{the life} The SXSW Sessions

by Rachel on March 14, 2012

Now that I’ve given you some background on how I was feeling going into SXSW, I wanted to share which sessions I attended with you! Here are all the sessions I attended, along with their descriptions from the SXSW website.

How Your Data Can Predict the Future. Today, we have data – lots of it. We can process information – in many ways. We have models to understand our process. With these tools and a dash of creativity, we are discovering surprising patterns of human behavior and by extension, a way to accurately predict our desires and our future. In fact, we can quantify movements, behaviors, desires, and moods on a scale that wasn’t possible before a series of advances in processing power, developments in psychology, the science of social networks and collaboration, and most importantly, access to data. As we have evolved from Web 1.0 to 4.0 – in this anticipatory era – what will we dream up next?

How Brands Build Advocates by Anticipating Needs. Why are brands constantly pissing us off online? Despite the opportunities for engagement that digital technologies provide, most companies’ customer service-focus has been reactionary. Brands only reach out to their customers when there is already a problem, if at all. Hello Pepco, “Most Hated” company in America, I’m talking to you. But what if brands used digital technologies to take a proactive approach to customer service and delighted us with unexpected gestures that demonstrate how much they cared about us? This session will explore companies like Warby Parker, The Ace Hotel and others that anticipate customer needs. We’ll explore the technology and digital marketing tactics they use to proactively reach out and make customers’ lives easier. We’ll also explain why these gestures convert customers into advocates who share their experiences with their networks. Finally we’ll outline the metrics companies can use to measure advocacy.

How Women Present Themselves in the Digital Age. Women tend to pursue what has been called the ‘iconic self,’ a flawless version of ourselves that we project to the world: a woman with the right job, reputation, looks, home, family — the list goes on. When it comes to creating that ideal image, technology has arguably raised the stakes even further. Now we have to construct a perfect self to present across many channels and platforms. Who should you be on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+? What parts of yourself should you expose, when do you draw the line, and what if you cross it? Is it even possible to be authentic online? On this panel we’ll delve into the sometimes paralyzing performance anxiety technology produces, how we can mitigate it, and discuss thorny questions about what should and should not be revealed online. And, once you’ve solved that dilemma, how to know who you really are in the midst of all these iterations.

A Conversation with Seth MacFarlane. As the creator of Family Guy and one of the co-creators of American Dad!, Seth MacFarlane has brought his boundary-pushing brand of humor to millions each week. Join Seth for a no-holds-barred discussion about his groundbreaking work in TV, his recent foray into the music world with his debut album and his transition to Hollywood with his upcoming directorial debut Ted, a live-action/CG-animated comedy starring Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis. In it, he tells the story of John Bennett (Wahlberg), a grown man who must deal with the cherished teddy bear (voiced by MacFarlane) who came to life as the result of a childhood wish…and has refused to leave his side ever since.

Psychology of Narcissism and How It Affects Brands. Society spends increasingly more time online, watching & reading about strangers. Is peep culture creating more narcissists or simply helping us connect through the sharing of our intimacies? Do users share content that they are passionate about & believe in or do they simply share content that influences how others perceive them? This panel will duke out diverse opinions on how brands use the internet famous to spread buzz about products & services, what this means for the future of marketing & how this effects everyone’s behavior online. As time passes will positive sentiment towards an influencer inevitably change to negative? Is influencer marketing changing how we behave online & in our everyday? Is peep culture & narcissism shaping our world, playing a part in marketing & influencing our sharing & buying decisions? Come join our internet culture obsessed panel consisting of a psychologist, blogging pioneer, community manager & online lifestyle blogger/ self proclaimed narcissist.

@BettyDraper’s Guide to Social Storytelling. Making a story social isn’t all about marketing. It’s also about helping to build a better narrative – extending and enriching the story, whether your story is driven by a fictional character or a brand. We’ll examine current examples of advertising, transmedia, brand fiction and branded content to determine what makes stories work for today’s social audiences–and what makes them fail.

Next Stage: Immersion 101: Inventing the Future of Entertainment. Thanks to the Internet, a new type of narrative is emerging – one that’s told through many media at once in a way that’s nonlinear, participatory, and above all immersive. Yet every time a new medium has come along in the past—movies, radio, television—it has taken people 20 years or more to figure out what to do with it. Last year was the 20th anniversary of the birth of the Web. So, how are we doing? “Immersion 101” will look at five key examples of immersive entertainment from the past year—apps, ARGs, marketing campaigns, or all three. What made them work? What could they have done better? What can we learn from them? What do they point to next? Moderated by Paul Woolmington of Naked Communications, the panel—Frank Rose, author of The Art of Immersion and Susan Bonds, CEO of 42 Entertainment—will deconstruct each project and engage the audience, and each other, in a debate about the future of entertainment.

