Here We Go Again: SXSW 2010

SXSWPanelPicker-lgI know it feels like we just put the wraps on SXSW 2009, but Panel Picker Voting is already live for 2010! This year they’re using the Panel Picker to crowdsource session proposals for all three conferences: Music, Film and Interactive (whereas in the past it has only been used for Interactive).

As you well know, Social Collective, Inc., a company I started to serve the conference industry with better and more social software tools, provided the official social network and schedule builder for SXSW 2009. We’re on tap to provide that service again this year — in fact, the site is already live at my.sxsw.com. We have some exciting new features planned for this year, so stay tuned for announcements on that front as we get closer to the event.

So, even though we’re intimately involved with SXSW, I still have to EARN the privilege of speaking there. 30% of that is decided by YOU, the voters. So, in the name of shameless self-promotion, I must ask you to vote for my proposed talks (if you think they’re worthy):

SXSW Interactive: Developer from Mars Takes on Designer from Venus
Every great project needs a designer and a developer. Yet sometimes working side-by-side can be about as fun as pulling teeth. A veteran developer and a veteran designer use real-world anecdotes to spar on the dynamics that make it challenging for people in these two disciplines to collaborate effectively.

Neo-patronage: Can It Save the Music Industry?
Starting with the idea that all recorded music should be free (as in beer), I will explore the idea that a system of “neo-patronage” — think of the way European artists were commissioned during the Renaissance — can help reinvent the beleaguered music industry to ensure that artists can get fairly compensated in a world where music is free for consumers.

You have until Friday, September 4th at 11:59PM CST to cast your vote. Thanks for your support and see you at SXSW!

The Ultimate Cool Factor: Social Media Ideas from SXSW

Continuing their efforts as fine purveyors of “awesomesauce,” those ebullient SocialFishes Maddie Grant and Lindy Dreyer interviewed Chris Bucchere of The Social Collective for an article in FORUM Magazine.

The interview touches on a lot of different topics from defining the word “automagic” to how to make effective use of SMS at your next association event. Check it out for yourself or download your own copy.

My SXSW Panel: Social Networks for the Anti-Social

sxsw2009(2)UPDATE: SXSW released a complete audio recording of this panel!

I’m at SXSW again this year. I attended SXSWi last year and, if my memory serves me correctly, I also attended SXSW Music in 1995, though I might be confusing it with H.O.R.D.E., Austin City Limits or one of the other great music festivals in this fine city which is known internationally for its eclectic music scene. Anyway, because The Social Collective is powering my.SXSW, I actually have the pleasure of spending 10 full days in Austin and attending all three festivals this year: Film, Music and Interactive. I’m also speaking, oddly enough, in a Music Panel called Social Networks for the Anti-Social.

I have to warn you, most panels (at any conference, not just SXSW) totally suck and this may not be an exception.

But who knows, it might be a completely magical and transcendental experience, but you won’t know unless you check it out.

my.SXSW Goes Mobile

South by Southwest (SXSW) Music, Film and Interactive Conferences and Festivals has launched the official mobile social networking and scheduling tool for their 23rd annual event, which begins Friday, March 13th. Powered by the industry-leading whitelabel conference software application, The Social Collective, the mobile site integrates seamlessly with my.SXSW’s networking, messaging and calendaring features. Open to registrants of the film, music or interactive events, the site can be accessed by loading http://my.SXSW.com in most mobile phone web browsers, including Blackberry, iPhone, Andriod, Treo and other handsets with modern web-browsing capabilities.

SXSW teamed up with The Social Collective to provide anywhere/anytime access to all the official films, music showcases, parties, interactive panels and other events via my.SXSW.

People who have phones with web-browsing capabilities can use my.SXSW’s lightweight and highly optomized mobile web experience. People who do not can still build their personal schedules using my.SXSW via a full-blown web browser and then use the provided iCal synchronization to push events to Apple’s iCal, the Google Calendar, or any other iCal-compliant software, which can then be synchronized with virtually any mobile device. my.SXSW also supports personal schedule export into Microsoft Outlook, which can be synchronized with many other types of phones including Blackberry and Treo devices. Finally, in leiu of (or in addition to) using a mobile phone calendar, registrants can use my.SXSW to sign up for SXSW Alerts, which provide realtime schedule updates via SMS.

