Marketing Melodie’s Top 10 Favorite Things About SXSW 2016

I had the pleasure of attending the SXSW Interactive festival last week in Austin, Texas. This was my 5th year, and each year just as I think it can’t get any better, I come back and prove myself wrong! I come back year after year to learn new ways to grow in my career, connect with other influencers and leaders, feature clients, and best of all, experience everything this festival has to offer with an open mind and grateful heart.

One of the most common questions I get is, “What is your favorite thing about SXSW?” After my first year, I quickly realized that I could not narrow it down to one favorite thing, so I made it a tradition to share my top 10 favorite things about SXSW. Here goes…

1. Watching the opening Keynote Address by the 44th President of the United States of America, Barack Obama. Less than 3000 people were allowed into this intimate talk about 21st century civic engagement and community service. I was one of the lucky ones! No matter what party you support, you can probably agree that it is an amazing experience to hear the leader of the free world speak about how important the work you do is. Obama talked social media, new and emerging technologies, and he emphasized the importance of these tools for the White House. It was my first time watching a president speak and it was truly inspirational. You can watch Obama’s full keynote, here:


2. Hosting the SXSW Netwalking Meetup for my awesome client & SXSW meetups in general. I love having tech savvy clients who are also leaders at SXSW. I had the opportunity to work with Jessica Tunon, the owner of Netwalking to create a unique and interactive Netwalk around Austin for attendees of the festival. It was the perfect way to incorporate a healthy, low impact workout while meeting new people and experiencing the cool scenery of Austin.SXSW Netwalking with Marketing Melodie

In addition to the Netwalking meetup, I made an effort to attend a meetup almost every day because I personally feel like the meetups challenged me to  have an open mind while learning many different things from people of all walks of life. I attended the multicultural blogger meetup, the advertising meetup, the food tech meetup and the SXSW speaker’s meetup. Not only did I make great business connections, I met people who share common personal interests with me or have really cool projects going on and stories to tell. I met a yogi from New York at the advertising meetup, I met a singer and DJ from Japan at the blogger meetup, and a woman from Austin who ran PR for Sea World when the Black Fish crisis started at the speaker’s meetup. It was interesting to learn about how she wore her crisis management hat during this time. If you have never attended a SXSW Meetup, you must make time for one next year!

3. I was a SXSW Marketing Mentor This is one of the biggest honors I have received in my career. I was recognized by SXSW as being an accomplished marketing professional, so much so that they invited me to be on their mentorship team. My duties of being a mentor included hosting a Mentor session where attendees had a chance to register for a time slot to speak with me to get my insight on marketing and social media for their business. My time slots got booked solid quickly and I honestly think I learned just as much during my sessions as my mentees did. I got the vibe, that every single person who attended my session was an extremely ambitious entrepreneur. They say that like attracts like, and this proved to be true, as I believe that I myself am an ambitious entrepreneur too! This is another PSA for an amazing SXSW program. I attended a mentor session myself and learned about the Young Entrepreneur’s Council’s resources and also got invited to their cool 80’s party that I attended later that evening.  

Marketing Melodie SXSW Mentor Session

4. My favorite panel this year was titled “When Everyone Wants to Be an Entrepreneur.” There are hundreds of panels to choose from at SXSW and this is the one that resonated with me the most. Kevin O’Leary aka Mr. Wonderful from Shark Tank was a notable panel member. I Tweeted my favorite quote from Mr. Wonderful “When you become an entrepreneur it’s not just about the money, it’s about the freedom.”

SXSW Marketing Melodie Entrepreneur Panel

I could not agree more! The panel discussed the rise of entrepreneurship and how mainstream TV is positively promoting entrepreneurship with programs like Shark Tank, West Texas Investors Club and Restaurant Startup.

5. Virtual Reality is getting real! Almost every major brand discussed Virtual Reality, but for me, social media posts were the true indication that  it was the dominate topic. Almost every single person I know who attended SXSW posted a cheesy photo of themselves with a huge headset including myself of course! (I can’t wait for the day where we look back and laugh at how silly we were with such a big contraption on our heads. I compare the current VR headsets to the Zack Morris’ Brick sized cell phone)

Marketing Melodie SXSW Virtual Reality

It was almost as though Virtual Reality was a brand new concept no one had ever heard of. This however, is not true since VR can be traced back to as early as the 1950s. Why was VR all the rage? Well now that it boasts a 90-degree field of vision, it’s becoming a viable opportunity for advertising. In fact, many exhibitors at the SXSW trade show, including Gillette, used VR attractions to entice people to their booth.

