SXSW is one of those events companies plan for every year. From startups to the biggest companies in the world, SXSW brings a level of (overwhelming) exposure that few other events can match. I’ve personally worked for SXSW and attended the last 12 festivals as a sponsor. Here are some tips to making the most of your SXSW experience.
Producing content at SXSW is a great way to engage with people, especially if you’re rolling out a product, giving out special perks or throwing surprise events at SXSW.
• Blog Live: Live blogging gives you an opportunity to share unique perspective from your business and personal vantage points. You may think there’s just “way too much content” flying around at SXSW for it to be effective, but having a specific angle and gaining some traction could mean a lot for both your business and personal brands.
• Be Relevant: When you’re producing content, whether it’s live blogging or social media, make sure to stay on top of key words (and hashtags) being tossed around. This will help you gain visibility. #SXSW2015
• Be Social: It helps you get a first-hand look at how people are reacting to your content and product. Measuring (in real time) how many people are engaging with you is a critical part of any event marketing strategy. If you’re waiting to check your feeds the next day, you’ve lost the opportunity.
• Be Remote: Even if you’re not at SXSW, you can produce content to help those that are on the ground, or you can provide prospective from the outside. Find an angle to be helpful to your fellow entrepreneurs who are caught up in the SXSW madness!
Prepare Your Infrastructure
SXSW is a great time to launch a product. Just look at the uber-successful Startup Village, chock full of leading startups going for gold at this year’s SXSW. This represents a handful of the hundreds of companies trying to garner just a fraction of the energy, user adoption and media focused on the event.
It’s important to plan for the best-case scenario.
• Should your growth explode overnight (which is very, very possible), your infrastructure and hosting partner needs to be ready to proactively scale your services. We suggest managed hosting to ensure you have eyes on your infrastructure.
• Make sure your code is lean and you’re hosting the components of your app in the right environments. We suggest hosting any larger database on bare metal (dedicated) and your web/front end interface on cloud. If you’re managing these elements as if they’re in one environment, that’s called hybrid hosting, which will probably be a topic of discussion at SXSW.
Tame the Guerilla
When you think of SXSW, you probably also think “Guerilla Marketing.” At SXSW, you’ll see extreme marketing campaigns representing millions of dollars taking shape as elaborate multi-day installations (like the Mashable House), custom built vehicles (check Hootsuite’s bus out), live street art and whatever else a creative brand professional can dream up.
These kinds of campaigns can be exceptionally helpful for your brand if you do them “right.” That means making sure your campaigns connect you with the right customers, and make sense in terms of your business and objective.
• Are you there to close deals? Do something small.
• Want to drive volume downloads on your app? Go bigger: canvas the town with a theme and become involved in the social conversation.
• Are you one of the biggest brands in the world? Buy a city block and hire Justin Timberlake. The possibilities are endless!
Network, Network, Network.
SXSW is all about connections. You need to make it easy and appealing for your contacts to connect with you. Have several “meet ups” at various times to make it easy for people to drop in and catch up. Also, stay on top of relevant “meet ups” to your business and attend as many as possible.
Finally, don’t be afraid to stalk your favorite e-celebrity. They’re at SXSW to be available (for the most part), so don’t be shy.
Have fun, be safe and stay on budget! We’ll see you at SXSW 2015!