Takeaways From SXSW Interactive

by Shannon Paul on March 16, 2011

SXSW attendee, Hal Thomas' notes from the Socially Regulated SXSW Interactive Core Conversation

Notes by Hal Thomas from the Socially Regulated Core Conversation at SXSW Interactive

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.

Dell Heaven

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.


Pre-Conference Pre-Commerce

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.



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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

March 16, 2011 Mack Collier

Shannon I was so happy to see you at SXSW, and thank you SO much for co-hosting #Blogchat. You were amazing as I knew you would be, and I hope we can work it out so you can join us again for a future Live #Blogchat.

SXSW is always a wonderful experience, and it all starts with being able to catch up with people like you. Shannon you are one of my favorite people on the planet, and it was such a delight to spend time with you. Till next year (or hopefully sooner!).


March 16, 2011 Shannon Paul

Thanks, Mack. I was happy to help host #Blogchat. I’m so glad it was a success. You’re always so kind to me :) Next year or sooner, for sure!


March 16, 2011 Lucretia Pruitt

Live #blogchat rocked Mack!


March 16, 2011 Mack Collier

Thank you GeekMommy, was so excited to see you show up!


March 16, 2011 Lucretia Pruitt

I was so excited to read your recap Shannon – now I’m feeling even luckier to find my name in there amidst such amazing folks like Richard, Sheila, Mack, & Connie.
Mad props go to the Social Media Club folks too for managing to host so many of us at the same time!
I’m also completely in awe of how you managed to stay on your feet in heels. Mine are sore and I was wearing the comfy flats!
I wish I had managed to make it to your core convo – it sounds like it was awesome! Fairly sure that social media use in regulatory situations will be on the forefront of conversations the rest of this year.

You are always awesome! Some great take aways, thank you.


March 16, 2011 Jim Robinson

Socially regulated was a great and it seemed like a conversation that could have gone on much longer. One nugget I thought was immediately useful was the RSS to email suggestion as an easy way to satisfy archiving requirements.

It was nice to finally meet you in person, Shannon, and I hope to get a chance to visit with you at a slightly less crazy event sometime in the near future.


March 18, 2011 Stephanie Hackney

I was sorry to miss your panel and missed out on meeting you in person. Just too much going on during SXSW! I hope your feet are soon back to normal.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Here are a few more to share:
1. Face time is really what this event is all about. Most people know each other through online connections and for many this is the one and only time during the year they get to meet each other/spend time together in person.
2. I did not have as many “aha moments” as I had at last year’s #sxsw interactive. Maturation of the market? Less focus on learning and more on making it happen? Or? I welcome your thoughts on this.
3. Going without major “goals” for the event served me well. I went without an agenda and simply open to opportunities, and focused mostly on being part of the energy that is sxsw. This worked well as I was presented with some great “serendipitous” moments and am back now and feeling re-energized.
4. Sorry to hear you had trouble with @AT&T. I experienced the inability to Tweet (or text or get a call out) while at the #NRF conference in NY a couple months back and vowed to never be beholden to AT&T’s network again! I am soooooo glad I switched to @Verizon just before the event. I highly recommend the switch. I did experience a few issues with Tweeting at sxsw, but it was due to @Twitter errors, not @Verizon errors.
5. After a long day in sessions, sharing thoughts and ideas with others during the day and over a drink after the sessions end, and rising early (not easy for a nightowl), I find that I am not into the party all night scene. Screaming over all the “noise” (conversations, music and marketing) is just too much for this gal.

Have a great weekend!


March 20, 2011 Shannon Paul

Hi Stephanie,

Serendipity is certainly a wonderful aspect of conferences like this, but this year I actually did the opposite and tried to schedule much more of my time in advance. I found I was able to get much more out of the conference this year as a result! I don’t know about the lack of a-ha moments — I don’t know if I ever had any in the past when I attended this show. For me SXSW is all about face time and connecting.

My big a-ha moment this year was that there is a huge interest in this show in sharing what works/what doesn’t work with others in the field — especially as it relates to working in regulated industries, or serving them in an agency setting. I hope that the conference feedback and voting will show reflect this in the future. People are interested in the “how” much more now than in the past. In previous years, people seemed to be much more interested in the “why” social media should be a priority to business. Maybe this is a sign of maturation — not just in the market, but in the skills required to bring these great ideas into fruition.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!


March 20, 2011 Richardatdell

Hi Shannon
Great to see you and hang at 3 events. Was thrilled you could spend some time with us at Dell; honored to co-host blog chat with you…and to have you at allhat3 (your third and our third)…thanks for being loyal allhat friend and more :-)


March 20, 2011 Shannon Paul

Same here, Richard! We have a mutual admiration society and I’m glad to have spent so much time with you this year :)


March 20, 2011 Manish Mehta

Shannon – thanks for the nice shout out to Dell and the time you spent with us before SXSW. It’s a very long journey and we still have so much to learn. Credit goes to the great team we have and their dedication to the customer – both inside and outside of Dell. Please do come visit us again soon.


March 20, 2011 Shannon Paul

Thanks, Manish! I’m sure you know how great your team is. We all have much to learn, but the humble spirit you express here and your willingness to experiment in the space is a testament to your leadership — kudos. I would love to visit your team again in the future, it was a real treat!


April 5, 2011 Social Media

Dear Shannon Paul, I would like to say thanks to you for this Blog because your Blog is one of the excellent bogs which I ever read. Thanks


July 11, 2011 Dan

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September 22, 2011 Tarakit

that was a great experienced, hearing from the experts really motivates us to strive harder..thanks ..


September 30, 2011 high point seo

This is a great conference, the best yet.


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