SXSW – Wish We Were Here

The SXSW (South by Southwest) music, film, and interactive festival is a behemoth of artistic creativity, held in March of each year in Austin, Texas. The first SXSW music festival was held in 1987, and had just 700 registrants. Film and ‘interactive’ were added in 1994, and the three components together now bring in nearly 80,000 registrants.
As a relatively small, and very busy digital agency, Digital Cherry was unable to send any delegates this year, however that hasn’t prevented us from trawling the news updates, the tweets, and SXSW’s YouTube channel, and living vicariously through them. Let’s have a look at some of the highlights thus far.
Lizzie Velasquez
You may have seen Velasquez featured on the BBC News Blog last week, and rightly so. As a result of Marfan’s syndrome, and lipodystrophy, Velasquez has a number of health conditions including visual impairment, oesophageal problems, and an inability to put on weight, not to mention the potentially fatal heart problems that can accompany Marfan’s – for which she is undergoing testing. Velasquez has spoken out about the bullying to which she has been subjected for most of her life, and two years ago gave a TED talk which has over seven million views on YouTube.
A documentary film about Velasquez is premiering at SXSW, and the woman herself is appearing at a book signing on Monday. Most of our SXSW-envy is digital, but Velasquez is an inspiration, and we’re sorry to miss her.
Charlene Li
Founder, CEO, and Principal Analyst for the Altimeter Group – a research, consulting, and advisory firm dealing primarily with disruptive digital trend – gave a talk on Saturday entitled, “Creating a Digital Engagement Strategy for Leaders.” In this talk, Li addressed the need for leaders to overcome their fear of the unknown, or of making a misstep, and “use technology to listen, share, and engage with employees and customers.” Something tells us that Li’s talk – and a bit of networking over coffee afterwards – would have seen us come away with a suitcase full of ideas on how to get our clients to engage more with social media, and digital.
Jeanette Gibson
The Vice President of Community and Customer Experience at Hootsuite – the popular social media management system – gave a talk on Friday 13th that was frighteningly accurate.
“Don’t Hire Robots: Why the Human Touch Still Rules on Social Media” focussed on the importance of businesses “empowering [their] employees to balance personal with professional when representing [the] brand online.” The SXSW-highlighted takeaways from this really resonated with us, and as such we’d like to share them:
• Trust your employees on social – ensure that by training, and having some guidelines, your employees are able to have fun on social media, without misrepresenting your brand.
• Make sharing content simple – Gibson recommends using something like #yourcompanylife, allowing your employees, and customers where appropriate, to share their stories online.
• Share content that resonates with your audience – Gibson highlights the rule of thirds, which works for social media, and blogs: 1/3 company content, 1/3 industry content, and 1/3 personal content.
If you’d like to discuss the social media needs of your company, get in touch for a chat over coffee.

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