SXSW 2013: Anne's Event Recap


It has been two weeks since I returned from SXSW Interactive and I have had some time to digest and reflect on the information from the panels and seminars. Two of my strengths are futuristic and ideation, so a conference with all the big and small names in social media and tech being in one city, buzzing about the latest and greatest, was exciting, inspirational and refreshing! But, I managed to sort through the ideas and find 5 overarching themes/trends from SXSW to share.

  • Storytelling. Every seminar or panel that included “storytelling” in its title had a line around the block – especially when they included big names like Coco-Cola, Target, BBC and Kate Spade. However, the most memorable panel for me was, “Exploring Place with Cross-Platform Storytelling,” which highlighted how traditional methods such as documentaries and orals stories can be combined with new technologies, including location-aware devices, geo-tagging, interactive video and augmented reality, to bring a place to life. Two examples from panelists include “Welcome to Pine Point” and “Jerusalem Unfiltered.” The same principles can be applied to brands by creating experiences in stores, restaurants, parks, homes, etc. that include stories and testimonials, that can easily be delivered to visitors’ devices or accessible online.
  • Crowdsourcing. This concept it nothing new, but is certainly becoming more relevant as today’s generation expects to have a stake in the brands, products, and companies they invest in. This concept goes hand-in-hand with an authentic and engaged community. Two examples of brands crowdsourcing include: Doritos’ Crash the Super Bowl, where fans were invited to create a commercial for the Big Game, and Lays’ “Do Us a Flavor” contest, where fans were asked to create new chips flavors and vote on the winners, which were actually created and distributed. I heard from both of these brands in the “Brand Fans, the New Brand Marketers” panel. Another successful example of crowdsourcing can be shown by ModCloth. The company created an entire community on their website where girls are able to share photos, comment on styles, and rate different clothing items. This was for the sake of their audience – not with the goal of selling more dresses (according to its CMO, Kerry Cooper during her presentation). ModCloth is the queen of letting its users vote and have a say in the buying process- and it seems to be paying off! I highly recommend taking a look at the Twitter stream from that session for a further recap (#modsxsw).
  • Do something with the data. Big data is definitely a theme of 2013! It has come up in our Red Door Speaker Series panel about 2013 trends, it was a huge topic of discussion at the Bazaar Voice Social Summit, and of course it came up at SXSW. Collecting information and data has been drilled into the heads of marketers who are now asking, how are we supposed to use it? The right answer is to enhance the user’s experience. It ties into creating a meaningful relationship and community with your audience. That experience will, theoretically, increase sales and conversions. The “how” can be as small as suggesting similar items on a website, to using consumer past purchase data and customer preferences to help customer service representatives know how to best interact with someone.
  • Memes. Honestly, the biggest topic of conversation at SXSW was Grumpy Cat. Mashable hired the Internet sensation to be a part of its booth for the week. The feline posed with star-struck attendees for days. Additionally, I attended a panel on the making of a meme featuring the creators of Texts with Hillary. The incredible photographer Diana Walker, who photographed the former Secretary of State on a trip to the Middle East, cautioned us to be careful to always ask permission from a photographer before using images that you don’t own. But, we learned that this meme began as a random idea at a bar and quickly went viral.
  • Collaborative economy. I met several people who used AirBNB to find rooms or houses to rent at SXSW, and brands like Sidecar, Uber, and Lyft were all over Austin to provide transportation. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing more applications and websites that bring resources together to make travel more efficient and collaborative.
Want to know more or chat about social media trends? Shoot me a tweet @AnneRipley

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