Live from SXSW: Common Themes From a First Timer
Howdy, y’all! I’m currently in Austin, Texas with Hyatt’s social team at SXSW, a festival that drives thousands of film, music and tech enthusiasts to sessions and festivities in the city’s downtown area. This is my first time here, and only now do I understand the craziness our hotels experience with The Driskill, Hyatt Regency Austin, and Hyatt Place Austin/Downtown right in the middle of the action.
The interactive portion of SXSW hosts sessions about all things digital, but it’s not all conference rooms, panels and PowerPoint presentations. Some of the most valuable time I’ve spent here is outside the Convention Center at the various on-site marketing activities. Things like Oreo’s #eatthetweet (where they’re 3D printing cookies based on trending Twitter topics) and the Cottonelle Refresh Lounge (where you can recharge and spruce up) make it easy to interact with brands and strike up a natural conversation with other social marketers from brands, agencies and technologies.
A great session today was Spredfast’s secret panel, featuring our very own Director of Digital Strategy Dan Moriarty plus Brian Solis, principal analyst at Altimer Group, Ashley Brown, director of social for Coca-Cola, and Anne-Marie Kline, senior vice president of social and content for Digitas. It was moderated by Spredfast Chief Marketing Officer Jim Rudden.
Across sessions and conversations, I found a few common themes:
- Human connection. Many referred to the evolution of brands in the social space, noting that those who are leading the way have moved beyond broadcasting messages and even a goal of “engagement” to fostering 1:1 interactions with their consumers that are authentic and mutually beneficial. One of my favorite comments was an ask of marketers to stop referring to “consumers” and instead use “people.”
- Reflecting company values. This came up time and time again as conversation continued about today’s consumer expectations. Brands are now personified, and people expect them to take a stand on social issues. This is a driver of loyalty, and a company’s social presence can help people understand and see alignment in personal and company values.
- Measurement. It is not new that social ROI is difficult to measure in a consistent way, but our conversations served as a good reminder that we’re all grappling with many of the same issues. Everyone selects different metrics that match with unique business objectives, but many heads nodded when speakers referred to metrics that get at loyalty and referrals. Brian Solis suggested a measure of shared experience value.
- Humor. It’s allowed.
Reflecting on the themes, I couldn’t be more proud to work for a company that is committed to authentic interactions and genuine care. You can see it so many places – in the way @HyattConcierge interacts on Twitter, the way we work to surprise and delight guests, in the company’s outward support of diversity and inclusion for all, and so much more.
As a final thought, Austin has great food. Stubb’s was delicious.
Until next time, Austin.