While modern advertising increasingly focuses on social media, website design, and search engine optimization, the best marketing companies know that old-fashioned networking is still necessary to promote their businesses. For this reason, South by Southwest’s Interactive conference was filled with social media marketing companies looking to make waves at this famously forward-thinking event.
Held annually in Austin, TX, SXSW is best known as a music and film festival. However, the event has also featured an emerging technology component since 1994. For five days, the Interactive conference holds a variety of presentations and panels which discuss everything from video games to start up ideas, making it one of the best places to preview cutting edge developments.
This year, a lot of these developments seemed to focus on social media marketing, and for good reason: Facebook currently has around 152 million American users, Twitter has more than 48 million, and Instagram grew 60% in the last year, with experts projecting that it will top 100 million U.S. users by 2018. As a result, businesses have to learn how to start a discussion about their operation and direct the conversation in a way that promotes their success. Neglecting to do so only creates the risk that this dialogue will move on without them.
As a result, there were plenty of events at SXSW that focused on social media marketing. For example, the global venture capital firm Bessemer Venture Partners hosted a party at the offices of Main Street Hub, a marketing start up focused on advertising and customer service. Meanwhile, Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, the entrepreneurs and venture capitalists infamously linked to the creation of Facebook, fielded questions on Twitter. And hashtags were displayed prominently on posters and pedicabs around town, emphasizing the importance of this modern service.
The inclusion of so many marketing companies at the conference makes sense in a world where more businesses are relying on outside consultants to help them manage their public image. While most companies are familiar with Yelp! Inc. and various social media websites, the sheer number of sites currently available can make it difficult for businesses to track and respond to customer feedback. Various social media tools and marketing companies specializing in modern advertising simplify the process and help entrepreneurs figure out how to best respond to different situations.
“The diversity of social platforms available today is astounding, and that number is only increasing,” says Derek Bryan, Content Marketing Manager, Quez Media Marketing. “The most successful companies are the ones who recognize the communicative potential of those platforms and adapt their strategies accordingly.”
Spending on social marketing tools and services is expanding for this reason: for example, Main Street Hub, one of the many companies at SXSW, reports that it has about 6,000 customers and is adding 400 to 500 more a month. Meanwhile, another start up at the event, Oracle Corp, which offers businesses social media marketing tools, noted that 5.5% of marketing budgets are currently spent on analytics, an amount that is projected to increase to 8.7% in the next three years. With these statistics, social media marketing and the companies behind this field are expected to be a feature at SXSW for years to come.