Each year, SXSW attracts industry leaders from music, film, technology, and beyond to share their latest insights, innovations, and trends shaping the future of our culture– and thus our marketing. This year’s conference was no different, with an incredible lineup of keynote speakers, panel discussions, and events that had attendees abuzz. Professionals looking to stay ahead of the curve by leveraging emerging technologies to connect with their audiences would not be disappointed. For those of us who couldn’t make it to Austin, here are some highlights:
Know Your Audience: Gen Z Edition
A key topic of conversation at SXSW echoes in strategy sessions across America; know thy audience! While many marketers use the same tactics and messaging across their audiences, often lumping Millennial and Gen Z consumers together, it’s never been more important to segment audiences. SXSW might have missed the mark last year, but this year’s panels on “reaching your Gen Z audience” actually included the generation in the discussion. Attendees at SXSW were able to have conversations with “the right people in the room.” Gen Z creators moderated panels and gave keynote speeches. Many of these discussions focused on diversity and inclusivity within the creator economy, treating your audience with respect, and authentically embracing brand activism related to sustainability and social issues.
Content. Content. Content.
Another hot topic at SXSW was the importance of content strategy. Audiences are consuming content almost as quickly as it’s being created, and they’re becoming smarter when it comes to identifying sponsored content. “No one wants to be sold to anymore. Now your marketing has to entertain, inform and resonate genuinely,” said Erica Coates, President of MOCEAN. We couldn’t agree more, Erica! Creating content at scale to bring added value to your audience goes beyond best practices at this point, and is actually necessary to sustain audiences between key launches and classic marketing tent poles.
The Future is Now 🤖
AI, AR, VR, the Metaverse and Web3 were heavily discussed at this year’s SXSW – surprise! While the future of AI has us all on our toes, (learn how to leverage ChatGPT for your marketing needs) companies demonstrated new products and services that could enhance industries like healthcare, education and logistics. Panelists also discussed the ethical implications of AI, including those related to privacy and bias. The Metaverse and Web3 were also topics of discussion, with the Copenhagen Institute of Futures Studies turning the conversation to “meta-washing” and the implications of the “jargonification” (yes, that is a technical term) of the technology. The challenge is that brands are misunderstanding what it means to enter the metaverse, and aren’t approaching it in a meaningful and enduring way. The key takeaway was that if you want to really play in the space, “The Metaverse” can’t just be a “token” to become a part of the conversation. (See what we did there?)
On the whole, SXSW was filled with impactful discussions about the future of our culture and the intersection of technology and creativity across industries… well that and some really great BBQ.