“We didn’t want people to feel that they needed to lug their laptops around at SXSW,” said founder and CEO of The Social Collective, Chris Bucchere.

“Nearly everyone is already going to be carrying some sort of mobile device and we didn’t want to leave anyone in the dark.”

“So if you have an overacheiving ‘smartphone,’ you can use my.SXSW through your phone’s web browser. If your phone is more of a C-student, you can probably still synchronize your calendar using iCal, Google Calendar or Microsoft Outlook. If your phone is more of the ‘beauty school dropout’ variety, at least you can still use SMS.”

The launch of my.SXSW’s mobile experience will make finding contacts, finding great events, and finding the locations of the different venues dead-simple, quick and portable. With The Social Collective’s modular design, enabling the mobile version of the hosted software was easy and painless. The resulting mobile web application carries the SXSW trademark and brand, just like the rest of the integrated social networking, messaging and scheduling features of my.SXSW.

“Our goals were simple: provide SXSW-branded social networking and scheduling capabilities to the greatest number and variety of mobile devices possible,” said Scott Wilcox, CTO of SXSW.

“Between The Social Collective and SXSW Alerts, we can easily reach nearly all of our registrants and provide a great user experience.”

SXSW opens Friday, March 13th with the concurrent film and interactive festivals. The music festival starts Wednesday, March 18th. Find out more about SXSW at http://my.sxsw.com

The Social Collective provides whitelabeled social networking, messaging and calendaring for events of all shapes and sizes. Visit http://thesocialcollective.com to find out how they can help you grow and serve the community around your next event.

Feedback Loop

We’ve been keeping a close watch on what people are saying about my.SXSW and trying to respond to as much of the feedback as possible, either directly from us or via the folks at SXSW.

It’s no surprise — in this “2.0” world of hypersharing and total transparency — that we’ve seen literally hundreds of blog posts and tweets about my.SXSW, but we’ve only received a handful of e-mails.

We don’t really like e-mail anyway, so this is cool.

The SXSW help desk has received a lot of support requests via e-mail, with issue #1 being that the welcome e-mails and password reset e-mails aren’t showing up, most likely due to downstream spam filters. Ah, the irony! Again, this is why e-mail sucks, but it’s sort of something that’s hard to live with and also hard to live without.

So, how are we tracking and responding to feedback?

We’re using a jury-rigged system of free tools: search.twitter.com (remember Summize?), Google Alerts and Google Reader.

This “system” only takes a few minutes to set up and it can be used to track virtually anything being said about anything in a public space on the interwebs.

Basically, you can set up “comprehensive” Google Alerts and have them “delivered” via feed (or e-mail, but you already know how we feel about that). You can do the same with search.twitter.com.

Simply plug the feeds into Google Reader, organize them into folders/tags and voila, your feedback tracking system is ready to roll.

We’re searching for terms like “SXSW,” so obviously we get a lot of false positives. However, it’s easy to manually “star” or “share” items in Google reader and then publish the resulting list of shared or starred items back out as a feed to share with your team via a web page or, if you like, put it back in Google Reader. (Yikes! We know that sounds like it might be infinitely or mutually recursive, but actually, it works — trust us, we’ve tried it.)

So, here it is: a pretty comprehensive list of all the good, the bad and the ugly things people are saying about my.SXSW. Hey, it’s all public information on the interwebs anyway, so why not republish it all in one place?

Adding Context to my.SXSW Tweets

There has been quite a bit of chatter that we’ve been following in the SXSW community about the launch of my.SXSW. Fortunately, most of it has been good news. (Phew!) We’ve also gotten some great, constructive feedback and some fabulous ideas for new features that we wish we would have thought of ourselves!

