Tag Archives: sxsw

SXSW: Lessons Learned

17th March 2011

To say SXSW was a whirlwind would be an understatement. On the plane, my colleagues and I met someone who told us the weekend would be very similar to Inception. As soon as we stepped off the plane, picked up our badges, headed to 6th St., and so on, we would enter a level further down into what would be a non-stop weekend.

He couldn’t have been more correct. By day two I had lost track of day, time and even seemed to have forgotten how bad my feet hurt from all of the walking we had done.

However, I don’t think I’ve ever had a more rewarding experience in such a short period of time. From the moment we arrived in Austin until we landed in Atlanta Tuesday night, we absorbed information, met amazing people and experienced some of the best Austin had to offer.

In retrospect, below are a few of the lessons learned from this great city.

More than a conference. There are a lot of REALLY smart people speaking at SXSW. The trouble is, there are a LOT of really smart people speaking at SXSW. Making decisions on which panel to see and getting there far enough in advance to get in was tough. I didn’t get to see nearly as many as I would have wished, but I did get to hear from some really great people as well such a Dennis Crowley, Jason Calacanis and Andrew Bosworth to name a few.

Digital reality. There were more great digital activations from brands that I could count, everywhere we looked someone was doing something cool, insightful or just plain fun. Photo and video booths seemed to be a big trend this year, but a few really set themselves apart in simple ways. SoBe for instance, hosted an outdoor bar with a virtual photo booth where you could dress yourself up on screen and send a video message. Once it was complete, it revealed a QR code to scan and send your video to friends. Easy.

Who needs sleep. We went non-stop for at least 17 hours each day. No hotel stops, no naps, not even sitting for lunch sometimes (but with so many delicious food trucks, who would want to?). It was exhausting, but with so much going on around us, it was exactly how we wanted to experience SXSW.

Party school. There are no shortage of sponsored parties at SXSW. However, that didn’t mean our nights out weren’t informative. I learned more from seeing what other brands and agencies had put together and spending my nights meeting new and interesting people than I often did at any daytime panel.

Looking to the future. Perhaps the best part of SXSW had to be the general excitement and buzz about everything new and groundbreaking happening in the interactive space. From activations like the GE Solar Powered Carousel to new apps like Hashable and GroupMe, the momentum was endless.

In all, Austin was far more than a few days in a new city, but refreshing and a reminder as to why I love what I do. I cannot wait to see how this week transforms how we all interact with technology in 2011.

SXSW Day 4: The Network Effect of Foursquare

15th March 2011

It’s never easy explaining Foursquare to friends outside of the social media world. “So you check-in, get a virtual sticker and once in a while find a coupon…right.” Well yes, sort-of.

If you have downloaded Foursquare 3.0 in the last week, it’s clear to see Foursquare sees itself as far more than virtual stickers and 10% of coffee every 10 check-ins. Today, Dennis Crowley, Co-Founder of Foursquare, set the record straight and gave SXSW a glimpse into how the app is changing the way people interact through technology.

Crowley explained how the vision for Foursquare all along has always been more than badges. The vision has been taking the device in your pocket and creating an archived experience, a history of where you have been, with who and where you are off to next. Think Amazon, for daily activities he says.

Foursquare 3.0 and beyond will strike the core motivation behind location based technology of connections and then keep them all in one place for you. For example, when I arrived in Austin a few days ago and checked-into the airport I was greeted with a message saying “the last time you were in Texas was in October 2010 with Kate Larson.” Now that’s cool. It’s not all about where am I right now, but where have I been and where my friends advise I should head next.

While deals platforms like Groupon succeed in driving new customers, Foursquare is focusing it’s sights on repeat customers and loyalty. So far 250,000 merchants have activated deals on Foursquare, they are building communities, digital and physical and are reaping the rewards.

Driving users who are ready to explore their own backyard is what Foursquare is all about, and the path is quickly becoming clear. “It’s more than cute, we are making neighborhoods easier to use and encouraging people to do more interesting things” says Crowley. After today’s discussion, I now know I have a few more motivating factors in my location based defense and I personally cannot wait to see how this space expands in 2011.

SXSW Day 3: Reaching the People that Count

14th March 2011

Today I had the opportunity to attend a panel focused on influencers and how to reach them called “Influencer Throwdown: Proving Influence Once and For All.”

At Engauge we often find that building a one size fits all campaign does not reach its full potential. However, curate a community of influencers, and we just might unlock the doors to the right audience. The difficulty is defining, building and interacting with that audience – a task that is often times easier captured in a brief than accomplished.

When searching for influencers, it’s easy to focus on Klout score, follower count or the number of retweets a person may have, but is that the best way to derive action from your community?

At the end of the day influence is meant to do one thing: drive action, not impressions. Shiny celebrities online may present a message to a large audience, but if that influencer is not a authentic advocate of your brand, what good does it do?

Panelist Krista Neher described it best when she recounted having been solicited to try a new product on behalf of a bean bag company which she had previously raved about to followers. She accepted and was able to spread an authentic and real position on the brand. Her influence not only had to do with the size of her audience, but also an audience willing to listen and react.

While tools such as Klout or numbers such as following should always be a part of your brand’s influencer strategy, don’t let it define it. Look beyond counting people that reach and for the people that count and you’re sure to find new advocates along the way.