Co-written by Andrea Dunbeck and Justin Hastings
What a week! Now that the panels, discussions, presentations, chats, serendipitous introductions and nightly events have concluded, we attempt to wrap our week in Austin into four central themes that we brought back for HB to make our work (and our clients’ work) more successful.
As a reminder, you can relive all of the action here.
Andrea spoke about this a few days ago. Throughout our time in Austin, we heard discussions surrounding the idea of audience trust and authenticity. Only when content speaks directly and honestly to the audience will a brand perform well – and this happens over a long, incremental period of time, not in short, sporadic bursts. With the right campaign, trust can be measured through speed and reach – audiences will make quicker decisions through a trustworthy relationship.
“Trust can be measured in speed and reach. Vendors can make things easier in order to solve a problem – therefore, you can work more efficiently and make more money. Reach comes from sharing stories with your friends.” – Liz Strauss, founder of SOBcon and Inside-Out Thinking, from What’s So [Bleeping] Hard About Social ROI?
In fact, multiple presenters talked about getting out of the user’s way, allowing for individual brand experience and exploration. Technology should be calm and unobtrusive, using clean, simple design and user experiences to communicate messages.
“Calm technology is in the background and relaxed. Actions become buttons or are triggered through invisible interfaces.” Amber Case, Co-founder, Geoloqi , from Ambient Location and the Future of the Interface.
Be Bold, Smart and Nimble
Panelists and speakers throughout all our sessions challenged attendees to break traditions, defy standards, go rogue and show change. Shifts in offerings and marketing strategies must become part of an agency’s (or brand’s) DNA, allowing them to act like startups to adapt to constantly evolving industries, media channels and technology.
“There needs to be resistance to hierarchy. Smaller, nimbler teams innovate faster.” – Rei Inamoto, Chief Creative Officer, AKQA, from Why Ad Agencies Should Act More Like Tech Startups
We often heard the recommendation to “fail fast” – testing new ideas, strategies or projects through user research and experimentation.
“Fail quickly. You learn more from what doesn’t work then you do from what does.” – Lance Weiler, Story Architect/Experience Designer, RebootStories.com, from Multiplatform Storytelling: Frontline War Stories.
Give the People What They Want
It all boils down to this. Content strategy, development, distribution and marketing – it’s about getting your audience members what they want, when they want it and how they want it.
Brands are no longer just product and service companies – they are publishers who must provide meaningful, entertaining content to their users (even if the content does not directly tie to the product or service). These same brands must inspire their audiences through unique storytelling – gone are the days when copy, on its own, can create the same experience as a story involving visuals, videos, photography, and media from other platforms.
“What would our audience love to see? Don’t even think about the brand.” – Anthony Batt, President, Katalyst, from Entertain or Fail: Brands as the New Publishers.
The role of the content strategist thus continues to grow across brands and agencies that develop large amounts of content. Increasingly, people in this position will take the lead on new projects. A successful content strategy combines thoughtful workflow and governance (people) with substance and structure (engaging content).
“Nontraditional storytelling through visuals and interactive is becoming what readers want.” – Jill Abramson, Executive Editor, The New York Times, from The Future of The New York Times.
We all think Social is so special. Stop it – it’s not. Social is simply another marketing tactic like advertising or direct mail. So why expect special ROI measurements from social marketing? For many other marketing tools we simply ask, “are profits increasing?” We need not treat Social as an alien, but rather just as another strategy in your marketing toolbox.
“Aren’t we overcomplicating this? What’s the ROI of taking a guy to the golf course or out to dinner?” – Matt Ridings, Co-founder & CEO, SideraWorks, from What’s So [Bleeping] Hard About Social ROI?
The only real difference is that social media allows you to listen to your audience, rather than broadcast to them. So do it – leverage the opportunity to get to know your prospects and customers so all of your communication is spot-on for their needs and interests.
Oh, and “viral” is overrated.
Phew! The week in Austin surely filled our brains with plenty to digest, review and implement in the coming weeks and months. We look forward to SXSW 2013!
Read about the rest of our trip to SXSW trip at The HB Blog.