What I learned at SXSW Interactive 2007

2007 was my first year at SXSW Interactive. (Despite the fact I have lived in Austin for over 3 years now). It was a fantastic experience. The panels were packed with tasty bits of information and the social scene was equally as enriching.

Typically, around 3pm each day I felt my brain had hit its capacity for new information, and I really wanted to pause to research all the things I just learned. But, SXSW had other plans for me… more panels and parties of course! Ah, SXSW giveth and SXSW taketh away.

I did manage to jot down some key points that I wanted to remember and/or research after the event ended. So, here for you, are my notes from SXSW. Enjoy đŸ˜‰

For those short on time

General SXSW Attendance

  • Bring good business cards to the event.
  • Goto the after hours parties. (Admittedly, I didn’t do enough of this. But I will next year.)
  • Ask questions in panels. (This I did do. It’s a little intimidating going up to the microphone, but it gets easier the more you do it.)
  • Know what to say when someone asks the question “What do you do?”
  • Travel light to avoid trips to the car or hotel.

Business

  • Development costs are the most expensive costs for creating a startup application.
  • Reviews were mixed about outsourcing application development oversees. It seemed like those who were hesitant about outsourcing oversees had plenty of venture capital and worried about communication problems.
  • Company transparency is great for developing customer loyalty and is good PR.
  • Great customer support is the new marketing.
  • Research who your market is, segment them, and then market directly to each segment.
  • Virtual gifts, such as the flower on hotornot.com, are an interesting way to monetize social web applications.
  • Subscription fees that unlock advanced features of your web application is a good alternative to adding ads to your site.
  • Ads on subscription based sites can be used to encourage and remind non subscribers to subscribe.
  • Adding “We will never sell your email address” to your form is a simple way to gain user trust.

SEO

  • One method to test what keywords work for your site is to purchase a bundle of pay per click ads using the keywords you’re speculating on. Then look at the metrics to see which keywords outperformed the others.
  • SEO using keyword ratios is overrated. Quality link backs are the key.
  • SEO is not just good for search. It also helps deliver more accurate contextual ads from ad provider networks such as Google AdSense.

Technical

  • Microformats are simple to implement and add extensibility to your content.
  • After seeing the Microformat panel at SXSW, I’ve become such a big fan of the concept that I’m adding another bullet point here to encourage you to go research the topic.
  • Operator Firefox add-on is an interesting tool to take advantage of existing Microformats.
  • Selenium is great for testing AJAX. (I already new that, but it was nice to have it verified.)

Miscellaneous

  • Laughing Squid Web Hosting comes highly recommended. (I recommend NearlyFreeSpeech.net if anyone cares.)
  • Feedburner rocks for gathering site feed statistics.
  • Geni.com looks like a pretty cool genealogy web app.
  • Tacoda.com seems like an excellent ad sharing network.
  • Everyone is in love with the Firebug Firefox add-on.
  • Bruce Sterling’s rant was awesome. He mentioned several interesting topics and people I intend to research further.
  • Ryan Carson seems like a good entrepreneur to model. I’ll be checking out his wittings and ventures.
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