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 I am pretty excited to be running a session at this years SXSW  Conference with Jim Storer, Mark Wallace and Heather Strout. The session is titled “Lurkers: Your most important Community Members”. This session is going to be very valuable for many different reasons:

  1. The panel members have significant experience in managing, moderating, strategizing and marketing of online communities
  2. The topic is one that is not heavily discussed, but it one of importance within any online community
  3. We will be discussing everything from measurement, engagement and strategies in how to accomplish your community goals

That is by no means an all-inclusive list of topics and points that we will cover, as with the experience that we have on the panel, you never know where the discussion may lead.

Please join us on Saturday at 5pm at SXSW this year for our panel. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask them in advance, and we will do our best to address them during the session.

Mark has already written a blog post concerning lurkers on his blog – so please check him out as well. I look forward to the discussion and meeting you all at SXSW this year.

There is no “I” in team, but there is a “ME”

When I was at SXSW, the last session that I attended was Hitting Bombs: Better Social Business through Sports Metaphors, hosted by Tim Walker, Kyle Flaherty and Aaron Strout. It was a very interactive session with a lot of experienced individuals in the room sharing their favorite expression and how it related to their professional life, not generally specific to Social Media, but specific to specific situations in business. Great session and stories, thanks guys!

Fast forward to last night

I was watching the Red Sox game vs. the Texas Rangers. As you may, or may not know, the Red Sox have been in a slump, starting off the season 4-9, their worst start since 1996. Many players are slumping and not hitting, but I want to point to 1 specifically, Big Papi, David Ortiz. Last night he was 0-3 with 2 strikeouts, and for his 4th at bat, Mike Lowell came in and pitch hit for him. Mike Lowell ended up walking during the at bat, and the Sox ended up leaving the bases loaded during that inning. At the end of the inning, David Ortiz gave Mike a pat on the back, un-tucked his shirt and then went back down into the club house to take a shower. Now I would not have a problem with this if the game was over, but it was the 7th inning and the Sox were losing 6-4.

Fast forward to the next inning (bottom of the 8th)

Darnell McDonald (just called up from the minors) come up to the plate with a man on and hits a 2 run Home run to win the game. The Sox tie the game, and hold the Rangers during the next inning to no runs.

Fast forward to the next inning (bottom of the 9th)

Darnell McDonald comes to the plate with 2 outs and 2 men on, and hits a ball off of the Green Monster to make the game winning hit – the team meets him on second base, congratulating him, giving him high 5’s, celebrating, it was a great occasion to be a part of from a “Team” standpoint. Something that could have a long lasting effect on the way that younger and older players play, a good bonding experience (like the Varitek/ARod fight of a couple of years ago) but….where was David Ortiz?

During the celebration I was looking and looking for him, but I did not see him (if he was there, then I do apologize).

It is important to celebrate the good times, and also figure out how to get through the bad times, as a team. It is the same in business as it is in professional sports. We need to understand that we are not always on our game, and when we are not, expect to be “pinch-hit” for. We have all been there before, but the fact of the matter is that the Team comes first, and you do not.

There are so many overview blog posts from SXSW that I almost did not plan to write one up, but then thought, “Why not?”

The event is great on many different levels. The networking opportunities are never-ending. There are so many people there (attendance increase +40% compared to last year) that you run into people that you know (or recognize) on every corner. There are a lot of smart people that attend the event, and I was very happy to network and meet all of the people that I met. This was my 1st year attending, and I will say that it did live up to most of my expectations. I do have 1 complaint that I have heard many people talk about, and I also wanted to add in my .02.

Everyday there are a ton of sessions. The variety of topics that were covered ranged from “Protecting your teenagers online” to “How the porn industry leverages Social Media.” I think that the variety in sessions really displays how important Social Media is in everyday life, both professionally and personally. An increase in variety though, generally means an increase in sessions – which ends up being a decrease in quality and watered down content.

I was only able to attend about 5 sessions the entire time that I was there, but I was also informed by people that have attended the show before that 5 was actually a good amount. To my dismay 2 of the sessions were “iffy” at best and not billed up to what there were supposed to be. I have also read that the Keynote with Twitter CEO Evan Williams on Monday was a disaster, with ~80% of the people leaving before the end (I was not there, but that was the general feeling from the people that I had talked to).

First, let me say that I respect every speaker at SXSW and all of the sessions that were held. It takes a lot to get up in front of any crowd, create a descriptive presentation, present it and take questions. I have done this a couple of times and I still get that pit in my stomach beforehand. Sometimes I am able to walk right through the presentation and everything works out, and sometimes I am off of my game and lose my audience. I get that, which is why I am a professional speaker. I also accept that. You only get better at things through practice.

While I was sitting in some of these sessions, I started to wonder how many times that some of these speakers have ever sat up in front of a large audience and ran through a presentation. How many have ever attended SXSW, sat through a session and thought, you know what, this session could have been better, and here is how. It is very important to experience an event like SXSW before you jump into thinking that you can submit a session, get it voted on and then you are off to the races.

In closing, I really do want to say that I respect all of the speakers at SXSW. It is easy to judge coming from the outside. I just hope that in the future, that we can improve the quality of the sessions.


I am currently employed at Bose as the Digital Platform Manager, leveraging Ratings & Reviews and Community content to increase customer acquisition and retention

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March 2023