15 Can't-Miss SXSW Interactive Sessions

Remember learning about permutations in middle school? Planning your SXSW schedule can be equally head-spinning. It feels like there are infinite permutations of sessions that could make for an excellent conference experience.

Sometimes we prefer the human algorithm. So we asked seven different presenters—from the likes of Pinterest and Leo Burnett—to tell us about their own session and share one other session they won’t miss. If you work in social media or digital marketing, use this short list to plan a SXSW schedule that adds up!

David Rubin

Head of Brand, Pinterest

His Session: Love Letters: Building Brand and Community
"Pinterest has grown into a beloved brand breaking a bunch of 'rules' of marketing and with virtually no paid advertising. What lessons can be learned from how Pinterest achieved this? And, how do we keep that brand love going as the product scales into the hundreds of millions of users? How do we broaden to other audiences, while maintaining the essence of the brand with the community?"


His Recommendation: How to Not Hire and Retain Employees of Color and NASA’s Giant Step in Social Media
"From the Pinterest talks, I'm interested in seeing a panel on hiring and retaining diverse employees featuring one of our engineers, Makinde Adeagbo, given the criticality of diversity to a platform like Pinterest in our community and our team. I'm also looking forward to the NASA talk because I'm a geek and I think what they are doing in social media is amazing."


Virginia Miracle

Chief Customer Officer, Spredfast

Her Session: Get a Seat in the C-Suite: Fostering Women Leaders
"During our session, we will tackle 4 areas that female execs frequently struggle with: Culture, Negotiations & Money, Culture and Conflict Resolution. We’ll share our own perspectives, but the really interesting part will be hearing experience, advice, and learnings from the audience. Attendees will walk away from the session with specific actions they can take to help accelerate their career path."


Her Recommendation: Do You Know the ROI of WOM? Do You Want To?
"I’m both a practitioner and passionate believer in word of mouth marketing. This session will look at new research to quantify the value of earned media relative to paid/owned, and what that means for the future of WOM."


James Kirkham

Global Head of Social and Mobile, Leo Burnett Worldwide / co-founder of holler.

His Session: Brands: Connective Tissue Between People and Tech 
"Our panel is about brands being the connective tissue between technology and humans. it is about how developments from brands can create small wonders which can impact hugely on your everyday lives. We'll explore miraculous looking innovations which are just around the corner."


His Recommendation: Advocates vs Agitators: the Social Influence
"In terms of other panels, I'm massively excited to see Advocates vs Agitators: the Social Influence. This year has a host of panels and discussions which deal with a post-YouTube influenced world and this looks like no exception for quality dissection of social agitation."


Matt Farrell

Chief Marketing Officer, USA Swimming

His Session: Battling Tradition to Reinvent Youth Sports
"I’ll be joining my colleagues from the US Tennis Association and PGA of America to discuss 'Battling Tradition to Reinvent Youth Sports'. No matter how successful your sport (or company) history is, you always have to be willing to re-invent yourself or else you die. We’ll be talking about reinventing youth sports, getting kids active, and embracing technology as part of the solution."


His Recommendation: Millennials and Sports: Reaching Next Gen Fans
"I wouldn’t miss this panel with Re/Code’s Peter Kafka and representatives from the NFL. Millennials are a key audience for us and they are future swim parents and coaches. The topic of how to reach millennials, along with their changing consumer and fan consumption habits is a must-see for me."


Natan Edelsburg

SVP, Sawhorse Media

His Session:  Beyond Live, Why the L+3 Social TV Convo Matters 
"One of the biggest misconceptions about social TV is that conversations about TV are only happening while a show is on. Tumblr and their research on the importance of the days immediately after a show have proven that social TV is alive in between episodes, in between seasons and every moment that you're not watching TV too. We'll hear from two of the industry's top thought leaders on how Comedy Central and late night TV (SNL, Jimmy Fallon, etc.) have been leveraging Tumblr and bridge strategies to introduce content to core fans and new viewers."


His Recommendation: SoulCycle pop-up experience at Spotify House
"Spotify is partnering with top DJs and SoulCycle to offer special classes that are DJed by the stars. This is a dream come true for me since I'm a big Spotify and big SoulCycle fan/cycler in NYC. It's also going to be a great way to burn some calories while at the festival."


Brian Fanzo

Chief Digital Strategist and Partner, BroadSuite

His Session: IBM and Twitter: The Future of Digital Engagement 
"It's no secret that I'm passionate about the opportunity for authentic connection through social and digital engagement. This panel is a must-see for any brand marketers looking to provide meaningful and personalized experiences for their audiences."



His Recommendation: Biz Stone on Creativity and Redefining Success

"I'm excited to see Biz Stone's session. Who better to learn from on the topics of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurial spirit than the guy who brought us Twitter, Medium and Jelly Industries?"


Charlie Kautz

Marketing Consultant, formerly global marketing at TaylorMade-adidas Golf

His Session: Old Game, New Tricks: What's the Future of Golf? 
"Attendees can expect to gain perspective about the future of golf from a few of the industry's millennial, dynamic and influential voices who are truly invested in positively impacting the development of the game."



His Recommendation: How to Remain Relevant in Today’s Digital Age
"The featured session with Charles Barkley and Richard Deitsch seems like a can't-miss panel. Barkley is notoriously against using social media but, incredibly, his voice has bolstered his relevancy even in the digital age in which we live. Deitsch is one of the most informed and talented media analysts covering the landscape today."


Feeling prepared for your best SXSW yet? Don't forget, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Enter for a chance to Reach The Social Stage and join us for an unforgettable show with The Flaming Lips and Future Islands.

cdoman@spredfast.com's picture

Courtney Doman

Courtney is the Content Marketing Manager at Spredfast. She focuses on sharing smart social ideas and insights to transform the way companies connect with consumers. Courtney is a passionate football fan (supporting Arsenal and the USMNT), curious traveller, and ambitious home cook.