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SxSW – Day 1: It’s the Human Network


It’s a good thing I am a morning person and registered early, as this line demonstrates. Many of the folks in the line missed the first sessions. (This is the line to get into the exhibit hall to register)



The first session at SxSW dealt with social media marketing, and while it covered many thing I already knew, there were a number of interesting insights to take from it. One of the points the speakers (Chris Winfield and Tony Adam) made is one I have been making for years – Web 1.0 (forums) still matter. The power of niche social media sites and networks can trump the power of Digg, Facebook and others. You eliminate much of the chaff and keep just the wheat.

Two key things I was reminded of in the session that I thought might be of interest to technology public relations pros:

  1. When trying to find the most popular niche boards, is a good place to start.
  2. Being engaged (without spamming) on Yahoo! Answers can also advance thought leadership campaigns.

The second session, with Brian Solis talking about the themes in his new book, Engage, was a great session packed with good advice. A lot of it was a positive reaffirmation of what many companies engaging in social media are already doing, but there were some new ways of thinking about things that he drove home. He seems to have taken the Tipping Point categories and expanded on them to identify the types of people that you tend to interact with on social networks, and how you can impact their hearts and minds. This has some intriguing implications and is with thinking about much more than most people do.

He also reinforced a point from the first session. The networks don’t matter, the channels will change, it’s the human network that we are all a part of that is truly driving and advancing the social media change and the impact it is having on business. Companies that enter the network in the right way can have a significant impact. Those that do not, may do OK, but will never excel.

He also drove home a point Schwartz’s president, Bryan Scanlon, has been making quite a bit recently  – listening and talking aren’t enough. You need content to drive the discussion. Every company is now its own CNN, and they need to promote what they do, listen, and interact. They can’t rely on the media to give them pre-made programs (articles) anymore. There is much more to the channel than their ever was and technology, consumer, green, and healthcare PR pros need to pay attention.

Some other elements on which I will expound in more detail in later posts include:

  1. Most social networks are matriarchies
  2. The social compass is a good guide to developing a coherent and effective social media strategy
  3. Social media engagement fails if there is not a human in some way associated with the brand
  4. B2B Tech companies were the first to adopt social media with developer forums. There are benefits many B2B tech companies are overlooking.
  5. Banks and other location based venues should look at foursquare. Now 1500 venues are giving rewards to their mayors and driving traffic and deeper relationships.

Check back tomorrow for more highlights from SxSW.

If you are reading this and at the conference, what were some of the best lessons you learned today?

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Mark McClennan

Mark McClennan

Senior Vice President at MSLGROUP

For the past 19 years, Mark has led teams working with innovative technology and healthcare clients for MSLGROUP. He is also the national treasurer for PRSA.

Mark McClennan

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