Currently Viewing Posts Tagged SXSW

SXSW Sessions: The UX of Realtime Site Personalization

The static website is dying. We are at an age where having a website just isn’t good enough any more. With our attention spans constantly shortening, and typical web users multitasking, no one wants to dig through content to find what they’re looking for. Your site needs to know your user, and deliver them the content that they need, with as little effort as possible.

Currently the only major player that has come close to mastering their users needs is Google. I type in a search for “brunch”, and I am immediately presented with restaurants in my area, their user ratings, a map of their locations, and sites listing the top 10 best brunch spots in New York City. The utility navigation underneath the search bar, even rearranges itself making “maps” my second option right after search. I didn’t have to tell it I was in New York, or that I would be looking for the best brunch spots. Google simply knew what content I was looking for, and delivered it right to me.Screen Shot 2014-03-18 at 10.12.37 PM

While all companies may not have the engineering geniuses at Google, let alone their budget, there are still accessible technologies available that can make your site more personalized for your individual users. Geolocating, media queries, and cookies are all technologies that we have at our disposal now, but I feel that the simplest method that can be implemented almost immediately is utilizing hard user data. Most sites are built now with some kind of analytics, tracking page views and click throughs of different users on different devices. That information can, and should be utilized in the design of your product.

There are certain assumptions can already be made about mobile, tablet and desktop users, and understanding their different needs and limitations is the first step in creating a more efficient experience for each device. Desktop users are typical stationary, they are in one place, and will be connected to a stronger internet connection, thus have the time to click through more pages, and the signal strenght to load them. A mobile user on the other hand, may not be stationary, or even connected to wifi, so they will not want to explore your site, or have the capacity to load additional pages. If we take that basic information into consideration, it is easier to create an experience catered to their specialized needs.

Hard numbers are also a great way to understand how your user is interacting with your site, and how to cater to them accordingly. For example, if you see your mobile users frequenting the “our location” section of your site, it may be a smart move to have the information at the ready when they visit your mobile homepage, rather than making them look for it. Your desktop user may have the time to sit and click through two pages to find your address, but your mobile user is possibly on the go, and may not be connected to a wi-fi hotspot. Making a change as simple as that gives your users a better experience, without using seemingly advanced technologies.

As long as we can learn from our users, and iterate accordingly, serving up a personalized web experience may be entirely within our reach.

Impressions from attending a SXSW session by Jesse Friedman

The Mainstreaming of “PDA”

Forgive my Huff Po like baiting, but no, not that PDA, the emergence of “Public Display of Analytics” all over the media and business landscape- if you don’t believe me, check out History Channel’s united-stats-of-america where data and insights are dramatically brought to life.

No doubt we have all seen the pervasive rise of data creep in virtually every aspect of our life and business decision making- including creative.  If you buy into the assumption that “numbers speak louder than words” then you’re not alone, but there are also “contrarians at the gate.”  Ad Age covering a panel at Adverting Week Europe heard the unequivocal push back from John Hegarty founder of BBH advertising “You’d expect a creative person to pour slight scorn on data.” He explained, “It’s because I’ve spent my life dealing with people who’ve got all the data in the world and yet they can’t invent anything.” That said, RG/A founder and Chairman Bob Greenberg responded with his own evangelistic zeal “I think creative use of data is also a possibility. Data visualization has created ways in which you can take the data that’s available and tie it into a live event – like when I walk into Nike Town [wearing a Nike + band] and they’ll know who I am and they’ll be able to serve up really relevant content.”

The Ad Age link is really worth clicking not just because Mr. Hegarty wouldn’t have any of it, but because data is clearly here and becoming louder and more pronounced everyday in countless ways. And, as Mr. Greenberg made clear, data is about the end game of customer personalization and engagement. Which is why analytics, especially in reference to “big data” is so compelling.

To bring it back to today, if you haven’t, I urge you to read John Lee’s (head of our SEO/SEM practice) compelling/insightful post How to Rank Better in Google & Bing that he wrote right after attending a SXSW presentation on landscape issues of search effectiveness.   John and I laugh about how we “couldn’t come at it” any more different, but we both agree that the most compelling ideas and themes only matter if they engage a human being in a very human way. Enough said!

How to Rank Better in Google & Bing

flightpath does sxsw - analytics team

I’ve been to presentations in the past featuring Danny Sullivan (Search Engine Land), Matt Cutts (Google) and Duane Forrester (Bing). Collectively, these three will make for an entertaining and informative session, and their open Q&A on How To Rank Better on Google and Bing at SXSW was no exception. Nothing groundbreaking was covered, but still fun and interesting nonetheless, and did include some important reminders.  Continue reading “How to Rank Better in Google & Bing”

Brands Take Over SXSW

flightpath does sxsw - design team

Looking for a place to charge your phone? Thinking about relaxing with a mini massage Wanting a snack, or free stuff? Brands at SXSW have taken over the Austin Convention Center with their different offers to entice the crowds, but which are making the biggest impacts? Flightpath counts down the top 5 engaged brands at SXSW.

