27, 8, 7, 5: Lessons from SXSW

Here is everything I learned at this year’s South by Southwest interactive festival.

27 tricks and tips:

  • Find one perfect little detail in your content and create a bite-sized piece out of it for social. Example: Comedy Central took one throw-away joke from an older movie and put it on Tumblr, and it took off. (Beyond Live, Why the L+3 Social TV Convo Matters)
  • HLN (a CNN social-only production) tests two headlines on Facebook in states with similar demographics, then sends the better performer to the remaining 48 states and globally. (Content is Content: TV, Social and Everything Else)
  • Engagement peaks one hour after broadcast — the super fans don’t want to be on a second screen during the show, but will lean in after and produce awesome content for you in that golden hour post broadcast. (Beyond Live, Why the L+3 Social TV Convo Matters)
  • WSJ sees different social platforms serving different needs: breaking news goes on Twitter, feature reporting goes on Facebook, and engagement goes on messaging and 1-1 apps. (Social Media: Breaking News or Fixing News?)
  • If someone is having a negative experience on social, or bringing negative attention to your brand, convene a task force for a quick conversation about how to deal with the issue, and reach out and ask the person to take the conversation offline. (Advocates vs Agitators: The Social Influence)
  • Tumblr is a great platform for creators. Look for fan-generated content here, like art and GIFs. Reward the Tumblr fans with Q&As and backstage exclusives.(Beyond Live, Why the L+3 Social TV Convo Matters)
  • I learned a lot from how Southwest Airlines manages social engagement: They have a “listening center” that is centrally located in the building, so other departments (specifically legal) are forced to interact with them. They set up morning stand-ups to discuss content schedule, industry news and what the conversation was overnight. (Advocates vs Agitators: The Social Influence)
  • Post short clips in the morning (snackable, shareable), and full episodes later in the day. (Beyond Live, Why the L+3 Social TV Convo Matters)
  • The “HLN Social Index” boils down trends on Facebook and Twitter into one list for producers to watch. I want this. (Content is Content: TV, Social and Everything Else)
  • HLN uses the metric “actions per fan.” This is awesome. (Content is Content: TV, Social and Everything Else)
  • Interesting: New York Times doesn’t have a separate social media policy. Instead they have an “ethics policy” that covers all online actions, including social. They also communicate best practices to staff. “It’s important to give journalists flexibility towards how they use social, says Michael Roston. (Social Media: Breaking News or Fixing News?)
  • Allison Lichter of the WSJ uses social media in two ways with content that has a paywall. First, social media is a way to reach new subscribers. Second, it’s a way to create a sense of community with their existing subscribers. (Social Media: Breaking News or Fixing News?)
  • AJ+ subtitles the majority of their videos, so that the story can be told if consumed via auto-play without sound. (AJ+ Presents the Future of Engagement)
  • Make sure that you (or someone in your company) had the ability to make fast decisions. If a social media disaster happens, you need someone to make a call without going through legal, marketing, or executive pathways. (Advocates vs Agitators: The Social Influence)
  • Talent on social: Have your talent post about their passions (aka on Tumblr: John Mayer posting his B&W photography, Vanessa Hudgins posting about fashion). The talent that do social media best are the ones who use it themselves and don’t rely on a team to do it for them. (Beyond Live, Why the L+3 Social TV Convo Matters)
  • The hub and spoke model works for large brands who need to respond quickly and efficiently to customers on social. They have “control centers” with trained teams, who sit in different departments close to the action. (Advocates vs Agitators: The Social Influence)
  • The Late Show (NBC) uses Tumblr for jokes, Snapchat for ticket giveaways, and their digital app for user generated content. (Content is Content: TV, Social and Everything Else)
  • During big moments like the Grammys and Oscars, have a team in place to monitor the conversation and add your voice if appropriate. For example, Southwest had people listening during the Super Bowl and could respond when the Doritos commercial seemed to mimic a Southwest ad. This could also translate to editorial brands like Frontline and The World — have a team in place during events like elections and social protests, to add context and archival content. (Advocates vs Agitators: The Social Influence)
  • AJ+ structures their editorial teams in a unique way, with large umbrellas for “video production” and “engagement.” Smaller teams like “context” teams are spun out underneath the video production umbrella, teams with the sole task to contextualize or produce explainers for current news. (AJ+ Presents the Future of Engagement)
  • If you’re looking to solidify your voice on social media, look to your founders first. Most times their pathos and mission is the best reflection of the company’s values and how it should present itself on social. (Advocates vs Agitators: The Social Influence)
  • Michael Roston of the New York Times admitted that the newsroom still had yet to figure out a good way to recognize critical voices on social media. (Social Media: Breaking News or Fixing News?)
  • There is always a producer staying up to watch and live-tweet The Late Show (NBC), and finish their evening with a handoff to the morning producers – how the show played on social, what the conversation was about. (Content is Content: TV, Social and Everything Else)
  • AJ+ videos usually end with a question, which is repeated in the Facebook post copy. The idea is that people will respond and engage with the core question in the comments. (AJ+ Presents the Future of Engagement)
  • Vogue and other publications have found the potential (for audience development and for the ability to monetize) in their rich archives. They hired Amazon’s mechanic turk network to help tag content and add metadata to blank scans.(Unlock Revenue Streams with Digital Asset Rights)
  • When it comes to clearances, rights and distribution, learn from the broadcast networks: their legal teams have to be nimble and turn things around in hours. (Content is Content: TV, Social and Everything Else)
  • Lawyers have no idea about content and taxonomy. There’s a huge disconnect in the ecosystem between what’s happening in search and what’s happening in legal and financial. (Unlock Revenue Streams with Digital Asset Rights)
  • AJ+ develops video content that can be used again in future situations. They dive deep into issues that are likely to come up again, like police relations in America. (AJ+ Presents the Future of Engagement)

