Inclusion, influencer marketing, and Beyoncé. If you told pre-SXSW me that those three themes would dominate Day 2 of my experience I’d probably think you were crazy. Well, in only 48 hours I’ve come to realize that anything and everything is fair game at SXSW, and I’m not complaining.
I kicked off the day at Fashion for the Differently-abled, which reminded me of our client ReelAbilities Film & Arts Festival. Making fashion accessible to all is something that rarely crosses our mind. How could we possible guess what it’s like to have jeans that can’t fit leg braces, or what’s the best type of sweater for a quadriplegic? Runway of Dreams, speaker Mindy Scheier’s organization to design for the differently-abled, has brought this question to light for brands as big as Tommy Hilfiger. Wheelchair-bound model Jillian Mercado is convinced social media is bringing these needs to the surface, as people who are underserved feel compelled to make their feelings public.
As a RewardStyle influencer, I thought I knew everything I possibly could about the app that allows consumers to shop people’s Instagram and blog posts. In “Social Shopping: The Influencer Tech Driving Billions,” Amber Venz Box not only explained how RewardStyle works, but also discussed mobile trends and the way her company permeated closed social platforms like Snapchat and Instagram that don’t allow click-through links. Capitalizing on the trend of social media users screenshotting their favorite posts, RewardStyle’s launched the Liketoknow.it app that will scan all of your phone’s screenshots and give you outfit details with links to purchase the items. Cool yet dangerous for us online shoppers!
Last but not least, “The Streaming Games,” a panel hosted by talent from Facebook and Hulu, discussed how to rise above the noise on social media with video. We’ve seen the explosive impact a Facebook Live video can have, the diehard dedication Snapchat users feel for their filters, and the allure of getting a behind-the-scenes peek. More than 150 million users are posting Instagram stories, and Facebook is listening. As people gravitate to video, we can expect new and innovative ways for consuming AND sharing.
While the fabulous panels kept me dashing around the streets of Austin with umbrella in hand, Marshall and I were sure to hit up the CNN and Mashable houses. In what felt like a whirlwind, I met Cheryl Strayed, ran into Ron Swanson (I mean Nick Offerman), rubbed elbows with CNN professionals, and even became Beyoncé for a second as I reenacted her famous pregnancy announcement. Day 2 was “flawless” in my book.
It was a great day to drill further down into some of the practical aspects of our work at some panels which broke down trends that will affect us both now and in the future.
I started the day at the Pinterest house for a talk called “The Socialization of Food” where one of the site’s leaders was joined by the head of programming at Tastemade, a food journalist and the director of Brooklyn’s Museum of Food and Drink. (It’s on my list for my next trip to New York now.)
Eve Turow Paul, the writer on the panel, provided some fascinating insights into why food has taken off on social media. Millennials are more engaged with food than their parents’ generation, even to the point where it acts as a form of social currency. Her take on its prevalence is that food acts as an anti-technology - it's about pushing back on technology to engage with something real. The sensory stimulation of food content on social media functions as reaction to screen drudgery as it connects us to what makes human existence enjoyable.
What’s the next wave? Paul said it’s knowing where the food comes from and engaging with the makers.
Vikram Basharan, Pinterest’s head of regional partnerships, mentioned that Pinterest is a discovery platform meant to spur offline action. They’re putting their money where their mouth is with Lens, a new tool available in their mobile app that scans the item in front of your phone camera, analyzes it and then suggests further relevant pins. It was really neat!
Later on, I attended a session called “Social Media Real-Volution: What’s After Perfect” that spoke to some of the emerging trends in beauty and self-presentation on social media. While a certain curation has long defined platforms like Facebook and Instagram, the more naturalistic Snapchat is moving the needle back towards authenticity.
A psychologist on the panel, Dr. Vivian Diller, said that the problems of unrealistic expectations surrounding beauty are NOT to be pinned on millennials. Rather, it’s an issue that began with the Baby Boomers, whose “Forever Young” spirit led them to embrace digital photography and cosmetic surgery to warp the reality of aging. Now, Dr. Diller says, children are raised with the expectation that photos not only can be manipulated to represent an inauthentic self - but that perhaps they should be.
Another panelist, Paul Bedwell of Clapit, offered a peek at a different future. On his platform, users submit content created to their passions, and then the community “claps” them on and encourages them to achieve their goals. It’s a nice reminder that among all the trolls and vitriol on the Internet, its potential for human connectivity and empowerment remains strong.
But just like school, sometimes the best and most important learning doesn’t come from in class. I’ve been trekking around Austin – through some pretty hideous rain – to check out some of the many brand activations and observe what others are doing to stand out when stepping out. Some of the most memorable include a journey to “Resistance Radio” to promote Amazon’s TV show The Man in the High Castle, which required the use of a micro-chipped wristband to advance to stations, a Snapchat logo for the new movie Chips that unlocked a temporary Snapchat lens, and another 360 video!
© 2016 Integrate Agency