The Influencer Marketing Guide to SXSW Interactive 2017

This year I will be going to SXSW for the 7th year. What I love about SXSW is the enormous amount of industry leading brain power that converges.

But there is so much to see and do during SXSW that you can quickly get overwhelmed by the amount of events. With this in mind, the Join team decided to compile a handy guide for marketers. Below you’ll find the ten most interesting SXSW sessions on influencer marketing you absolutely can’t miss!

1. Power Play: Influencers + Brands + Insta- Commerce

With the speed in which the influencer landscape is changing, tastemaker content and their collaborator relationships need fast metrics for fast measurables. Follower totals alone may dictate a commanding social footprint, but strategy equals serious revenue for both sides of brand partnerships – with quantifiable legitimacy as a kick-ass side-note. The new school of digitally-savvy influencers are moving product for brands via the perfect balance of authenticity and real results. To make things even more interesting, the launch of Instagram’s “tap to view” threatens to dismantle the dynamic between brands and influencers. So what will be the lay of the land for 2017?

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2. Enthusiasm vs. Influence: The Power of Community

As more and more mega stars break out on YouTube and Instagram – acquiring agents, first class rights, and six figure contracts, there is an underlying current of everyday enthusiasts that are making an impact on their communities. These microinfluencers are not to be underestimated. Their passion, power of persuasion, and pure energy when rallied around a cause or community can be as inspiring as any single influencer. Join us for a behind-the-scenes conversation with e.l.f Cosmetics on its strategy to involve and empower a spectrum of online voices to help inform the brand’s innovation and ultimate success.

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3. Snapchat for Business: Working With Influencers

With over 200 million users worldwide and ten billion daily video views, Snapchat is one of the fastest growing social platforms – only 2nd behind Facebook in active users – which has created a tremendous opportunity for brands and marketers who are trying to tap into an increasingly engaged audience. In this session, learn from some of the top Snapchat influencers and creators who have worked on campaigns with notable brands such as: ESPN, MTV, Samsung, Disney, Zillow and FOX. Discover insights around why your brand should hire an influencer, the key differences between storytelling vs. marketing, along with tips and tricks for using Snapchat in your business.

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4. Media War: Publishers vs. Platforms & Influencers

Not long ago, publishers were powerful gatekeepers that could build sustainable businesses and offer access to audiences that advertisers needed to reach. Today, this power has mostly disappeared. Publishers are fighting a two-front war. On one side are individual influencers, who often have more direct access to audiences and more influence than legacy media companies. On the other side are social platforms, like Facebook and LinkedIn, which have become the true gatekeepers to audiences that publishers once owned. In this panel, the editor-in-chief of Contently sits down with the tech editor of Fast Company, the creator of Unthinkable and the senior editor of Blendle to discuss who will win.

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5. Social Shopping: the Influencer Tech Driving Billions

Content is increasingly being created and consumed inside of mobile, closed social platforms, which, along with the fragmentation of influence, is challenging marketers to execute and measure the success of content marketing at scale. With just five years on the books, rewardStyle has quickly and quietly built a global technology company that has harnessed the fragmentation of influence cross-channel and around the world to generate nearly $1 billion in retail sales in the last 12 months. In an interview, rewardStyle and President and Co-Founder, Amber Venz Box will discuss the innovations that marketers are relying on to reach today’s consumer.

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6. The Hundred Thousand Dollar Snap(chat)

It’s confirmed – the future of shopping is social. The rise of social influenced shopping content and increased ad spend proves social media can drive sales, but ACTUAL commerce within social media is a new strategy mastered by a select few. ShopStyle and Neiman Marcus will share what brand marketers, influencers and e-commerce teams need to know to ensure content within this new landscape stays authentic and organic, how to choose influencers within an increasingly crowded market, and a glimpse into the future of brands’ optimized social and influencer strategies that turn social followers into buyers.

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7. Trust Me, I’m ‘Influential’

Everyone’s influential, but some more so than others. Determining whom the top “influencers” are, their influence, and whether it matters for your brand is challenging. Selecting the correct individuals for brand partnerships requires looking at their voice, decision-making, track record and a host of other factors. In this panel, Brian Salzman of RQ, Zach Iser of ICM, Katie Cheng of Samsung US, and Brian Irving of Hampton Creek, will discuss the right formula for businesses to accurately pinpoint the ‘Kingpins’ that will be most impactful, how to truly determine “influence,” and ways to engage with these individuals for more effective brand building.

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8. Game On: How to Engage Gaming Influencers

The gaming audience is massive – according to the ESA, 63% of U.S. households include at least one person who plays video games regularly (3 hours or more a week) with 48% owning a dedicated game console. But how do you reach PC/online/console gamers? Join us as we discuss how to navigate the gaming ecosystem that includes massive consumer shows like PAX, RTX and eSports events, popular livestreams and influencers on Twitch, and gaming “shows” and channels on YouTube. You will hear from leading players in the gaming influencer space like Rooster Teeth, Twitch and 3BlackDot about the best ways brands and causes can tap influencers in this space – and maybe more importantly, what NOT to do.

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9. The Moral Code of Pay-to-Play Marketing

With brands shifting their advertising and earned media dollars toward content marketing, and more companies incentivizing and activating influencers to help tell their stories, is the “pay to play” business model starting to do more harm than good? How do companies continue to find new, creative ways to reach and engage their audiences while maintaining authenticity? This panel will explore the moral and ethical use of sponsored brand content in advertising, social influencer marketing, and consumer-generated content. In the end, are consumers ultimately paying the price?

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10. How to Grow Your Brand & Expand Beyond the Digital World

This session discusses how to cultivate and grow influencer talent. into successful branded personalities. Aspiring YouTubers and Twitch streamers get a unique look into the world of growing a brand. And a behind the scenes about the different obstacles lying on their path to global stardom. Furthermore Memo Macalpin and Kristin Rimbach will share their perspective on how to build your own.

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We hope to see you at these sessions! Not going? Don’t miss our update. To get in touch with Join at #SXSW, reach out to me on Twitter at @martorino, Instagram on @joininfluencers or e-mail me at