It was a rainy day in Austin, but that didn’t slow the super strong lineup of speakers and events on a Saturday. Here are the most memorable takeaways from Day 2 of SXSW 2017:
- My first session of the day included representatives from Major League Baseball and the WWE discussing the future of providing content direct to consumers. It was interesting to hear how large brands are constantly working to push streaming/live content to their audiences, and how the target is constantly evolving based on audience needs. The most interesting comment was how consumers have built-in expectations about pricing and flexibility of the packages based on how they currently pay for Netflix or Hulu. The takeaway is knowing your audience and what their expectations are before working on a model that doesn’t meet their needs and, one that ultimately will fail because your customer’s expectations don’t align.
- The session titled “Food Porn or Bust: The Socialization of Food” was my favorite talk to date. The head of programming at Tastemade had several interesting stats (they receive 2 BILLION video views a month and 200M unique visitors) based on the fact that they are extremely careful about how they shoot their videos, who their audiences are and, most importantly, which channels they’re using to distribute the content. It’s not uncommon for them to shoot six different videos of the same topic for six different platforms. Create compelling content that caters to individual platforms for maximum return – which will lead to my favorite term of SXSW 2017 thus far: “Thumb-stopping content.”
- I also had the opportunity to hear from Pulitzer-winning New York Times journalist David Philipps discussed “Staying Human in the Age of Digital Reporting.” He cited two examples of how he’s been able to shine light on injustices that occurred decades ago, solely with the help of social media groups and connections. In a world where digital media is taking over traditional outlets, journalists are finding creative ways to use digital in their favor.
- My final talk of the day was titled, “Retail’s Future: Community = Commerce.” Sonja Rasula discussed how giant retail locations are now becoming the exception rather than the rule. Younger consumers are looking for a brand experience – smaller, themed pop-up stores, events within a retail location, social responsibility programs and even networking events – to drive them to make a purchase. One interesting note is how much time we, as marketers, spend on customer acquisition and how much experiential opportunity we’re missing during, and even after purchases. Some great brand examples Rasula offered were Saturdays, Toms, Everlane, and her own project, Unique Markets.
- I’m a big fan of the show Antiques Roadshow on PBS, so I was thrilled to see them on the schedule with a panel titled “How a Show About the Past Evolves for the Future.” The panelists represented the broad strategy of how the show engages with its fans off-platform (e.g., not on TV), and how they’re looking to engage with existing and new audiences. Boomers are the core audience audience for Antiques Roadshow, but the team knows that GenX – which is focused on home and family, and interested in generational stories; and millennials – who are interested in reuse and recycling, are key to its longevity as a program. Although I came away with lots of nuggets, I had two main takeaways:
- Knowing that Facebook is where its audience spends the majority of time, Antiques Roadshow launched “AR Extras LIVE” – a Livestream where the show’s producer connects with appraisers, recaps favorite moments and episodes, and takes live questions from fans. They pin the videos to the top of the timeline for 24 hours to increase reach, and with a dozen episodes complete, they’ve reached more than 2.5M fans thus far.
- Vintage Minute is a new content stream designed to connect specifically with millennials. Through short-form videos, the host introduces the audience to covetable vintage items and provides a bit of history. From cheeky takes on “vintage” (such as this deadpan with Gizmodo, getting an appraisal for a Toshiba TV) to this “emotional” clip shared on Reddit, they’re meeting the millennial audience where they are and providing engaging content that pulls them over to the brand.
- Regardless of industry, most brands are looking to engage with influencers. So I particularly enjoyed learning about the elf Cosmetics’ Beautyscape influencer event during today’s “Enthusiasm vs. Influence: The Power of Community” panel. Knowing that the brand has a broad base of fans who share their own experiences with elf on platforms such as Instagram and YouTube, elf created a contest by which 50 influencers would be selected to attend an all expenses paid, brand-immersion weekend in San Francisco. The idea was – of course – to showcase the brand, but also to provide support, inspiration and a chance to connect offline and build a sense of community among elf’s most enthusiastic fans. From yoga to excursions, master makeup classes to panels from more well-known influencers, attendees gained not only a deeper understanding of the brand, but tools and tips to grow their own following which made the event an incredible benefit to attendees, too. And beyond the weekend, elf keeps in touch with the attendees through social media and sends the surprise/delight boxes with product regularly. My favorite takeaways? First – if you don’t have the budget to engage in pay-for-play with big influencers, find a way to connect with the hearts and minds of your brand’s biggest fans. Second – and maybe more important – we all thrive off that big influencer hit, but it’s the sustained support from smaller loyalists that keep our brands going – and potentially provide the clout to lead to a bigger influencer hit down the road.
- The conversation about getting “Cozy With Cookies: Our Brain & Behavioral Targeting” addressed a topic I wrote about in November – how today’s algorithms are making it harder to consume a balanced content diet. I’m not going to lie – the volume of content that is being mined about us everyday to determine which content to deliver when and where online is pretty frightening. That said, if a brand is looking to connect with consumers in a smart way, there’s a lot to be said for how they can leverage that data. The most important takeaway for me from this session was that if you’re going to leverage consumer data you need to be transparent about it, and you need to create a playbook. Help your organization follow specific guidelines about what you will and what you will not do with the data available to you. Be careful not to be creepy, and always make sure you’re bringing value to your customer. Need a good example of how to target customers? Here’s a great example of an effective and highly-customized customer targeting campaign from Axe in Brazil.
~ Jim and Carissa