Three Top Trends of SXSW 2012: Business for Good, Broadcast Meets Social, and Engaging Gen Y
By Helen Nowicka, Head of Digital, Porter Novelli, London
To be at SXSW is to be in a permanent state of FOMO—or Fear Of Missing Out. There are thousands of sessions taking place in dozens of locations around Austin, Texas—and that’s before you factor in the networking breakfasts, late night parties and ambush marketing from guys dressed as sumo wrestlers.
So after five days of dining at an all-you-can-eat buffet of insights, data, best practices, the future of this and the end of that, what were some of the main talking points? I’ve picked out three (with a little help from some other Porter Novelli attendees) we believe marketers will be discussing long after the remnants of the last breakfast taco have been swept from Austin’s streets:
1. Business for good
The topic of better business and social good led to some packed and passionate discussions. One session that inspired a lot of energy was “Don’t just sell things: change the world,” where big beasts from agency life urged businesses to put doing good at the heart of what they do. This is a topic close to Porter Novelli’s heart: When our agency was founded 40 years ago it was to pioneer the idea of social marketing, or using the power of communications to change people’s lives for the better. Fast forward to 2012 and this topic is again back on the agenda, and judging by the way the digerati of SXSW packed in to join the discussion, it’s more relevant than ever. It’s also a hot topic among start-ups, too: Tim O’Reilly’s call to entrepreneurs to create value in more than monetary terms by creating products that benefit their community triggered a lot of excited buzz. So the outtake for brands seems to be: Think about your business for good strategy before some new competitor grabs that space.
2. The intersection of broadcast and social
Broadcasters are looking at how they can increasingly harness social from the start, rather than have it happen around them. Now that we are having a three-screen experience—watching TV, tweeting on our mobile and browsing with a tablet PC all at the same time—they recognize we want to participate in programming. Bravo’s Andy Cohen and Top Chef Head Judge Tom Colicchio described how the show managed to create a newer, deeper, more interesting engagement level with the audience through transmedia storytelling. ABC News digital strategist Soraya Darabi even suggested that social discussions could influence programming directly, like choosing who should present the Oscars. And my colleague Stefan Vadocz got a great video interview with Beverly W. Jackson, director of marketing, strategic alliances and social media for The Recording Academy who organizes the GRAMMY Awards and her advice to focused on delivering consistent results across multiple channels gives an insight for brands on how this is already happening.
3. Brands are getting smarter at involving Gen Y
Some great discussions around the rise of Gen Y took place. Porter Novelli Gen-Y’er Valerie Elston was impressed by how brands like Chevy and GM are bringing people like here into the creative process.Some, like Red Bull, are even sidestepping traditional media altogether and creating their own documentaries around extreme sports events that bring its values to life. This is a group who are super-consumers of social media and have an always-on connection to the Web mainly through mobile devices. To reach them brands can consider different strategies from co-creation to developing content that is so disruptive or engaging, it cuts through this group’s information overload. The key word here, though, is strategy: Activity needs to be on-brand and authentic to strike the right note. Simply jumping onto the latest cool social media service is not enough.
Helen Nowicka is the UK Head of digital and a social media strategist, EMEA, for Porter Novelli in London.