant winners who shared their experiences, products and tips with us.  By the way, applications are now open, so if you have the next great idea, be sure to submit!

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Lisa Cash Hanson of SnuggWugg, Allyson Phillips of Tilty Cup and Romy Taorima of PsiBands had a wealth of information for not only the budding inventors but for anyone looking to expand their business and ideas.  These two points stuck out for me:

  • Don’t be so afraid that someone will steal your idea that you don’t share it because an idea kept in a closet isn’t worth anything.
  • If you want an honest opinion ask someone who doesn’t love you.

Both so simple yet so smart!

Lisa also shared several resources via our Disney Social Media Moms On the Road Facebook page:
“HOW TO GET PRESS FOR YOUR BRAND
http://www.huggiesmominspiredmoms.com/2013/08/02/how-to-get-press-for-your-product-and-brand/

JUST TAKE THE FIRST STEP
http://www.huggiesmominspiredmoms.com/2013/10/07/mompreneur-tip-of-the-day-take-the-first-step/

MENTORING AND OPPORTUNITIES – ROMY
http://www.huggiesmominspiredmoms.com/2014/06/25/mentoring-and-opportunities/

I’ve added some things I’ve researched here:http://www.mompreneurmogul.com/mom-inventors

Our last speaker of the day was Nadine Bubeck, Expecting Perfect author, who shared her professional life story and gave us ten tips for re-inventing our brands/blogs.

  1. Create goals.
  2. Know your niche.
  3. Never burn bridges.  <— Soooooo important, this one!
  4. Don’t say no to publicity.
  5. Take pride in yourself.
  6. Learn to love public speaking.
  7. Have tough skin.
  8. Be a shameless self-promoter.
  9. Take risks.
  10. Be proud!

Erin took the podium to introduce our final guest of the day, which we all just knew was going to be a very familiar face!  Imagine our surprise, though, when our guest turned out to be not a mouse, but a cat!

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Grumpy Cat herself decided she’d come hang out with the Disney crew.  She was obviously just as excited as we were.

And if all of that fabulousness wasn’t enough, in true Disney fashion, this conference was plussed and plussed and plussed!  We got a fabulous breakfast, yummy treats, super swag and even got to play dress-up!

And of course, we Instagrammed the heck out of it all!

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Hanging out with The Positive Mom, blogger cards and some social media rock stars: Erin Glover, the Disney Sisters, Camille of Sparks of Magic and Maria Bailey!

I can’t even begin to say how thankful I am for the opportunity to not only be a part of this conference simply because it’s a Disney endeavor but for the chance to connect with other women who are established and those who are up and coming.  Who’d have thought that when I was a toddler running around Disneyland that one day I’d be shaking hands with its PR director, learning from the social media team and rocking my Disney side?  Ain’t life grand?!