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Trends & Insights | Blog

Four key takeaways from SXSW 2024

March 22, 2024


Earlier this month, we joined the throng of over 345,000 attendees in Austin, Texas for a celebration of creativity across film, music, tech, and more at SXSW 2024. Here are our key takeaways from this annual gathering of creative giants.

John Iglesias

Senior Account Director

SXSW's evolution is fascinating. Since its music festival beginnings in 1987, it's become a true melting pot of creative industries, fostering collaboration between film, tech, and music. SXSW showcases and facilitates genuine cross-pollination between these sectors.

This year's event delved into a key industry challenge: the balance of power between established media companies with their iconic brands and the innovative tech platforms that dominate audience attention.

So what did we learn from our time at SXSW 2024? Read on for our four biggest takeaways.

1. Co-creating audiences

Gone are the days of passive consumption, with audiences now craving purpose and co-creation. The emergence of immersive 360-degree digital experiences signifies a seismic shift in engagement strategies. Social media users no longer wish to be mere spectators; they yearn for opportunities to create in real time. Brands must embrace this by empowering their audience to become active contributors. Fostering a sense of community co-creation is paramount, whether through live events, interactive campaigns, or collaborative content creation.

Imagine a world where users consume and shape the content they engage with. What’s currently happening with platforms like TikTok or YouTube shorts emphasises the possibilities are endless. By relinquishing control and inviting participation, brands can forge deeper connections with their audiences, fostering a sense of ownership and belonging.

2. The power of empathetic storytelling

Storytelling reigns supreme. In an era of advertisements and branded content, crafting compelling narratives we can all feel is key to capturing hearts and minds. That means marketing campaigns and social media strategies must transcend mere promotion and establish a genuine connection through empathy.

Brands like Liquid Death, The Farmers Dog, and Apple were highlighted for their outstanding work in advertising, social media and brand strategy by connecting deeply with their audiences.

A well-crafted strategy with a narrative at its centre can transcend boundaries, resonate deeply with digital audiences, and inspire them to take action.

3. Moving at the speed of culture

Staying relevant is crucial today. Brands need to be in tune with what people care about and adapt to cultural trends. From online buzz to social movements, the digital world moves fast. Brands that can be flexible and adjust quickly will succeed. By connecting their message to what's happening now, they become part of the conversation, not just observers.

4. Technology can connect more than divide

New technologies like AI are rapidly transforming industries, and entertainment is no exception. While change can be unsettling, the focus here is on using these tools to boost efficiency and create more content, not replace human involvement.

But there's more to the story. Experts are also exploring how technologies like AR can actually strengthen human connections, rather than breaking them. The fashion industry, for instance, is investigating virtual reality to create more engaging in-store experiences that weave together human interaction and storytelling. It's inspiring to see how different industries can learn from each other – who knew fashion trends could borrow ideas from the auto world?

Technology has the potential to unlock entirely new ways for us to connect. By using it responsibly, brands can bridge the gap between the digital and physical worlds, ultimately enriching the human experience.

What’s next?

SXSW 2024 wrapped with a resounding theme: the future of engagement belongs to the creators. Brands that embrace immersive experiences, captivating stories, and the powerful link between technology and human connection will be the ones shaping a new era of interaction.

‍To learn how our team can help with your social media strategy and content, visit our website or email hello@battenhall.com.