The South by Southwest Interactive Conference and Festival has come to an end. Five days of discussions, predictions, technology launches and workshops have concluded. With the number of sessions and diversity of topics covered, it is impossible to know everything from the conference. However, based on the sessions and conversations I attended, the top takeaways – in brief – are:

  1. Live Video. Meerkat, Periscope, real-time and immediate, raw and unfiltered. User behaviors online all point to video as the most engaging channel, the most preferred way of getting information and where most of our time online is spent. Keeping it real and live makes it even more interesting.
  2. Enhanced Video. Virtual reality, augmented reality, interactive video, choose your own adventure, etc. The point is: don’t make it a passive experience anymore. These are experiences are no longer “the future.” They are happening now. Get a Google Cardboard and test it out. You will be impressed.
  3. Mobile Only User Experiences. Desktop and laptop computers are not going away any time soon. But to design and test for desktop first is a mistake. Most users start their web searches on their mobile devices now. Then they might move to a desktop for further exploration. It is time to stop saying “mobile-first” and actually planning mobile first.
  4. Using Data. We have been talking about data for years. We have been collecting data for years. We have been looking at the data for years. But, what do we really do with it? There were many sessions talking about how to use “big data” and there are now job titles for data analysts in ad agencies. Just like content creation can no longer be an additional responsibility to an existing job role, data analysis is now a full time job.
  5. More Content. With the rise in importance of content – relevant, fresh and interesting – on digital channels, content strategist jobs have been popping up throughout marketing and advertising departments over the last two years. This is not going to slow down. In fact, it is only going to increase in production and importance. If you want your brand to be found online, visited repeatedly online and ultimately to have loyal evangelists as customers, create more, better and frequent content.

Digital communications continue to grow and iterate rapidly. It is an exciting (and scary and intimidating and overwhelming) time to be working in this field.