Predicting the next big thing at SXSW

Mar 03, 13 Predicting the next big thing at SXSW

SXSW is known for launching the “next big thing.” In 2007, it was Twitter. Foursquare was 2009. Pinterest was one of the hottestĀ  topics in 2012.

So what’s it going to be this year? What’s the new tech tool or social network everyone in Austin will be talking about in between conversations about Shiner Bock and food truck tacos?

Since I’ve never actually met Doc Brown, all I can do at this point is make an educated guess. What say we do a bit of educating and then throw out the hypothesis. Our science teachers would be so proud.

Let’s focus on what we know:

  • Until now, the recent “next big things” have been very platform-centric. Twitter, Foursquare and Pinterest are all online platforms.
  • While Pinterest was big in 2012, there was also a sense that the “next big thing” was brands beginning to figure out where social media fits in their marketing mix.
  • I attended a session on this very topic at SXSW last year and one of the presenters said his company hadn’t even thought about doing Pinterest because he wanted to make sure they were doing Facebook right first.
  • Corporate America’s adoption of social media has come along way in the last five years. That said, corporate America is usually at least 3-5 years behind when it comes to adopting technology.
  • In 2007, Facebook and Twitter were cool. But they were very new. And the way organizations used them was evolving.
  • The early adopters picked up these tools and ran with them. But the majority of companies tried to wedge old marketing approaches into these new tools. Some are still making that mistake, but that number is dwindling.
  • The buzzwords we’re hearing out of companies these days aren’t so platform-centric. Mission control, social business, content marketing and real-time marketing to name a few.
  • This is not to say corporate America has social media figured out. But social is no longer something only companies like Southwest, Dell and Zappos do well.

So now that we know what we know, time for a best guess at what we’ll see coming out of Austin this week before we pull out the test tubes and Bunson Burners. Here’s goes nothing.

Hypothesis: This year’s “next big thing” coming out of SXSW will be that companies get to where many of us wanted them to be five years ago. That they seriously start to consider shifting how they view and invest in marketing communications. That they realize traditional marketing for the moment can no longer succeed without the support of social marketing in the moment.

Whatever buzzword you like, there’s a significant philosophy change on the horizon in the way corporate America views connecting with customers through marketing communications. Real time instead of sometime. It’s a change that’s been slowly happening over the past five years.

Hey, change takes time. Especially when you’ve been doing something the same way for 30 years, and in some cases a lot longer. But this change has been slowly gaining momentum as of late. And it will be rolling downhill coming out of Austin next week.


  1. jennalanger /

    JGoldsborough Was the last time I saw you at #sxswi last year? We’ll have to find each other again! #pr20chat

    • JGoldsborough /

      jennalanger Most definitely. Looking forward to it! #sxswi

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