SXSW 2013 Interactive highlights: 7 takeaways

Saggy bottom panda SXSW 2013

Each year of SXSW just gets better and better! It’s a gathering of truly fascinating people. Thousands show up in droves to attend the festival every single year. It’s funny to watch the newbies vs. veterans at SXSW, because their experiences are so very different. Having attended 10+ years of  interactive I can safely say some years have been ‘cooler’ than others. This year was bigger than ever and I noticed a few key changes. Everyone hearts lists, so …

1. Whimsical costumes don’t impress anyone, especially San Franciscans.

We saw so many companies with gimmicky costumes / setups trying to horn in on what was the collective attention of many people (cats) who weren’t interested. Lyft folks wore silly mustaches while giving piggy back rides. Another company had people being rolled around on brass beds. These tactics will get you noticed…. for seconds. I often say this to teenage girls, but I’ll say it again: there is a difference between good attention and bad attention. Focus on getting noticed for your ideas and not for cheesy gimmicks, because they fade oh so fast.

Saggy bottom panda SXSW 2013

Saggy bottom panda 🙁

2. Brian Solis is a sweet guy, but don’t touch his champagne if you want to get ahead.

I was fortunate enough to attend two of Brian Solis’ events at SXSW and both were immaculate. However, if you decide to grab some of that champagne lying around you are 100% going to get shut down and look like an ass. Step away and buy your own bottle. I watched a variety of people gunning for Solis’ champagne and the bar tenders were less than nice about responding. There were plenty of other complimentary drink options. I’m pretty sure that people all around the champagne-campaigners noticed this immature behavior as well. Yes we’re all away from home and in a night time situation, but SXSW is still legit biz. Being rude and pushy will never earn brownie points with Brian or his social media maven filled crew. Let me tell you, the man has an amazing crew.

3. A badge is far from necessary. I attended very few actual panels of interest.On the first day of SXSW I dutifully showed up early to my panels that covered mobile content and subsequently got BOUNCED. Yes, that’s right. I was bounced from attending or even listening to the content. I got there with plenty of time. My experience that morning was so horrific, it was actually covered by the Verge. Hundreds were turned away to wait in the rain for a shuttle that was delayed. #fail

Waiting for the shuttle after they were ‘bounced’

4. Mobile marketing content was lacking, but the field is wide open… No mobile app really seemed to dominate over another. I think the lack of a standout app is a signal that things have changed at SXSW. Perhaps there are just too many individual tracks and niches to garner one big ‘winner’? It’s entirely possible there are many winners now instead of one!

SXSW 2013

5. I met more founders than anything else. There were more founders this year than ever and that’s truly inspiring. It means that growth is in the hearts of those attending and that just feels good!inate this year. Majority of folks I talked to seem to think mobile marketing means mobile ads or social media content pushes. It’s so much more! I think the conference strongly needs to develop a mobile offering if they want to stay ahead. Shameless plug! We’re doing what we can to push the envelope at MobileFOMO, your top mobile marketing resource!

6. Spending a week with Funny or Die is good for the soul, but probably not your insides. This year I had a lot of fun hosting the winners during SXSW, however I can tell you they had a definite penchant for Whataburger. Every morning I would uncover the evidence. More importantly the contest provided exactly what I wanted. I created a community and got some good press. So often people who go to SXSW all alone get lost in the chaos. You can spend your whole day running and meeting up with people or just trying to. I much preferred rolling with my own crew of amazing people. The takeaway here is bring your bros n ladies to SXSW with you,  stop, collaborate and listen. Grow your own Crüe!

7. Grumpy cat rules all!  It’s practically an obligatory mention this year since it’s the one thing everyone agrees on. Tard was by far the ruler of SXSW and he didn’t even care.. We should all be so cool.

Grumpy Cat at SXSW 2013

Thanks to CBS for the image