It could arguably be the best thing that happened to the Doha Blogging scene in a while. The first ever Zomatocon by Zomato in Doha. One could sense the excitement building up days before the event and when it happened the hashtag #zomatocon was top trending in Qatar and the bloggers have been raving about it long after it was over.
Zomato, a hugely popular Indian startup now operating in 23 countries, has seen tremendous growth and popularity in the past few years. As a company they have an excellent community engagement strategy. They even verify the top users and reviewers after meeting them personally. I was happy to receive my verification badge just a few weeks back. With their spoonback feature they have been very helpful for the food bloggers writing reviews on their site helping them get traffic to their website. But this time, the conference not only brought the food bloggers together but from every niche and diversified bloggers active in Doha to discuss the “Business of Blogging” at the beautiful Grand Hyatt on Saturday, November 12th.
With the blogging scene in Doha still in nascent stage compared to other cities, like say Dubai or Kuwait, and a host of new bloggers starting up around this year, it was a very welcome move and a much needed discussion.
As a newbie blogger myself I was absolutely thrilled at the opportunity to attend. I got myself registered as soon as I got the invite but had to wait for the confirmation a few days as they had received an incredible number of registrants. It was an excellent platform to meet other members of the blogging community here and together discover the ins and outs of this field. There were all of us from food and fashion bloggers and lifestyle, parenting or a mix of all like mine. It was great that I could meet all of them at one place and hear insightful talks by experienced bloggers and professionals in PR and marketing fields.
I loved the way it was organized overall.
Firstly it was talks focusing of the business of blogging from different perspectives. Following are my quick notes on these:
Keynote address: Luke Longney, Managing Director at Vodafone Qatar whose talk featured on the social media influence in the age of smartphones. He highlighted the importance of passion vs. skill and gave some very interesting case studies of how vodafone used technology in unexpected ways for social media influencing.
Social success from a brand’s perspective: Muhammad Nasir, Social Media Specialist at Jaidah automotive talked about success as a social media influencer from the viewpoint of a brand. After giving some interesting definition on what blogging in he went on the explain how analytics are used to look out for the social reach of the bloggers – like the quantity and more importantly quality of the followers, visitors, engagement rate, and objective of the blog. He added on what a brand is looking for like advocacy, credibility and relevance, creativity, trust and knowledge and highlighted the importance of each. He also presented a case study of how his company had used social media influencers for marketing the Chevrolet cars.
Social success from a blogger’s perspective: Khansa AbdulJaleel, a successful blogger at creativitywithkay shared her personal journey as a blogger in Doha for the past few years. It was an inspirational talk. I have much respect for this young lady as she has shown that it’s your voice, your ideas that matter. She described herself not as a face of a brand but a voice of her interests and those like her. Her ideas and methods completely resonated with mine. She talked in simple yet powerful words as to how passion and kindness and a positive outlook can go a long way.
Inputs from a photographer’s perspective: Aref Al-Ammari reminded all of us of how a good picture is a thousand words. For a not-so-good photographer like me, it was a useful session as he provided some tips and insights on taking good photographs. Also available the conference, which we were invited to try, was Canon’s amazing new printer, which we could sync automatically with our phones / cameras without using any wires and printing great water resistant photos. I got a beautiful pic of my kids printed to take home as a gift for them, in order to make up for being away for so long.
The second part of the program were two very insightful panel discussions with experts which gave the audience a chance to interact and ask questions. Everything was discussed ranging from how your blog should look and what’s a blog’s voice to how to partner up with brands, get engagement on social media channels to ethical concerns in the field.
Through the day we took numerous coffee breaks with great coffee and delicious food after all Zomato’s about wtf? Where’s the food? Those who stayed till the end were rewarded with raffle prizes from magnolia bakery, crunch doha, grand hyatt etc. I was lucky enough to win a baking class at Magnolia – so excited for it! Lastly we all headed down to Rocca restaurant where we were treated to drinks and some absolutely delicious finger foods.
An afternoon well spent with great food, great company and great things to learn. I am glad I had this learning opportunity as a beginner and hope to apply the lessons learnt and take my blogging journey up a notch, inshaAllah!