SXSW 2013

I think it is every marketer’s dream to get to go to SXSW. I know I have been dreaming about it since college. And my dream came true this year!

SXSW was an incredible opportunity to see a much larger conference and figure out how they manage thousands of people. I was honestly surprised that it wasn’t the largest conference I have been to (Dreamforce has close to 100,000 attendees). But it was still an amazing experience.

A few highlights for me.

BLOGGER LOUNGE

Samsung sponsors a blogger’s lounge where bloggers or other people who want to get work done can come, sit down, and most importantly charge their devices. It isn’t huge – there are about 7-8 tables that fit 10-12 people each. But there are food and drinks, and it’s a comfortable space. There is also a daily web show that goes on, and they bring in influential people to interview. Some examples of those people: Tony Hsieh from Zappos, Brian Solis, and Shaq. Samsung also has an area where people can try out all of their devices (tablets & phones) and other promotional materials along the side.

Being within a few feet of Shaq was really cool too. ;)

Shaq at SXSW

Shaq at SXSW

Samsung Blogger Lounge

Samsung Blogger Lounge

KEYNOTE PRESENTATIONS

I attended four of the keynotes: Elon Musk, Al Gore, Dennis Crowley, and Michael Inman. The first three were interview style, and Michael spoke by himself. The format was 45 minutes of either interview or presentation and 15 minutes of Q&A. They asked the audience to submit questions via Twitter with the hashtag #AskMusk, #AskGore, #AskCrowley, #AskInman. I loved how well the Q&A portion was integrated with the audience. I’m also a bit of a Foursquare nut, as you may know if you read my blog, so I was excited to see Dennis. I hadn’t seen him speak in about 3-4 years so it was interesting to hear about the change from check-ins and mayorships to emphasizing the importance of data. Also, Michael Inman was the funniest, most engaging person I have ever seen speak.

Elon Musk

Elon Musk

Al Gore

Al Gore

Dennis Crowley

Dennis Crowley

Michael Inman

Michael Inman

AUTHOR’S ROOM

There was a small room (maybe 50-100 people) where author’s could give a 20 minute presentation on their book. There was also a small cafe in the room. Right outside the room was an area for them to sign books right after the presentation. Immediately to the right of that was a store where Wiley was selling books including HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing book!

Author's Room

Author’s Room

Book Signing Area

Book Signing Area

CHARGING STATIONS

There were charging stations EVERYWHERE – I LOVED it!. At parties, in the blogger’s lounge, in areas that sponsors took over, and even just at random places in the hall. In the picture below you see what looks like closed lockers. AT&T (the sponsor) would position someone at the lockers, and there were chargers inside. You could give them your phone, they would lock it up, and you could come back later to get it back. Or you could stand there for awhile as your phone charged. AMAZING!

Charging Stations

Charging Stations

TRADE SHOW

The trade show was a typical exhibition area. But there were a lot of companies who did some pretty cool things including Post-It!

Post-It

Post-It

There were also a ton of t-shirts given out, which I was a fan of ;)

T-shirt collage

T-shirt collage

MY FAVORITE PART: ALL THE PEOPLE

Putting aside all of the great sessions and parties that literally went all day long (from early in the morning to late at night), my favorite part was meeting all different kinds of people and also re-connecting with some other friends. It was a great opportunity to bounce ideas off of each other and meet new people.

Two PRSSA friends, Amy Bishop & Harrison Kratz

Two PRSSA friends, Amy Bishop & Harrison Kratz

With the founder of Weather Puppy (An app you MUST download)

With the founder of Weather Puppy (An app you MUST download)

Reconnecting with the RVIP Ladies I worked with at Dreamforce 2011

Reconnecting with the RVIP Ladies I worked with at Dreamforce 2011

But the Angry Birds party was pretty cool :)

Angry Birds Party Decoration

Angry Birds Party Decoration

Was anyone else there this year? What did you think?

OpenTable + Foursquare

I am a big fan of OpenTable.  And I am a big fan of Foursquare.

Whenever I go out to dinner, I make a reservation on OpenTable (if the restaurant is on it).  Whenever I go anywhere, I check in on Foursquare.

