The South by Southwest Conference promises to have a very different tone than last year, when then-President Obama was warmly welcomed for a keynote presentation on civic engagement in the 21st century. For the creators, marketers and entrepreneurs descending this weekend on Austin, Texas, politics in the wake of President Trump will surely be top of mind, perhaps even overshadowing some of the innovation in virtual reality and artificial intelligence. Instead of undermining the value for marketers eager to enlist technology in their work, however, the dynamic might highlight connections that are increasingly important to recognize.
This year’s dialog will focus on how “social media can drive organized protests and provide support for causes our current administration has reprioritized,” like the environment, gender equality and women’s rights, said Neil Carty, senior VP-innovation strategy at consultancy MediaLink. “I will be interested not only to hear the dialog around how people plan to take action, but also which brands enter the conversation, and if so, how.”
“For brands, especially for those creating content around highly polarizing topics, they will need to take new practices around fact-checking and topic alignment to make sure they’re engaging around topics that make sense for the brand, but also don’t alienate others and jeopardize sales,” MediaLink’s Mr. Carty said.