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SXSW 2013 offered many exciting sessions around social media marketing. Our team worked to attend as many as possible to bring you 10 stellar social media marketing ideas from the show. Here's our take.

1. Like Austin itself, keep it weird.

Fittingly, while speaking in Austin, Texas where the slogan is “Keep Austin Weird”, Eddie Huang noted the virtue in keeping things off kilter, goofy, and unpredictable.  He wouldn’t bother with social media channels if the only thing it offered was another chance at broadcasting a new product offering, menu special, etc.  “The internet, social media sites; people flock to the goofy stuff, that’s the stuff that gets attention.” (Session: The Social Media Chef with Eddie Huang)

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2. You can still be funny without real-time response.

While the famous Oreo Super Bowl power outage response was terrific marketing, there’s no rush to be first to score humor points off current events. CEO of the Cheezburger Network, Ben Huh shared that pushing to make jokes around breaking news is where brands could get themselves in trouble. Those second or third to the ball can take off.  Consider Dos Equis (the Most Interesting Man in the World meme) and Old Spice (The Old Spice Guy) for example.  Both characters share similarities with the Chuck Norris Facts meme, though the two branded examples came later and still managed to become well known humor hits. Real-Time response is great but make sure your campaign is still in line with your brand’s established personality and history. (Session: The Art of Making Fun of Yourself with CEO of the Cheezburger Network, Ben Huh)

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3. Be creative with automation. It's your friend.

A smooth workflow is critical to real-time marketing, and automation can help with this process. Automating the tasks that do not need oversight can allow you to focus on larger campaign issues that can take your business to a higher level. As Boysko said, “If there is a process you want to automate, there’s a good chance it can be done with workflows. While slightly intimidating at first, creating rules is very intuitive. Don’t be afraid to be creative.” (Session: Hits Home Run with Cloud Collaboration with Isaac Garcia, Co-founder and CEO of Central Desktop, and Rob Boysko, Manager of Multimedia Publishing at MLB Advanced Media)

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4. The best ads become owned by people, not your brand.

Marketers can capitalize on real-time social media marketing yet the best ads become owned by people, not your brand. There’s no formula to have an ad go viral, but when you hit it, it’s magic. But it’s also challenging because control of your brand is in the hands of consumers. Embrace this as a positive and keep listening and engaging. (Session: Can Ad Agencies & Brands Humanize Technology? with Adam Bain, president of Global Revenue for Twitter, Simon Acton-Bond, Chief Marketing Officer at BBDO, Debra Sandler, President of Mars Chocolate, North America and Gregg Heard, VP of Brand Identity and Design for AT&T)

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5. Tell your audience what they need to know before they ask.

You will have success if you provide valuable content catered to your audience. One key point? Tell your audience what they need to know before they ask. The upcoming Google Now is working to ensure the information you need to know just comes to you. If that’s a Google goal, why isn’t it yours? (Session: The Future of Google Search in a Mobile World with Author Guy Kawasaki and Amit Singhal, SVP of Search and Google Fellow at Google)

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6. Have no fear.

John Cena, like many brands, was initially skeptical about joining social networks.  He wasn’t sure just how much transparency he wanted to offer fans of the WWE, and had thought of the horror stories of misguided tweets.  In the end, he’s been won over by social media’s ability to connect with fans of the John Cena and WWE brands.  Many brands are still skeptical, but John Cena has seen that skepticism disappear now that’s he’s joined the platforms and started engaging. This concept also rang true in our CMO, Michael Lazerow's session, How Cheating Death Helped Me Live Without Fear. (Session: WWE with Echo’s CEO and Co-Founder Khris Loux, WWE’s Perkins Miller, Stephanie McMahon, and John Cena)

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7. “Social media is kind of Craig’s List for sources.”

This quote came from Greg Galant of Sawhorse Media as part of a panel. What did he mean? Finding the right contacts for your content should start with a search on social media. (Session: Sources in the Social Media Age, Greg Galant of Sawhorse Media, Joe Ciarello of Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Edmund Lee of Bloomberg, and Mike Isaac of All Things Digital)

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8.  The ultimate social media key is flexibility.

Real-world disaster communications is critical in today’s social world. Anastacia Visneski of the U.S. Coast Guard shared that there’s no longer the perfect news cycle and people won’t wait for you to create the perfect press release. It’s about maximum exposure with minimum delay. (Session: Disaster: The Future of Crisis Communications, with Anastacia Visneski of the U.S. Coast Guard, John Visneski of the U.S. Air Force, Brandon Brewer, a Public Information Consultant, and Hanson Hosein, Director of  the Communication Leadership grad program at the University of Washington)

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9. Purpose will always trump popularity.

Newark, NJ's Mayor, Cory Booker’s session dealt mainly with purpose. Popularity means nothing without it. It’s a great takeaway for brands looking to jump into social media as well.  Popularity (likes, followers, YouTube views) are great but it’s purpose that counts. Booker’s purpose is to make a difference, every day, every minute.  Social media is a huge part of that philosophy as he uses his large social footprint to raise awareness about concerns.  His duties don’t stop at what’s typically part of the Mayor’s day-to-day responsibilities.  Where he sees a need for awareness, he’ll use social media to spread the word. “Position will not define us, purpose will.”

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10. There’s tons of data out there, but don’t let it influence how you create content.

From the daily social media conversation reports we created during SXSW to the data discussed in the journalism panel mentioned above, keep your goals and audience in mind when creating content. Data can help, but it shouldn't change how to move forward.

Thanks to Andrew Gothelf and Jason Boies for writing some of these amazing posts during SXSW. What insights and ideas did you gather from SXSW this year? Share your ideas here.