SXSW Virtual Reality Booth with Marketing Melodie

*Quick Flash Back!* I thought back to the first time I learned about VR. It was in the 90s from Nickelodeon on their popular show, Nick Arcade! Does anyone else remember that show? At the end of the game show, the team with the most points got to play in a virtual reality video game!

6. I was the official SXSW Yoga Teacher. Ever since I set an intention to combine my 2 passions for marketing and yoga into my career back in 2012, I continue to receive opportunities to make this happen. I had the honor of teaching the official SXSW Yoga class and it was such a rush guiding people from all over the world into calming poses during one of the busiest events in the world. I had people in my yoga class from all across the US, Japan, the UK and even Brazil! 

Marketing Melodie SXSW Yoga 2016Kind Bars was kind enough to provide us fuel after our class with their new breakfast bars, which I am now in love with! Lululemon also generously contributed by providing me with a cool outfit to wear during class and awesome yoga mats. I actually have an extra lululemon yoga mat (The Reversible Mat 3MM, valued at $58) and am giving it away to a lucky winner. If you want a chance to win the mat, you can do that, HERE.

Marketing Melodie SXSW Yoga Giveaways 2016

7. I reconnected with so many awesome people I knew in Austin all by chance! At SXSW you never know who you will run in to. With 40K+ people in one place, it can be difficult to meet up with people even if you know they are going to be there, which is why I loved randomly running into friends I knew throughout the festival. While I love meeting new people, I also enjoy the comfort of seeing familiar faces.

SXSW Marketing Melodie Friends

8. The Take 5 Swag Swap- If you love swag, you will be in heaven at SXSW. Free t-shirts, hats, pens, sunglasses, bags, you name it. If you’re like me, you might grab swag when it’s handed to you, only later to realize that it won’t fit in your suitcase. I always hate when this happens because I don’t like when things go to waste, so I was happy to learn about the Take 5 Swag Swap. I learned about it from a local who I sat next to at lunch in the Fast Company Grill (Another pro tip- talk to everyone!). I tracked down the Swag Swap on my last day in Austin, dropped off my swag which is now going to be donated to a local charity and left with one cool item instead of 10 t-shirts I will never wear. I left with a sweet JBL Flip 3 Portable Bluetooth speaker. I couldn’t be happier to donate my stuff to a great cause, lighten my load while traveling and come home with a cool new tech toy.

Take 5 Swag Swap SXSW with Marketing Melodie

9. I accidentally went to Rohit Bhargava’s talk, Non-Obvious: How To Predict the Future. When I realized I wasn’t in the session I thought I was going to, I decided to stay anyway. Not only did I learn tips on curating trends, and organizing notes from books and articles I read, I also learned another great lesson: If you accidentally attend something you didn’t mean to at SXSW, STAY and I promise you will learn something new if you keep an open mind.

10. Last Supper at Salt Lick! Now that you know I have a tradition of writing my top 10 SXSW post, I must admit to another tradition I have each year… I make sure to stay hungry before going to the airport, so I have room to eat Salt Lick, aka some of the best BBQ I’ve had. Even though this is their airport location, it is just as tasty as the actual restaurant. Not only is their meat delicious, they have my favorite potato salad and coleslaw of all time too! Yep this meal kept me satisfied the entire flight home.

SXSW Marketing Melodie Salt Lick at the airport

Thanks y’all (couldn’t resist, I had to say it!) for following along my SXSW adventures! If you have a recap post about SXSW or favorite memories, please share them with me in the comments, I would love to hear about your experience. I will see you next year Austin, and I can’t wait!

You can check out my previous adventures at SXSW here:

P.S.- If you didn’t catch it, earlier in this post I mentioned that I’m giving away a new lululemon yoga mat. The mat was generously gifted to me by lululemon in Austin for my official SXSW Yoga class. Win the yoga mat, HERE.

Marketing Melodie Lululemon Yoga Mat Giveaway

P.S.S.- I’ve been seeing SXSW posts from other people in my network and here are a few of my favorite. Check out what others have to say for a different perspective.

