Top 10 SXSW Interactive Panels

  • March 26, 2015
  • INK Team

Thumbing through the SXSW schedule pamphlet trying to decide which panel to go to was like trying to narrow down which Italian restaurant to go to Italy: impossible. There were so many interesting panels to see over the course of five SXSW Interactive days that INK decided to divide and conquer to cover as much ground as possible. Here’s a look at some of our favorite panels from SXSWi 2015:


Future Crimes from a Digital Underworld

As the panel’s title states, this interesting session covered the ways criminals, corporations and even countries are using new and emerging technologies to commit crimes. To summarize, author Marc Goodman scared the crap out of audience members with tales of organized crime using malware to steal PII; countries using sophisticated hacking schemes to steal classified info; and companies taking part in the digital underground to find competitor IP. The future of crime is a scary one and consumers, government and businesses need to be smart about what they do online to best protect themselves. – Helen Murphy


The Cake is Not a Lie: Gamers and the U.S. Workforce

The Austin Technology Council’s Policy Labs Series kicked off at SXSW, bringing more elected officials from Washington to Austin than ever before. The series discussed the most pressing issues in tech policy facing us today. My personal favorite was called “The Cake is Not a Lie: Gamers and the U.S. Workforce,” which included speakers from Congress, Dell, and the Entertainment Software Association. I thought the perspective of gaming as a possible driving force for STEM education and a way of making the field “cool” to younger generations was fascinating. I was also excited to hear that some schools around the country are offering coding as a foreign language elective – I’d love to see this in other schools around the nation. – Ariel Miller


Moonshots and Reality

Astro Teller is the Captain of Moonshots, i.e. the director of day-to-day activities at Google[x] Labs. The lab is a semi-secret facility with a mission to develop breakthrough technology that delivers radical solutions for huge problems. They’ve tackled everything from self-driving cards and drone delivery services to glucose monitoring and wind power. Teller is an energetic and passionate speaker and his talk focused mainly on the many, many times Google[x] has failed but how, without that failure, they never would have succeeded. It was a great reminder that a set back doesn’t have to be the end and to always look for the lessons hidden in your mistakes. – Shelley Nall



How to Keep Your Social Media Game Sincere

Lucky Magazine Editor-in-Chief Eva Chen and beauty YouTube influencer Michelle Phan took the SXSW stage to talk about creating a genuine social media experience for followers. They discussed social media tips and tricks – Instagram a picture in good light and Snapchat if the light quality is poor, advises Eva – and dissected what followers want to see: personality and sincerity. Contrary to popular belief, all social media platforms are not created equal. Eva believes brands and influencers should have a different strategic approach to different social media platforms. For example, what works on Instagram may not work well for Twitter. After they wrapped up the session with a discussion on social media “haters” – recognize constructive feedback and ignore trolls, Michelle says – I followed Eva Chen to her next session with Yahoo Style’s Joe Zee where they chatted more about social media and the intermingling of fashion and tech. – Nikol Moen


Lessons from BuzzFeed

I love BuzzFeed so obviously I wanted to attend this one. Co-founder and CEO, Jonah Peretti, shared how BuzzFeed has emerged and their business strategy. I found it very interesting that one of their strategies is to get their content beyond their site and shared on other social and web sites. Also, it was interesting to hear how BuzzFeed balances being a social and news channel simultaneously. – Candice Eng


Social Media Strategy Swap

Jess Warren, former INKer and our favorite contract graphic designer, teamed up with Social Factor’s Producer, Martin La Rocca to host a SXSW Core Conversation about social media strategy. They session was a lively conversation among attendees about the best social strategies for agencies and in-house professionals. The top three key takeaways from this event: 1. Getting unique content is tough. Put together a creative brief of the social images you need for the next quarter or so. 2. People love to see photos of other people on social media, even if the image quality is poor. 3. Tailor your content to each social media platform. – Nikol Moen


Content is the Starting Line, Not the Finish Line

This session was really informative for learning how to get your content seen once you’ve produced something great. Quality and quantity of your content are important, but how do you make your content move to get people to see it and share it? Here are a few takeaways Mark Shaefer, of Shaefer Marketing Solutions, gave us for developing a strategy to produce and promote content that people will share:

  • Consider your niche and find something no one has talked about before—then talk about it.
  • Create aggressive strategy based on key words—SEO is still important to get people to see your content.
  • Nurture an audience who ignites: Focus on the 2% of people who will share your content, not the 98% who will browse, but rarely share. Once you find what makes that 2% share your content, base your strategy on that.

Be aware of the main reasons consumers share brand content: it’s an expression of self ID (Nike, Apple); people want to help others with informative or encouraging content; people share content from brands they love. – Caitlin New



Company Culture: Passing Fad or Generational Shift

CultureIQ’s Greg Besner covered how to keep millennials engaged in company culture. I am a borderline millennial and found that there are already some huge differences between the way I approach work and career versus some of our younger new hires. Greg had five recommendations for keeping millennials engaged: 1. Collect and respond to feedback; 2. Show them opportunities for career growth; 3. Leverage new technology; 4. Build a sense of community; 5. Don’t mess up the culture. – Helen Murphy 


The Rise of the Creative Economy

I wasn’t 100% sure what I was going to get out of this one. I attended because I thought it’d be interesting to hear from the creative/designer point of view. I really enjoyed this panel because a lot of the insights shared weren’t just applicable to the creative side of things, but also for what we do in PR and at INK. For example, the panel talked about how one important aspect of their work which also the core of what INK does: storytelling. Emily Heyward from Red Antler said, in addition, to just providing their client with great creative design or logo, you must be sure you’re always telling a story with what you create. – Candice Eng


A Curious Mind: Inspiration for a Creative Life

Academy Award-winning film producer, Brian Grazer, gave the audience a sneak peek into his creative process during his SXSW session. Since college, Brian has had hundreds of “curiosity conversations” with some of the most brilliant minds on the planet. These exchanges are 100 percent genuine – no hidden agenda, simply coffee and a chat. These chats have sparked creative breakthroughs years later in life, giving way to award-winning films like A Beautiful Mind, American Gangster, Cinderella Man and more. Moral of the story: be genuinely interested in hearing others’ stories. They may lead to your next creative breakthrough. – Nikol Moen


Did you have any favorite SXSWi panels? Share a link to your favorites with us on Twitter: @INK_PR. Until next year, SXSWi.