There’s one issue that has come up a few times that we’d like to address in this post. Several people in the community have expressed concern about the lack of context in tweets coming from my.SXSW. (This only applies to people who have integrated their Twitter accounts.)

We’ve applied two changes to The Social Collective software to help with this. First off, we changed the application source from “The Social Collective” to “my.SXSW” with a link back to the my.SXSW site. Also, we added a “on http://my.sxsw.com” link back to messages that notify people when you join a group.

Keep the feedback coming — we’d love to hear from you!

SXSW Launches my.SXSW Powered by The Social Collective

sxsw2009Austin, Texas – February 2nd, 2009 – Today South By Southwest (SXSW), announced the launch of my.SXSW, the official social networking and scheduling tool for the 2009 conferences and festivals. Using my.SXSW, attendees can access the site to interact with one another, build their personalized conference schedules, join exclusive groups and form lasting relationships with other attendees. The social networking software was developed by SXSW and BDG, an industry-leading provider of a white-label conference social networking solution called The Social Collective. my.SXSW, powered by The Social Collective, represents a groundbreaking new way for SXSW attendees to enhance their offline conference experience through socializing online.

“We’ve always wanted to provide a space online for registrants to network before, during and after the ten days in March that they spend in Austin,” said Scott Wilcox, CTO of SXSW, Inc. “This year we teamed up with BDG to implement The Social Collective as my.SXSW, our new online registrant directory and social network. In addition to our collaboration with an outside team, we have tried to use the feedback we’ve received over the years to provide social networking opportunities for SXSW registrants. BDG and SXSW put a lot of thought into my.SXSW, resulting in a user experience we know will be a hit with our community.”

my.SXSW offers several new benefits to conference registrants, many of which are being introduced for the first time at SXSW 2009:

—Personalized and shareable event schedules
—Badge photo and avatar uploading and editing
—Rich media event pages with MP3 downloads, photos, band and speaker bios, etc.
—Seamless integration with Twitter, Flickr and Facebook
—Interest groups with integrated messaging
—Event/Schedule change notifications
—Social Networking (public profile pages, follow people and be followed)
—Private and public messaging on events, in groups and everywhere else
—Intuitive mobile device experience (to be launched just prior to the event)

For filmmakers looking for distribution, bands looking for producers, small businesses looking to develop their brands or digital creatives looking for new collaborators, my.SXSW provides a unique opportunity for people from all corners of the globe to get together and communicate before, after and during the event.

“We’re excited to see The Social Collective in use at SXSW,” said Chris Bucchere, CEO of BDG. “SXSW has come to be known as a trendsetting conference, not just for music and film, but for technology as well. The market for growing communities around conferences and events is just beginning to develop and of course SXSW is setting a great example of how to enhance people’s experience at their event using the right combination of web, e-mail, SMS and mobile tools.”

The Social Collective’s rich registration and schedule APIs enable seamless integration with the SXSW registrant and schedule data stores. As a result, there is no additional sign up or site registration needed. my.SXSW is open only to Film, Interactive, Music, Gold and Platinum SXSW registrants. Sign-in instructions will be sent via e-mail shortly after payment is confirmed and registration is processed by SXSW.

About SXSW

MUSIC AND MEDIA CONFERENCE features a legendary festival showcasing more than 1,800 musical acts of all genres from around the globe on over eighty stages in downtown Austin. By day, the Austin Convention Center comes alive with conference registrants doing business in the Trade Show and partaking of a full agenda of informative, provocative panel discussions featuring hundreds of speakers of international stature. In its 23rd year, SXSW remains an essential event on the music industry calendar. SXSW Music takes place March 18-22, 2009.

