Another year, another SXSW Interactive!
Every year, the team at 2Social visits (sunny) Austin, Texas for the networking experiences and learning opportunities at SXSW Interactive Conference.
With so many interesting sessions, keynotes and personalities, there were many take-away’s to share with our team, clients, and incorporate in upcoming strategies or planning. Some of the over-arching topics that dominated the conference this year:
Our Key Takeaways:
1. Be Real
Authenticity should always be at the core of every business. Panels focused on talks that centred around how brands can flourish online without annoying users or appearing inauthentic.
There was a key focus on influencers, and keeping in mind their audiences when developing content or strategic relationships. Lots of followers appear great, but the RIGHT demographic is far more important. Sometimes a wider net of influencers with smaller audiences can be more effective, as their audiences truly trust their authority on brands.
2. Tech + Retail (and the future)
Everyone wants to be “disruptive” within their industries through tech, innovations, and digital solutions. Oen Hammonds of IBM Design spoke about challenges faced when transforming a 100-year old IBM, leading into a discussion that basically concluded… we still have a ways to go in merging tech + retail.
“Innovation in e-commerce has been focused on optimization and making shopping more efficient. Example: Amazon’s supply chain. Some of this has come at the expense of the e-commerce customer experience. There are still significant friction points that pose hurdles to delighting customers.”
– Jake Swenson, Vice President, Product Marketing, at Shop Shifting: How Tech is Changing Commerce
3. Gender Diversity
Not yet solved, gender and overall, diversity, continues to be a problem and hot topic in most industries, but particularly in tech (enter: Uber).
“Recently maligned Uber was oft-used as an example — their recent sexist culture exposure has forced CEO Travis Kalanick to bring in an ‘adult’ COO and could be what brings them down. Venture capital is dysfunctional and has created this culture in tech that focuses on investors over employees, community, and customers. Not only is diversity in tech the right thing to do, but it’s a smart investment. On the future? Dan Lyons was pessimistic about the current incumbent companies but hopeful about the ones that have yet to be started.”
– Summer Daoud, Director, Product Marketing, at Disrupted: Ending Bro Culture and Bias in Startup-Land
AI: Selected as the most important trend of SXSW at the Interactive Awards, AI is poised to transform everything we do as communicators – not replace professionals, but help us and our businesses to be more effective. Cognitive computing and use of big data is essential to the future of communications. To make the greatest use of it, we need to integrate intelligence.
- Integrate – Communicators need to integrate AI into their planning and data analysis and make it part of what we do in research, crafting and executing campaigns and post-event evaluation.
- Intelligence – We should use AI to give us insights and help us more effectively target and engage. One challenge I see is too many companies are calling everything AI and it is diluting the impact and causing confusion. AI is in danger of being played as part of buzzword bingo. We should be clear how our organizations are using intelligence and predictive modeling. – The Holmes Report
AR: Augmented reality is an opportunity that requires companies and communicators to look at things in a new way. The developers of Pokemon Go (Niantic) and the Knight Foundation addressed this topic in an opening session. Pokemon Go is still going strong, with tens of millions of daily players. What really stuck with me was a comment from John Hanke, CEO at Niantic “Tech companies are great at building consumer cocoons. We need to refocus on using technology for connecting in real life to meet human yearning.” – The Holmes Report