We just wrapped up our first day at South by Southwest interactive – what a whirlwind! Only 24 hours into it, I can only imagine what the next three days will have to offer. The panels were intriguing and the people I met were just about as interesting as the panels. Quick recap on my Saturday content:
First session – “Interactive behind the screen”
The description touted this session as one that would teach how to marry analog and digital marketing successfully. The presenter started slowly. So slowly, in fact, that much of the room exited before he made his point, which was worth the wait. He basically said that the analog experience of your brand’s consumer is more important than the digital experience. When a person goes through the drive thru at McDonald’s, it’s much more important that he/she has a great experience at the drive thru window than whether or not they are friends with McD’s on Facebook. He posits that many brands have tried to shove social media down their own throats and think they must adopt a social media presence to remain pertinent. They end up failing. Good session to start the day for me.
Second session – “How to talk to programmers”
I had such high hopes for this session. As I mentioned, both The Bouv and I attended this because we thought it would help us with some tips to work together better. It did not. It only reinforced that we work in a great environment at CM and we don’t need to fix much in terms of communication/egos inside our shop. The discussion in the room of approximately 150 quickly devolved into programmers/designers griping about project managers and vice versa. The Bouv and I spoke up in favor of our process of involving all stakeholders from the start of the process (the group determines the goal, the scope of the project, the budget, etc) and for including a “translator,” of sorts – someone who understands the geek side of the project, but who also understands the project manager’s position with the client.
Third session – keynote with Zappos.com’s Tony Hseih
Wow. Loved this address. Despite appearing extremely nervous (the crowd was probably 7500, so I can understand why), this guy is compelling, humble, funny, self-depricating, intelligent and precocious. His talk focused on happiness. Sounds like a hippy, right? Not really – he basically says that if you can replicate happiness in your culture through your employees and customer service, your customers will be happy and spend more money. Zappos.com has had to make several difficult decisions, including one that cut 25% of their profit line but favored customer service more heavily. I learned a lot about business in general from him.
Fourth session – “The Future of Social Networks”
Open ID. Sharing information across multiple platforms. Amazon’s recommendations will start coming from only people Amazon sees are my friends on Facebook. people I follow on Twitter or people in my address book. Rather than seeing opinions from a bunch of people I don’t know and whose authority is suspect to me, I get recs from people whose taste I trust.
“In 5 years, social networks will be like air.” The speaker, Charlene Li, is a genius.
Last session – “Comedy on TV and the Web”
I thought this one was my guilty pleasure of the day since I was really only going to see BJ Novak (The Office). But, it turned out to be one of the most insightful panels I had seen all day. The talent on the panel was immense – moderator Ricky Van Veen (collegehumor.com), writer Meredith Scardino (The Colbert Report), Novak, NEED NAME (Boxee) and NAME (Break Media). This was run in a Q&A style, but the crux of most of their points was that content is still king, regardless of where that content comes from. As the next few years progress, we will get content less and less from TV, more and more from our personal communication devices (computer, PDA, etc.). That means that content actually has to get better. Right now, many of us leave the TV droning in the background on shows we don’t much care about, or we let the TV play through a show that follows a show we actually wanted to watch. Not with user-solicited or time shifted programming. It didn’t hurt that this panel was hysterical – especially Meredith Scardino. What a card.
Sunday, here I come!