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SXSW Interactive Conference: My Takeaways

SXSW Interactive Conference: My Takeaways

SXSW Conference

I recently represented Forthea at SXSW Interactive conference in Austin, Texas. It was my fourth year attending the conference and it’s gotten bigger and bigger every year. Even my parents know what SXSW is after CNN’s around the clock live coverage of the event. For people and companies into social media, mobile, websites, and all things digital it’s a conference you can’t miss. I spent most of my first day of the conference listening to sessions about social media all in 15 minutes or less. At first I was skeptical, wondering will I really get anything out of a 15 minute session. To my surprise I took a lot of notes from these sessions and looking back got a lot out of these sessions then some of the larger panels I attended.

The first session was “Going Social: You Got the Tux, but Can You Dance?” I’m not sure if I learned the Thriller dance or the Electric slide, but either way below are some of the best takeaways.

  • 80% of Fortune 500 companies use social media actively
  • Starbucks measures earned media for social. They measure value of conversations happening they didn’t have to pay for.
  • There are tons of metrics to measure for social media and this data overload is in some ways part of the problem.
  • The business executive doesn’t care about all of these metrics and is only concerned with what is driving revenue and reducing costs.
  • Companies need to find a way to connect the social id to the customer id. Sweepstakes on social media platforms are an example of how this connection is possible.

photoThe next 15 minute session was “Your Destiny in the Digital Age: Who’s in Control?” and it got me really thinking about this topic. Have you recently seen a message on Facebook encouraging you to wish your friend “Happy Birthday” or send her a present? Maybe if you’re a LinkedIn user, you’ve gotten a message to wish your connection congratulations on a work anniversary or a new job. Our brain loves these prompts! They are personal, useful, free, and user utopia. BUT “If you are not paying for it, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold.” While we weren’t going to solve this in 15 minutes, it started an interesting discussion of who’s in control.

Next up “Facing the Irony of More Friends & Less Time”. According to the speakers and some fancy research I can’t remember the name of; we have a maximum of 150 people we can feel connected to. The 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon becomes 4.75 degrees of separation.

  • The average person has an average of 245 Facebook friends, 102 Twitter followers, and 319 LinkedIn connections
  • It’s important to be more personalized, distinctive, and spontaneous to be more meaningful in your connections
  • Send a video instead of just a text message to say you’re thinking about your friend or even your fans
  • It’s OK to leverage clues others have given, just try to not be too creepy
  • Be proactive and build a story

My 15 minute sessions wrapped up with “Less Is More: Why 5 Comments Beat 5,000 Likes”.  Likes are an elegant metric, but they can be deceptive. Comments take effort and are a conversation. Likes don’t usually equal money. On the opposite side conversation is a precursor to conversion.

  • 600 million likes a day
  • Comments increase time on site by 23%
  • Comments increase average number of pages viewed by 13%
  • Content with comments drives 30% better returning visitor traffic

According to the speaker, comments are your path to conversation which leads to conversion. While I agree with most everything in this session, I wonder how to get a conversation without an audience (likes).

What do you think?

Stay tuned for my next post about how not to suck at presenting!

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