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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
The trade show was a typical exhibition area. But there were a lot of companies who did some pretty cool things including Post-It!
There were also a ton of t-shirts given out, which I was a fan of
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.
But the Angry Birds party was pretty cool
Was anyone else there this year? What did you think?