Brand Watch: SXSW 2012

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From its humble roots in 1992 as a regional festival for musicians in Austin Texas, South by South West, now twenty years old, has emerged as a mixed platform for independent directors and musicians by embracing emerging media and developing culture. In that way, the brand of South by South West, SXSW, as it is widely known has matriculated into something more than just music festival, it is a breeding ground of thought, a taste maker’s test market for trendsetting, culture reforming ideas and products.

SXSW is where smart, young products meet smart, young consumers.

Hanson, John Mayer and James Blunt are the musical often touted stories of SXSW, by finding eventual fame from pre-conference obscurity. From a branding perspective, these are the pillars of why SXSW remains musically relevant. The conference breaks good musicians by giving them a stage, good movies by giving them responsive audiences.

What most people do not know are the tech stories.  In 2006, SXSW featured a keynote panel of Wikipedia Founder, Jimmy Wales and Craigslist founder Craig Newmark. In 2007, Twitter notably gained a good deal of early traction and buzz and SXSW Interactive.  In 2008, Mark Zuckerberg participated in a keynote interview with tech journalist Sarah Lacy.  SXSW has even precipitated the launch of Foursquare.

SXSBW has done more for the tech industry than most tech niche specific conventions.

The brand of SXSW has grown tremendously. It has been said that attendance alone has strained network providers such as AT&T due to heavy iPhone usage. In 2009, The Hurt Locker held its US premier at the conference. Conan O’Brien even stops in to promote his new concepts.

Currently, SXSW is more than music or tech or film. It is a promise of emerging artists, revolutionary products and genius-level ideas. That promise permeates the conference at every level.

In 20 years, SXSW has broke records, birthed spin-offs and grew million dollar companies.

That’s brand power.

– Deeon

Does Facebook Brand Timeline “Like” Your Small Business?

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Facebook brand timelines went live last week and some of the examples of use are pretty impressive, including early advertisements, corporate memos, photos and founding name changes. But what does that mean for the small business grappling with the strain of keeping up with the ever-changing tides of social media.

Mostly well-received, this Facebook launch differed in response entirely from personal timeline. The rallied criticism for the personal timeline has been that it’s a tool for a corporate or governmental invasion of privacy. While in contrast, the brand timeline has been looked at as something more aligned to a corporate museum.

Small business finds itself somewhere in the gray when it comes to its response of the brand timeline. Often too new to have the depth of brand history as a company like Pepsi, small businesses find their timeline short and not filled with the same levels of cool trivia.

The hope would be that over time, if Facebook is sustainable as a media tool, timelines would grow from the present and move forward.

Brands such as ESPN, Subway, Ford, Burberry, Starbucks have all laid out some of their company’s most interesting factoids using Facebook and given the public glimpses into their brand’s histories.

These are brands for which telling a story with historical details is part of their brand experience, but they are very few.
It’s actually far more common for brands to reinvent themselves because it has no relevance to their future goals. Meaning, with smart calculation and growth of utility of the timeline, small businesses may be able to map out brand strategy by looking at how the “majors” have navigated their brand’s growth.  In theory, that is.

Big brands with big budgets should experiment with the function.

Every opportunity for global exposure is always a worthwhile risk.  I imagine Facebook Timeline may frustrate majority of small businesses and nonprofits on FB who do not have the time, money or staff to reinvent marketing from scratch every few months. Like all things, tools, apps, and companies will be made to address such issues.

So in closing, some small Businesses are certainly not happy with the launch of Timeline, while others wait patiently to see its impact on marketing. The process to fine tune the voice of a brand becomes harder when the platforms you are using are constantly changing and small business is on the forefront of this battle.

It will be interesting to see if small business owners will embrace timeline for commercial use when they do not trust it for personal use.

Social Media Week: Whos Got Kred?

This week 347 Design headed to the New York headquarters of Social Media Week. Owned and operated by Crowdcentric Media, a New York based strategy firm, Social Media Week brought together almost 75,000 attendees in its twelve-city span and almost 500,000 viewers through online and mobile connections through the SMW Live Stream Page. With Global Partners Nokia, Oglivy and Constant Contact, the activity and panel based platform brought together some of the brightest and best in social media, marketing and education.

The Rogues Gallery was impressive. Paul Adams, the Global Brand Experience Manager of Facebook, Guihem Fouetillou, Fabio Coelho, the lest went on and on. Our team was standing on the shoulders of Giants. The most interesting of them, however, wasn’t a person, but a social media scoring system, Kred.

Kred, the latest product from start PeopleBrowser was in full use during the week.  Non-aggressive in its presence, the scoring system highlighted, in real-time, the influencers present in a room. Our introduction to the product came via an actual Influencers panel discussion, where we presented with two types of engagers, those who both influence and outreach.

Taking into account elements such as how often your tweets are retweeted and how many replies you generate, it gives a numerical score to your ability to inspire others.

Brand Managers- you can keep track of those who you influence by keeping them in communities to track.

Kred will not only be a competitor or sister program to Klout, but something much more, in our opinion.

It may answer that tricky question of social media ROI.

Why?

Because if you can track how you influence the influencers, you track how you influence the world.