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SXSW: Surviving Social Media


by Stephen Becker 12 Mar 2011

SXSW has always been good about scheduling some newcomer sessions on Day 1. What makes these discussions interesting is that by now they are as much about teaching people how to interact with each other online as much as in person.

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AUSTIN – The first day of SXSW always finds tons of wide-eyed newbies trying to figure out how to navigate the convention center, where to pick up their badge, etc. To that end, the festival has always been good about scheduling some newcomer sessions on Day 1. What makes these discussions interesting is that by now they are as much about teaching people how to interact with each other online as in person. Some of the tips seemed relevant for any social situation:

Don’t go badge surfing – Basically, a lot of the people here are looking for other like-minded people who might be able to help them in some sort of business venture. If you want to actually connect with people, try and at least disguise the fact that you’re really trying to check out who they work for.

Don’t check other people in – The check-in function of applications like Foresquare and Facebook are hugely popular with this crowd. But some people may not want everyone in their social network to know where they are. Especially if you are checking someone in at a bar who just called his wife to let her know he was back at the hotel going to bed.

Twitter rules – I heard over and over again yesterday how the tech crowd loathes business cards. So how are you supposed to connect? Mentioning your new friend on Twitter seems to be the method of choice. Which is kind of interesting for another reason: At this point, the in-person interaction isn’t actually real unless it also happens virtually.

Back off on posting – If you’re on Facebook, Twitter, Foresquare and every other social site out there, just pick one to update instead of doing them all. Chances are your followers are following you across multiple platforms and they don’t really need to see what you’re up to across each of them.

Charlie out – And finally, any and all references to “tiger’s blood,” “Adonis DNA” and especially “winning” are right out. The tech community moves quickly, and it’s way over Charlie Sheen at this point.

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