South by Social Media

By: Connor Gray

I’ve never really considered Spring Break to be a time to actually go somewhere. Usually I just head back home for the week because I don’t deserve a nice trip somewhere. This year that completely changed thanks to my job with the Denton Convention and Visitors Bureau. My grand-boss’s decision this year was to bring me along with some of my co-workers to South by Southwest for the Interactive portion of the festival. For those that don’t know South by Southwest (usually SXSW) is a conference/festival consisting of three different tracks of interactive, film, and music. While each section provides different opportunities per pass, my interactive pass allowed me to go to career building workshosp with extreme professionals in my field alongside information on areas that I knew nothing about.

Here are some of the highlights of some of SXSW sessions that I’ve been to so far as far as social media is concerned:

Levi Strauss and the Internet of Things:

On an advertising level, this was an amazing opportunity. The session consisted of Ivan Poupyrev, a technical program lead at Google, and Paul Dillinger, a vice president of Levi Straus & Company. They primarily focused on a new line of clothing that they partnered together to work on that not only paired with your phone but to the Internet automatically. A person could actually swipe a pad on their pants or a press a button on their jacket to send a tweet. It was amazing and while the technology may not be immediately taken advantage of, it’s definitely a new component to the fashion market. What’s more is that I thought it was crazy that of all companies, Levi’s and Google partnered up.

Atlas Obscura Author:

Ella Morton, author of the hit blog and travel book, spoke on how people have utilized their website with social media to promote hidden places on the map. I’m an avid fan of her book and it was cool to see how different platforms lended to the submission to the actual travel spots.

New York Times Editor (with Vox Reporter):

The executive editor of the New York times sat with Jim Rutenberg to address the current state of the news paper medium. He discuses how Donald Trump and social media reactions made “news great again” While a lot of the discussion focused on politics, I pulled a lot of information on how to create content that is actually memorable on a website and how to share that to specific platforms.

 

Snapchat for Business:

Interestingly enough this was one of the only sessions that involved Snapchat at all, but it was still extremely valuable. Companies are having an increasingly difficult time trying to utilize Snapchat like their other platforms. People are not necessarily more hesitant to use it, but the businesses don’t necessarily know how to use them efficiently. Not unlike other platforms, the panelists emphasize the need for constant content growing out to build an organic relationship with their viewers.

Brand Booths:

Nearly every company of prominence has sent out a major brand ambassador to run an event here, and social has played a major component to that in general. Esurance has been giving mass giveaways but the only way to find them is through their Snapchat story. Budlight and Canvas both generated personalized gifs of yourself to tweet out with their logos slathered all over them. Nat Geo let you Twitter DM a selfie that would then be drawn by a robot on a chalkboard that utilized Einstein formulas on the actual selfie. The list could go on forever because most of these brands’ driving motivation was to get you to follow them on their platforms and interact with them.

The Biden Cancer Foundation:

This was definitely at the top of my list. I waited hours in the morning and afternoon to not only get a wristband to go, but to actually get a good seat. This man is a personal hero of mine and brought up some essential points about cancer research that even included social media in its own way. One major point he looked at was how badly the access to information there was for both patients and researchers alike. Researchers had a very difficult time pulling secondary research in this field. With Biden’s foundation, they’ve been working digital cloud servers like Amazon and Silicone valley innovators to generate website and social networks to change the culture of the cancer treatment system in America. This speech was intense, powerful and managed to matter to just about any field of study, including social media.

Overall, the conference was an amazing opportunity that has affected my life in more ways than one. Social media proves to be a vital contributing to the festival. Whether it was the hashtags and Snapcodes plastering every inch of venues or a panel based on generating communities on Twitter.

 

Oh also, I shook Biden’s hand.

 

Sources:

 

  1. (2017, March 12). The Urgency of Now: Launching the Biden Cancer Initiative – SXSW 2017. Retrieved March 13, 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IykG7_zHXoo

 

Soper, T. (2017, March 12). New York Times editor explains how Donald Trump made journalism great again. Retrieved March 13, 2017, from http://www.geekwire.com/2017/new-york-times-editor-explains-donald-trump-made-journalism-great/

 

SXSW Schedule Overview | SXSW Conference & Festivals. (n.d.). Retrieved March 13, 2017, from https://www.sxsw.com/schedule/

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UNT Eagle Strategies

Class members of the social media class in the Mayborn School of Journalism