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The Main Stage at SXSWMaybe it was the lost hour of sleep, or maybe it was the varied session topics at SXSWi on Sunday, but the day and its sessions flew by for both Jon and I. From the future of search in a mobile world to online influencers to meet ups, day three at SXSWi left us with a lot to think about:

Jon’s Take: 

  • Since I had missed many of the other “big name” speakers like Al Gore and Elon Musk in the first two days of the conference I decided to make sure and take in some panels in the large exhibit hall today. First up was Guy Kawasaki (who Jim and I were lucky enough to meet the day before) hosting a discussion with Google’s Senior Vice President Amit Singhal. Later in the day I returned to see FiveThirtyEight mastermind Nate Silver speak in the same room. Both forums were interesting and at times provocative, but I don’t feel that I get the same out of that type of presentation as I did in some of the more intimate sessions. Generally speaking, the panels taking place in locations other than the convention center have been significantly more insightful.

  • In between Amit and Nate I walked down the street to the Four Seasons to take in a session entitled “The Secret Dangers of Online Influence Marketing.”  The panelists discussed the over-utilization of the word influence and how it has become the newest buzzword that marketers latch on to. Many of their points really hit home from a PR perspective, including the difference between popularity and true influence and how brands were really looking to find those that can truly sway the opinions of their social circles. I have a lot of interesting notes from this panel and a couple of platforms that I was unaware of to check out when I return to Denver. What may be my favorite quote from the entire conference so far came when Debra Kaye, CEO of Lucule Consulting said, “only by brands losing some control of their messages can they truly become a part of the culture.” Amen, Debra.

Jim’s Take: 

  • Guy Kawasaki had a conversation with Google’s SVP Amit Singhal about the future of search in a mobile world. And while Singhal never hinted toward the actual Google algorithm, he did break it down simply: new content, high-quality content and catering to your audiences. In other words, gaming the search system isn’t worth as much as understanding your audience and giving them content they find useful.
  • I attended my first “meet up” event in three years at SXSWi – a health and fitness meetup put on by Shape Magazine. After listening to panels for a couple of days it was great to be in an environment where conversation was readily encouraged. After meeting folks from Shape, Brooks Shoes, Harvard University, Addidas and MapMyFitness, it was obvious that sometimes putting your electronic screens down and actually talking to people an be infinitely beneficial.
  • Consequently, Shape has just undergone a major website redevelopment that allows the publication to more easily integrate their hard copy magazine with their website and social channels making for an impressive, seamless audience experience. They’ve integrated topics like health, fitness, fashion and lifestyle so that they can report on a common theme and how that theme relates to each of the topics. Impressive, and extremely useful for the end user (see Singhal’s comments in the first bullet above).
  • One of my favorite aspects of SXSWi is hearing from 20-something multi-millionaires talk about how their product or service came a out, and where it goes from here. Tumblr founder David Karp discussed how his platform fostered creativity and customization, and ultimately has become the home of more than 100 million blogs. The lesson? Give people the tools they need to be creative, and then get out of the way.
  • I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Rachel Maddow of MSNBC’s mention of her favorite beer in her 12:30 session: Dale’s Pale Ale. At the risk of being biased toward our clients (Oskar Blues Brewery) Jon and I couldn’t agree more, Ms. Maddow.

~ Jon Woods and Jim Licko

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