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SXSW '14: Lessons, Observations, Free Hugs and Hashtags

SXSW '14: Lessons, Observations, Free Hugs and Hashtags

Last week I made it out to Austin, TX for the ever-so-popular South by Southwest (SXSW) conference. Big tech companies such as Yahoo!, Spotify, Samsung, Pandora and Vevo filled the streets and various venues throughout downtown Austin. If you’re not familiar with the setup of SXSW, there are three main parts of the show: technology, film and music. While I did not make it to the technology portion of the festival, I did encounter a huge tech presence, saw some impressive guerilla marketing/PR campaigns and learned a few lessons along the way.


Social is EVERYWHERE. Almost every single event had a specified hashtag to use for posting pictures on Instagram, contests via Twitter to receive gifts, engaging on Facebook for access to parties, etc. There was no way to be at SXSW without being connected socially.

Networking is the biggest way to survive. Money spent on badges and wristbands for speaking engagements, shows, film debuts or parties did not mean access was granted. I had more success meeting people on the streets of Austin than paying $600 for long lines and no fun. The best part is that some of these connections will last a lifetime. Everyone comes from all walks of life and with social media a connection can instantly be made and never forgotten.

People will ALWAYS believe the hype. I’m sure most of you heard the news about Tyler, The Creator causing a riot during SXSW 2014. The reason? He simply told the crowd to push and so, the crowd pushed. Tyler was arrested but innocent concert goers were injured just because they listened to a hype man. Society tends to listen to the popular, whether good or bad.


free hugs!


#houseofvans #livingoffthewall

#alexandani #shutterqube #sxsw




Best Marketing/PR Campaigns:

Phone died during SXSW? Samsung saved the day. By simply tweeting your location and using #poweron or #samsungsolve hashtags, a Samsung street team member would meet you with a new battery and take your old one. No more searching for a power outlet! Samsung also had numerous kiosks set up in venues to do this as well.

Similarly, Vevo installed charging stations throughout the city of Austin. A smart and practical decision but not nearly as cool as Samsung literally finding you to swap out your dead battery.

While I attended the show for fun, I learned so much along the way that can be applied in both my personal and professional life. Now, who wants to go next year?

— Sara Preto

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