Predictions for SXSW Interactive

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South By Southwest Interactive kicks off this Friday and our delegation #shamber will be absorbing – through osmosis – all of the digital goodness that seeps through the pores of this fantastic event. But, before we go, I thought it would be fun to make some predictions as to what one could expect to see at SXSW 2013. This forecast is by no means scientific, but merely observations picked up over the course of the last year. In no particular order, here are my four predictions for SXSW Interactive:

Ambient Technology and Marketing

At SXSW 2012, there was a lot of talk about ambient apps that come into play only when users need them, with the intention of connecting people through location-awareness. The biggest buzz was around Highlight and Glancee, the social discovery apps that ping the user when people who share contacts or common interests are nearby. Cyborg anthropologist Amber Case, who is also CEO of recently-acquired location platform Geoloqi, discussed in her 2012 keynote speech that the relationship between humans and technology is becoming more symbiotic, rather than detached. We will no longer need to be a slave to our screens –  getting neck cramps from looking down so much – the technology will become extensions of our bodies, and will alert us when are interests are in our proximity

The speed at which this is happening has accelerated over the last year as wearable technology floods the market. You bet your britches that Google will be demoing Google Glass in full force at SXSW Interactive. But it’s not just Google that is paving the wearable-tech way. Thousands of SXSW nerds are sure to be donning their Pebble watches, Nike FuelBands, and Jawbone headsets. They’ll be receiving Foursquare pings when they are close to a restaurant with a great deal or a bar that’s on their location bucket list. The technology will be working for them, not the other way around, laying ambient in the background until the opportunity is right.

The trend indicates the winning brands are the ones that can find the delicate balance between marketing, storytelling and adding value to daily life through technology and applications. So, how will this be displayed at SXSW? Well, I’m excited to find out.

Social Video

The rumour is that Twitter’s new looping video app, Vine, will be making its presence known at SXSW.  With the backing of a social media powerhouse, this opens up a whole new world for social video. Last year, Viddy was all the rage, and before that Social Cam. Google Hangouts are also forging a presence, particularly at major events like London Fashion Week, the X Games and much more. It will be interesting to see how Google and Twitter duke it out to gain share of voice during SXSW.

Filtering the Noise – Or Standing Out Above It

We may think that the content fire hose has hit us, but we have only reached the tip of the iceberg.

Content is now a central focus for many brands. But at this point, it’s surely a case of quantity, not quality. The same questions keep coming up: As a consumer, how do we make sense of the white noise that surrounds us, filtering out only the nuggets most relevant to us? For brands, the challenge is standing out above everyone else to reach consumers who are constantly being inundated. After all, we can’t all sponsor a base jumper to leap from the stratosphere to get noticed. There has been a lot of buzz about this in recent years, but I’m already noticing a major trend forming at SXSW 2013: Everyone’s talking about developing a quality brand story and getting just an inch above the noise.

Science Is Awesome

Thanks to the massive explosion of 3D printing, the widespread popularity of the Facebook Page “Science is F’ing Awesome,” Commander Chris Hadfield’s Tweets from space and NASA’s incredibly successful social media presence, good old science is making a comeback.  I believe we’ll see more mainstream brands bringing science and technology to the forefront of their marketing mix. General Electric has paved the way for this emerging business to consumer marketing niche, reaching the inner nerd in all of us through their many online initiatives. The brands that appeal to our sense of wonderment and innate interest in discovery will capture our hearts and minds. So, which brand will win the SXSW Interactive science fair?

View our previous blog post “Mobile SXSW, How to Create a Great Event App.”

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