SXSW Interactive has already come and gone, seemingly as quickly as an Instagram, Facebook, or Snapchat story (my thoughts on Facebook stories in a later post). The festival brings with it unique tech experiences, smart speakers, and tons of marketers and technophiles looking for connection to others who share their passions.
This year was no different. Augmented reality, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence dominated the conversation, and there were really cool demos. SXSW Interactive parties were in full force. There was no shortage of things to do. But one of my favorite experiences of the weekend was Spreadfast’s #SocialSuite.
The treats were tasty
Seriously. I’ll start here and briefly explain how much goodness there was. But the photo below tells the story pretty well. Aside from these decadent milkshakes (provided by local favorite Peached Tortilla), there were free cocktails, beer, and wine, awesome candy sushi (rice crispy treat with Swedish Fish, fruit roll-ups, etc), and a Sunday brunch. You could not leave this spot without being in a slight food/sugar coma. They also had their standard fare of goodies, like SmartPop popcorn, Kind bars, candy, mints, and other snacks to keep you fueled for SXSW overload. But food and drinks were only a minor part of the experience.
They set up for social sharing success
One of the tricky parts to hosting any event is encouraging social sharing and creating buzz in a way that feels natural and authentic. Spredfast set their attendees up so well, you almost couldn’t NOT share the experience to social. They set up well-lit, Instagram-friendly stations for you to take photos of your sugary concoctions, including a hashtag on the back wall of the station (which I accidentally cut out of the below photo, sorry peeps). A particularly clever addition was pink Scrabble-like tiles that allowed you to create your own little message in the photo.
There were also selfie stations, again with great lighting and hashtag added to a fun and colorful background, with plenty of space to take a great shot with friends. At the time of writing this, there were nearly 2,000 Instagram uses of the #SoSpredfast hashtag to date, and countless others on Twitter. It can best be summed up in this tweet by Spredfast CMO Jim Rudden:
— Jim Rudden (@jimrudden) March 15, 2017
Snapchat was not left out of the equation either. Putting specific focus on nearby Austin landmarks—the Buford Tower on Cesar Chavez, the Frost Building, and the Willie Nelson statue outside of Moody Theater—Spredfast created three fun and specific geofilters and a contest for extra swag if you sent all three snaps to Spredfast’s Snapchat inbox. The filters played well into each landmark, giving cactus arms to the tall, slender Buford Tower; putting a kitchy owl face over the Frost Building (most locals get the joke there); and having musical notes that line up as coming from Willie Nelson’s head. Clever, fun, and it got people walking around the immediate area to explore a bit more of Austin. I love it.
The experience was second to none
As a marketer who has been responsible for attendee experience in the past, I was thoroughly impressed with the experiential elements of Spreadfast’s Social Suite. The photo above shows one element, but the one that really took the cake is below. Spredfast provided a stage with a spinning camera and confetti cannon. This then translated to a slow-motion video/animated gif that ended up being the star of the experiential show.
Augmented reality had a solid presence in the Spredfast Social Suite, with two very cool elements. One was an interactive “book” that displayed popular tweets on pages as you turned them. It was a large, blank book with a projector above it, but reacted to your turning of the pages. So cool. There was also an air-hockey-like game that used sensor and light to figure out where your hand was and allowed you to knock a light-created puck back and forth. Video of that one below. Spredfast tells me that these two elements were thanks to local design company argodesign!
All this, plus a couple official Interactive panels, and an all-female panel at the Social Suite itself, with women from varying backgrounds sharing inspirational wisdom and stories both funny and touching.
There was even a “giving back” element to the swag Spredfast gave away. With a goal of 10,000 mentions of #Spredwater across social, Spredfast planned to donate to charity: water in their mission to bring clean water to people in Ethiopia. That’s a cause worth taking an extra moment to share and support.
Now, the question after an experiential campaign or event like this is “Yeah, but what was their ROI?” I’m scheduling time to chat on the podcast with one or two marketers responsible for the shenanigans. We’ll talk about how they came up with the ideas, how it went on their end, and what kind of return they saw from the event. Stay tuned!
Were you at SXSW this year? What was your favorite part? Did you hit the Spredfast Social Suite? If none of the above, who is a company that has killed it in experience in your travels? Chime in below!
Keep it weird, y’all!