Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Content Strategy and SXSW

People frequently ask me why, as a Web content strategist, I list South by Southwest (SXSW) as my one, must-go-to, conference each year. SXSW panels are mostly about design, and User Experience, mixed with some small business/startup info, with a strong dash of blogging and social media. Not much at all that is strictly about content. So why do I go?

  • I already know how to create good Web content so that’s not what I’m looking for at a conference. What I get from SXSW is context. I get to see what is on the near horizon for new content delivery platforms. I get to see how content will be created and consumed two years down the road.
  • At SXSW, I always learn about what will be hot in about two years. The new apps that get a lot of attention there are not, brand new, and that’s important. Once an app starts to generate a lot of buzz at SXSW, it’s usually, almost ready for prime time. This is a large group of users, so people will actually be USING hot new apps, not just talking about them.
  • I don’t work for a hip design agency; I work for a big, results-focused, corporate giant. I don’t have time to play with new media toys and make bets on which ones will grow into the “next big thing”, and which ones will become, “what ever happened to?” SXSW distills a lot of what’s new down to the few hot ideas that actually have a following and a chance.

For what I go for, SXSW has a great track record. I learned about Twitter years before most at SXSW along with very early conversations about Facebook, LOLcats, wikis, Web 2.0, tagging, the semantic Web, blogging for dollars, AJAX, user generated content, cloud computing, Web services, and mashups. There's a content strategy implication in every one of those subjects.

When August rolls around, I’ll be completely behind again. But, for a week every March, I feel like I’m hip and completely caught up with what’s going on in my fast-moving industry.

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