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SXSW wrap up

Telstra News

Posted on March 17, 2011

4 min read

My time here in Austin is nearly over and my brain is about full.

So the wrap up?

Well I thought I would try and summarise some of the key themes and topics for your reading pleasure.


game-controller-blog-contentThis has been the key buzz word and essentially what the industry is grappling with is this: if you add a gaming element to all your digital campaigns will your customers only act because they expect a badge, button or prize? Will gamification mean we educate and encourage people to stop contributing or engaging just for the sake of it, or stop making online art, beauty or silliness.

Personally I think people are too smart and too niche-enabled for that. Sure there will be some consumers who only act when they can win or shop only when there is a sale. But I believe there is a healthy percentage of online users who will engage because they want to meet people like them, contribute to the greater good, express themselves or simply have fun. I hope I’m right.


Many of the sessions I went to talked about influence and in nearly 100% of cases a picture of Charlie Sheen was projected on the screen. The point is that Mr Sheen (the actor not the cleaner) has voice, not influence.

It seems as though the new definition of influence is anyone who cares about your product. This means interactive media marketing people are going to have to be really good at segmentation and be really good at satisfying their niche.

This is definitely THE area to watch. At the moment, the only people having a stab at influence metrics are Klout. The problem is that someone with a perfect Klout score of 100 (step forward Mr Beiber) may not be influential in your sphere.

I’m thinking some bright thing will come up with a metric soon that measures influence by industry, passion points and causes. If they do, they should prepare for the stampede of interactive marketers accessing that product.

Social change

A huge component of the program here is designed to help not for profits and corporations work out how to use interactive media for social change. It’s not just about increasing donations or changing perception about a brand, its about mobilizing people to speak out and change the world – or at least their part of it. Photographers, gamers, writers, poets, designers and passionate others are meeting up here for the first time in person. Yet in many cases they have collaborated online for years, bonded by a common interest.

I got to hear from a personal hero, Christopher Poole founder of 4chan. Yes, this guy is behind many of the online memes that we all know and love. His unapologetic, maverick approach to communication has upset major corporations and traditional print media in the past.

His flavour of social change isn’t for everyone and nor should it be. I’m not an advocate of rebellion for the heck of it, but Poole holds a mirror up to established conventions and illuminates where our weaknesses and vulnerabilies lie and I think there is value in that.


Another much-mentioned word. It seems online communicators are looking for front end and back end solutions that allow flexibility. Every organisation I’ve spoken to has this issue. Their concern is that embarking on any new program requires more people, time and dollars as more customers discover and engage with your program – and, conversely, less when they lose interest or move to other things.

I’m attending a session this afternoon on back end scalability solutions so ill let you know if I find the magic bullet!

Overall this has been an incredible experience and one I would recommend to anyone who is passionate about interactive media.