MLA Annual Meeting Blog Survey Results

At this year’s annual meeting we had a great group of bloggers who wrote on various topics during the annual meeting.  I was able to meet some of them in person (we were all very busy) and I think I can speak for all of them in saying that we really wanted to do our best to keep the membership informed of events and information at MLA. 

In an attempt to analyze success of the blog and bloggers, I conducted two surveys.  One survey was just for the bloggers themselves to determine what strategies, platforms, etc worked best.  The results of that blog will be passed on to the 2010 NPC group to help with their blog.  The second survey was for everyone who read the annual meeting blog and its intent was to help us see whether our posts were helpful and whether a blog was a good information resource for the annual meeting.

Here are the results of the second survey:

  • 70 people responded to the survey, 39 of the respondents did not attend the annual meeting while 31 did.  Not everyone responded to every question.
  • Most (34) people visited the blog once a day.  There was little difference between non-attendees and attendees as to how many times they accessed the blog. 
    • 17 non-attendees and 17 attendees reported viewing the blog once a day.
    • 9 non attendees and 7 attendees reported viewing the blog multiple times a day.
    • 4 non attendees and 2 attendees reported viewing the blog twice a day.
  • 39 respondents thought the blog “covered the various programs, sessions and meeting events” well or extremely well.  17 respondents thought the blog covered the annual meeting fairly well, while 5 people thought the blog poorly covered the annual meeting.

People were asked “What did you like best about the blog?”  Below are sample comments from those who thought the blog covered the annual meeting events well & extremely well, fairly well, and poorly. 

Sample comments from those that thought the blog covered the annual meeting well or extremely well:

“Personal takes on aspects of the meeting: venue, exhibits, speakers, sessions. Especially liked it when different bloggers covered the same things–got to see different perspectives.”

“Since I couldn’t attend the meeting, I really appreciated the opportunity to see the highlights in the blogs.  This way the information is more current than waiting for someone to write a more formal report.”

“I am so glad the initiative was taken to have a conference blog. The blog may not be perfect but it’s a great start…the point is that we tried. Learn a little from this one and see what else next year brings! I really like being able to catch the stuff I missed because I was at other meetings. Also being able look at postings after the meeting as I reflect on the meeting is helpful.”

Sample comments from those that thought the blog covered the annual meeting fairly well:

“Very helpful to have links to related content within the blog posts (Roz Dudden and the Bosworth article, NLM update links, etc).  The blog was accessible to me at work (Wiki was not).  The organization of the blog was useful (bloggers; blogger calendar; meeting calendar, posts by date, tags, etc).  Pictures in the blog were fun — I would have enjoyed seeing more of those including some ID of members show.  (note: Flckr not available at work & checking from home a time or 2, there weren’t  a lot of pics). I also appreciated the “real time” aspect of the blog — I tracked timing of sessions & wanted to read posts ASAP afterwards. I loved the blog & think it was terrific as a start on providing this online connection to the meeting.”

“It was something to refer to since I couldn’t go to the meeting. However, it was no substitute!”

Sample comments from those that thought the blog was poor in its coverage of the annual meeting:

“A small view of the conference.”

“More in depth than twitter comments; more permanent way of “archiving” the information.”

The survey also asked people their thoughts on “What was missing or what could have been done better.”  Below are sample comments from those who thought the blog covered the annual meeting events well & extremely well, fairly well, and poorly. 

Sample comments from those that thought the blog covered the annual meeting well or extremely well:

“The only thing is I wish there would have been more information on the vendors present and the products available. Maybe even have some vendors blog, not sure about this with bias and everything. But it is a nice way to see the new products if you are not able to attend the meeting.”

“I wish more people had commented. Maybe next year.”

“There were too many posts to keep up with.  I would have liked a smaller number of bloggers and targeted posts on key events.  Or, maybe the same number of bloggers but different blogs for different things – social events, keynote or special events, commentary, etc…”

“Best to not report about the vendor parties.  Stick to MLA events.  Sorry to be a pill.  Could use more pictures and coverage of booth activities. Needed business meeting coverage.  Did any blogger go? Who won the awards? would like a preview.”

“I wish more of the information from the presentations such as posters, slideshares, videos, referenced websites could have been linked to from the descriptive blog posts.”

Sample comments from those that thought the blog covered the annual meeting fairly well:

“Links to posts from bloggers’ names & the meeting calendar would have been useful (not sure if that’s possible).  I also wish there were more comments on the posts/sessions from others attending the meeting.  I always come away from poster and papers with lots of notes and starred* items I want to followup on when I get home. Somehow capturing some of the ideas sparked during sessions (or just more comments on the posts) would be great. How about an “in the hallways” blogger?  What other stuff was being talked about at the meetings (there’s always some MLA business item swirling). A “walkthrough” the exhibits?  ”

“I think events could have been covered more completely–and  more events could have been covered.”

“TOO MANY bloggers added to the confusion.  Different blogging styles, etc. … The photo qualities were inconsistent.
Please just a few bloggers next year.  21 (I think) bloggers kind of seemed ridiculous to the many of us who could not afford to attend the MLA conference in Honolulu this year.”

“I attended the meeting, but if I had not attended, more comprehensive coverage would have been helpful.”

Sample comments from those that thought the blog was poor in its coverage of the annual meeting:

“MORE MORE MORE postings. There were so many of us who could not go this year. More information could only have been better. Twitter was much more lively way to follow things, with truer and more candid thoughts.”

“very sparse if done next year, there needs to be way more postings”

“Longer posts with more detail. Some posts I read on sessions I actually attended were too vague and too short. If you have one next year, please set out some guidelines for posters to follow. I did not find this year’s posts all that useful.”

