The 13 Things to Take Away from SxSW (Besides a Crippling Hangover)

By christinewatson / / Boulder Digital Works joined the hordes of nerds and hipsters at this year’s SxSW Interactive, and they left with some good memories. On their return to Boulder, they revisited their experiences in Austin and summarized them for all of you unable to attend this year. Here are some quick takeaways from the Interactive section of the conference. The findings have been distilled down to five categories that BDW deemed most relevant to the industry: Social/Mobile, Gamification, New Brand Practices, the Agile Model, and Applied Transmedia. SOCIAL / MOBILE Retro is the new black Breakfast was my favorite. Their Instaprint prototype – printing Polaroid style photos on inkless paper with images also available online – nicely crossed the divide between digital and physical. There was no client. Breakfast simply saw an opportunity to do something smart and cool and made it happen. – David Slayden, @dlslayden The “Future” of Mobile Marketing: Are We There Yet? PSFK’s Future of Mobile Tagging event – which featured our own Zombies Vs Hippies project – showed some case studies for 2d barcodes in mobile campaigns that were much more compelling than the typical “download an app and scan here and visit our mobile website.” But until scanning is fully integrated into the mobile device itself, it will remain a tough sell to users. – Josh Kadis, @kadisco Get off your Ass and Do Something! Futurist Bruce Sterling gave a rousing and scolding talk to the younger generation of attendees urging them to take action to solve world problems caused by older generations. We have the tools for easy and instant communication, so we should be organizing and activating to make the world a better place, not waiting for someone else to clean up the messes while we browse through our friends’ vacation photos. “We’ve had the largest oil spill in the history of humanity, and two nuclear power plants are on fire. What’s it going to take to get you to do something?” – Jon Swihart, @JonisDelicious GAMIFICATION Play Your Way to Success Play is the glue that keeps a brand’s community together, so keep your content playful and interesting! Consult your fan base to see what catches their eye. Be open to experimenting and keeping it real….in real time. Finally, shift before shift happens. Don’t wait until you feel comfortable. – Megan Newton, @megannewt The Game Layer: Locally Organizing for the Greater Good In a talk given by Seth Priebatsch, CEO of SCVNGR, he managed to get an audience (4,000 strong) to organize themselves by turning the entire hall into a giant trading pit where participants managed to arrange unequally distributed colored cards according to a diagram without any sort of leadership within 180 seconds. The activity was a metaphor for how large issues like global climate change could be tackled by locally organizing action. It was all part of his vision for the next generation of the web, something he calls “the game layer.” – Mike Newell, @newshorts Nonprofits Need to be Rewarding, Fun and Fast to Succeed “The Future of Nonprofits in the Digital Age” event proved overall fundraising for and engagement in nonprofits is down due to the lack of awareness concerning fundraising opportunities in the digital space – not the current economic environment. Make donating fun and rewarding with social gaming. Also, nonprofits structurally need to act more like tech startups (move quickly with limited resources) and mimic creative agency processes in order to hire and retain the talent necessary for innovation, as well as develop and implement new ideas. Listen. – Lauren Parker, @loparks NEW BRAND PRACTICES Your Brand is a Gut Feeling Designing ideas instead of objects is essential to driving sales. No longer are we able to simply brand, or re-brand products. Brands need a soul since consumers now have finely tuned BS meters. The goal is now to create a gut feeling that reinforces further innovation. Take Apple, for example. – Patrick Anders, @pkander A Company that Keeps Giving For TOMS shoes, it’s not just about the product, it’s the story behind the product. Founder Blake Marcoskie wanted to help children in need of shoes and developed the “sell a pair, give a pair” model for his business. This model has proved to be an incredibly powerful marketing tool: customers are inspired by the story, passionate about the cause and empowered to share it with everyone they know. No advertising can compete with that kind of word-of-mouth. – Charlotte Myerberg, @charrusse Slow and Steady and All that Jazz… Let your culture grow organically – it might be slow at first, but a unique culture is what keeps bringing people back. If you let too many people into your community too quickly, what you developed can dissolve quickly. – George Tong, @georgejtong AGILE MODEL Ditch the Lean Design Diet Agile development has seen a quick uptick in adoption, but whether it can be effectively applied to the design process to catalyze creative solutions remains to be seen. Several panelists suggested a need to eliminate excess design, but will this Spartan commoditization eventually hinder innovation? – Chris Znerold, @znerold APPLIED TRANSMEDIA Public Transit Patterns One public transit panel called for a unified data framework across cities in order to create better services around daily travel. By aggregating existing info, we can create better notification alert systems, for example. It was also noted that government does not have a strong lineage of working well with developers. Panelists included Jerry Jariyasunant (UC Berkely), Julie Blitzer (Advomatic LLC) and Michael Uffer (408 Group). – Emily Smith, @EmzoSmizo Story is King Technologies will continue to change, it is important we tell compelling stories and use technology as an enabler. Don’t allow it to be the whole story and avoid making the technology a gimmick. Ultimately, what’s most important is not what we make, but how we make people feel. – Brian Fouhy, @fouhy Keep It Real If you want to get through to someone talk to them like a peer. IDEO teamed up with the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy to re-brand birth control. The result, as well as the SxSW panel, was a lesson in honesty. By cutting through medical and public health jargon and talking about sex the way real people do, the final product – a program called Bedsider – was able to strike a strong cord with the target demographic. – Jesse Weaver, @jweav1 Originally posted by The Denver Egotist