When I use OpenTable, I get either 100 or 1,000 points (depending on the restaurant).  When I use Foursquare, I get between 1-5 points (or maybe even more depending on Foursquare).

Before you go to dinner, you make a reservation on OpenTable.  When you get to the restaurant, you check-in on Foursquare completing the cycle.  OpenTable is the proactive action, and Foursquare is the reactive action.  They are two halves to a whole.

So it only makes sense to bring the two together.

Imagine this: you make a reservation on OpenTable for your favorite restaurant worth 100 points.  When you get to the restaurant, you tell the host or hostess that you are there to redeem your 100 points.  But it doesn’t stop there.  You then check-in on Foursquare, sharing with your network of friends.  You get some bonus points.  Then you share on Facebook, Twitter or both and you get even more points.  But why does this matter?

OpenTable builds the app.

OpenTable would need to be the one to create the app to connect with Foursquare.  But why would they bother when they already rule the online reservation space?  And they already have millions of people using their services.  For every hundred points on OpenTable, you earn $1 in dining credit.  After you get 2,000 points, they will send a $20 gift certificate.  The only way to get points is to make a reservation, and it is a very private, intimate experience.  The only people who know about the reservation are the customer, merchant and OpenTable.

But if you could get more points by checking in on Foursquare, tweeting out the check-in and posting on Facebook, your friends would see the benefits of OpenTable.  OpenTable makes it easier to make a reservation without calling many restaurants.  And by checking in, tweeting or posting, you are endorsing OpenTable’s service.  The lazy tweets or posts would give credit to OpenTable while also spreading the world about the service.  The tweets and posts could even lead to a landing page that encourages visitors to immediately sign up for an OpenTable account, make your first reservation and download the mobile app.

Currently, when someone makes a reservation, OpenTable gets a lot of data about what a person’s dining habits are: what type of food someone likes, what restaurants they like more than others, what areas of a city a person frequents the most etc.  But there may be more than one OpenTable user present when the reservation is made, but the data is only recorded for the person who made the reservation.  Connecting Foursquare and being able to show how many OpenTable members are at a dinner can help them gather data and even make it more accurate.

OpenTable will also figure out the habits of its members by seeing where they are checking in on Foursquare when they don’t have OpenTable reservations.  OpenTable can use this data to sign on new restaurants that are popular to its members.

Customers can get extra points.

Why would customers be interested in this app?  Well they benefit by getting more points.  Instead of simply getting 100 points for a reservation, they can now get points much faster.  And they become advocates for the restaurant which will not go unnoticed.

Merchants will gain brand advocates.

Why would the restaurants be interested in this app?  Instead of having the private interaction with their customers by using OpenTable, they will now have customers who are broadcasting to their social networks that they have gone to a particular restaurant.  The amount of referrals will drastically increase.

So OpenTable, what do you think?

P.S. Foursquare could benefit from this too.  People complain about their points not meaning anything, right?  And they will not have more access to OpenTable’s millions of customers!  Seems like it could work for both parties…

The End of an Era – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

I recently wrote a post on the HubSpot blog about marketing lessons from the Harry Potter series.  However, I couldn’t let the opportunity pass to get into what this series REALLY means to me.  You have probably seen a lot of tweets and Facebook posts and heard a lot of people talking about their childhood ending with the ending of the series.  And I think that really captures what this series means to me.

I have always been a bit overly excited when it comes to anything Harry Potter related.  When the 7th book came out, I took off of work, got the book at midnight, read until I fell asleep that night and finished the book by the end of the day.  I always saw the movies as soon as they came out (gotta love the midnight premieres) and was beyond excited when I went to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando.

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I also wrote a blog post after I saw Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.  I think the last paragraph will give you a better idea of my excitement:

I guess all I can say now is 492 days until Part I of the 7th book comes out in theaters, and 730 days until Part II of the 7th book comes out in theaters!  Then we can finally hear Molly Weasley say “Get away from my daughter, bitch!”

So between the trailer and this Hillywood spoof of Harry Potter and “Friday,” I was counting down the days.  Better yet, my birthday is July 14 so right as my birthday ended at midnight, the premiere started.

