Top 4 Content Conversations at SXSW 2014

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Information about Top 4 Content Conversations at SXSW 2014

Published on March 12, 2014

Author: AlyssaVitrano



As brands get even deeper into content marketing, further improvements and challenges emerge. Here were some of the more interesting themes around content at this year's SXSW: Timing, Design, Commerce, and Privacy.

CONTENT CONVERSATIONS March 2014 Alyssa Vitrano / Director of Content Marketing / Mindshare @avitrano at

As brands get even deeper into content marketing, further improvements and challenges emerge. Here are some of the more interesting themes around content that took place at this year's SXSW.

TIMING We now have a thinning attention span. It's not smaller, it's just stretched out. As Ben Huh, CEO of meme-king Cheezburger, said, think deep dish pizza versus thin crust pizza.

There are so many more moments when we're consuming media. Brands need to leverage these moments with content created in the right format. The Apple 1984 ad was designed to create a collective moment - so it aired during the Super Bowl.

More recently, Ellen's Oscar selfie was a call to action in front of a massive live audience in conjunction with her 26 million Twitter followers.

Put content in the right context, then leverage the right moments that will make people engage with it.

DESIGN Great content makes us feel something, and the place where it lives should be designed to reflect it.

Jon Setzen used to design rock posters and now redesigns websites at Media Temple. He spoke about album covers. You remember the moment you went to the record store and bought the albums you loved. The cover image is probably burned into your memory.

You probably don't remember clicking to buy a title on iTunes. It's the same content, but presented differently.

Content should tell the right story in the right way. It's not just about why you're creating content but how you present it, so create a content experience that reflects the value of your content.

COMMERCE Turning content into commerce is a "digital cronut." Storytelling can certainly create loyalty. Sites that provide lifestyle content like Birchbox's The Magazine shape the role brands can play via tips and advice about products.

But how do you use content to get revenue? Thrillist's founder and CEO Ben Lerer said their content, trusted by their audience, is now driving readers to buy the products that the content is about. Thrillist bought JackThreads, a flash sale site, and places content around products to give them quality context and to connect the dots to sales. This way, they’re making the reader into a buyer and a buyer into a reader.

Imagine if other media companies owned their shoppable advertisers.

It's not just about layering commerce on top of content; it's also about using commerce to make content even better. You want to maintain the trust of your readers and consumers, and you can do that with high quality content and by using data to track what your audience is or isn't responding positively to.

PRIVACY Data permanence was the theme of multiple panels. Google ideas director Jared Cohen said parents will now probably be having the "online sharing" talk with kids before the “birds and the bees” talk.

This social media generation will, at some point, tire of sharing content that might potentially haunt them down the line. People are already creating fake online personas and teenagers are making Dark Rooms so no one can capture photos or video of them partying that could be posted online.

But the fact remains that most of us are giving off much more data about ourselves through digital interactions than ever before, and a lot of people are tracking it all.

Brands are grappling with the line between collecting data and being creepy. As time goes on, what will people want to share with a brand knowing that their content will live on forever somewhere?

Think about what kind of content you're asking people to share online. Ultimately, you want it to be something that they and you would be proud of in the future, as well as something that aligns with your brand.

Alyssa Vitrano, Director of Content Marketing, Mindshare @avitrano additional contributions from Kelsey Whitaker @khwhitaker Laura Taubman @ltaubman thank you

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