Continue reading “Brands Take Over SXSW”

SXSW Session – Connected for Reconstruction

flightpath does sxsw - design team

Major disasters have devastated parts of great cities in recent memory: a massive earthquake in Port au Prince, a tsunami in Northern Japan, and superstore Sandy. In addition to government aid and the help of volunteers, a non-profit organization, Architecture for Humanity, is changing how affected areas are rebuilt – simultaneously. Continue reading “SXSW Session – Connected for Reconstruction”

SXSW 2011: Photo Report – Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of our collection of SXSW photos. (If you missed Part 1, you can find it here.) In this final installment of our Photo Report, you’ll see more people, panels, food and fun stuff. Enjoy!

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Star Wars Uncut was a scene-by-scene recreation of the original Star Wars film made by fans around the world, using everything from animation to live-action to stop-motion. And it’s a great example of crowdsourcing. The first 15 minutes of the movie was played, and it was truly a blast.

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The folks behind Star Wars Uncut, left-to-right: Jamie Wilkinson, Casey Pugh, and Annelise Pruitt.

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At the “Has Facebook Jumped the Shark” panel, everyone pretty much agreed that it hadn’t. More interesting was the debate that emerged on whether or not young people should or should not censor themselves on Facebook.

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At the great “Social Media and Comedy: F**k Yeah!” panel, featuring Marc Maron and Michael Ian Black (far left and far right).

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Marc Maron discussed (in hilarious detail) an infamous tweet he made next to former GOP Chairman Ken Mehlman.

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Marc Maron gets emphatic!
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The view from the trade show floor. Tons of companies, ranging from small to large, all showing off interesting software and gadgetry...

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But this was my favorite thing there.

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My view from the floor of the Google/Bing Q&A. The message, as always, was that content is king.

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Harry Knowles, founder of Ain’t It Cool News and altogether Nerd God, along with fellow AICN writers at the “Ain’t It Cool News 15th Anniversary” panel. What I learned here: their early review, which was not too positive, of “There’s Something About Mary,” earned them major respect from both the studio and the Farrelly brothers. Also, Jar Jar Binks was originally going to die in Episode III!

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Josh Shabtai (hands), Creative Director/CEO of Vertigore, shows off his company’s awesome iPhone/Droid game, “Star Wars Arcade: Falcon Gunner.”

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Finally, I leave you with this. Bask in the glory of Lucky J’s

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...and their amazing chicken-in-waffles taco.

And that does it for our SXSW photos! If you want to share your own SXSW memories (especially if they’re chicken-in-waffles-taco-related), please leave us a comment!

Social Media tips for non-profit to corporate brands

This was my second time attending SXSW and I’ve picked up a lot over the course of the four days I was there from corporate culture to development to social media. A consistent theme of SXSW is relevance, transparency, and timeliness in social media. This holds true for advocacy in non-profits and corporate brands.

Non-profits
Social media is shifting the expectations of constituents and their organizations. It is expected that organizations be on Twitter and Facebook. Sure you can have a social media presence, but you must provide relevant information quickly as well as engage in a bi-directional, engaging conversation with your followers/fans/supporters. People expect a dialog and response, especially with supporters of the organization.

Corporate brands
Customer service via social media is growing. Customers expect quick responses, so do not ‘Photoshop your response’ and keep things transparent. Taking three hours to type a response is not the way to go. Don’t have an immediate response? Take the conversation offline, and address the issue publicly by acknowledging you will handle the issue privately via DM/email.

Another side of transparency comes when social media is outsourced to an agency. It is important to let it be known who is the person behind the brand.

Like what Barry Diller said during his interview, “The internet is a miracle. You push a button and publish to the world.” So when you do push that button, just make sure you’re sending a meaningful message because that message has greater reach, and there’s nothing between you and your potential reader. Social media is global.

Seven Things I Brought Back from SXSW (Five Extra lbs. Not Included)

Attending SXSW Interactive felt like being inside a popcorn popper: You ricochet from one idea to another, hurling into everyone around you, energy bursting everywhere. What did I bring back from Austin beyond the 5 lbs I probably packed on? Where to even start?

Attending SXSW Interactive felt like being inside a popcorn popper: You ricochet from one idea to another, hurling into everyone around you, energy bursting everywhere. What did I bring back from Austin beyond the 5 lbs I probably packed on? Where to even start?

It’s a Social, Engaged Community (Duh)
For all the digital landscapes we carve out, there’s nothing like interacting with real people in real life. SXSWi registration was up 40% this year, and it wasn’t small to start with. This was truly a community of passionate people – and truly a community. That conversation on the shuttle, in line, before the panel, at the party was every bit as meaningful, inspiring and enlightening as the biggest keynote addresses. And everyone was open to that conversation.

Be Enchanting
Achieve likability. Perfect your handshake. Achieve trustworthiness. Default to yes. Make sure everything you do is Deep, Intelligent, Complete, Empowering and Elegant. Launch with a story, not a feature set. Empower action. Plant many seeds: Today’s nobodies are the new somebodies, and you don’t know where the people are who might embrace you. Enchant all the influencers: It’s not the top down, it’s the bottom and the middle.

