Monday, March 19, 2012
Somehow this session was only an hour, but it's going to take me days to recap it. Up today: marketing to your sense of hearing.
Spectra: language translation tool
Spectra is an app that allows you translate written or typed passages into a number of other languages. As of now I could only find it in the iTunes store. No android version just yet.
The session was moving pretty quickly, so I honestly don't remember and didn't note the marketing value of a handheld translator, but you have to admit, it's pretty cool.
Responsive Digital Signage
If you've left the house in the last year, you probably come across some version of digital signage. I've seen them in malls, convention centers, doctors' offices, restaurants and even our very own OSU Student Union. Companies are now working to make the signs interactive. You can ask the interactive digital signs questions and they'll answer you.
It gets even cooler than that. In development they found the signs "got confused" about who was talking to it and when someone was still listening. So developers added a face recognition component. The digital sign scans for faces looking at it, only listens to questions from the person addressing it, and only answers if that person continues to look at it.
We totally need this for our new audio visual displays going in at the library. In fact, libraries and museums were the example the presenter mentioned as ideal locations. This gadget works just like it sounds it might. Imagine a spotlight, one discrete target of light. But instead of being bathed in light, it's sound. When you are in the audio spotlight, it sounds like standing in front of a normal speaker. But two feet away, those not standing in the spotlight can't hear a thing.
Here's the audio spotlight marketing at work:
Turn Any Flat Surface into a Speaker
Huh? I'm not even sure where to start with this one. Our presenter had a tiny sticky pad, when he placed it on a large foam core poster, the poster became a speaker. The tiny stick-able speaker uses the flat surface to amplify the sound vibrations. Um, yeah. You kind of had to be there.
Friday, March 16, 2012
This was an awesome SxSW session where our presenters demoed products that targeted each of the five senses. In marketing we tend to focus on sight and hearing, but our presenters managed to find a few new way to appeal to these senses.
Sight:1 Tweet=1 Gumball
They put this device under sight, but it definitely had a sound component to it as well. At the front of the room was a gumball machine. Every time someone tweeted the session hashtag, a gumball dispensed. It was instant feedback for the presenters. Any time they brought out something really cool, the gumball machine went crazy.
One presenter said he had one at home. When he's away on business, he tweets candy to his daughter, so she knows dad is thinking about her. Awww, so sweet.
Color Change Straw
Color change anything for that matter. Why contain yourself to static images when you can incorporate items that change visually when your audience interacts with them. And, we can't forget, everyone loves fun straws.
Makerbot: 3D Printing
3D Printing, you ask, how could it be? It is, and it's being used for everything from children's make-your-own-jewelery parties to snap-together housing. The presenters proposed letting your audience upload plans for their own personally give-away trinket and printing them out for trade shows or events.
This funky-looking little handheld camera takes pictures that allow you to change the focus after the fact. Who's that blurry guy 10 feet behind the person you meant to photo? Just refocus the picture and you can see. Unlike a conventional camera that captures a single plane of light, the Lytro camera captures the entire light field, which is all the light traveling in every direction in every point in space. Don't ask me any more than that. As far as I'm concerned it's magic.
Tomorrow, I tell you about the sound toys, until then if you could have one of these gadgets for yourself which one would be?
Thursday, March 15, 2012
SxSW has several styles of presentations. This session was the first "Core Conversation" I attended. A core conversation is just what it sounds like. The moderators pick a topic, give some set up and lead a discussion with whomever shows up.
This session was a little short on set up and the questions were a bit basic for a really exciting discussion. The one question I thought had real potential, no one tackled. I was really cool to get in the same room with so many higher ed folks, though. I actually sat down and had some great talks with several of them afterward.
- What are the unique challenges of creating an integrated social media presence in a higher education institution?
The biggest challenge (in my opinion) for OSU seemed echoed by others there. Higher Ed is set up to work in silos. It's very departmentalized and it's easy to get tunnel vision.
- How do you get senior leadership as well as members of your department on board?
I've had no problem getting my leadership on board. Maybe I'm lucky in that way. I think it helps that OSU puts such a focus on creativity and innovation. If I want to try a new way of doing things, it's pretty easy to get approval as long as I can justify why I want to try it. Being at a university, "It's an experiment and I want to learn X..." is often a valid justification.
- How do you get colleges and divisions and departments working together?
It's funny, but those who answered this question (and it's true for OSU, too) said the best SM collaboration happens off line. Getting people in a room and talking out strategy, tactics and timelines is the best way to get it together.
