Highlights of SxSWi: Susan Bratton (part 4) Gadgets, Location, Conversation

Mar 24th, 2009 | By | Category: Audio Podcasting, Podcasting, Podcasting Events, The New Media Update

We have asked some of our friends and colleagues who attended technology and new media conference South By Southwest Interactive (SxSWi) to share their highlights and takeaways from the conference, which wrapped up last week.

Today we share the fourth installment by guest correspondent Susan Bratton:

I came away from these interviews with an appreciation for the long list of brands who are “doing it right” in the social space. I asked all 14 of my interview subjects this question:

“When you think of brands/companies who have a well-executed social media strategy, who comes to mind — and why?”

Guy [Kawasaki] liked Tony Hseih’s work on Twitter for Zappos. Angela [Benton] gave kudos to H&R Block on Twitter, to Kodak’s blogger and influencer outreach, and marveled at the high-speed scale IamDiddy (Sean Combs) is seeing on Twitter [over 200,000 followers and counting].

Aaron Strout of Powered has amassed an impressive collection of brands to which he gives high marks, which you may want to check out for yourself:
·         Beinggirl/Procter & Gamble
·         Nike+
·         HP
·         Sears SK-You
·         Atkins
·         Dell’s Ideastorm
·         Intuit
·         Edmunds
·         Sony Backstage 101
·         Microsoft Windows

The Advance Guard, C.C. Chapman’s organization, has created a free white paper (downloadable eBook), “About Face,” on Facebook’s new Fan Pages, now just called “Pages.” It is a must read for every podcaster – every entrepreneur – who wants to grow his or her audience. This eBook is chock full of examples of how brands are connecting with fans and the opportunities to do so via Facebook.


Because it is a huge draw for people on the leading edge of new technology, South by Southwest interactive is a great venue for getting an advance peek at all the shiny gadgets and upcoming applications, long before they make it into the mainstream marketplace.

C.C. Chapman, co-founder of The Advance Guard got a super cool device called the Poken, on the show exhibit floor. He was wearing it during our interview. (Note: I’m jealous and covet one.) The Poken (pictured, right) is a little USB drive in the shape of a Manga-type character that has RF [radio frequency], which allows you to ethereally trade your social media contact information with anyone else sporting a Poken.

You match the Pokens’ “hands” together and they exchange contact info for you. No messing up the silhouette of your derriere with a wad of business cards in your back pocket. Later, you import the data and Poken automatically “[be]friends” your new contacts on social networking sites. I love my Cardscan scanner, but Poken makes collecting contact information at shows fun, immediate and easy. Sign me up!

Location + Conversation

Let’s take RF and mobile applications further…

The intersection of GPS and socnets has Chris Brogan, President of New Marketing Labs, lit up. He calls it “the secret of the annotated world.” Now we can [share updates on] Twitter in real time, and apps like BrightKite will show our location. The next level of this merging of location+ conversation will allow us to annotate or leave comments, anywhere we go, for others to read.

Another [excellent] application would be one that sends out placed-based, threaded conversations.

Here’s a rich excerpt from my interview with Chris:

“So, we could be at the South By Southwest conference and looking for the party that doesn’t have the line 700 people long. And I could push a button and say, “I am here.” I’d give you my GPS coordinates and send you a picture and type, “No lines here. Come and visit.” Within 20 minutes we’d have margaritas!

“The extension of that could be that you and I are standing next to a statue in the middle of the square, and it’s some guy on a horse like every other of these statues. Who is it and what do we know about them?  What if, when you turn on your phone, you could see who else left a note there, or that someone’s left us a URL?  So we can now go to a website and read more about the person on the statue.”

In another twist on creating and measuring the value of “being in the conversation,” Lee Odden, CEO, Top Rank, has an emphasis on real-time data. He is closely watching for examples of the integration of web analytics with social media analytics.

He believes the impact that social media has on site traffic will soon be monitored through some kind of tool that mashes up Buzz Logic, Collective Intellect, Radiant Six or such, married with web analytics like Google Analytics, Web Trends or similar. Lee says, “Twitter’s bringing us kicking and screaming into the real-time analytics world, right?”

Perhaps kicking and screaming, perhaps gleefully skipping, hand-in-hand we go into this new era of connected, trackable mobility. Take my hand and let’s go.

Parting Thoughts: Facilitating & Integrating Conversations

Attending my second SXSW conference was a breakthrough for me professionally. Last year, I was new to the SXSW scene and just building my social reputation in that crowd.

This year, what a change (!) – I couldn’t keep up with the number of people who were sending messages about connecting! I found it really helpful to “broadcast” my location through Twitter, inviting friends nearby to come find me. It worked pretty well… But now I know I need BrightKite, Foursquare or any of the burgeoning companies in the “API-sphere.”

Oh, and one Poken too, please.

The number one reason most people attend this event is to see in person – love the phrase “meat space” — those with whom they have an online relationship. The panels are tertiary to the hallway networking and the parties. The idea exchange, and the ability to connect with others who will retweet your work or comment on your posts is paramount here.

Become the facilitator, if not the integrator, of conversations. Talk with other experts, and then promote those conversations and podcasts, instead of trying to make yourself the focal point of discussion.

By being the catalyst, you raise the reputation for yourself (your brand) and put yourself squarely in the thick of the brand/community discussion.

Guest correspondent Susan Bratton is the CEO of the Personal Life Media network. I know her through the time I spent on the board of the Association for Downloadable Media (ADM), where Susan is Vice-President of the organization. She was also instrumental in setting internet advertising standards in helping create the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB).

Susan’s interviews will also be blogged by Aaron Strout, CMO of Powered here.

Photo: Social Networks by 10ch

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

No Responses to “Highlights of SxSWi: Susan Bratton (part 4) Gadgets, Location, Conversation”

  1. Vengalis says:

    The Poken look very interesting – but only for kids.

    It would be cool to have this reduced down to a subtle but clearly identifiable ring you could wear on your right hand – so it would wirelessly exchange data with anybody you shake hands with!

  2. Aaron Strout says:

    Susan – WOW, what a treasure trove of tips and tricks/resources you’ve put together in this post (and I’m not just saying that because you referenced my list of 10). That was one of the amazing experiences from our #CommunityPowered podcasts last week at SXSW was we were lucky to get the benefit of learning from so many big brains.

    Aaron | @aaronstrout

  3. Vengalis says:

    Great stuff.

    I liked the Poken thing too, but it seems more like a toy. Why not adapt this concept for the iPhone. I could see enabling a “share references” app when you go to a event and having phones automatically gather info for the people you talk to.

Leave a Reply