Community & Influence: How Not to Piss People Off. Marketing is social. We’re all sold. But how do you maximize your return in social without appearing like a douchebag? One the one hand, top influencers in the social space are the ones who can truly drive action back to your brand. Yet, on the other hand no one likes a brand who refuses to interact with the little guy. As social marketing becomes more serious, more serious metrics are being demanded — learn what works and what doesn’t. And what about service — should influence affect whom you help first?

The Algorithm Method: Love in the Social Media Age. Social media has made finding love easier: reconnecting with your college sweetheart on Facebook, broadcasting emotions on Twitter and maybe even finding your soul mate on a mobile dating app. Americans will spend near a billion dollars on online dating in 2011. A 2002 article by Rufus Griscom in Wired stated, “Twenty years from now, the idea that someone looking for love without looking for it online will be silly… Serendipity is the hallmark of inefficient markets, and the marketplace of love, like it or not, is becoming more efficient.” A survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers found that two-thirds of divorce cases have used evidence from Facebook. Dating sites and social media outlets facilitate infidelity and exploitation in a relationship as efficiently as they bring couples together. Plus smart, professional 20-somethings are sexting with abandon. See gaffes by Anthony Weiner, Tiger Woods and et al. Are these technologies a blessing or a burden? Will the personal and professional continue to collide in dramatic ways?

I May “Like” You But I’m Not In Like With You. So people “like” your brand on Facebook. Big deal. Many brands have become slaves to the “like” button. They give away valuable stuff in return for a passive thumbs-ups, never realizing that this behavior could actually be cheapening their customer relationships.“Likes” come easy, but real relationships come with real exchange and sacrifice. The laws of currency show that people value something more when they have to give something to get it. And if brands can provide experiences that solve real problems, they can ask for more in return. What can brands offer customers so that they have more skin in the game? In this session, we will look closely at examples of a deeper, more balanced value exchange between consumers and brands. We will discuss strategies to uncover what your brand has to offer, and what your most valuable customers can give in return.

Pinterest Explained: Q & A with Co-Founder Ben Silbermann. The fastest-growing social media service in recent months is Pinterest, which describes itself as an online pinboard to organize and share things you love. Learn more about what the site is doing now, why it has grown popular in cities far away from silicon valley, and about the company’s long-term goals in a conversation between Pinterest co-founder Ben Silbermann and entrepreneur/investor/blogger Chris Dixon.

I’ll actually post what I learned in the sessions this week too, though I need some time to catch my breath and make sense of my notes. Until then, please let me know if any of them sound particularly compelling (or not!) to you. Some were pretty specific to my job while I think others will appeal to a lot of people, no matter what they do. But let me know what you’d like to hear about most (or first) so I can get an idea of what to share about each!

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Katelyn @ Chef Katelyn March 14, 2012 at 3:42 pm

I’m a fan. All of these sound fascinating — especially how women present themselves online. I did my junior thesis on portrayal of women in the media, and emerging social networks take that idea to a whole new level.


2 Rachel March 14, 2012 at 3:45 pm

This was an AWESOME session and the one I’m most excited to talk about!


3 Amanda March 14, 2012 at 4:09 pm

I’m looking forward to reading what you learned in the sessions. SXSW sounds like an amazing opportunity for anyone, especially if you’re in the social media field. I’m so jealous :)


4 Mel March 14, 2012 at 5:06 pm

Ahhh great picks!! From a personal stand point, I’d probably love to hear about the love, narcissism and women’s focused ones and professionally, the “like” one sounds really interesting and helpful. Can’t wait.


5 Felicia March 14, 2012 at 8:55 pm

Can’t wait to read more about the sessions. So many bloggers have been writing about how they went, but then they come back with a load of pics and no real deets :(. Great post.


6 Melissa March 15, 2012 at 2:07 am

I am really excited to hear about the how women present themselves presentation. I’m curious about the inventing the future session. One of my concentrations was in entrepreneurship so I’m curious how a presentation like this would go (and a little skeptical).


7 Valaria March 19, 2012 at 9:28 am

Your blog is addicting; I really need to quit checking it while I am at work. (You should interpret that to mean, “I love your blog so much that I am willing to get in trouble for reading post after post when I should be doing my actual work.”) That being said, I am most curious about “Pinterest explained”. A friend of mine clued me into Pinterest before it became ridiculously popular, and to be honest, I don’t like it as much now. I’ve had to start unfollowing lots of people because I find their interests annoying and I really don’t care what they like.


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