Trending at SXSW

by Sharp | March 30, 2016

As the hazy orange sun sets and the dust settles on the city of Austin, the whispers and echoes of South by Southwest can still be heard in the social media echo chamber. 30 years after its inception, as the festival and conference grows, larger crowds are attending in hopes to join the conversation in the converging world of music, technology and social media. The small music festival turned biggest tech event of the year, again attracted some of the biggest names in film, music, brands, and entrepreneurs in the industry in 2016.

This year big artists names, like SIA and Drake, were met with white house sophistication. A historical moment in the making, the sitting POTUS and FLOTUS hailed their presence as keynote speakers for the Interactive and Music portion at the Texas based festival for the first time ever.

But aside from learning that Michelle Obama does not want to become future , there were also some great new tech and social media insights. Here’s what we saw trending:

1. Snapchat Back at it again for the win:

Snapchat, the app in which users share ephemeral selfies and moment escaping stories, is challenging the way people experience their day. At SXSW, a festival made up of moments, the app was the perfect tool to share these entertaining, superfast moments.

Without even having a brand presence- nothing- throughout the whole festival, the app was still by far the biggest topic of conversation for marketing panels and attendees who were using and downloading the app throughout the interactive portion of the festival to document their experience. Companies like Spotify, Samsung, Vevo and even Gatorade, who used the app for Super Bowl 50, bought sponsored geofilters for anyone in the Austin or festival area to use at their own will.


No longer are Millennial’s and Generation Z using this platform. All demographics experimented with the app in hopes to truly understand its full capability and potential. As the app updates its user experience with additional features, different generations of techies, and non-techies, are becoming enthralled with it.

So if you haven’t yet, go ahead: download the app, snap something, and let the world know, for only 10 seconds, what you just did.

2. Virtual Reality Is Way Better than Reality:

Let’s be honest, reality is not always as awesome as it’s cracked up to be! And it seems brands are taking note.  With 140 million Twitter impressions, virtual reality (VR) was the talk of the festival. This year, brands, like some obvious players including NASA, Samsung, Google, IBM, and Dell, used VR technology in hopes to immerse consumers into their world. Even brands like McDonald’s surprisingly played around with the idea of VR technology in a fun way that allowed attendees to paint their own virtual happy meal box.


But as much as there is ambiguity and challenges for brands in this space, this recent VR experimentation foreshadows the future of marketing. Immersive, virtual worlds are becoming a popular as they create innovative and memorable experiences.  And although VR seems light years away- its not.

Recently, the 8th Annual Shorty Awards announced the finalists of best brand incorporation with VR technology (GoPro and TOMS), and consumers are excited about the prospect of immersive experiences in worlds they might have never seen before.

3. Robots (yes, they are taking over!):

Yeah, Obama was a big deal, but who needs humans when you have robots? Another big first for the interactive portion of the festival was the first ever Robot Ranch, which featured a range of robotic companies and their creations. Festivalgoers could watch robots being built, fly drones, and also learn about robotic engineering.

From friendly social robots like JIBO, that can do pretty much anything from being a family cameraman to storyteller, to the experimentation with robotic retail helpers in Japan, bionic assistants are on the verge of impacting our lives in a grand way. As reported in Adweek, ABI analysts project that companion robots will grow from a small 2015 sector  $46 million industry to a $2.5 billion sector by 2025 with the categories of home and lawn-care robots to hit $1.7 billion worldwide this year and $2.9 billion by 2019.

A recent example of the alteration of brand consumer interaction, and also a historical moment, was The Atomic 212° Robot marketing plan, also known as Lucy The Robot. She may very well become your new best friend.


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