Saturday of South by Southwest Interactive is usually the most packed day for sessions and events and 2014 was no different. While a light rain during the day kept people from moving between the venues too much, there was still some tough scheduling decisions to be made. Two days of sessions down, two more to go. Here are our takeaways from the day.
- Because, in addition to my work at GroundFloor Media, I’m a huge sports fan that runs a Colorado Buffaloes blog and community I was very excited to find out that South by Southwest had added a sports programming track to the lineup this year. Many of the social media and digital skills I have acquired over the years were honed and tested through sports journalism (which also serves as an excellent outlet to continue to improve my writing) and I made the most of the opportunity to sit in some sports related sessions today featuring Mark Cuban, Bill Simmons, Nate Silver and Texas Tech Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury (who was a fantastic panelist). It was a very cool experience that featured some learnings that can be applied to any industry or project.
- It wasn’t all sports, however, and the most enlightening talk of the day featured Jonah Berger, author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On. Berger is a professor at Wharton who studies the science behind on and offline word of mouth and how and why ideas spread. He laid out his psychological principles for why people share (and how you can design for that sharing) in six steps (learn more about the steps here) that I know I will be walking through the next time I am designing any campaign or content.
- Social currency
- Practical Value
- Berger also shared his rules for Viral 2.0, four things to remember when creating content that is meant to be shared (which should be any content you create).
- Shares, not views.
- +10%, not 10M
- Psychology, not technology
- Offline AND online. (Remember, only 7 percent of all word of mouth is online)
One of the best parts of SXSWi is the wide variety of relevant topics covered. Today was your typical “crisis, conceptual ideas, starting a publishing site, astrophysics, B Corp meet up” day for me:
- My first session involved FEMA, the U.S. Forest Service and Google in a panel about mobilizing communities in times of crisis. FEMA has done an amazing job of using digital assets to provide information for those in need during a disaster. Their “Text 43362” provides affected people with information about preparedness (text “lists”) for specific types of disasters, and identifies local disaster recovery centers/shelters (text “shelter + your zip code). The concept combines real-time (and extremely useful) information to people in need, where they are in need. They know their audience, the information they need, and how to deliver it. We can all learn a little from that case study.
- Sports columnist Bill Simmons and statistician Nate Silver (who correctly predicted the 2012 presidential election outcomes in all 50 states, and now writes for ESPN) collaborated to discuss the creation and sustainability of their respective websites. The biggest takeaway? “If you don’t keep pushing, trying new things and innovating, you’ll become who you are. Don’t get cocky…keep competing.” That is true for just about everything.
- Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson was today’s Keynote. If you don’t know the astrophysicist, you should. Stressing the importance of always questioning, always being skeptical he used a parenting example, “When your child picks up an egg for the first time, don’t tell them to be careful. Let them figure it out on their own.” People learn best when they discover without someone telling them what will happen. One egg is the best $0.20 education someone can buy – and the same holds true for so many things in life.
- Meeting new people and sharing ideas is one of the greatest aspects of SXSWi. I had the pleasure of attending the B Corp Meet Up (follow the link to see what “B Corp” entails) – which is a distinction GFM will be pursuing in 2014. Like-minded companies that that are redefining what corporate success looks like, or as Esquire Magazine described, “B Corps might turn out to be like civil rights for blacks or voting rights for women – eccentric, unpopular ideas that took hold and changed the world.” Much like South by itself.
~Jim Licko and Jon Woods