SXSW Preview Day 4: Harnessing Crowds and Measuring ROI

Every year, SXSW Interactive (aka Geek Spring Break) gets a little bigger than the year before. To make things easier, we’ve combed the list of panels, looking for the best opportunities for affiliates and marketers. Each day this week, we’ll highlight a different day of panels at SXSW and provide an overview of the content.

In case you had any doubts by this point, surviving SXSW Interactive requires more of a marathon than a sprint approach. To that end, we’ve found four sessions, one per each block, to give you a full, but manageable day (have you stopped by the tradeshow yet?).

Start your Monday morning at 9:30 a.m. with The Systematic Undoing of Copyright Trolls. For a long time, it looked like the copyright trolls were going to run amok, but as Robert Spanner (Trial & Technology Law Group) will explain, there are tactics to send the trolls back under the bridge.

Unless you’ve been caught in their net, it can be difficult to understand the havoc of these legal shenanigans. So even if you haven’t had to face down a troll, it’s worth being prepared and understanding why we need to fight instead of settle. Consider this simple explanation for standing up and fighting against copyright trolls:

Trolls claim that their cases are as strong as brick houses, but a reasonably curious person discovers in an hour of research that instead of mortar, those seemingly solid buildings use fear. Once no one is scared anymore, a spectacular collapse of trolls’ creations is inevitable.

There’s little reason to give into trolls’ demands, particularly when they make mistakes that work in your favor.

Turning Intent Into Action

Every time we go online, we’re hinting at our intentions–the sites we visit, the things we tweet, and the links we share. How to Harvest Consumer Intent from the Social Web at 11 a.m. poses the question: what if we can learn how turn discovery into action and connect with timely offers? Panelists include AJ Vaynerchuck (Vayner Media), Edward Boches (Mullen) Farrah Bostic (The Difference Engine), Jeff Janer (Springpad), and Jolie O’Dell (VentureBeat).

Curious where they might be coming from, I did some searching and found this answer from Boches on Quora that provides a least a hint on what he’s look at on the social web:

Too many people measure reach only, followers only, re-tweets only.  None of that matters. What really matters is did you learn from listening?  Were you welcomed by a community that you can activate on your behalf?  Did you find a more efficient way to deliver service?  Are you mobilizing (through utility and content) more people to tell your story for you? Remember that anything worth doing is worth measuring.  And that a goal without a plan is just a wish.

This group believes an opportunity exists to step in at the right time and offer assistance to turn an intention into a buy. I’m curious to hear how they plan to execute these campaigns without coming off as creepy. It’s a little reminiscent of the stories about being stalked online by ads. This panel also marks the SXSW debut of AJ Vaynerchuck. Given his brother Gary’s continued popularity, it will be interesting to see his personal style and approach presenting at SXSW.

Social Media’s ROI

Have you been asked lately to define the ROI of your social media campaign? In What’s So [Bleeping] Hard About Social ROI? some very smart people will try to answer the tough questions in a way that makes your CFO happy. Craig Daitch (Ford Motor Company) Eric Swayne (M/A/R/C Research), Liz Strauss (Inside-Out Thinking), Olivier Blanchard (BrandBuilder Marketing), and Petri Darby (Make-A-Wish Foundation of America) will put their heads together to help you better understand what real success with social media looks like, even if a conversion doesn’t necessarily mean a sale.

Why does social media ROI keep coming up? According to Blanchard:

…most social-media “experts” seem incapable of a) being able to define ROI … and b) plug social media into a [profit-and-loss statement] and actual business objectives. Most [social-media marketers], having no true management background, they simply don’t understand how to tie social-media measurement and performance to business measurement and performance. This lack of business-management experience is a major problem in a field where everyone seems to have become an “expert” overnight.

Exactly. Like any new field that gets hot fast, social media has suffered from an influx of so-called experts and gurus. I’m looking forward to hearing what really matters when it comes to social media at 3:30 p.m.

Taking Virtual Compensation

Our final recommendation for Monday is an interesting one. How open are you to the idea of doing real work for virtual compensation? Presenters Anthony Goldbloom (Kaggle) and Lukas Biewald (Crowdflower) will address the ins and outs of crowdsourcing in Getting a Crowd to Work for You: For Pay or Play? This session starts at 5 p.m. on Monday.

Given the backgrounds of both presenters, it’s safe to say that you’ll get the “everything is wonderful about crowdsourcing” message. But even if you find yourself skeptical or downright critical it may help to get a one-on-one sense of what these firms and others like them are thinking. While I personally think there are drawbacks to the model, I’m reminded on a pretty regular basis that The Wisdom of Crowds probably holds true more often than we think, so I can’t dismiss it completely.

In case you weren’t able to catch up here is SXSW Preview Day 3: Your Data and Your Brain.

One more day to go! Tomorrow I’ll highlight the top panels for SXSW Interactive on the final day of the event Tuesday, March 15.

About Britt Raybould

Britt Raybould has a passion for telling stories and she specializes in helping companies figure out how to tell their own stories. Through her firm, Write Bold, she shows companies how storytelling can define them, both to their customers and within their industry. When she remembers to, Britt blogs on her personal sites at and You can find Britt on Twitter @britter.

Twitter: britter

2 Responses to SXSW Preview Day 4: Harnessing Crowds and Measuring ROI

  1. Eric S. says:

    Hi Britt-

    Thanks so much for highlighting our panel! We should probably mention that Craig Daitch works at Ford Motor Company, which has done some fantastic work in understanding the value of their social actions. I’m honored to be moderating this panel, and the leader of the Social Analytics & Insights practice at M/A/R/C Research. Thanks again!