SXSW 2012 Lessons Emily Reeves


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  • Paul and I are here to talk about what we learned at the annual SXSW Interactive festival. This was my third year to attend and Paul’s first year. Because Paul and I had two different focuses in the sessions we attended, we are going to present from each of our perspectives. I’ll present first, talk for 20-25 minutes, then Paul will do the same. This should leave us plenty of time for questions throughout and at the end.\n
  • For those of you that don’t know, here is a brief introduction to SXSW. Though there are three portions of the conference/festival, Paul and I only attended the interactive portion. It is actually the largest with an estimated 25,000 attendees this year. The conference is held for five days, over a weekend and is affectionately nicknamed “spring break for geeks.” This conference has become known for discussing trends in emerging technology and for new product/app launches and announcements.\n
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  • One of the main takeaways from this year was how everyone has realized that digital communications must be approached strategically and not just thrown out there across channels with the same message as traditional communications just to be out there. It is like everyone has taken a giant step backwards and said “whoa” we need to think about digital strategy: why the tools are used, who we are talking to, what the message should be and how to maximize the tools for engagement.\n
  • This is about more than just putting the information they customers need about your brand on your website, Facebook, blog, etc. It is about providing information they need. Information they are interested in. Information they didn’t know they needed or were interested in. We are not just selling products and services. We are selling lifestyle and aspiration. The same things that advertising has always tried to sell. But we can’t just do it with push messages anymore.\n
  • While this seems straightforward and obvious. It is not. There was so much conversation about this at SXSW. What kind of content to create? Why should I create content? How do I know what content to put out there? Where should I put the content? It can be overwhelming. Which is why brands hire people like us. We need to take a strategic approach to the messages, the target audience, the channels and the monitoring and measuring. Just like we do with our advertising planning. Content planning needs to be just a strategic. There is a misperception that the tools are free and easy so anyone can do it. But just like we have all seen bad advertising, there is bad content management out there too. Because this was talked about so much this year from a strategy point, I believe that next year we will see a lot of case study talk and examples of good and bad. Hopefully we can work on some strategies and executions with our clients over the next year and learn about how to do this right and well.\n
  • We are all storytellers in what we do. And digital tools are proviging more, different and better tools for storytelling. These are three we heard much about at SXSW.\n
  • Transmedia is one that everyone talked about last year, but no one had examples. This year there were several examples. The first was for The Code. They integrated a game (treasure hunt) and online games - games we heard a lot about last year, but not as much dedicated to games this year. Instead, we saw game mechanics integrated into other channels, which makes a lot of sense from a strategic standpoint.\n
  • Bravo had so much going on, it is hard to keep up with. But it obviously worked.\n
  • Data can tell stories. People don’t understand data, but they understand stories. And graphical stories by way of infographics are really shareable. So, if we want to share data, infographics can tell the story and get passed along.\n
  • This could be a great reporting tool for us to use after a campaign that delivered word-of-mouth results.\n
  • This is the most fascinating trend on the horizon to me. Yes, this has been available to a limited extent through some of our media buying. But now customization is getting much more scientific and granular in the way we can target. But it will only work if we are customizing our messages for those targets. And it will give our targets much better experiences in their digital explorations.\n
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  • This is just basic strategy and what I talked about on the front end. It means approaching digital communications with a plan in mind. It seems so obvious to us, yet it is not. And the really interesting thing about digital strategy is that it has to be fluid. It has to evolve as the users evolve in the ways they use the tools, as new tools are released, as preferences change at the drop of a hat, as the rules change every week (i.e., Facebook). There will be no formula that we can use every time for every client, every week. It will change constantly. One presenter said it well: the business model you follow now will not work six months from now; keep you head on a swivel to know what is changing, what is coming next and figure out who is doing it well and how to do it better.\n
