SXSW and The Digital Conversation

Published: March 18, 2011

But Open Stories fits neatly into the broader discussion that dominated this year’s SXSWi: The Digital Conversation. While the speakers, panels and town hall chats spanned across several industries – journalism, manufacturing, gaming, philanthropy, marketing, etc. – each was tied to the other by an earnest desire to move from active listening to proactive engagement.

If previous years were about the importance of tuning into the discussions your buyers or supporters were having online, then this year was about what will come next. You could almost see the question “Okay, so now what do I do?” hovering as a giant thought bubble over the collected audiences’ head.

Dell has nearly 60 employees monitoring the daily chatter around their brand but is still developing the tools to comprehend the captured data, Richard Margetic, the head of Dell’s Global Social Media, said in one session. Seth Priebatsch, the head of SCVNGR, talked about the game layer that will evolve from the current social media framework ruled by Facebook. And in a panel sponsored Eloqua, social media heavyweights discussed how their personal brands intersect with their corporations’ public personas.

The common thread of these seemingly disparate topics is The Digital Conversation. Across industries, organizations are obsessed less with the solutions currently available, and more with the vague question: How do I move from listening to buyers to speaking with them in real-time?

Get the latest B2B Marketing News & Trends delivered directly to your inbox!

The Digital Conversation is the name I give to this unanswered query. It is the solution, or series of solutions, that will emerge to take us from Social Media, which gives us unprecedented insight into customer opinion, to Social Media 2.0, which will provide companies the ability to capture conversations, analyze the data and respond immediately. Many companies at SXSWi were seeking a lead management strategy. Too many feel they can hear what individual buyers are saying, but overwhelmed by the vast amounts of data coming in. Industry, in general, is seeking a process for participating in a conversation with buyers collectively, which would provide a means for anticipating what people will say, who will say it and influencing the tone of that conversation.

The overarching opinion at SXSWi is that no set of analyzable metrics has yet arrived to take us from Social Media to The Digital Conversation. As Zach Hofer-Shall of Forrester Research put it, “Let’s meet back here in a year.”

See you then?

Jesse came to Eloqua from the newsroom trenches. As Corporate Reporter, it’s his job to find the hot topics and compelling stories throughout the marketing world. He started his career at the Boston Herald and the Boston Business Journal before moving west of his native New England. When he’s not sifting through data or conducting interviews, you can find him cycling around sunny Austin, TX. Follow him on Twitter at @noyesjesse



B2B Marketing Exchange
B2B Marketing Exchange East
Campaign Optimization Series
Buyer Insights & Intelligence Series
Strategy & Planning Series