For me, coming home from SXSW Interactive always means sore feet from standing at events in heels for four days straight, and a tired disposition that lasts several days. It’s a ridiculous pace you need to keep to attend so many events all day and every night, but I felt like I was able to make the most out of a lot of interactions in real life this year (not just online). I spent a lot less time tweeting than in years past, but I blame that partially on AT&T’s poor coverage in Austin, Texas and Twitter apps that would take turns crashing on my iPhone.
In any case, I tried to get the most out of the face-time I could get with friends old and new.
My trip started out with an afternoon spent at the Dell headquarters out in Round Rock. One look at their command center and workspace coupled with knowledge of their internal training program and social media team of 50, and I was basically drooling. It was great to see a mature social media program in action – theirs is very old in social media years and it shows. For someone who’s helped launch social media programs without sticking around for several years after, it was very beneficial for my ability to envision a future-state for our program at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and our blog, A Healthier Michigan.
The day before the conference officially started I was lucky to be invited to attend the release party and mini-conference for WCG Chief Technology Officer, Bob Pearson’s new book, Pre-Commerce. I’ve only just made a dent in the book, but I can already tell it’s a good one. If you’re steeped in social media goodness you may not be surprised to know that the point of all of this is to build relationships before the sale, however, the case studies and insights will help you tremendously if you ever need to explain why all of this real-time social media stuff is so important to someone in the C-suite without falling into the why-should-I-be-on-Facebook? trap. Better yet, buy them the book (affiliate link).
Socially Regulated: Social Media in Regulated Industries
My core conversation with social media/pharma pioneer and founder of SXSH, Shwen Gwee, and Marc Monseau from Johnson & Johnson could not have been better. We had a room full of smart people who had great things to add to the conversation. Some of the key points were to start with content that’s well within your company’s comfort zone, be crystal clear on exactly what you would like to do with social media before asking your legal team for permission to launch something like a Twitter or Facebook account, and realize that regulated industries often have several layers of compliance with respect to different legal requirements, company policy and branding guidelines — all of which need to be considered before you get started.
Blogchat LIVE (or unplugged, as I like to say)
Mack Collier did a great job planning the first-ever offline #Blogchat. Rule No. 1 was no tweeting (although a few people in attendance disobeyed for the greater good). Richard Binhammer from Dell and I led one group, the topic: what corporate bloggers can learn from personal bloggers. Big lesson of the night was that good corporate blogs always let bloggers use their own voice, but that voice must align well with the mission of the company, its brand, and most of all — what the audience, or its customers want! It was a real treat helping out with this event, especially with people like Lucretia Pruitt, Sheila Scarbrough and Connie Reece in the house.
Other Notable Events
I met Adam Garone, co-founder of Movember, now the world’s largest fundraiser for prostate cancer research. Last year Movember raised $72 Million — not too shabby for a fundraiser that is almost 100% driven by social media by challenging men to raise money while growing a mustache (nicknamed mo in Adam’s native Australia) throughout the month of November.
I finally met Bill Brister in real life – a hockey fan who I came to know online during my days running social media for the NHL Detroit Red Wings. He rode into Austin on the Startup Bus all the way from Florida.
I had a chance to take a good look at Badgeville — a very promising application that helps companies integrate badges and other fun social functions into their websites to encourage the sort of behavior they would like to see. It seems pretty lightweight and I can’t wait to take a deeper dive into their offerings.
Allhat 3 (sponsored by Chevy and Dell) was also a fun time — I’m a third-time Allhat attendee. For a fun look at the festivities, see David Alston’s photos.
Seattle friend, Shauna Causey and I also had a chance to catch up and she seems to be loving life managing social media for Nordstrom. They’re a lucky bunch to have her on board.
Thanks to Hal Thomas for posting his notes from our Socially Regulated presentation at SXSW on Twitter. For everyone I missed, I’m sorry – there’s always next year and I can’t possibly capture everything here.