Live blogging and tweeting during SXSW Interactive was frenetic but fun. I found inspiration at every turn and came away with countless takeaways for businesses interested in social media. The real challenge was inserting pauses in the action during which to pass them along.
Stepping back, perhaps the most compelling aspect was how embedded social media tools were in the execution of the event itself – not as a subject, but as the medium.
The planning tools in the form of My.sxsw.com — created by The Social Collective — were outstanding, not only for bringing order to the chaos but also for sharing schedules and networking in advance of the festival. Attendees could see what sessions others were planning to attend and float questions to their peers via an inviting, Twitter-like functionality.
During the conference, live chats for each session were hosted in Meebo Rooms and rolling, session-specific tweets often were projected on screens flanking the stages. Presenters were amazingly nimble about incorporating comments from “the people formerly known as the audience,” often reading the funniest or richest tweets as they came in, and then responding to the room. The standard Q&A period has been transformed.
The after-event evaluation was also remarkable from a social media POV. The organizers sent out the requisite attendee survey, yes, but then SurveyGizmo produced a really neat session-specific rating tool that merged with my personalized schedule and made it easy to evaluate the sessions I attended. You can also see, in real time, how others felt.
10 days later, back in real life, I’ve returned to realize that different people use social media differently. In the glorious bubble that was SXSWi, however, everyone was pretty much on the same social media wavelength, and it was transformative, indeed.
Save the date: SXSW 2010: March 12-21. I know I’ll be there.
Photo credit: John Kratz