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I was super excited to be going to BlogWorld. While I was there, my excitement only grew. I’m excited still.

Twitter handles all over me

What can I say? It was an exciting place to be. It seemed the 4,000-plus peeps there were just as excited as me. And why wouldn’t they be? This truly is an exciting time in the evolution of media and marketing. It doesn’t just feel like everything’s new. Everything is. And it didn’t just feel like the masses of new media masters who packed the LA convention center are shaping the future. They are.

What would I wear to such an important event?
Perhaps I’ve scored no macho man points with the subhead I just wrote, but I must admit, I put a lot of thought into this. I even invested a little time shopping and came home with some nice threads. I pegged my blogger brethren for the smart casual types, so I crafted a wardrobe I felt would do my personal brand justice—a humble balance of the classic and couture—if you will. Ultimately, however, I chose to wear a white t-shirt.

A few days before I’d get to stuffing my suitcase, I got a fun idea. Because I’ve become a cuckoo bird for Twitter and am all too often hypnotized by HootSuite past the midnight hour, I thought I’d collect as many @handles as I could by inviting the acquaintances I’d make at the show to write on my shirt.

Acting fast, I collected some blue birdie artwork, hit up my talented graphic designer buddy at Sightbox Studios to supply the technical skills I lack, bought iron-on transfer sheets, targeted Target for a couple of blank tees, and impressed upon the front of my shirt “I’m @feldmancreative – where u @?” The back revealed the bird’s hind feathers and asked “R U following me?”

All I needed now was a Sharpie. And, of course, the gumption to ask peeps to scribble their handles on my Hanes.

Can social media marketing be a shirt?

Maybe. Maybe not. I did 30 minutes or so of search engine surfing to gather the quintessential definition of “social media marketing,” then concluded I don’t really care how it’s defined. I do, of course, care very much about the role it plays in the media landscape of this cyberiffic century.

So let’s have a look at where my t-shirt helped take me…

It became a catalyst for connecting. My Tweet-Tee (I nicknamed it) gave me wings. What was a slightly awkward little ice breaker for the first few minutes became a confidence builder, a catalyst for making connections, and the starter for hundreds of conversations clocking in well above 140 characters.

It queued a lot of Qs. It’s twu. It’s twu. FAQs would include: So what do you do? Do you have a business card? Can I take your picture? Where’d you get that idea? One guy asked me if he could steal the idea to get dates. Crazy loon.

It motivated mentions. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, traveled with their e-devices and recharging units, and hit the hashtags harder than the free Heinekens offered at the evening networking parties. My $6 t-shirt got a number of @mentions, tweets, and retweets at #bweLA (where us bird-brained bloggers made 300 million impressions and counting).

It branded me. Is your brand your avatar? Logo? Voice? Promise? Personality? The experience? Sure. It’s these things and more. This shirt branded me at the expo. I saw and heard some attendees calling me “the t-shirt guy” and “the Twitter guy?” It’s good to get noticed. It’s great to be remembered.

It gave me attractive powers. I’m not saying I was or I am attractive (though you’re welcome to if you want). I’m saying my shirt attracted attention. I saw heads turn toward my ink-stained torso and eyeballs squinting left and right as I scurried by. Often, when I handed my marker to someone to write on me, little lines would form. My t-shirt was magnetic content!

It got me fans and followers. If it wasn’t for Facebook and Twitter, the previous sentence would sound awfully vain. But I don’t mean my silly shirt made me a rockstar. It made me new friends. This was my goal. Meet people. Make contacts. Some of my new friends are new media and marketing’s most respected leaders. And some people made me promise to call them about my copywriting and content creation services and you know I will.

What’s the number one benefit of social media marketing?
Survey says:  “The number one benefit of social media marketing is standing out in an increasingly noisy world.” The survey I quote here is the 2011 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, by Michael Stelzner of Social Media Examiner. The top five then goes on to include increased traffic; improved search rankings; new business partnerships; and generating qualified leads. I believe my t-shirt adventure did well against that list.

If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow, why oh why can’t I?
With or without birds, all kinds of people give their personal brand a little signature in the form of a fashion statement. Three of the speakers at BlogWorld come immediately to mind. Mari Smith, the charming author of “The New Relationship Marketing,” shared why turquoise tops have become a Smith staple. The Anti-Social Media Man, Jay Dolan, who’s branded a distinct look and voice to support his playful parodies of social media trends, has come to be recognized for his tattered red tie. Nice touch. And then there’s the well-known Junta Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, among other things, who’s attached orange to his logos, services, events, books, wardrobe and every last hyperlink across his popular blogs and websites.

You can do it too.
I’m not going to tell you what to wear. Nor will I suggest developing your personal brand requires wearing anything (don’t over-think that one). But I will tell you one of the many valuable lessons I learned at BlogWorld (some of them are soon to come in another article) is however valuable social media is for marketing, its most meaningful role is for connecting people. New media, old values. Think about it. How will you cut through the clutter? How will you make your point of view unique? Do you hope to connect with the best in your business? Would you like to start some conversation? Start here. Start now. And count me in.