March 14, 2011
In the past 48 hours, I learned more than I did in my entire college career. Well, maybe not more. But close.
I’d been told that SXSW was huge, but I never expected everything to be so crowded. Three of the panels I wanted to sit in on the first day were sold out. Luckily, there were easily 4 other interesting options going on at the same time. I’m trying to take in as much as I can and have been furiously taking notes on my iPad. Although I think my Twitter feed is the best account of my time here so far.)
After a day and a half, I’ve picked up a few things:
Do your research before arriving in Austin.
Read beyond the title and description of a panel and more about who is on the panel or giving a talk. This may seem obvious, but with over 450 events each day, it’s hard to read through all that content—even with the SXSW app. An alluring title does not guarantee an engaging presentation. Which brings me to…
Even the most credentialed speaker can suck.
Harsh, I know, but there is no way to quantify the value of a speaker beforehand. Unfortunately as a SXSW newbie, I’m learning the hard way. My only recommendation is to Google the speaker and see if they have spoken at other events. Experience is key.
Nothing great happens overnight.
From Old Spice creative to user experience design, each speaker has stressed how much research went into making their app/site/product a success. I know I’ve been told this over and over again, but it’s nice to hear it from some of the most senior people in the industry. Hard work and time are (and will always be) the best tools.
When used correctly, interactive is king.
Twitter, Foursquare, Facebook, Apps, YouTube and many of the other social and interactive platforms are here to stay. The way to succeed in these mediums is to approach them with a complete understanding of your product, a well-defined target and a multi-platform strategy. Although, interestingly, most of the buzz generated in successful interactive campaigns was first started in traditional media.
The most exciting thing that has happened to me?
I was awarded a medal (for my brilliant Twitter question) that was worn by Isaiah Mustafa —the man your man could smell like—from the W+K group. Swoon. A least it’s not too geeky.
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