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March 26, 2012 | By

What I learned from my first trip to SXSW

“So how was SXSW?” That is the first question I received from people when I returned from Austin. My response was, “Amazing. Way bigger, and more inspirational than I could have imagined.” SXSW has been around for over 20 years, and this year, attendance was at an all time high. The event is attended by everyone, including celebrities, politicians, tech innovators, and your regular old nerds. My attendance was primarily focused around meeting with our clients and partners. We discussed our current marketing programs, and how the content being presented might impact our strategy.

The key themes that I noticed at SXSW continued to reinforce a digital shift to integrated engagement strategies across Paid, Owned, and Earned Media (POEM). Brands, platforms, and devices are working to find ways to leverage data from various places like the interest graph, GPS, and search, to drive engagement. When you see content sites like Mashable sold to CNN for $200 million, you can start to see how large brands are thinking about content and engagement. Further validating the theme of engagement was the launch of social media mobile apps like Highlight, and the excitement around Facebook’s timeline, and the impact it will have on brands.

At SXSW, you have the chance to see and hear new things, and there is too much to actually take in. We learned that lesson at our #ByteRockRiot party w/Google, where we heard Peelander Z, JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound play, showing us that trying new things is good for our health. We will take that lesson as we work with our clients in 2012 to drive them forward, and as we plan for our attendance at SXSW in 2013.

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