Snackable Bits from SXSW


This year, I was given the opportunity to attend SXSW Interactive (SXSWi) in Austin, Texas, with a team from M/C/C. There were many great sessions, and this attendee would like to share her key takeaways with you. With the vast number of themes, topics and speakers at SXSWi, I could probably could go on and on. But then this blog would become a novel, and that just won’t do. So here are some bite-size ideas for you to snack on before lunch.


Unadvertising is a service-oriented form of advertising that reaches the audience on its own time. According to the “Mobile Beyond Marketing: The Era of UnAdvertising” session, mobile users spend 87 percent of their time in-app, and consumers don’t want to be advertised to on-screen. In addition, they want to save time and money. Several companies have used this feedback to become a utility for their customers. Walgreens, for example, makes it easy to check on a prescription status in their app; but they also make coupons available for their customers there, too. The idea behind this approach to mobile strategy is to put the customer’s needs (saving time and money) first and the sale second. However, one main way to measure the return on investment (ROI) of unadvertising is by revenue. If that’s the case, then does the sale really come second?

Capturing Attention

We live in a world with more content than ever before, making it more difficult to capture the attention of your audience. One of the most interesting sessions I attended was Ben Parr’s (@benparr) review of his recent book, Captivology: The Science of Capturing People’s Attention. In his book, he lays out seven triggers of captivation.

  1. Automaticity – this trigger gets attention based on one’s automatic response to stimuli.
  2. Framing – adapt to your audience’s frame of reference to capture their attention.
  3. Disruption – shock advertising that violates expectations.
  4. Reward – this trigger is based on the fact that people are motivated by rewards.
  5. Reputation – smart brands leverage outside experts to build their reputation.
  6. Mystery – uncertainty makes us feel uncomfortable; seek to reduce that uncertainty, but create suspense for your audience.
  7. Acknowledgement – we pay attention to those who pay attention to us. Find ways to show that you care about your audience.

By using these seven triggers when creating ads, marketing campaigns and social media content for our clients, we can help make them stand out to their audience and customers. We can make our brands memorable and capture attention in a world with content coming at us from every direction.

Grow your Impact

BuzzFeed’s Chief Executive Officer Jonah Peretti gave a keynote address that included how the media company’s impact has grown over time. For BuzzFeed, sharing is one of the most important metrics. It requires a real-life action in a digital space. BuzzFeed consistently achieves high results by creatring quality content. Here are three ways that BuzzFeed grew its impact through sharing that we should remember when we strive to grow our clients’ impact.

  1. Build a great brand. BuzzFeed teamed up with brands for “lift and share.” For example, they created and shared native video content featuring kittens in partnership with Purina. Peretti shared that this campaign was so successful because they built the content first before building the brand into the campaign.
  2. Scale internationally. BuzzFeed leverages viral content that manages to scale internationally. We all remember, “What color was the dress?” While the dress started on Tumblr, BuzzFeed was one of the first outlets to track its movements across international borders. Buzzfeed received its highest number of visitors ever recorded because of their article on the dress. They were able to track where the visits originated from exactly. They even had several visitors from Antarctica.
  3. Become more distributed. BuzzFeed not only posts fresh content on their home page, but they also publish content in the Facebook stream, not via links. BuzzFeed has developed Facebook specific content so that the users don’t even have to leave their News Feed in order to engage with and share the content. This is important to keep in mind for our clients because it demonstrates that it’s possible to be successful across several platforms and touch people where they’re already spending time without the added challenge of distracting them away from it.

Feel free to share your learning experiences from SXSWi in the comments below. And if you haven’t had the chance to go, I highly recommend it!

MCC creates the right mix of communications for today’s audience – from traditional advertising and public relations to highly interactive digital communications, engaging social media and powerful search engine optimization. With such a broad range of communication services, it’s easy to think of MCC as the big agency that does. With the passion of the little agency that could.

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