Day two of South by Southwest felt longer due to a night on the town on Friday and the first 9:30 session of the conference. The sessions were a bit more non-traditional than yesterday’s but Jon, Jim and Ramonna all heard some interesting and unique speakers.
- “The Evolution of the Web” was my first session of the day, and admittedly, it was geared toward developers. But in between the 0’s and 1’s, I got a good look at how developers will soon be blending native applications with browsers and your computer hardware so that you can do things like control your web activity (or website navigation) through your computer’s camera by the swipe of your hands. Five years from now the way we get information on the web will look nothing like it does today.
- My favorite session of the day was from Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario. In her interview, she covered how for-profit companies can (and should) put a focus on the environment, where they source their materials and how they conduct their business. She made the case for companies leading by example, rather than being solely profit-minded (while still making a profit). How can your work, or your business focus on more sustainable practices, while also potentially creating efficiencies at the same time?
- I also heard Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti speak about how LA is taking huge strides to incorporate technology in everything they do – from tablets in trash pickup vehicles for more efficient routes to an app that tells you when and where parking spots are open around Hollywood. This “tech integration” approach was extremely refreshing, and a great reminder that those who hold the “monopoly” (Garcetti’s words) also stand to gain the most (and stay ahead of competition) by incorporating technology in everything they do.
- Today’s sessions mostly focused on non-traditional methods of reaching your audience, starting with a panel that focused on building brand loyalty and awareness by using owned channels instead of advertising. Arlie Sisson of Starwood Hotels & Resorts talked about how customers asked the brand to allow them to save some time when staying at one of Starwood’s properties, which led her team to develop technologies like keyless entry and upgrade notifications that allows their brands apps to stay sticky on users’ mobile devices.
- In “Use Your Words: Optimizing Content for Growth,” Evany Thomas, Brand Writer at Pinterest, spoke about the thorough testing that the social platform has undergone to improve their product and increase registrations among non-users who are referred to the site. She shared some great anecdotes about the different iterations they went through for the wording on the Facebook sign-in button, finally settling on “Continue with Facebook” which, along with a simple new design of the landing page, increased registrations over 800%.
- Another panel I stopped by today paired the Vice President of Buzzfeed Motion Pictures with the founder of Rosewood Creative to debate the merits of branded content vs. influencer created content for brands. The head of North American Marketing for Toyota was also on hand to talk about how the car manufacturer has used both in their marketing efforts. Whatever side of the debate you fall on, it’s important to remember that these new channels are no different from tried and true traditional marketing efforts, you need to first ask yourself how these activities fit into your overall marketing strategy. If they don’t, then there’s no reason to be doing them.
Three more days to go!
~Jim Licko and Jon Woods