We’ve just wrapped another educating, exhilarating, and exhausting South by Southwest Interactive. Those who were unable to attend are probably ready to see fewer FOMO-inducing tweets in their twitter streams and those of us who actually live, work, and play in Austin full-time are saying, “thanks for coming, see you next year!” But the beautiful thing about conferences like SXSW is that those who attend return home with fresh perspective and insights to share with their teams.
To do our part, I want to share five standout examples of WOMM-inducing tactics that helped brands rise above the din of the more than 30,000 attendees and everything else taking place in Austin last week.
1. Make Something Old New Again
Do me a favor and search #taskrabbit on Instagram. Here wait, I’ll do it for you. Look familiar?
The Task Rabbit Team hit the streets in a fur-clad van. I bet if I yelled at them to pull over they would have politely informed me that, no, it’s a cardigan (but thanks for noticing). The only thing Dumb and Dumber about this move was the van’s similarity to the Mutt Cutts van in the classic Jim Carrey comedy. It was Instagram bait and had everyone laughing, talking, and sharing with their friends.
2. Don’t Put Baby in A Corner. Take Her Where She Needs To Go
Mobility was a huge theme at SXSW this year. As we continue to strive for mobile optimized experiences that provide consumers with cross-platform consistency whenever and wherever they need us, many brands made a lasting impression by actually helping busy festivalgoers get around Austin. Both Oreo and HBO’s Game of Thrones sponsored free pedicabs (bonus: The GOT pedicabs were decked out to resemble the coveted Iron Throne). Another brand, Deep Eddy Vodka, had their own RV decked out with a designated driver and custom beverages to get walking-weary festival goers from Panel A to Party B. By creating value in real time, these brands scored big with gratitude-laden WOMM.
3. Make it Free and Make it Awesome
Big events like SXSW are swag central. The best swag, the stuff that people want to tell their friends about, is useful, valuable, or both. When last year’s SXSW got a little soggy, we rush ordered ponchos to help keep visitors dry (and swore to them “it really never rains here!”). Just in case, we made sure we were ready this year. When the rain decided to make a second surprise appearance, we were prepared and the people we poncho’d were grateful. That’s useful.
What’s valuable? How about a brand new digital camera to capture a rising star’s performance at SXSW? Nikon and Warner teamed up to host a performance by rapper Macklemore. Attendees who registered an RFID band that published activity to their Facebook timeline were able to “swipe to win” prizes from free drinks to VIP status to new Nikon cameras, charged up and ready to capture the event (and share it all later). That’s (in)valuable.
4. Leverage Your Brand Advocates
One of the very first panels I caught at SXSW was on the power of social advocacy at the Media Post OMMA Social event. My coworker Jordan Slabaugh joined panelists varying from a kid-centric commerce subscription service to a nonprofit organization for the 50+ set to discuss the importance of cultivating relationships with brand advocates and allowing them to do the talking for you. This word of mouth engine works both online, as when you see peer-to-peer community engagement, and in real life, as when SXSW attendees gush to their friends over the coolest venues, parties, and swag.
5. Don’t Over-manage the Message
SXSW is full of serendipity. Sometimes things you think will be a hit end up fizzling and something unexpected will take off like wildfire. When we hosted a small media roundtable before a networking event to connect our customers with one another, we hadn’t anticipated an audience. But when eager early arrivals asked to sit in, we let them. Midway through the discussion with social powerhouses from brands like AT&T, Whole Foods, and REI, attendees actually started a new hashtag on the scene: #spredfastsecretpanel. These unplanned viewers were sharing the insights and takeaways and getting others engaged in an excellent conversation. Who were we to stop them?
If you were at SXSW, what other experiences did you find talkable? If you were tuning in from home, which brands caught your eye?