Top 14 Things Our Marketing Agency Took Away From SXSW 2017

April 10, 2017

We can’t stop talking about SXSW 2017! Our team was so inspired by this year’s conference that we’re still processing what it all means — and how to harness the creative inspiration as individuals, for BSTRO, and for our clients.

There were so many brilliant digital marketing insights and intriguing predictions, we just had to make a list. Here are the 14 key things our marketing agency took away from SXSW 2017.

1. Make way for neuroscience

Scientists and creatives sitting side-by-side in your marketing agency might seem like a bit of a stretch, but it’s really not that far off. Smart brands already use neuroscience methodologies to inform content, blending a scientific understanding of the human brain with the technology to give it the best customer experience. Digital technologists – those who possess both tech and marketing savvy – are officially hot commodities.

2. Hieroglyphs are so hot right now

Speaking of hot: society is getting back to its roots, and reverting to ancient pictographic language for communication. No, we’re not talking about cave drawings, but close! Emojis and emoji keyboards are taking over social media, and becoming increasingly acceptable in other forms of content as well. If you think about it, it’s kind of beautiful that no matter where you live in the world, and whatever language you speak, the poop emoji has the same meaning.

3. It’s not what you say, it’s which messaging platform you say it on

In case you hadn’t noticed, messaging is taking over social media, too. From messaging tools like Facebook Messenger and Google Chat to chatbots on company websites, the common belief at SXSW was that in 12–24 months messaging will surpass regular social media in the United States.

4. Amazon will be our content overlord

You heard it here first (unless you were at SXSW, in which case you probably heard it there): Amazon will overtake both Google and Facebook in just five years. Amazon is slated to become the world’s biggest company, already dabbling in bigger, better, faster ways to deliver orders and reduce those annoying things about shopping like having to wait in line to pay. Amazon Prime has also been hosting paid content.

5. Mobile is BAE

We know, and we know you know. But SXSW presenters didn’t shy away from hammering the point home about why a mobile-first mindset is crucial for marketing strategy. Don’t reuse assets for any of your digital campaigns; create content for mobile, then check to make sure it will look awesome on desktop. Think about how your customers will interact with your brand beyond the ad.

6. Visual content is the one most likely to succeed

Anyone else tired of hearing “visual content is king”? At BSTRO, we prefer to think of her as a fierce queen. Facebook’s studies show that the first thing users look at is the image, not the copy. What’s the most visually compelling image you can use, the one with thumb-stopping power? Video is the fastest growing segment of social ads, and having the highest organic reach makes it ideal for marketers with tight budgets. Oh, and here’s some hot gossip – Facebook and Snapchat video are totally going to steal YouTube’s crown.

7. Live your most authentic (brand) life

Skinny is out, and so is vanilla. Your customers don’t want to see Barbie, they want to see authentic-looking (and feeling!) people in your imagery that feel like actual humans. Whatever your budget, whether you’re using free stock photos or custom branded photography, ensure your images capture real, diverse people. Brands need to start giving more than they take by creating real content that’s a gift to the Internet, rather than more content noise.

8. All the cool kids are listening to micro-influencers

Influencer marketing has been called the “cheapest form of advertising available”. If you think it’s not viable because you can’t afford a Kardashian, don’t sweat it! The best influencer marketing happens through micro-influencers) non-celebrities, who are less famous and more approachable – and affordable. These people feel more like peers to your customers, so they trust them more. Some of the most successful micro-influencers have fewer than 30 thousand followers, so don’t put too much weight on follower count!

9. The robot revolution is upon us

“Robots are the new middle class, and everyone else will either be an entrepreneur or a temp staffer,” said speaker James Altucher. From crop planning and analyzing baseball bat swings to cancer treatment plans, AI and other robotic technology are definitely changing the world.

10. Take No Prisoners and Make No Excuses

Gary Vee had strong words on the many ways businesses can fail, as usual. His key advice was that you have to follow the culture, listen and reflect, and then sell, sell, sell. At the end of the day, if you don’t love what you do, you won’t do great work and it won’t yield results. After all, creativity is the variable of success. His predictions for what’s taking off right now? Snapchat, virtual reality, and cannabis.

11. Let’s get virtual

On that note, VR was everywhere at SXSW! Our team had a great time testing products like Facebook’s Oculus, and seeing how VR is already being used by leading brands. The bottom line is that your hungry customers want an immersive experience, and VR is the logical next step with the rising tide of video. We think VR will be pervasive in marketing by 2025, do you agree?

12. Who run the world? Fierce females!

“Powerful ideas come from intersections of experiences and ideas,” said presenter Rohit Bhargava, trend curator and founder of the Influential Marketing Group. And one of the most powerful trends of the moment? Fierce feminism. Women are standing up for their rights, responding less and less to traditional advertising – and protesting brands that support stereotypes and don’t embrace diversity.

13. It’s not me, it’s you

‘Diminishing loyalty’ are two words brands don’t want to hear spoken together. Unfortunately, consumers have more options than ever before, and are hunting for the bigger, better deal. Even if they love your product, a moment’s complacency and they could be swept off their feet by a charming competitor. Put effort into delighting and entertaining your audience, and offering them clear incentives to stay in the relationship.

14. If at first you don’t succeed, make it easier to order a pizza

Did you know that Domino’s stock has outperformed Google, Facebook, Apple, and even Amazon this decade? We were shocked, too. The pizza brand has a loyal following, but a pretty mediocre product. The thing is, they know it. Domino’s opted to focus on the core experience of getting its passable pies to the people, by making it easier than you ever imagined on any and every device.

So there you have it, the best of the marketing topics Team BSTRO took away from SXSW 2017. Did you attend this year’s conference? Did we miss anything? We’d love to talk about it! You can tweet to us @creativebstro, or drop us a line any time.

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