Finally the survey asked whether MLA should have a meeting blog next year.  Only two people said no, five people did not answer the question, and 63 people said yes.  Interestingly one of the “No” answers thought the bloggers covered the conference events well.  The people who did not answer this question also did not answer how well they thought the blog covered the annual meeting’s events. 

Krafty’s thoughts:

After crunching the numbers and sifting through the comments it was interesting to see the two biggest suggestions (wants) and complaints were along the lines of not enough bloggers & coverage and too many bloggers & too much/cluttered information.  I have to say setting up and running point on the blog was a fairly big job.  After blogging several conferences independently and as an “official” blogger, I knew that it would be difficult for us to cover everything.  My goal was to get as many possible good writers/bloggers who were dedicated to posting about the conference.  I had two reasons for this decision. 

1. I knew that it would be extremely difficult to have only a few bloggers do adequate coverage of the conference.  Bloggers split their time between being a regular attendee and a bloger, if you remember we are attending to learn about things too.  We aren’t their solely to report on the annual meeting.  Many of us this year also had many other duties (presenting, representing committees, etc.) at this conference.  My other meeting obligations were part of the reasons I was even able to go to the meeting this year.  We couldn’t blog on everything we did and saw, that is why it helped to have many other bloggers who could theoretically blog on something when others couldn’t. 

2. Due to the economy tanking and travel budgets being restricted I knew that a lot of people who normally attend the meeting would be staying home.  So I wanted to make sure that we had enough people to try and cover many different events.

Based on the conflicting comments, “too many posts, not enough information, too many bloggers, need more bloggers,” I think it would be better to have a better list of what topics bloggers intend to cover.  We tried to do this with the blogging calendar, but perhaps we need to be a little more focused.  One thing to note is that I posted on the MLA meeting blog and on this blog asking for suggestions on what events readers wanted us to cover, there were very few responses/comments.  The bloggers can only cover so many things and if you don’t let us know ahead of time, we can’t cover it.  

Another thought would be to have better organization to the blog.  Right now I am not sure how this can be done since many blogs list entries in chronological order.  Perhaps in the future we can look at subject organization (spoken like a true librarian) and only the titles or perhaps the first 2-3 sentences show up on the main page.  That will take some investigating. 

I do wish there was more commenting and interaction going on within the blog.  I am not sure if the lack of commenting was just the usual comment malaise that faces many good blogs or if it had to do with the time difference between Hawaii and main land.  I know many conference attendees (myself included) always were on the go and had little down time and who wants to spend their little bit of down time stuck to a computer in Hawaii?  Perhaps in the future attendees will be more willing to be online in their down time in less tropically distracting locations. 

All in all I am very satisfied with the blog and the bloggers.  I think we did an awesome job (of course I am really biased) 🙂  I think based on the feedback, MLA should consider continuing the annual meeting blog.  But what are your thoughts?  I would love to hear them, especially from those of you who did not complete the survey.  Drop a line and leave a comment, this is your chance to help shape communication at the annual meeting.

6 thoughts on “MLA Annual Meeting Blog Survey Results”

  1. As one of the MLA09 “Official Bloggers” I found both surveys to be extremely interesting and helpful. It was my first time blogging a national conference and I have several comments: First, I think Michelle did a fantastic job organizing the blog and bloggers. We used a Bloggers’ Calendar to sign up for specific sessions, however, as those of you who have attended conferences know, sessions overlap and your personal conference itinerary may change once you get on site – the best laid plans… I know my program changed once or twice and I felt guilty that my event wasn’t being covered. It is great to get different perspectives of the same event if more than one blogger can report. THE PROGRAM WAS PACKED and several nights, I was blogging with my eyes half-closed but wanting to share the day and remember details!!!

    Thank you to all of those who read our entries and took the survey. Your comments will help future bloggers make this a fun and informational communication tool!

  2. Thanks to all of the bloggers and to Michelle for all the work they did to provide a glimpse of the meeting for others. As Connie and others have said, our use of this medium for communication will continue to evolve. Also, our use of MLANET as a medium for sharing information about the meeting has expanded significantly and will continue to evolve.

  3. I also want to thank you and the great team of bloggers for an outstanding job. The survey was also very helpful as we think about how to organize the bloggers for 2010. (Yes, we will keep the Bloggers. We’re also thinking about adding videographers.)

    One comment stood out and that is the need for better organization of content. As it turns out MLANET now have lots of online content from the annual meeting, including videos of all the 09 plenary sessions (for members only), electronic posters, abstracts of papers, tweeter feeds, blogs, the conference wiki, etc. But its all scattered about the website. One of the projects for 2010 is to create a Conference Community on MLANET, which will hopefully organize all the conference content under “one roof” so members onsite or offsite can more easily follow the action.

  4. Keep the blogs! “in the hallways” blogger, vendor walk-thru, and less emphasis on the vendor parties are all great suggestions.

    Like you said, the annual meeting blog concept is a work in progress, but even from 2008 to 2009 there was great improvement (providing a centralized location for posts, more internet connection options). I think it can only get better, but that can only happen if the idea is kept around and continued next year. More guidelines are a good idea…maybe instead of bloggers picking their own topics, they should apply for specific blog types (ie: Business Mtg Blogger, MLA Student blogger, Awards Ceremony blogger etc.)

  5. Thanks for all of your work – organizing the bloggers, soliciting feedback, and summing it up here. I agree with you that – for me, anyway – it would have been difficult to post more than once or twice a day, so a relatively high number of bloggers are needed in order to have the best shot at covering many sessions/events.

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