Mar 11, 2013

SXSW Interactive: What’s Catching My Eye

sx big fishThis is an unusual year at SXSW Interactive, because as of this writing, there’s no big break out story, company, app or trend – at least that I can detect – and I’m hearing the same thing from the journalists and fellow bloggers I’ve been talking to up in the Samsung Blogger Lounge.   That said, a few things have landed on my radar screen over the last few days, including:

Big data about influence + smart filters * knowledge graph = HeyBigFish

From the folks behind Little Bird comes a great new way to look at real-time and influential conversations swirling around an event.  HeyBigFish lets you dive in to the digital discussions around specific topics at an event like SXSW.   You can find out in an instant what emerging conversations are about  and who’s shaping the discussion.

Note to brands: Need=Opportunity

Click the icon to get the beta version of the Ion app.

Click the icon to get the beta version of the Ion app.

The app I’m really digging:  From the folks at Otterbox – makers of cases for all manner of mobile devices – comes a neat new app that tells you exactly when your device is going to run out of power, based on your usage.  It’s actually very handy at an event like SXSW when you really do want to conserve and manage your power, because the days are long and you just don’t know when you’ll be able to recharge.  Called Otterbox Ion, it’s out in beta for you to try.

Along the same need=opportunity line of thinking is this simple but clever sx t chargepromotion from AT&T.  They have created secure charging stations, and have placed them all over South By.  You can put your phone in a little locker to recharge while you run to the washroom or grab a cup of coffee.  It’s smart and relevant branding.

The pervasiveness of cats.    

So we’ve been talking (and joking about) the prevalence of cats on the internet for years now.   But cats are a hot topic at SXSW this year.  Lines to see Grumpy Cat at the Mashable House stretched for blocks.  And a session on the Walker Art Center’s Internet Cat Video Fest (@catvidfest) was packed.  Even among the digerati here in Austin this week, cats are cool.

SXSWi attendees waiting in the rain to meet Grumpy Cat in person at Mashable House.

But really, the take-away here for marketers isn’t to stick cats into all your messaging.  However, it is worthwhile to spend some time reflecting on what is about cats that makes them so attractive to digital audiences – which is ultimately the ability for people to relate to them – and to assign conversations, feelings and emotions to them.

Real social relationships:

It’s interesting watching the juxtaposition between people who dive 100% into the whole SXSW experience, and those who don’t – and the difference between the two is (at least as I’ve observed it) is emphasis on real-life versus digital experiences.  It’s important to remember (and invest in) the real relationships and experiences that social media fosters.  Without interactions IRL, you miss a lot of value.

Watch this space for more from SXSW over the next few days.  And if you’re in Austin this week, tell me, what’s catching your eye?

sarah avatarAuthor Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of social media, and is the author of the e-book “Unlocking Social Media for PR.”  Follow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.

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