In one word SXSW is a blur. There aren’t enough coffee runs, high-energy bars, and quick 2 minute push-up sessions to fully maintain your energy. But if you have your eyes peeled, and iPhone fully charged you can digest the South by Southwest blur with strategic note-taking, decent pictures and enjoyable conversations. So, you might have missed trying the motivational Google shoes, or riding on the RedBox mobile. That’s okay, because here I share my top three highlights from South by Southwest (SXSW) 2013. 1. Good Advertising + Humor = Great Advertising Have you heard of the Rejection Line? If you don’t know what I’m referencing, Google it. While you are at it, Google “22 Major Cat Fails” and you will surely find Buzzfeed. Jonah Peretti, Buzzfeed Founder and CEO, shared on how creating a custom Nike shoe in 2011 launched him into a career of creating and curating viral content. He also spoke on the Buzzfeed approach to advertisers. He challenged the crowd by asking “why not make advertising add to the site, and make compelling and engaging content.” All of his ideas seem to work. He has 40 million users to show for it. 2. Are you Naturally Social? My favorite panel from the SXSW Blacks in Technology (BiT) track was “Naturally Social”, where leaders in the African-American natural hair community gave tips for being a social media leader. The entire panel agreed on the need for original content, and social media analytics. The panelists shared how analytics shapes decisions like determining when best to share content. Afrobella, a local Chicago blogger, said that managing content posting times helps increase your global audience. Moderator Franchesca Ramsey (of YouTube fame) mentioned participation and cited panelist Myleik, CurlBox Founder, as a leader in harnessing participation via Instagram. Myleik contends that her high participation results begin with understanding her audience and maintaining authenticity. 3. Leveraging your Visual Social Platforms When brands like Whole Foods, Neiman Marcus and Kate Spade get together to discuss visual branding, it’s time to listen! Representatives of these brands spoke on opportunities to engage participants through visual mediums. Natanya Anderson (Whole Foods) said while they only have significantly less followers on Pinterest versus other mediums (110K), that Pinterest generates more than half of their overall social impressions. According to her, a Whole Foods Pinterest follower is worth about 15 times more than Twitter and Facebook. Whole Foods reminded us to be mindful not only of the quantity of followers, but quality. By creating Pinboards that reflect their participants’ lifestyle and values, Whole Foods continues to see quality participation. Our last takeaway was on the importance of setting up an internal social team structure. An established structure, the panel agreed, is essential for streamlining a consistent brand voice. These were just a few of many outstanding panels and keynotes I attended at SXSW 2013. I can’t wait for SXSW 2014!