Did you score a badge to SXSW 2018? Planning to cruise the peripheral events that are open to the public? If you’re a creator looking to make connections- or just score some amazing content - SXSW is the place to be in March. Here’s what you need to know to make your trip a success.

Set goals and plan how to meet them

What do you hope to achieve at SXSW? Before you set off for the festival, put together a list of goals. They can be as loose or specific as you like, but make sure they offer clear direction. Some good examples are:

  • Learn something new at a session
  • Meet a person you’ve been admiring
  • Discover 5 cool bands
  • Hold an exclusive live-stream from the gaming area

Having a goal in mind helps you prioritize when overwhelmed by choices. You know what you have to do, so it’s easier to decide what doesn’t fit in your schedule.

Prepare like it’s your job (because it is)

SXSW can give your channel a powerful boost, but you need to be prepared to make the most of opportunities that come your way.

    • Download the SXSW app and follow on Facebook and Twitter. Sessions and guests can change on short notice, and new shows are always being added. Social media is the best place to stay on top of things.
    • Dress carefully. Although Austin will be hot and possibly rainy, you never know who you’ll meet at SXSW. Be comfortable enough to enjoy yourself but be on brand and stylish. Wear something that will photograph well after a long day walking and partying.
    • Pack a light bag that can carry a lot of weight. Between the crowds and public transit, going back to your hotel mid-day is a huge hassle. Besides your usual supplies, consider bringing a personal Wi-Fi hotspot. There’s very limited free Wi-Fi during SXSW, and if you plan to live stream you need some insurance against low signal areas. A spare portable battery charger could be a clever way to win an interview, too: you can chat while your subject tops up their phone.
    • Have a “business card” strategy. People at SXSW are going to be overwhelmed with new things. Skip passing out branded freebies unless they offer some practical value (for example, ponchos or foldable sun hats). Instead, create a SXSW-specific business card with your social media, a picture, and a short pitch to help them remember who you are. You can and should offer mutual follows with other creators, but the average festival goer is likely to have low battery and limited signal.

Enjoy yourself, but bring your followers along for the ride

Most of your followers won’t be at SXSW, so they’re attending vicariously through your posts. Keep them engaged with Tweets, livestreams, and photo updates. If your schedule is loose enough, set up a poll and let them decide on an event for the next day.

Also, give followers something to look forward to. Plan two sessions, shows, or activations you want to see each day and do them. Be careful with this- if you’ve been posting excitedly about a band and then skip the show, you had better have a really good reason or surprise treat to offer instead.

Hit your “must do” events, but be willing to stop and listen to a new band or check out a fun activation. Your fans will have a sense of being “in the moment” with you, and they’ll love seeing your honest first reaction.

Give some thought to your tagging strategy. Tag everything with both #SXSW and a custom tag for your channel. That way you’ll be in the main event feed while giving followers a way to filter just your content. Don’t forget tag bands or brands you meet along the way. They usually go through mentions after an event, and reciprocal shares and likes could bring you new followers.

Make full use of your custom app

Creators who have their own app have an advantage at huge events like SXSW. Influencer apps such as those created FanHero have disrupted the influencer space by offering a combination of features not found on any single social media platform.

Apps are fast, easy to use, and keep users engaged on a whole new level.  However, the real advantage of using your app at SXSW is performance. Influencer apps function better in low-signal areas than their crowded social media counterparts, and they’re miles ahead of mobile browsers. You can more reliably upload and stream content, which means you’re going to be among the first to share things.

Before you leave for SXSW, set up exclusive in-app treats for your followers.

  • Open a special section for SXSW that let fans find your festival content easily.
  • Livestream “on the street” interviews with bands and other celebrities you run into.
  • Create SXSW-specific branded digital content like emoji and stickers.
  • Send push notifications when you’re heading to highlighted events.

This is a good time to promote your app across your other social media accounts, too. Followers who are attending the event might be frustrated by low signal and limited availability, so remind them that the best experience is through your app.

Have fun!

Enjoying yourself is good business. Excited influencers create exciting content, so follow your gut when it comes to choosing events. Share what you think is incredible, even if that’s a silly brand activation. Most of all, if you’re having a bad time try something radically different to shake things up.

Get out there and have an amazing SXSW!

Are you missing out by being limited to social media tools? Talk to FanHero about building your own custom influencer app!