#SXSW: Listening, Disruption & What's Next

Posted by Mitchell Communications Group on March 15, 2015


Mitchell's tour of SXSW continues. Today, our team examines listening, content development, mobile, disruption and what's coming next.

Jessica Dove, Digital Account Manager

Nonverbal cues that we send through our digital assets are as important, if not more important than our written content. When creating a website or piece of digital marketing material, we usually think about what we want to say, but we need to put just as much attention to how we are saying it through the nonverbal components.

In the workshop Digital Body Language, we examined how online users decide within the first seconds if they like, trust and want to buy from you. Digital assets that make up your first impression include logos, photos, landing pages, ads, videos, user interface, and colors and fonts. These all showcase trust indicators, brand values, credibility, memorability, purchase decisions and loyalty.

Brent S. Gambill, Sr. Director, Digital & Social Media

Listening has become hard. We’re distracted by technology and overloaded with content. SXSW is an exercise in expanding our mind, skills and network. Today, I focused on a skill in the Creative Listening Workshop. Listening is a mindset. It is a skill that can be practiced. It is muscle memory.

To become a better creative listener, there are four focus areas: intuition, interpretation, curiosity and inspiration. Intuition is listening to your gut. We rely on facts and research to make decisions, but often the best action is to listen using your intuition. Interpretation is taking something you heard and explaining it in your own terms. What we hear is not always what is said. To be effective, get to the essence and make it tangible.

Curiosity is more than the desire to learn something. It is a tool that can be used to engage as opposed to disengage from something you lack interest in. We all have moments where we decide whether or not to be curious about something. We must seek to be more curious about areas we lack knowledge. Inspiration is being open to the unexpected from others. Reflect deeply on what you hear and let it be the inspiration to drive design and innovation. Most enter conversations listening for ways to support their existing knowledge. Instead, look for ways to disprove your existing knowledge to stretch your mind.

By following these tools, your next success could be tied less to talking and more to listening. As Larry King once said, “Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I’m going to learn, I must do it by listening.” If you would like to learn more from the workshop, check out the visual notes from my seatmate Mary Ann Lee from Twitter.

Ann Hecksher, Digital Engagement Specialist

Creating consistent and relevant content is one of the biggest challenges marketers face. Ben Grossman spoke about this during his session "Why Editorial Calendars Make Your Content Suck." He offered up three strategies to use when planning and creating content:

  1. Data-driven - The customer lifecycle or product lifecycle
  2. Conversation-led - Our fans are participating in x-conversation, is it appropriate for us to join in?
  3. Consumer-inspired - What does my community care about? Who are we authentically.

With the competition brands face in social newsfeeds and ever-changing algorithms, it's important to set your content a part from the noise and cater to what your audience cares about.

TJ Pike, Sr. Director, Digital Technology

Mobile devices have quickly allowed us to bring computer power to everyday objects and interactions. Essentially, the world is now our digital canvas. From snapping a picture of your favorite vacation spot and sharing on social media to sending its location via Google maps, we are now able to take immobile objects and make them mobile. What happens if our smart phones are so captivating with all those features that we actual become disconnected from the experience itself?

Designer and author Josh Clark challenged the audience to look beyond smartphone and desktop interface design and think of everyday objects becoming the next interface. He discussed “enchanted objects” being the future of user experience with the objects themselves as the experience. Clark shared a recent example of the Macy’s “magical mirror” where users can digitally try on clothes and receive feedback from their peers via social media. This shows how brands are beginning to push the limits of how users will interact with objects and technology in the future. User experience designers must begin to bend technology to the way we live our lives, not the other way around.

Tracy Shea, Digital Strategist

Today, I focused on “What’s coming next” and where it’s coming from. Turns out, Israel is the darling of cutting-edge data and technology-driven innovation at the moment. They are showing off encryption and security solutions, custom mobile gaming, targeted and customized data enhanced content delivery and even the seemingly mundane (now) photo messaging, video innovations and file sharing.

So, with a focus on “personalization” and “customization," the biggest trend and buzz I am seeing this year (wearables & the Internet of everything), I set about seeing what Israel was serving up this year. I found, as part of the SXSW Accelerator program, five categories:

GlideSocial Connectors: Glide is touted as the world’s first and only live video messaging app, allowing users to send and receive video messages instantaneously. Qork is a hyper-local social network app where you can discover news, start local conversations and discover what’s happening near you. Being local is emerging as a real “digital desire.” Fusic is a social video platform that lets you create a video of yourself singing karaoke or lip-syncing to, or dancing with, your favorite artists while allowing you to put your “selfie” performance into the original music clip.

Service Based Platforms: Fiverr puts you in touch with people who can help you do just about anything. It is a digital marketplace offering tasks and services for just about anything you can think of. Reviews tell you what kind of quality you can expect, services starting at, $5. Seat Serve is an app that lets the sports fan enjoy more of the game, by providing an “orders & payment” channel for food or merchandise from your mobile device and have it delivered directly to your seat.

Consumer Targeting: Gigya empowers a brand to deliver targeted, personalized engagement. Gigya is a platform for “Customer Identity Management” which helps a brand build stronger relationships by turning the unknown visitors into known, loyal and engaged customers. Five Blocks platform is a personalized, long-term online brand strategy, focusing on “enhancing the positive,” optimizing all sites, content, and media that make up your brand’s online reputation.

MobileODTHealthcare: MobileODT gives new meaning to “smartphone” by literally turning your device into a potential lifesaver. Currently focused in underserved areas of the world, the mobile device, high definition imaging and direct links to physicians aim to take on cervical cancer in a very innovative way.

Video Personalization: Onysus is at its core, a visual editor allowing anyone to create immersive experiences. The platform appears to be a blend of Augmented Reality in a real-time display, with a “physics engine” that provides more realistic integration. Homage Technology seems to be a bit like Fusic, in as much as it allows the user to put themselves into a scenario for a personalized experience. The goal here is for a brand to change the way media & advertisers interact with their consumers.

Jameson Sheppard, Director, Creative

In a SXSW Film keynote from Mark Duplass, he shared his story of breaking into Hollywood with realism and practicality. Working backwards from the tools you have at your disposal; unless you are Nathan Myhrvold and decide to deviate from your tech career to challenge culinary thinking. This type of break-the-norm approach challenges traditional thought through ideas such as disloyalty marketing and advention.

Disruptive thought can even work backwards - Behance just published its first book, Super-Modified: The Behance Book of Creative Work. The book is printed on paper, a digital platform showcasing the best through a breakthrough (for them) medium. Lateral thinking seemed to be a thematic conduit to this sort of idea generation.

In LAVA, Pixar's James Murphy used his admiration of Hawaii and musical story exposition to tell a love story about volcanoes spanning thousands of years. As Duplass told us, "The Calvary is not coming. You are the Calvary."

You can follow our SXSW Mitchell Team here. We’ll be checking in daily with updates from Austin.

Topics: Creative, Mitchell Team, Digital