I had the pleasure of attending Austin City Limits Music Festival a couple of weekends ago, and in between the tried-and-true acts (The Eagles), some great up-and-coming bands (Vampire Weekend), some new favorites (Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros) and a lot of fantastic people watching, I made five key observations over the weekend:
1) Everyone is a photojournalist
This isn’t anything new to most of us, but I was still amazed at the number of phones/cameras/videos that were used by the crowd during every act. It’s amazing to be able to share experiences with such immediacy, but it is also a good reminder of two things: The camera is always on, and media lives online forever. Keep those things in mind when putting together your crisis communication plan.
2) Twitter as a social media “funnel”
It’s exciting to see how social media is being used at events of this magnitude. Contests, geotagging, instant photos and videos, real-time updates on “special guest” appearances…you name it, it was happening. The problem for most of us is how difficult it can be to keep up with so much content on so many different social media platforms – many of which you don’t even find out about until after the fact, if at all. Kudos to the folks running @aclfestival for taking so much content (from vendors, artists, attendees, music lovers and the City of Austin itself) and funneling it into one channel. It made the overall experience that much more enjoyable.
3) Mobile handcuffs
Given #1 and #2 above, it’s unfortunate when your mobile phone’s network can’t handle mass amounts of traffic. I won’t name my phone carrier (*wink*) but there were times when I couldn’t even send text messages on my iPhone, let alone post videos to Facebook or check in on FourSquare. It’s definitely not the end of the world when you can’t boast to your social network about being in the fifth row at M.I.A., but it is another good reminder for your crisis communication plan: what do you do when cell phones don’t work because of a network overload or otherwise?
4) I love a good plan
Most of us never notice the event planning aspects of a giant event until something is going wrong. I didn’t notice much of anything other than good music, good food and cold drinks. Kudos to the ACL planners for putting the food away from the music, having a TON of free water stations, recycling options galore, good traffic paths, great public transportation and even having a large tented area for people to get out of the sun for a while. We always talk at GFM about how the little things are what make the difference between a successful event and a great event. ACL was a great event.
5) Old school social “media”
I saw one of the best shows I attended all weekend (Miike Snow) not as a result of Twitter chatter or viral promotions, but as a result of a referral from a 20-something passenger on the plane ride to Austin. The lesson, as always, is get out there and meet people, talk to people and network…you never know what might come from it.