Big Boulder: Bourbon & Boots at SXSW

Derek Gottfrid of Tumblr

This past 2013 SXSW, Gnip brought out the big guns so to speak. We held our first SXSW event, Big Boulder: Bourbon & Boots, on Monday at Malverde for more than 200 of our awesome customers and publishers. We were lucky enough to have Derek Gottfrid, VP of Product, interviewed by our Chris Moody, Gnip’s COO.

You can check out our photos from Big Boulder: Bourbon & Boots on Facebook or check out our Storify with Tweets, Instagrams and Vines of the event!

We were also able to attend several great sessions related to social media and social data, and our notes from the sessions are below!

Building Tools for Creativity 
David Karp of Tumblr

David talked about creating Tumblr as a “hacky tool” because he had tried all of the tools and wanted a better way to express himself on the web. After creating the tool, he was surprised that within a week there were a few thousand people using it.

One aspect of Tumblr that has always amazed David Karp is how its users have defined its use. With the reblogging button, it created a whole community that wasn’t about creation but rather curation, which is a huge part of Tumblr’s identity. When they made panoramas from the iPhone easier to share and more presentable on Tumblr, they found a bunch of new immediate use cases. Jamie Beck created the cinemagraph, a gorgeous and more dramatic GIF. One person shared whole boards from a video game he was designing.  You can’t predict how people will use new Tumblr features but how they will use it will surprise you.

David also perfectly captured a trend on the web, “Images are first class citizens and everything else is a distance second on the web.”

Real-Time Marketing

David Teicher, Ad Age; Bonin Bough, Mondelez International (makers of Oreo); Steve Doan, Oreo; Gary Vaynerchuk, VaynerMedia; David Berkowitz, 360i; Albert Chou, Expion

Gnip was lucky enough to be invited to this private, invite-only panel held by Expion, and it was definitely a favorite by those who attended. This panel focused on real-time marketing and was from the group that brought us the much talked about Oreo Super Bowl real-time marketing.

One area that really stuck out to me was when Bonin talked about how social media made the ROI of each marketing mix more powerful. That social media made their TV spend twice as effective, and that any marketer interested in ROI would want to make their spend 2X as effective. Marketers shouldn’t look to understand how much value they received for each Tweet but rather take a look at the ROI of the overall ecosystem.

Another aspect that really resonated was talking about how hard it is to measure traditional marketing and how much easier it is to measure social media. They talked about how advertisers are faced with a “pass-around rate” for circulation in case someone leaves a copy of Vogue on the bus. Or how unrealistic billboard advertising views are because as Gary mentioned everyone is also likely texting and driving and not paying attention to advertising. Social media ROI is easier and more realistic to prove.

To make real-time marketing work, you should have a willingness to prepare. As David Berkowitz pointed out to do real-time marketing you should ask, “What are you doing every single day of the year?” Gary also talked about from an agency perspective how frustrating it was for him as his clients didn’t move fast enough, which is a familiar problem for agencies.

This panel also brought up the point that using content for marketing purposes is nothing new. Michelin created the Michelin guide for restaurants and hotels once they realized people liked taking road trips. Or when Guinness had problems selling pints, they created the Guinness World Records. Now today it is companies such as Red Bull creating the content as part of their brand.

The State of Blogging 
Matt Mullenweg of Automattic and Kara Swisher of All Things D

This was a hilarious session about blogging, and was helped tremendously by Matt and Kara’s back-and-forth banter.

Matt talked about how he created WordPress because he wanted better software for blogging and was frustrated by what was on the market at the time. Creating WordPress was a “happy accident.”

When asked about whether social networks were hurting blogging, Matt told the audience that social networks had breathed a second wind into blogging. Social networks drive significant traffic to WordPress sites. Matt also mentioned that different social networks create different ego boosts for different reasons and Kara told him that he needed a dog.

Matt believes that WordPress might not have the most users, but that they have the best users. It offers a lot of flexibility and power for serious bloggers. WordPress continues to grow year after year and much of that growth is organic. Matt thinks they’ve beat out other competitors by understanding personal publishing better than anyone else.

One area that Matt sees that WordPress needs to improve upon is their WYSIWYG editor and that the experience there and on mobile could be so much better.

Matt is always trying to think about how people will be digesting content 18 months from now, so right now he is thinking about how Google Glass will change the content experience.

Matt also talked about what makes a good blog post and emphasized that pictures can really create a better reading experience.