Austin’s South by Southwest (SXSW) is ripe for new technology, startups and the latest news from digital thought leaders. With all the converging streams of conversation and hype generated from this portion of festival, it’s hard to differentiate the signal from the noise.
Below are a handful of observational themes that emerged from conversations and sessions from SXSW Interactive this past weekend.
Social is inherent to all organizations
Social media integration is no longer an add-on to a campaign or tactical activation. Startups and businesses alike are incorporating social and digital into their strategies. Many mobile app startups include an element of social ingrained into their functionality. This has aided adoption and is proliferating beyond mobile – and brands are taking notice.
Engage with your fans. No, your REAL fans
Brands like LEGO* and Arsenal Football Club are dialed into their passionate fan base. They have contextualized the historic nature of their brands and created digital channels to connect to their communities’ interests. LEGO CUUSOO invites fans to submit their ideas for future LEGO products, vote on and discuss the idea to help the LEGO Group decide what to release next—an innovative example of crowdsourcing. Arsenal leverages digital channels to provide content that speaks to the history and nostalgia of the football club, develop athlete-generated videos to create a personal connection with the Arsenal players and create messaging that accurately depicts how fans feel in the moment.
Bridge the gap between online and offline experiences
The anticipation for a new mobile app breakthrough from those unveiled last year, did not have the staying power or market penetration. What has emerged is wearable technology that integrates with social and mobile, that can be integrated as part of a person’s lifestyle. A great example is the Nike Fuel Band and its adoption by those increasing their physical activity and even those who aspire to be more active.
Technology can democratize services
Apps like Uber, have made the car service experience accessible and convenient to consumers from all levels of income. Creating a true offline “experience” using social and mobile as the facilitator is more apparent in the new apps that have staying power.
New technology feeds innovation
Companies like MakerBot have developed innovative products that allow artists, engineers and the healthcare industry, among others, to work in ways that are on the cutting edge of design and functionality. Advancements in cloud storage and startup resources like KickStarter, have removed major barriers to entry.
Overall, there has been a shift in app based behavior to device enabled behavior, with social media being inherent to the business as they address online and offline experiences. As new technologies emerge it will be interesting to see how they engage consumers and influence our lives.
*LEGO is an Edelman Digital client.