I didn’t get the chance yet to fill you in a bit more about my time at South by Southwest (SXSW) last week. It was…in a word, awesome.

I’d been hearing about this conference for YEARS and never knew if I’d have the chance to go. Thankfully, I got the chance this year and spent five days digging into the tech/social media community in a way I never had before.

I was also super excited to meet up with some “strangers from the Internet” — or actually, “friends from the Internet.” During the health and fitness meet up, sponsored by SELF Magazine, I was excited to meet Liz (I Heart Vegetables), Rachel (The House Always Wins) and Shalama (Views From Here and Black Girls Run)!

We chatted and then decided to go eat lunch together as well. All great girls and it was awesome to IRL these ladies 🙂

Liz, Rachel, me, Shalama ate lunch at the Iron Cactus in Austin

In addition to attending the Health and Fitness meet up, where I met representatives from Lululemon, SELF Magazine, Fitmapped and more — I was also able to attend a Crossfit meetup. I was totally surprised there was a Crossfit meetup hosted by Crossfit Central but happy to attend and chat with others about the Open! You already know I attended the Cowboy Run sponsored by Brooks Running so I was definitely able to get my fitness on while gone.

Another cool thing about Austin? Sixth street. If you’ve been there, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Now, I did not really get my party on while I was there but I still thought the area was charming and fun with all the cleverly named bars, open music, balconies and more. Here are a couple of pix:

After coming home, I really wanted to sum up what I had learned. Even though I plan on going back to watch several of the sessions I missed (such as the interview with the CEO of Whole Foods, which I heard was amazing!), I did learn a lot from what I did get to see.

I published a piece in Huffington Post Tech on Friday summarizing a few things we can all take from SXSW. Here is an excerpt:

Innovation and healthy competition defined the hundreds of panels that took place over a five-day period — everything from technology in the African classroom to Facebook marketing to human spaceflight.

Big data — and what to do with it — was the focus of several sessions, all of which were overflowing. Dozens of eager participants waiting in line were turned away at the doors. After the Obama campaign’s fascinating success with data in the last election, it seems everyone is hungry for how to translate strategy into action for their companies — in the political, corporate and tech worlds.
For the social media/marketing professional, there were almost too many topics to choose from, but here are a few takeaways for those who couldn’t be there:

1. Target culture, not demographics.
2. Use data, don’t just read it.
3. Stop annoying irrelevant people with your ads.
4. Grab them at the moment of truth.
5. Create and empower advocates.

I got into detail about each thing on the list. If you are interested, click ahead to “5 Lessons for Social Marketing from South by Southwest.”

I think there’s something to be learned by everyone in the piece — simply because we all live in a digital world that requires participation if we want our messages to get out there as effectively as possible. Even if you aren’t a communications professional, chances are you hope the work you are doing is seen by those who can help amplify the message.

I attended a ton of other sessions as well (though not nearly as many as I wanted!) Here is the list:

  • Teaching Cheetahs: Disruptive Education in Africa
  • Twitter Changes The Way We Watch TV
  • The Rise of Contextual Social Networks
  • Mosh Pit of Experts: The Future of Social
  • Who Run the Internet World: Women
  • Health and Fitness Social Media Meetup
  • Is This Progress? More Meaning in Our Digital Life
  • New Standards for a New Era of Journalism
  • Death by Demographics: Killing Off Your Ad Budgets
  • Brands, Bloggers and the Social Commerce Future
  • Why Social Ads Work: Ignore the Naysayers

Any of those sound interesting? Some were wins, some were losses but I definitely feel like it was a worthwhile experience and really hope I get to go back next year!

FREE: Simple Faith Practices for Busy MomsYes, please!