SXSW 2014 Social Data Round-up: Food for Analytical Thought

Zuzanna Pasierbinska-Wilson

The literati of yore met in the salons of France, but from March 7-11, Austin’s SXSW was once again a new-world epicenter of cultural and intellectual zeitgeist. This year’s gathering was brought to you by the letter B, for brain trust, BBQ and ball (we had one!)

DataSift co-sponsored several shindigs this year, from summits and panels to networking events. A recurring theme was a move towards better understanding customers in order to engage on a more meaningful level. Social data can provide insight, but who owns it and how can you get the most out of social? Here are some key impressions from our SXSW experience:

Analytics Get Social
We partnered with W2O Group for the 5th Annual PreCommerce Summit, a full day of TED-style talks exploring social and beyond. Justin De Graaf, Head of Global Social Analytics at Coca-Cola, leverages data to help understand what is “normal” so that he and his team can deliver informed responses and put metrics into context. Rather than treating each Tweet individually, social data can be employed for a more substantive evaluation of trends and spikes, allowing Coca-Cola to avoid knee-jerk reactions in favor of strategic responses.

MasterCard’s Andrew Bowins, SVP of Corporate & Digital Communications, is also working towards a deeper engagement with digital and social insights. Through predictive intelligence, MasterCard seeks to optimize the customer journey through their proprietary Conversation Suite. When brand and customer can connect in real-time, a more mature model of social data emerges that integrates customer service, product, and marketing objectives.

Social data can provide a wealth of insight, and Kurt Heinemann, CMO of Sysomos, encourages brands to “use social customer insight for good.” Engagement with users has obvious benefits for brands, but targeting customers with ads can diminish the customer experience. Enterprises need to evolve in order to remain relevant, identifying and addressing macro trends that resonate with their communities.

The Party Continues

Each of these thought leaders indicated a shift towards understanding and contextualizing social data. Instead of reacting, the next evolution of social solutions is measuring trends in order to engage more meaningfully with customers.

With our intellectual appetites fully satisfied, it was time to mingle and whet our foodie palates. First stop: W2O Group’s Digital Brunch, a gathering of about 250 executive-level brand marketers and digital and social trendsetters. The event featured some of the best food trucks in Austin along with live music and video podcasting. Friends old and new made for some great networking fun.

We joined forces with HootSuite for their Social Data and Analytics Brunch at the 508 Tequila Bar, which bolstered the crowd of hobnobbers with a great Mexican brunch, plenty of coffee and delightful cocktails.

Food for thought abounded as well, with a lively panel moderated by Kemp Edmonds, Solutions Consultant for HootSuite. The discussion focused on the past, present and future of social data and the social analytics markets, and featured DataSift CEO Rob Bailey, Claude Theoret, Founder & CEO of Nexalogy and Kevin Zellmer, Director of Global Enterprise Business Development for HootSuite.

Themes included best practices, how to extract value and ROI, strategies to staff and build skill-sets that leverage social, and what the future holds for this fast-moving, game-changing space.

It was double the flavor, double the fun when we partnered again with W2O Group for their 5th Annual Geek-A-Cue. The rain didn’t dampen the spirits of the 400+ executive-level brand marketers and tech and social movers and shakers, especially with Franklin BBQ serving up some of the best eats in Austin. Delectable libations, live music, a photo booth and piñatas kept the party going. Caught on slow-mo camera was our own Patrick Morrissey, taking a successful crack at the papier-mâché to release the treats inside.

The takeaways? Keep your ears to the ground – social is all grown up! See you next year for more fun and food for thought.

Zuzanna Pasierbinska-Wilson

Written by Zuzanna Pasierbinska-Wilson

Zuzanna is VP, Marketing & Communications at DataSift. You can follow her @fattypontoonski.

  • http://flavors.me/40deuce 40deuce

    Great write up and some great events! Looking forward to doing it next year again as well.

    Cheers,
    Sheldon, community manager for Marketwired