The SXSW FILM CONFERENCE AND FESTIVAL explores all aspects of the art and business of independent filmmaking. The Conference hosts a five-day adventure in the latest filmmaking trends and new technology, featuring distinguished speakers and mentors. The internationally-acclaimed, nine-day Festival boasts some of the most wideranging programming of any US event of its kind, from provocative documentaries to subversive Hollywood comedies, with a special focus on emerging talents. SXSW Film takes place March 13-21, 2009

The SXSW INTERACTIVE FESTIVAL celebrates the creativity and passion behind the coolest new media technologies. In addition to panel sessions that cover everything from web design to bootstrapping to social networks, attendees make new business connections at the three-day Trade Show & Exhibition. The newest element of the event is ScreenBurn at SXSW, which adds specific gaming industry programming as well as a three-day Arcade to the mix. SXSW Interactive takes place March 13-17, 2009

Find out more at http://www.sxsw.com

About The Social Collective

The Social Collective provides a fun and interactive means for conference attendees to meet and network with one another in a safe and secure environment before, during and after any conference or event. It improves attendees’ conference experiences and gives conference organizers more happy and loyal customers. The white-label product/service offering includes branding of the conference social network, integration with existing registration and e-commerce systems, data migration, site archival and Twitter, Flickr and Facebook integration.

Find out more at http://thesocialcollective.com

For more information, contact Elizabeth Derczo, SXSW, at [email protected], 512/467-7979 ext. 209 or Jennifer Dunleavey at The Social Collective, [email protected], 703/234-7910

How to Convince Your Company to Pay for a SXSWi Pass

sxsw2009Times are tough, right? Everyone is slashing spending, especially around travel and conference budgets. But you need (read: want) to be at SXSWi. So it’s time to convince your boss that your attendance at SXSWi is something that the business needs to be successful.

Fortunately, if your company does or wants to do anything with the interwebs (and seriously, who doesn’t these days?), this is easier than you thought. Just follow these five easy steps.

1. Look at the SXSWi speaker/panel lineup and pick ten panels that are relevant to your line of work. I’m a web 2.0 developer with more than a passing interest in social media, so this is easy. But the panels run the gamut of topics, so you should be able to find something that works for your business/industry. Here’s an example: Building Personal and Company Brands with Web 2.0 Tools. Every company wants a stronger brand, right?

2. Copy the titles and abstracts into an e-mail to your boss and elaborate on how you’ll benefit from them. More importantly, give specific reasons why what you learn will help you and your team, peers, etc. achieve 2009’s business goals. To continue with our example, my company needs to grow our social media cred. The panel consists of Saul Colt, C.C. Chapman and Gary Vaynerchuk. According to their bios (on their web sites), Saul is “an accomplished marketing professional, with more than a decade of diverse high-level experience and a respected publisher” and C.C.’s company, The Advance Guard, “focuses on helping brands of all sizes smartly and strategically leverage emerging technologies for radical marketing programs.” Gary doesn’t really require an explanation, but if your boss has been living in a cave, then you might want to drop a few adjectives like “inspirational” and “passionate.” Example: This panel will help me form an action plan on how to grow my company’s social media cred, following the examples set by these three extraordinary social media mavens.

3. Outline the maximum line item costs for the event. The pass, the travel, the hotel and the food. If you really want to go, make your food budget less than $50/day, your hotel budget less than $100/day and cover the rest (if necessary) with your own cash. Don’t provide a total, as it might overwhelm your boss at first brush. Besides, I’m sure he or she can add.

4. Plan a post-conference re-cap meeting. This is crucial! Set a date and make a list of team members who you will invite, including your boss. During this meeting, promise to share the highlights of what you learned at SXSWi and what you recommend that the business do differently. Explain how these revolutionary ideas will boldly move the company forward in ways they never could have imagined.

5. Split the difference. Remind your boss that the conference takes place Friday-Tuesday (March 13th to 17th). If you travel after work on Thursday or on Friday morning and return to work the following Wednesday, you’re only missing three days of work AND you’re donating your time to the company you love so much over the weekend.

There you have it, your “free” pass to SXSWi. Well, it’s not exactly free. You have to deliver on all the promises you’re making to your boss, especially if you want to go next year! Now if only it was this easy to justify the music festival. . . .

(Thanks to allisonb00, the inspiration for many things in my life, including this blog post.)