10 Mar 2014

All posts from 10 Mar 2014


Day 4 Wrap-up: Unexpected Moments Make SXSW Special

Hidden Gem of The Day

Chelsey Delaney and Chris Trew.

Chelsey Delaney and Chris Trew. (Photo: Katya Yefimova)

With the Austin Convention Center serving as the hub for SXSW Interactive, it’s easy to overlook the events that happen away from the hustle and bustle. I’m glad I ventured off the beaten path to check out a workshop on humor and design. The class was limited to about 10 people, and I joined an eclectic group that included a physician, a marketer and a developer.

I’m not a designer, but I thought the workshop would help me learn how to bring humor into solving problems at work and at school. The instructors, Chelsey Delaney and Chris Trew, did just that: They showed me that doing improv is similar to how I interact with people at work.

I asked Delaney, a UX designer, and Trew, a comedian and improv teacher, what lessons everyone can learn from humor:

“Part of being a humorist is being OK with failing,” Delaney said. “Using humor makes you more creative and more excited about (what you working on).”

According to Trew, research has shown that trying to be funny basically unlocks a part of your brain that otherwise goes unused. “The techniques you use to find humor can be used to find many other things,” he said.

I agree with that statement. I didn’t just learn more about what makes people laugh. I walked away with a fresh perspective on how I communicate.

Unexpected Moment of the Day

The digital crowd talks a lot about content strategy, multi-platform storytelling and native advertising. But away from high-powered panels and industry speak, less tech-savvy users are trying to make sense of all the new technology and do their best to use it to their advantage – sometimes in desperate circumstances.

A powerful reminder of this simple fact came at a session on using Reddit as a marketing tool (tip: handle with care). At the end of the concluding Q&A, Lyn Ulbricht, the mother of alleged Silk Road mastermind Ross Ulbricht, got up to ask how to use Reddit and specifically AMA’s (Ask Me Anything) to raise support for her son’s defense.

Quote of the Day

Graphic by Jenny Burns.

(Graphic: Jenny Burns)

Disappointment of the Day

Flipsters were sad to see that a young couple brought their pet, a miniature pig, to Facebook’s after party Funny or Die. The little guy seemed scared to be surrounded by crowds of people and loud music. It’s cruel and irresponsible to use your pet as a prop. Not cool.

Best Meal of the Day

This taco and cider were not only gluten free and delicious, they were also free to press pass holders at SXSW Interactive. Tacos are definitely the signature food here in Austin.

Yummy taco

Yummy taco

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Day 4 Wrap-up: Unexpected Moments Make SXSW Special

Forging Connections With Art and Technology

Connection is the new digital currency. Brands, individuals and groups actively seek new ways to harness social platforms, art and technology to build relationships. Technological advances on the internet, and now on mobile, make ideas easily sharable. For many brands (and groups or individuals) art is the preferred method to receive and distribute information because people often form quick, emotional reactions. Combined with technology and its amazing idea-sharing opportunities, art is an ideal way build connection.


(Graphic: Jenny Burns)

 Connecting Through Art

How are brands driven by  artistic communities? In a SXSW Interactive session, #BrandsByArt, experts shared their experience about arts and community-centric platforms as a form of social connectivity and branding.

Social media allows people to share their reactions to current events in real time. Josh Karpf, Director of Social Marketing at Spotify shared social sharing trends he noticed on Spotify about important issues. Users are able to use Spotify to express their views through music and trends show popular opinion and reactions to cultural, political and natural events. For example, Spotify playlists reflect popular music, theme songs to popular films and even current news events. According to Karpf, people curated and shared playlists expressing opinion of the government shut-down last year.

The Humble #Hashtag and its Uses

As one of the largest photo-sharing services on the planet, Instagram has a thing or two to say about the intersection of art and connectivity. One popular but often misunderstood way to find like-minded folk is the humble hashtag. Unfortunatley  “[…] only ten percent of hashtags are actually useful. The other ninety percent are random,”  said Bailey Richardson, Community & Marketing Manager at Instagram.  #thismakessense

#Innovation and #Technology #Teamwork Live Feed from a session as many wait in line #sxsw

Outside a full session SXSW attendees stream a live feed and share the content with people waiting in line. (Photo: Jenny Burns)

So can hashtags be used as an effective marketing tool for both large and small organizations? Richardson encouraged brands to listen to the language of their followers and then use this language to inform their own marketing voice. Social media is a “treasure trove” bringing authenticity to the work a company is doing. According to Richardson, following posts by users acts as a “social barometer” showing what people feel about your brand.

According to Richardson, Chris Paul of the LA Clippers, uses Instagram to encourage users to send shoe design photos using a hashtag and browses through the submissions to make a selection. This is a great example of how hashtags can be used to deliberately inspire connection and community around an idea.

 Technology Enables Communication

Sharing and connection doesn’t only happen in the virtual world. Popular sessions at SXSW fill up fast, so many people often wistfully wait outside a full room with hopes to get in. Some tech-savvy attendees waiting in line put their devices to use by organizing a colleagues on the inside  to stream live video to their tablet. They were kind enough to share this stream with others waiting in line and, by harnessing the power of technology, they were able to connect and share information across a broader audience.

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Forging Connections With Art and Technology