It’s a Thank You Economy, Stupid
Your brand should hit an emotional center and do something that matters, instead of just pushing more coupons. Humanize your brand. Don’t try to close in one minute. A social media campaign is a one night stand – and this is about relationship-building. What’s going to work for you as a human being is going to work for you as a business. We’re turning into a small-town world. Human elements matter. Have a voice and a point of view, and don’t talk like a corporation.

What’s a Social Media Expert, Anyway?
Ask 10 different people what the ROI of SM is, what the value of a fan is, what Facebook strategy really means, anyway, and get ready for 57 different answers.

Open Book Brands
It’s not about apps, technology, campaigns. The brand has to emotionally connect with the consumer. Brands are no longer the mirrors that define us, but have to be magnets that draw us in. They have to deal with us with trust, transparency and truth. Own mistakes, then turn them around. Be genuine and authentic.

Follow Your Curiosity
Barry Diller got into the Internet in ’92 or ’93 because he was intrigued by this new way a screen was being used, and wanted to explore it. “So many people at SXSW are following their curiosity,” he said. “The miracle of the Internet is that it allows everybody who has curiosity to figure out the ideas in their brain, get it together, push a button and get it out.”

Have a Big Vision
The Foursquare founders knew what they wanted to do since their days at Dodgeball. They created the product they wanted to create to make people’s life more interesting, and went where that took them. They’re following their own strong sense of mission, leading always with how they can make their users’ lives more enriched, and doing it as a team.

Sounds pretty easy, right?

SXSW 2011: Photo Report – Part 1

We know that many of you couldn’t make it to SXSW this year to experience all the panels, sights, free stuff, parties, people and BBQ. But fear not! Flightpath gives you a glimpse into what SXSW was like with Part 1 of our SXSW Photo Report. Enjoy!

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Outside the Austin Convention Center, the main hub of SXSW, in the morning. Lots of people, but nothing compared to inside the building...
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Badge pickup. Not the most exciting part of SXSW, but essential nonetheless. The wait wasn't too bad, and all the convention volunteers were really friendly.
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The view from the escalator at one of the many hotels in the area hosting panels. For as many people as there were, it never felt suffocating like some other (::cough::New York Comic-Con::cough) conventions I've been to.
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The crowd awaits Anjuan Simmons' discussion about what lessons app designers can take from comic books.
SXSW-dual-twittering
As would become my habit, I was covering all the panels I went to with both my personal and Flightpath Twitter handles. And praying I didn't make a Chrysler-like mistake.
Anjuan Simmons, right, discusses comics and comic book fans. He ended the panel with a comic book trivia contest. Not to brag or nothin', but...
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...I won.
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The PepsiMAX lot. Free wi-fi, free food, and the PepsiMAX flowed like water.
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What would SXSW be without clowns on stilts...
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...and free ice cream sandwiches.
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The view from the escalator at the Austin Convention Center. Pretty amazing.

And that’s it for Part 1 of our SXSW Photo Report! Come back soon for Part 2, as well as more coverage of SXSW 2011!

SXSW Always Gets The Human Side of Digital

SXSW

Man, did I love SXSW 2010!  It was an incredible experience for a creative marketing digital-newbie-guy, even when gagging on people talking in code…like CSS and HTML5.  Honestly, it was the most profoundly immersive trade show or festival experience I had ever attended.

This year I am SOL (meaning so out of luck...I need this job, okay!) with personal commitments and tons of client stuff; there’s no way I can attend. But six lucky Flightpathians are going – I have affectionately dubbed them the “Austin Six” (hashtag #austinsix on Twitter) – and here’s their rap sheet. They are great, interesting people. If you see them, their Twitter stream, or their meme badge, just say hi for me.  This year there is so much human-ness in the presentations, sponsors and all the before/during and after parties; I know because I have been jealously digging anything SXSW 2011, and wish I could be there with the Austin Six.

I want to end this quick post before having to run to a Vet appointment – my digitally native Airedale Abby had major ear surgery a few days ago and is now deaf, but doing great – with three things you must do in addition to hooking up with the “A6”:

1.       Go to Wholefoods. Their global headquarters store is an easy one mile walk from the show – it is the coolest foodie store – and their breakfast tacos are clearly illegal in NYC!

2.       Think/act like somebody else, for at least one day. If you’re a geek, act like a designer or story teller or desperado for a breakfast taco…but leave your comfort zone for a bit!

3.       Forget about the parties as networking opps. Think about the networking opps as parties. You walk into opportunities everywhere, every minute. Make it all a party – it is the best freakin show on earth, and what better way is there to capture the human side of digital than by truly enjoying your time with the people behind it all?

Make sure to follow us on Twitter @FlightpathNY for continuous SXSWi coverage, as well as hashtag #austinsix to keep up with all the Flightpathians in attendance. We’ll see you there!