Who Tipped the SXSW Apple Cart?

I didn’t have the honor of attending last weekend’s SXSW Interactive festival. But, based on the buzz going on throughout the blogosphere, it sounds like the experience ranked somewhere between Woodstock and the 1969 Democratic Convention – at least the action going on outside the convention center.

In articles I’ve read from our local to the widely-read MarketingProfs Daily Fix, and BusinessWeek, the general consensus is that one interview/lecture session in particular, featuring Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg moderated by Sarah Lacy from BusinessWeek, turned into a social media-driven revolt.

Audience members, disenchanted with the content and the direction in which Ms. Lacy was taking the interview, started bellowing out insulting quips and demanding a less scripted presentation. And with digital back channels like Twitter, and Meebo, the revolt spread out of the auditorium and into cyberspace, where the conversation became even more interesting… and continues today.

Since I wasn’t there, I can’t really support or denounce the situation. Was the audience at SXSW unruly? Maybe. Was Ms. Lacy less of an interviewer and more of a scripted presenter? Probably. But the perspective I’ve gained from the articles and the buzz it’s generated is one of utter amazement… even slight excitement. You see, I love to watch the apple cart dumped once-in-a-while. I love to witness a tipping point. And this consumer-driven revolt against staunch, corporate media dissemination is what I would consider “A Cart Slightly Askew.”

TRUE Brands (truthful, relevant, unique, and engaging) can prepare themselves for challenges like this. By reminding yourself that the audience is part of your brand (recognizing relevance), and maintaining a constant stream of conversation with your customers (being engaging) you may just see a situation like this coming and be the hero instead of the scapegoat.

Is your company ready for the shift in content dissemination? How does your marketing and communications utilize social media and are you taking a TRUE approach? Or are you simply talking AT the audience?

I’d love to hear your comments.

For more about the SXSW fiasco, simply search Google for “SXSW and Sarah Lacy,” it’s a sure sign of how social media and the turn from spoon-fed information to consumer-driven information is changing how we’ll be receiving our information in the future.

Exciting, huh?

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