I spent the weekend at the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in pursuit of innovative marketing and social media ideas. After attending a weekend of sessions, I decided the best marketing lesson of all was this phenomenon called SXSW, which has developed a cult following of sorts. So here follows 5 lessons I learned from SXSW:
1. Great use of brand page. We’ve all done them — the lame brand page that begs softly “Please like me”. SXSW amped up usage of its brand page by employing a band of mobile Fotogs to catch the energy of the conference in a ‘photo documentary’ Facebook fan page. Shutterstock also invited attendees to tweet their photos to @Shutterstock using the hashtag #SXSWpix. The documentary was projected on a six-story wall projection. Add a liberal dose of free ‘beverages’ and call it fun, great social media marketing.
2. An all-in-one mobile app. In addition to session content, The SXSWGo app included networking info on registered attendees, which let you make connections with other attendees. Pixable pulled images into the app from Twitter and Instragram photos that carried the #SXSW hashtag. The app was used widely by attendees for both session content & networking. Very cool mobile marketing approach.
3. Videos to tell the story. Liberal use of video aggregated on a compelling You Tube channel. More and more, this generation has forgotten how to read (irony not lost on me). The videos had great energy & gave user testimonial to a great festival.
4. Cinematography via Pinterest. The SXSW board showcases bands performing, SXSW music parties & SXSW Interactive speakers and events. It added a visual component to the site’s coverage, helping to capture the festival’s spirit.
5. Social connections through Twitter: Hashtags on every unique session helped attendees to build communities of people of like interest. Big boards around the conference featured tweets. (Interestingly, the tipping point for Twitter’s popularity was the 2007 SXSW festival. During the event that year, Twitter usage increased from 20,000 tweets per day to 60,000).
All in all, the conference had a great buzz. Social mirrored the real life interaction minus the seemingly endless stream of happy hours. Well done SXSW.