I was first in line for the premiere (IMAX 3D of course), but I do have to say I’m not the craziest person out there.  I love that everyone dresses up, but our theater was crazy to the point that someone who was dressed in an owl costume (as Hedwig) was flying around the theater for a good amount of time.  Someone else also hushed the theater and then ran in yelling TROLL!  TROLL IN THE DUNGEON!  And the theater started singing Harry Potter Puppet Pals (I may have joined in with this one.)

And a big thank you to Foursquare for creating a Harry Potter badge!

So now for some of my thoughts on the movie.  SPOILER WARNING RIGHT HERE!

I wasn’t sure how they were going to pick off after the previous part, but I think they did a great job of getting right into it (instead of showing flashbacks from previous movies).  The first half had left off with Voldemort getting the Elder Wand, and I think it was right to start there.  At first, there was more talking than action in the movie, but that quickly ended. Harry, Hermione and Ron were quickly escaping death at Gringotts.

I didn’t realize how quickly Harry returns to Hogwarts, but I was excited that the movie got right to it.  I would have liked Harry and Dumbledore’s brother to go into more details about their history, but I understand that needed to be cut from the movie.  Harry confronting Snape soon after that scene definitely made up for that!

But the greatest part of the movie wasn’t the battle between Voldemort and Harry or event their encounter in the forrest. The movie completely overtook me when Snape was killed and Harry went back in his memories to find out the truth about his destiny, Snape’s love for his mother and why Voldemort has been after him.  I could hear everyone around me sniffling (including myself).  It was just such a beautiful portrayal of the Harry Potter story.

There were also many characters who really developed so well in this movie in comparison to previous ones.  Neville Longbottom was the perfect portrayal of a character who went from a scrawny, helpless boy to someone who could look evil straight in the face.  The scene when he stands up to Voldemort is overpowering and inspirational.  Ginny Weasley is also someone else who came into her character very well.  She is now 20 and began filming with the Harry Potter series at age 9 so we really saw her grow up.  But seeing her mourn when everyone thinks Harry Potter is dead was one of her greatest scenes.

Now I know a lot of people did not like the epilogue to the series, but I always loved it.  I loved reading about their lives in the future after the craziness of their years at Hogwarts.  It was AMAZING to see what they would look like in 20 years (and a bit funny for characters like Draco and Ron).  But watching Harry give advice to his son as he embarked on his journey at Hogwarts and seeing him reunite with the now married Ron and Hermione was the perfect way to end the book.

So to J.K. Rowling, thank you for 14 amazing years of Harry Potter.  Like many other people, I feel like I have grown up as Harry has grown up.  And I think I speak for everyone when I say, I cannot wait for Pottermore!

Foursquare Day

A lot of people laugh at me that I check in wherever I go.  But ever since I got my smartphone in September, I have been addicted to checking in on Foursquare.  So when I heard that there was an actual Foursquare Day, I was obviously excited to celebrate.  Foursquare Day is on 4/16 every year.

For those of you who do not realize the connection:

Four = 4

Four Squared = 42 = 16

So, Foursquare Day is on 4/16.

To celebrate this holiday, I joined Allen & Gerritsen for a day of playing Foursquare in the Boston Common.  I had actually never played foursquare before (apparently I was deprived as a child during recess), but it was a lot of fun.  We ended up changing the rules a bit by allowing the mayor to make up a new rule.  That definitely added a twist to things and made it more exciting.  Check out more pictures from the day at Allen and Gerritsen’s Flickr for #4sqdayBOS.

Photo taken by Tina Yip (@tina_yip)

Thanks to the Digital Incubator at A&G, we also received a great deal at Boloco On the Common to celebrate Foursquare.  When you said “Digital Incubator,” you received discounted burritos.  (They pretended like they didn’t know what I was talking about at first so I went on and on about Foursquare Day, and they just laughed and said they knew what I was talking about from the beginning.  The staff there was really great and fun-spirited!)

To complete a day of recognizing Foursquare, the Explore feature that is part of Version 3.0 chose the places I was going to at night.  It was great to try a new restaurant and new bar in an area of Boston I had never really explored (aka Brookline Village).  I had used the Explore feature before, but I did not find anything I liked too much until this past weekend.  It was great to try out a new place especially on Foursquare Day.

I hope everyone had a great Foursquare Day this past weekend!  Til next year!