  • I actually attended a dedicated session about “everything is a remix, so steal like an artist,” but truly, so many presenters talked about this, I thought it worthy of a top five trend. As I mentioned, with digital communications, nothing stays the same for very long. So we are never going to see multiple brands doing the same thing. It all evolves. And that is what this trend is about: evolving the work of others to work for you in a better way. Have a video for entertainment; it is about 10 minutes long and I recommend you watch the full version on your own when you get a chance. I will just show you a brief clip about Star Wars - 2 and a half minutes.\n
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  • SXSW 2012 Lessons Emily Reeves

    1. { SXSW 2012 }
    2. music festival film festival interactive communications conference 25,000 attendeesgeekspring break { what is SXSW? } austin, tx march 9-13, 2012 launches emerging technology trends discussions
    3. {emily’s perspective }
    4. 27 session slots { my schedule over 5 days } 30-40 session options per slot Keeping Loyal Customers by Shaking Sh*t Up Fireside Chat with Vic Gundotra on Google+ MIT Media Lab: Making Connections Creating the Code: A BBC Transmedia Documentary Top Chef: How Transmedia is Changing TV Everything is a Remix, so Steal Like an Artist Making the Real World Easier to Use Storytelling Beyond Words: New Forms of Journalism Digital Sport: Know More, Do More High On Line: Applying Psychology to Web Design Ambient Location and the Future of the Interface Beautiful Data? No, That Data is a Sex Machine Maps of Time: Data as Narrative Shut Up & Draw: A Non-Artist Way to Think Visually Location Tracking: Threatening or Value-Added? Expanding Our Intelligence Without Limit Personal Lifestreams Provide Data for Public Good What’s the Holy Grail of Social/Mobile/Local? Epic Battle: Creativity vs. Discipline in Social Digital Divas: How Girls Rule the Digital Universe Branded Content: We’re All Publishers Now A Recipe for Success: A Blog, A Brand, A Business Taking Your Brand Back from Your Customers Inside Instagram The View From Inside Rainn Wilson’s Brainstem How to Read the World Coding the Next Chapter of American History
    5. { }heard
    6. { } themes #1 Content and/or Content Curation #2 Storytelling#3 Discovery, Exploration, Customization #4 Using the Right Tools #5 Observation
    7. { } #1 contentbrands publishers creating content (or become excellent curators of relevant content) that pulls people to us
    8. { }#1 content cont.what is content? why do it?• photos • thought leadership• videos • seo• blogs • reaching out through• stories multiple touchpoints• data/infographics • reputation building• webinars• white papers• books• curation how to do it? • define messages • define target • define voice • define channels • monitor and measure
    9. { storytelling #2 }transmediausing interactive media platforms designed in a thoughtful way that beautifully showcases the content while engaging the reader infographics using stories to make sense of the data Storify curating existing online content to craft our narrative
    10. { storytelling #2 cont. }transmediaBBC: The CodeGoal• broaden documentary audience viewership beyond the typical 1/2 million men 55+ years old viewersElements• tv show with integrated treasure hunt clues• online games revealed clues• direct mail revealed hints• social media for teasing, fan collaboration, hints• website with PDF game bookResults• 2 million viewers• 1 million games played• 24 minutes average game play• winner was a woman
    11. { } cont. storytelling #2transmediaBravo: Top ChefGoals• capture Top Chef audiences online• secure 1 million streamsElements• tv show• online web series that impacted final results• social media - fans and contestants• online voting• points for activities onlineResults• 8 million streams
    12. { storytelling #2 } cont. infographics • data visualization • wireframe story • approach editorially • innately shareable • dashboard development
    13. { storytelling #2 } cont.Storify• pulls from resources around Internet• automatically attributes sources• notifies people when their content is used• can add narrative between curated content• tell the story in varying formats
    14. { discovery #3 }the information companies have about us is wide and deep we are giving up our preferences through our social networks, web browsing and mobile apps and they are starting to use that information to give us better experiences
    15. { discovery cont. #3 }customized content & relevant recommendations• socially annotated search• advertising specific to the content viewed• based on friends• based on location• based on preferences• based on previous web activities better experience • saves time • discovery of people, places and things in context of our lives
    16. { discovery cont. #3 }Google• annotated search (+)• increases click-through 5-10% Highlight • people nearby Thrillest • online shopping • created products coordinated with advertising Foursquare • radar • explore Geoloqi • erecting digital fences around certain locations, and then pairing your movements with self-identified data points to aid you in moving through the world
    17. { } tools #4(1) set objectives for digital and social(2) measure all decisions against those objectives(3) consider the audience(4) evaluate the competition(5) consider how you will measure success (in other words, no you shouldn’t be on Pinterest just because everyone is talking about it)
    18. { #5 observation }it is OK to see what others do well and make it better
    19. { thank you } @reeves501