8 big picture lessons:

  • People are too obsessed with the real-time social conversation around TV shows. Almost no one is talking about how 61% of the social conversation is happening after the broadcast. (Beyond Live, Why the L+3 Social TV Convo Matters)
  • Regurgitating broadcast content on social is not the right approach. If you watch a show, there is 0% you will follow that show on social unless you’re going to get different and unique content. (Beyond Live, Why the L+3 Social TV Convo Matters)
  • Create content that is platform-specific. Comedy Central doesn’t post tune-in alerts on Yik Yak, and they don’t post full episodes on Facebook. (Beyond Live, Why the L+3 Social TV Convo Matters)
  • To get buy in from the executive team, bring them into the control room, production floor or newsroom and show them the day-to-day management of social. After 2 hours, they will have an understanding of how much time social management takes and how important it is in developing strong relationships with audience and community members. (Advocates vs Agitators: The Social Influence)
  • You need to be ready for a viewer to consume your show live — but also to consume your show six months down the road when they see it on demand or on Netflix. How can you ensure that both experiences are awesome? (Beyond Live, Why the L+3 Social TV Convo Matters)
  • Campaigns win purchases — drumbeat engagement wins advocates. Develop “playbooks” to make your engagement consistent, and be there for the customer, viewer or community member. (Advocates vs Agitators: The Social Influence)
  • We’re learning to use social media in different ways, and people are OK with that. For example, Eric Carvin (AP) and Michael Roston (NYT) described their approach to social in two very different ways. Carvin spoke mainly about using social as a tool for finding and verifying news; Roston spoke about using social as a way to serve the Times’ audience. (Social Media: Breaking News or Fixing News?)
  • AJ+’s engagement team’s purpose is to make sure that the editorial team is finding the best opportunities for stories. They create the expectation that engagement is part of the company’s culture. (AJ+ Presents the Future of Engagement)

7 awesome quotes:

  • “We don’t think of them as shows. We think of them as franchises.” –Don Steele, Comedy Central, on creating content for broadcast, digital and social (Beyond Live, Why the L+3 Social TV Convo Matters)
  • “If you’re doing it well, the audience and the ratings are going to follow.” —Michael Scogin, NBC (Beyond Live, Why the L+3 Social TV Convo Matters)
  • “Social media serves the journalism, instead of journalism serving social media.” –Eric Carvin, AP (Social Media: Breaking News or Fixing News?)
  • “When you work in social media, there is no weekend.” —Jamie Barbour, Chevy (Advocates vs Agitators: The Social Influence)
  • “Employees have the chance to extend the heart of the brand.” —Alice Wilson, Southwest (Advocates vs Agitators: The Social Influence)
  • “I am trying to support the brand commitment, and here’s where we’re missing business opportunities.” —Meg Bear of Oracle on how to convince executives to invest in social (Advocates vs Agitators: The Social Influence)
  • “Don’t get stuck in social media – be a journalist first.” –Eric Carvin, AP (Social Media: Breaking News or Fixing News?)

5 hacks that you can take to the bank (or SXSW 2016)

  • If you want people to go to your panel, make it the snappiest, most relevant title you can possibly think of, ideally starting with the letter “A.” People are in so many directions that most of the time they only have a moment to glance at the panel titles before deciding where to go. Having a great panel title accounts for 90% of the reason people will attend your talk — even more than having a big name on stage.
  • If SXSW schedules you for a 9:30 a.m. panel, reschedule. 9:30 a.m.s are death.
  • It’s best to have your panel early in the festival, when energy is high and people are eager to ask questions.
  • When attending panels, go old school: this year I took notes by hand and it made me SUCH a better listeners. I followed zero hashtags this year.
  • Get up off your chair and ask questions during the Q&A. You might be tempted to go up and ask the panelists after, but it is the best way to meet people and make connections. Each time I asked a question in the panel I was approached by someone after the panel who wanted to discuss my question in further detail.

Panel index:

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