A Marketing Strategist’s Favorite Panels for SXSW 2017

Renee Jonard

This March will be my third year attending SXSW. The opportunity SXSW offers to learn from industry leaders in Tech and Music is too awesome not to attend. There are fantastic networking opportunities. People from all over the world travel to Austin to attend this massive event. As a marketer, music geek, and bot enthusiast, I have the chance to get the latest information at panels and develop new relationships. The following are sessions that I don’t want to miss during these ten days of non-stop learning and hanging out.

March 10

Opening Remarks: Hugh Forrest

Hugh Forrest has been a part of SXSW for over 23 years and has shaped the interactive side of the festival. He writes Forrest Four-Cast via Medium where he writes four paragraphs a day about various topics related to tech, politics, and SXSW. Forrest is well-respected and active in the tech community. I became acquainted with him when he spoke to graduate students at St. Edward’s University. His presentation was engaging and left an impression on my classmates and me. I’m excited to see him on his own turf as he welcomes us to SXSW.

Designing Emotionally Intelligent Machines with Sophie Kleber

I’m a non-technical person in the bot world, so I’m always learning more about what they can do and how to build them. The complexity of designing machines which appeal to people conversationally is intriguing. My eyes were opened to the world of bots after attending the first ATX Bot Talk at Umbel in October 2015. The concept of building the brain of a robot without the actual physical component was delightful.

Creating advanced artificial intelligence that anticipates emotional responses is fascinating. As a marketer, I want to tell people about bots that are designed to enhance their lives. I’m very curious to hear Sophie’s perspective, coming from Huge, a powerhouse in crafting beautiful experiences.

March 11

Ready Or Not, The Bots Have Risen!

Are you ready for the bots? Doesn’t matter cause they’re here!!!

This panel promises several things.

✅ Explains the evolution of bots
✅ Suggests that bots are a unifying product among competitors
✅ Explores the theory that bots are superior at conveying information to users

This panel promises to bring some HYPE (I love hype) and to debunk the hype. I’m all ears.

Payments Gone Viral: The Rise of Social Commerce

Baby needs shoes. Boom! Gotta pay a bill. Boom! Your government representative made you mad, and you need to donate to a non-profit. Boom! You want to buy concert tickets before they sell out and you forget? Boom! Someone grabs the check for dinner and you want to send them cash. Boom!

Frictionless payments for whatever. Paying for things via Twitter or Facebook makes life a lot simpler. This panel promises to show us how frictionless payments can be.

March 12

Life After Gawker

Gawker is a footnote of online culture and journalism. Its demise was an end of something unique. Its take down was shocking. In tech, there is much discussion about failure and learning from it. Nick Denton should have some interesting things to say.

Inside Bots

Let’s have a rational conversation about what bots offer. As a marketer, it’s my responsibility to have an in-depth understanding of what bots can and cannot provide users. Having more than one conversation about the opportunities and risks that bots present, I’m interested to hear the insights this panel will bring to the table.

March 13

The History and Future of Speaking with Machines

Voxable’s co-founders, Lauren Golembiewski and Matt Buck, are brilliant. Before I started working with her, my workmate at Talkabot introduced us after he heard her presentation at the event. When we met up for the first time, I explained how useful I believed a Facebook Messenger chatbot could be for Sound on Sound Fest. She and Matt took on this challenge enthusiastically and graciously, building out Sir Bot-A-Lot, the festival guide.

Lauren and Matt explain things very clearly. This panel provides several aspects to the bot discussion that aren’t included in the others I’ve highlighted. The concept of giving machines voice isn’t recent and they will be giving it historical context. Conversational bots have been evolving for some time, and we’re in an exciting phase of that evolution. Developers and designers can digest core concepts for conversational design to apply it in their own projects.

Facebook Messenger and the Rise of the Chatbot!

Facebook has 1 billion active users per month. One BILLION. Facebook’s Messenger platform offers to connect people with brands fluidly. Being privy to the conversations that developers and designers have is especially compelling to me as a marketer. The possibilities and challenges of working on this platform are complex. I expect astute questions from the audience.

March 14

Refinery29 and Kesha Discuss Reclaiming the Internet

As an artist, Kesha is trying to reclaim her control over her music and her career. She’s been very outspoken about her experiences and has been scrutinized for it. Her story and her current legal battle interest me. We all know how easy it is to share experiences via social media, but how does new tech make it easier for artists to communicate in authentic and personal ways? Will bots enable artists to take more control over their work? Can AI help artists control their narrative and connect with their audience?

March 15

Slaying Scalpers For The Beyhive and Beyond

What is the most crushing feeling? Wanting to see your favorite band and losing out to scalpers. I want to see the end of bot purchasers in the live music industry. This component of scalping is a frustrating problem, so I’m interested in hearing about how companies are solving for it. Also, “bad acting bots” is a bummer of a phrase that I would like to eradicate because bots are awesome.

Towards More Humane Tech

Anil Dash is an outspoken Prince fan and SJW. Dash has a proven record of acting as an ally to women in tech. Dash knows how to take down a troll. We could all learn a thing or two from him. I’m grateful that he’s moving the conversation forward about how the tech industry needs to address these issues.

The Power of Human Curation

Human curation is an interesting topic in light of the AI buzz. There are a lot of conversations about the advantages of AI to predict human behavior, but it’s crucial to discuss how to include an actual human in the process. People want opportunities to connect with others, be part of a community, and have a say in how that happens. I’m eager to hear the perspectives from this panel in how they plan on facilitating that idea.

March 16

The Definitive Profile of the Festival Superfan

Creating chatbots to help attendees have a better festival experience is a mission of Voxable. Eventbrite has some excellent research about the festival experience and how technology can make it better. I'm hoping this panel will present new data about music tech. Understanding the Superfan is key. What new ways do artists have to engage with these Superfans? I'm curious to learn what this panel of experts has to say.

What Young Women Want From Music Festivals

Young women (18-24-year-olds) hold a lot of purchasing power in the live music industry. What can we learn from them? How can we apply these insights it to our technology to better serve these female attendees?

March 17

Tech Matters: A Blueprint for DIY Musicians

There is a lot of technology out there for musicians, but what new technology is emerging to better help musicians engage with their audience? What tools do musicians need? At Voxable, we believe chatbots help musicians automate their communication with fans. I want to create new ways for artists to reach their fans, as well as create simple ways for those fans to engage with their favorite artists.

Rethinking the Future of Music Festivals

Some have said that there is a music festival bubble, yet music festivals continue to grow and evolve. As they evolve, how are they differentiating themselves for festival goers? We've seen the ebb and flow of festivals as well as the evolution of the experiences they offer, so what will be next?

March 18

Saving Small Venues & The Independent Music Scene

Small music venues are the places that bands cut their teeth. These are the places where bands transition to music festivals. It’s an important part of the live music industry. We want to listen, learn and understand how to keep these businesses thriving in the music industry. While in Houston, I worked with indie promoters who booked shows for Mango’s, a small dive bar in Montrose. My understanding of how live shows worked broadened but it also awoke my curiosity.

This panel may be the best of SXSW in my humble opinion. Everyone on this panel is someone I’ve kept my eye on, and it’s exciting to have them all in the same room.

My former colleagues, Graham Williams and Greg Patterson, are speaking.

What SXSW panels are you most excited to see? Tweet us → @voxable See you soon!