The land of digital: just when you think you’ve mastered one thing, it’s on to the next. Where better to learn about the latest trends and gather inspiration than at South by Southwest: the convergence ground for new ideas and technology. To make sure our team and clients are at the forefront of digital marketing, our social and digital team made the trek to Austin, Texas to hear from experts from Facebook, The New York Times, Snapchat and more.
So, what’s happening in digital? After 72 hours, 28 speakers, 16 sessions, 10 laps around the exhibit hall, 4 delicious southern-style tacos and 1 incredible trip, here are the highlights:
- Video: It’s here, it’s happening and everyone needs to be on board. In fact, by 2021, 78% of all mobile data will be video. FYI: not all seconds are created equal. Find your hook shot early – 47% of campaign value is driven in the first three seconds. And remember, gone are the days of TV standards – vertical is the new horizontal, 10 seconds is the new 30 seconds and subtitles are key in the mobile era of “sound off.”
- Live video is also a reality across multiple platforms. Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram all allow for live, transparent experiences from brands and publishers. Going live allows for brands to interact directly with audiences via comments and responses – allowing for more genuine, two-way conversations. This new format also means rethinking the way we define quality (i.e., don’t worry so much about getting it perfect or hiring a production crew, instead deliver it quickly and frequently).
- Mobile is the reality of our culture: people are on their phones and we need to be talking to them like they are on their phones. With that said, build for mobile first – not from existing assets. Consumption behavior of mobile users is frequent (nearly half of adults say they check their phone more than 30x/day), fast (users process content in 1.7 seconds vs. 2.5 seconds on desktop) and many times silent (sound off). The best way to stand out as a brand is to fit in to the culture of the platform or device.
- Coming in hot: virtual/augmented reality. VR/AR gives marketers a new, immersive storytelling (story participating) opportunity to connect people and experiences (think beyond roller coasters: VR allows people to see into others’ lives – helping to create empathy and genuine understanding).
- Social media used to be a key driver of traffic, but that’s changing. Audiences are staying on social platforms, which means brands need to rethink content and build an engaged audience with two-way conversations and interactions. More importantly, a promotional (paid) strategy is a must. Having the best content in the world doesn’t matter if no one knows it’s out there.
In the end, it’s all about testing, refining, learning and moving on – agility is key in digital.
While we did learn a lot, we were also able to explore and have a little fun too! A few of the “fun” highlights:
The future is NOW. Full body VR suits, responsive robots and cooperative VR games were just a slice of the new and weird at SXSW.
Exhibit hall highlights included an indoor terra farm (the future of farming in cities?), a home-brewing pod (“beer Keurig”) and chewable coffee (need these in our office STAT!).
We couldn’t go all the way to SXSW without getting a little star struck! Author Cheryl Strayed, Olympian Kerri Walsh Jennings and the Game of Thrones show writers (plus Arya and Sansa!) were major highlights.