Day 1 of SXSWi seemed to be a complete about-face from all of the Big Data talk at last year’s festival. The conversation today seemed to shift from “what can we do with data” to “how can we better connect with our audiences.” From ways that businesses are shifting their attention to causes that are near and dear to their customers, to considering a “futurists” approach to planning and not just relying solely on data. We’re excited about how these types of conversations will continue throughout the weekend.
- As a marketer, the SWOT analysis and it’s merits and importance have been drilled over and over again throughout my career. So it was refreshing to hear Sheryl Connelly, Ford’s “Futurist”, state that marketers should “beware the SWOT analysis. You don’t own your strengths, the marketplace does.” That concept extends well beyond just a brand’s strengths all the way to the brand itself. We are the owners of our own brand perceptions, not the companies and agencies that created them.
- Another simple, but salient point made by Connelly hit very close to home for me. She said “when you are thinking about strategy, don’t turn to experts in your category, turn to those in adjacent categories.” We often find ourselves trying to mimic or learn from our competitors, but wouldn’t we be much better served looking at those that have been successful going down parallel paths?
- A much larger audience took in “Spreadable Media: Value, Meaning & Network Culture” in the convention center. Lecturing on content from a newly released book, the three authors talked about how social logics and cultural practices have changed the media world. My favorite portion of the session was when Sam Ford, Director of Digital Strategy at Peppercomm, reminded us that “hearing is different than listening”, urging the crowd to know our audience as human beings, not as an aggregated profile created from an abundance of data.
- While I love statistics, metrics and data, my favorite session of the day came from Ford’s Sheryl Connelly in “Lessons from a Futurist.” Data isn’t everything. What we do with the data is what’s important – be smart, be perceptive, listen and think deductively.
- In “Using Emerging Technologies to Reach Your Audience” we saw a lot of cool concepts – from ads that become 3D images when viewed through your tablet to apps that can show your neurological activity. One interesting point: just because your industry is technologically-minded doesn’t mean that you can ignore the end user. Keep your audiences in mind at all times.
- There was some predictable conflict at the “It’s Reddit’s Web, We Just Live in It” session. Reddit is the user-generated, open forum site that catches flak for allowing controversial, and sometimes lewd/offensive content and comments. It generates loads of traffic and has a huge impact on SEO. The interesting concept is how a motivated community, good or bad, can take over and dominate a conversation/issue. Crisis and issues management planning is readily apparent when sifting through Reddit.
~ Jon Woods and Jim Licko