- What are the best social media tactics to reach prospective students?
No one touched this, and I think it is unanswerable on the scale we were discussing. I think the answer is, "It depends." It depends on who your prospective students are, where they are, how old they are (are they prospective at age 10? 15? 17?), and when it is (next year's answer will be different than last year's answer. It's a moving target.)
- What are the innovative things universities are doing with social media?
This is where things could have gotten really interesting, but no one touched this question. In a way I feel like I'm too close to the issue to answer it. What I'm doing myself never seems all that innovative until someone points out I'm doing something no one else is doing yet. What do you think? What have you seen that innovative in higher ed social media?
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Part 2: Example
2 pm, Friday, March 09, 2012
The focus of Branding without Bullshit was how to social media proof your brand. How do you maintain your brand reputation and identity when anyone can launch a social media attack on you. Well, sometimes the tables turn and brands fight back using those same social media tools.
When the Alamo Drafthouse kicked out a movie theater texter, the outraged patron called to rip into them. Instead of apologizing or explaining or getting defensive, the Drafthouse took her voicemail rant and turned it into a PSA that runs prior to their screenings. The video went viral and garnered significant traditional media attention, as well.
This video is uncensored and NSFW. You've been warned.
What do you think of this move? Brave? Stupid? Awesome? All of the above?
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Part 1: Take Aways
SxSW: 2 pm, Friday, March 9, 2012
From the start I was skeptical. The moderator opened by claiming “Austin is the home of authentic.” I actually laughed out loud. Austin is certainly the home of bullshit, but it is without a doubt the most un-authentic place I’ve ever visited.
Then she proceeded to open the panel with the question: how do you define authentic? Not surprisingly the answers were pretty straightforward. I have a dictionary thanks.
Moderator aside, the session was actually really great. We heard from four panelists who represented Yeti Coolers, the Alamo Drafthouse, Shiner and more. The panelists discussed the brands they represented and how they work to both listen and respond to social feedback while remaining true to their brands and the brands’ stories.
Panelist Bobby Johns, made the excellent point: “Don’t talk about how cool you are. Just be cool. Once you talk about it, you’re not cool anymore.” (Take note, Austin.) That’s not to say of course, that you don’t want other people talking about how cool you are. That’s awesome, but leave that work to your fans.
But what about when they aren’t fans? Johns also advised, “Weed out the bullshit that comes at you through social media. Don’t pander to the customer if it is not true to your brand.” The group talked about acknowledging negative comments and off-brand suggestions, but knowing your brand and resisting a public push to be something you’re not. That’s one way brands lose their authenticity.
The session focused on maintaining your authenticity. It can be easy to lose it, especially in today’s social media world. The panel ended on this question: “Can you bring it back once a brand has lost authenticity?” What brands do you think are “unauthentic” and have you ever seen a brand come back from it?
Monday, March 12, 2012
My first South by Southwest Interactive conference is quickly coming to a close. Right now, you’re probably really jealous or you’re scratching your head asking, “What’s South by Southwest.”
I easily have a month’s worth of blog posts on all the awesome sessions I’ve attended, but I thought I kick off the SxSW content with my reflections as a SxSW newbie.
- The sessions I thought would be most relevant to work often weren’t. The sessions I thought would just be fun almost all turned out to be incredibly relevant to work. The sessions I thought would be both were. Fun learning is the best learning, and I got lots of it here.
- I expected SxSW to be full of pompous self-promoting posers selling their G+ (social media gadgety that no one cares about). Maybe it was the sessions I picked, but jerky jerks were few and far between. I almost exclusively met really awesome, genuine, friendly people who were just as excited to be here to learn as I was.
- Launches are awesome, and I feel so lucky to have stumbled into one. More on that later.
- SxSW is like a mini nation that takes over downtown Austin. I feel like I should have brought my passport. I expected a bit of local resentment, but Austin seems happy and welcoming. As it should be, SxSW pours $6M+ into the Austin economy.
- Evidently, we call it “South By.” Once here, you are officially too cool to finish the names of things.
- Don’t bother chasing the free food and drinks; it’s not worth it. When it happens, it’s a nice surprise. Maybe the seasoned participants are better at working this into the schedule than I was, but I just wanted to take it all in, not wait in a two-block line for a taco.
- Everything you know about other conferences goes double: plan, but go with flow; take time to meet people; and wear comfy shoes. Who are these crazies in stilettos? They are more woman than me evidently, and being Austin, they probably weren’t all women.
So which category did you fall into, jealous or “South by wha…?”