SXSW Social Trends "“ Top 3 Topics You Should Know for your Social Media Initiatives

It’s the bittersweet time of year when SXSW has officially come and gone. With more than 19,000 attendees, 10 locations for sessions and countless after parties, Austin was a buzz with all things interactive and digital. And like everyone else, my mind is still racing from 5 jam-packed days of Interactive insights.

SXSW Social Media TrendsNo surprise, social media was one of the predominant topics at the conference. I had a blast talking about using Social Media for Social Good with Tammy Gordon from AARP and attended some other great panels discussing the social media landscape, particularly as it relates to planning and strategy.  After soaking in all the great information, I walked away seeing three words as the important focal areas for social media in 2011.


Gone are the days when social media can be completely off-the-cuff and planned totally in the moment. Just as with any other communication program, social media needs to be part of a plan. And programmatic.

That doesn’t mean your social activity is any less authentic, it just means that you have the time to think through what it is you want to communicate, what’s happening in your space that’s relevant and planning to incorporate social into all of these elements. The key touch points to become more programmatic?

- Outline a strategy
- Define objectives
- Create a calendar for activity
- Have a plan for engagement



Integration is multi-pronged for social with integration of communication and integration of technology.  

At the least, businesses and organizations should start thinking about how to integrate social media into overarching communication plans. From public relations, to email marketing and offline marketing programs, social media should be an integrated channel in each external program. It should also be integrated internally. Training employees and providing guidelines for use by employees is becoming a powerful and important focus for organizations large and small. 

Those with maturing social initiatives should also be integrating on a technical level.  We are closer than ever to being able to have a 360 degree view of marketing and communications activity through integration of social programs with web analytics and CRM systems. The advantage is obvious and time to start integrating is now.



Analytics can be both interesting and intimidating. And while books could be (and are) written on the mountains of metrics important for various activities, three universal best practices should be followed for all initiatives.

1.     Define success metrics. How do you know what is successful if you don’t what success looks like (hint: you don’t). Define what the important goals and outcomes are for your social initiatives and track the respective metrics. Social impressions, clicks, messages shared, conversions,  network size – all great metrics and all illustrate different types of success.

2.    Track in an ongoing fashion.  Track what you are doing in social and benchmark progress over time to show growth, success and trends.

3.    Use data to analyze activity and optimize programs. All the data in the world is great, but it’s what you do with the data that matters. People are retweeting you – have you asked what content gets retweeted the most? You’ve grown your clicks and conversions through social – what types of calls to action receive the most engagement? More people are mentioning you than ever –who are these people and how are you building these relationships?

One of the most exciting aspects of the week was seeing how far social media marketing and communications have come so quickly. Listening and experiments have turned into strategic plans and programs.

I can only imagine what we’ll be talking about next Spring. If this year’s SXSW was any indication one thing is for sure: there’s no sign of the social media evolution slowing down any time soon.

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