  • SXSW Was Exactly What I hoped It Would Be by C.C. Chapman. C.C. is someone I consider a mentor, peer and friend. Although I did not catch him in person at SXSW, I enjoyed following his social media updates and reading his positive musings on his experience. BTW, he co-authored an awesome book called Content Rules, that I not only made part of my class curriculum for a Digital Campaigns class I taught, but I keep recommending over and over again.
  • Living Inside a Memory (Experience with the Kodak Memory Observatory) by Adrienne Levin Alpern. Remember my friend Adrienne with the famous iPhone? She wrote a cool post about her unique virtual reality experience. When talking to her about this, she also reminded me of a place called Limbo Lounge, which is the first place she ever took part in VR. Someone else reading this has to remember, Limbo Lounge. Anyone?
  • Why I pitched to Kevin O’Leary of Shark Tank at SXSW by Elizabeth Boese. I mentioned earlier that my favorite panel was one that included the shark, Kevin O’Leary. Elizabeth was in my session and she had the guts to actually pitch Mr. Wonderful in front of 100+ other people. Read about her experience and you’ll be inspired to ask for what you want too!

Marketing Melodie at SXSW Interactive 2016

Thrilled to be back here blogging again! I’ve been all over the web connecting with you through my Facebook videos, my free webinars and my Marketing Your Way to Success Newsletters, but I’ve been missing my blog!

Now that my blog is back,  I want to share an exciting upcoming event! I’ll be at SXSW Interactive in Austin for my 5th year. This year I’m involved in 3 official SXSW events that I would love to see you at.  Here are the full details.

  • Netwalking Meetup- Saturday March 12th, 9:30am @ JW Marriott Room 207: I’ll be here in full support of my awesome client, Netwalking! You will learn how to host walking meetings, create lasting impressions while networking and we’ll do a little Netwalking session too! Save this event on your SXSW calendar, HERE.

Netwalking SXSW v2v

  • Social Media Mentor Session- Sunday March 13th, 12:30pm @ JW Marriott Room 504: I couldn’t be more excited to be chosen as a Social Media Mentor at SXSW. This is truly an honor and something I am very proud to be a part of. Mentor Sessions enable professionals to gain seven minutes of direct one-on-one career-related counsel from an established and experienced new media professional. Come with your questions in hand and get ready to accelerate your career with marketing and social media insight. Save my mentor session on your SXSW calendar, HERE.
  • Come As You Are Yoga- Monday March 14th, 9:30am @ JW Marriott Room 209: I am hosting the official SXSW Yoga Meet Up, and I’m calling it, Come As You Are Yoga! You’ll learn relaxing breathing exercises, yoga poses to improve your balance, flexibility & strength and practice stretches you can easily replicate at home and even at work! This is an all levels class. Whether you have never tried yoga or are an advanced yogi, you’ll prepare your mind and body for enlightenment in this class. You will also learn tips on how to incorporate yoga into a busy lifestyle. No special equipment or clothing is needed, come as you are! Lululemon will be providing their amazing yoga mats for us to use! Save my yoga class on your SXSW calendar, HERE.

SXSW Yoga with Melodie Tao

Marketing Melodie at SXSW 2016

If you plan to be in Austin during SXSW, let me know in the comments. I would love to hear about your plans and any sessions you recommend.

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Marketing Melodie with Lee Ann Kim at San Diego Asian Film 2015 Preview

Posing with Executive Director, Lee Ann Kim after winning the Zen silent auction gift.

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Lewis Howes and Michael Port with Marketing Melodie

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5 Ways to Drive Conversions with Social Media- Learn 5 of the lesser known, but well proven, tactics that can boost your social media conversion rate. Get ready for takeaways that you can execute on immediately.

There’s also a special treat for the audience. Everyone will have a chance to pitch their business and get feedback from 3 digital marketing experts, including myself. You will walk away from this event with an improved structure for your online marketing strategy, and you will receive action items to work on over the next couple of months in order to prepare for a successful 2016. Does all this sound good to you? If so, read on, and find out how to register and win tickets!

Startup-Socials-Move-The-Needle-Workshop with Marketing Melodie

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Knott's Scary Farm Media Kit 2015

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