My observations so far…

Well, SXSWi is shaping up to be exactly what I expected.  I’ve hit four sessions so far, but will only give myself credit for attending 3, as I was buzzed in one and walked out early in another.  Technically, I’m sitting in my fifth: Seth Priebatsch’s simulcast keynote on gaming, which I wasn’t even planning on attending.  Mainly because it’s being featured in approximately 47 conference rooms (or so…I’m not good at math) throughout the city, so I figure someone else can pay attention.  All I’m getting is that the guy appears (hopefully just a simulcast/monitor problem?) to be wearing an orange polo shirt, geisha make-up and an orange headband and talking about bad teeth and Princeton.

Anyway, I have to say, outside of a great session on content strategy last night, I have yet to see anything groundbreaking.  And in that session, both the panelists and audience were at best tipsy, at worst, drunk.  (Don’t ask.)  So perhaps Fireman’s Four was the fuel for my admiration.The Marketing Budgets Have Gone Social – Is It Working? panel should have been amazing.   Over 1,000 people had signed up for it, and it was standing/sitting room only.  But all I got out of it was that true metrics (i.e., attached to sales and not just mere correlations) do not yet exist for social media.  (No shit.)  SM budgets are merely a piece of the pie and not incremental.  (Uh-huh.)  And we should all be more collaborative to make sure we’re creating cohesive messages across paid, earned and evolved media.  (Right.  Collaboration.)

I won’t mess with a recap of the Thin Is In presentation because Liz Perez already did a bang-up job.  And again, no new news there, though I will admit to having a bad case of presentation envy as the simplicity and graphics of her presentation were superb.

Now for the Not My Job: The Ultimate Content Strategy Smackdown session.  Content strategy is very much outside my day-to-day job responsibilities, even though traditional marketing strategy is makes up the majority of what I do.  So it was incredibly interesting to me to hear how little content strategy is actually used.  Companies have projects and initiatives, but very few actually have someone thinking through how they all work together and answer to a larger goal.  And as one of the panelists explained, smaller companies can probably get away with doing project-based content, but larger companies simply can’t.  And, p.s., Facebook shouldn’t be your content strategy.   You need to actually think through how you’re going to approach the digital/social/mobile landscape holistically and make sure that approach answers to your overall company obs & strats.  Otherwise, you’ll have a digital clusterf*ck on your hands.  Though as Lisa Welchman observed, most of the time, “If [companies are] messed-up online, they’re messed-up period.”  Hmmmm…

Finally, I’ve come to Social Shopping: The Future of Selling Stuff Online.  Not much to mention here, beyond the fact it started 15 minutes late, and the last 30 minutes were dedicated to watching Willo O’Brien surf the web and visit sites such as:

Etsy (so five years ago)
Shwowp (her friend’s site)
Trunk Club
Alloy (seriously?)
The Fancy
Willotoons (her site)

If you’ve never heard of some of those, welcome to the internet.  If you’re interested in learning more about Social Shopping, just Google it.

As for Seth Priebatsch, if you missed his keynote, check these two videos out and you should be covered of on most of what you’ll need to know about his speech:

Seth Priebatsch: The Game Layer On Top Of The World

Jane McGonigal: Gaming Can Make a Better World


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