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How to Generate Ideas and Creativity | South by Southwest Interactive

There’s plenty to do when the creative juices just aren’t flowing. Take it from Matthew Diffee, cartoonist for the New Yorker & Texas Monthly and The New Yorker a cartoonist for The New Yorker, who creates 10 ideas a week, just to have 9 of them rejected by management. What can you do to meet your deadlines? And how do you stay creative when your atmosphere is stale?


The following are highlights from Matthew’s talk, “How to Be an Idea Factory” at the 2012 South by Southwest Interactive Festival.

Creativity very possibly requires you to ‘unplug’

  • You must get away periodically to be more creative.
  • Acknowledge what affects your creativity:
    • YOU – Mindset …What you think
    • What you feel
    • What you do

The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt

  • Creatives need to be better at controlling our emotions
  • It’s hard to be creative when you are angry
  • Don’t inhibit your train of thought when being creative
  • Just keep going. It takes a lot of bad ideas to get a good one

Big Creative Principles

  • Get in the zone (sometimes it takes a while)
    • Stephen King works every morning til noon or until he reaches his quota of 10 pages
  • Do not believe in writer’s block. You are never blocked-just go backward
  • Flip the funnel (try not to go to outside sources)

Collaboration is king

  • Tips for when you are stumped on idea
    • Change location and attitude
    • Doodle
    • Add constraints on idea
    • Bring other people in

Special thanks to @socmetrics, @RandyElrod, and @FCSdotcom for the insight!

Plan Your Blogger Outreach Program | Blog World

Every aspiring blogger wants other bloggers to write about them, and there’s nothing worse than having your pitch emails sent to the spam folder. During the Building a Blogger Outreach Program, session at BlogWorld & New Media Expo session in New York City, multiple case studies revealed best practices for finding bloggers, pitching successfully, building online relationships, and effectively tracking and reporting. Here are the highlights:

Blog Worls Expo NYC 2012


Successful community management is all about planning

  • Don’t underestimate the power of an editorial calendar.
  • Schedule time for reaching out to those with whom you want to have a mutually beneficial relationship.
  • Build the community first, then schedule fundraising efforts. Blogging and asking for money won’t work unless the value comes first.

There are 4 pillars of community

  • Brand: know what you do, and what represents you. Eat and breathe and own your online brand, and others will follow suit.
  • Industry: stick to what you know. Followers are going to you for industry-specific content that binds their community.
  • Content: the best kind of outreach is generating content that makes followers want to come back for more and see you as a thought leader for the content you create.
  • Internal engagement: ask your followers, what are you getting from this blog?

Pay attention to your audience

  • Reaching an international audience takes inviting people to share what’s going on in their part of the world
  • The blog, social, and mobile messaging content mix includes: curated, expert and funny content. Your audience determines % of each.

How will you reach out to your followers?

Thanks for tweeting your insights @Mogreet, @fatherroderick, @LeAuraLuciano, @anne_hogan, @griner, @BrightGirl, and @vargasl

Small Organizations Can Create a Big Social Media Presence

Aimee Roundtree

When time, money, and help are hard to come across, it’s time for organizations to incorporate strong social media strategies. Many small brands are seeing big success with social media, whether for outreach, education, PR, or promotion. South by Southwest Interactive provided tips on how to create a strong social media presence.

If you want to do big things with social media at your small organization, you have to be creative and flexible, use what works, and know thyself to create a campaign that’s effective and works for you (and most importantly, your audience), according to Aimee Kendall Roundtree, University of Houston-Downtown Associate Professor in the Professional Writing Program. Highlights from Big Social Media Results for Small Organizations:

Social media for small organizations: Best Practices

  • Invite participation
  • Set and know your metrics and perform sentiment analysis
  • Know you purpose and set policies and training programs invite participation
  • Set smaller goals and achieve them
  • It’s good for small organizations to be talking about news, events, and partnerships with other organizations
  • Track interactive patterns, build metrics and tools as you need them.
  • Do what works for your organization, which may be unique to your audience and brand
  • Being adaptive is a best practice because money and time are the biggest barriers
  • Hashtags build community structure, be sure to put your mission first
  • When establishing strategies, small organizations should use messages for content, not memories
  • Small organizations can often do well by amplifying user-generated content

Make the voice of your organization heard through social media

  • 73% of small orgs using social media. Of those not using, 81% plan to start
  • For small organizations, often the best social media posts don’t support the strategic plan or goal
  • Use social media to embody the organization. Share daily goings-on and be intimate in a brand-appropriate way
  • Film events, share anecdotes and other clips to help feed social content. This helps a small organization to show activity
  • Be aware: Despite organizations’ goals/purpose, users can change direction through contributed content

 Be brave when branding your organization through social media

  • It’s OK for small organizations to wing it! Just use your intuition
  • When it comes to social media, intuition can be more effective than best practices
  • Don’t be afraid to say what you need to say, provide real content about what’s happening. Be concise and consistent
  • Consider the ant: How is it that ants accomplish so much without someone telling them what to do?

Thanks to @akroundtree, @ACDunbeck, @inthekisser, @mirandaLwilson for your insights!

Discovering User Needs | SXSW Interactive

View more presentations from Aya Zook

Strategy consultant,  marketer, and product planner in the consumer goods and technology industries, Leslie Feinzaig is the Senior Business Planner of Kinect at Microsoft. She has observed, interviewed, and surveyed thousands of people by conducting more than 100 consumer research studies in dozens of countries around the world. She knows what users need.

Leslie Feinzaig

Sponsored by Bing,  Mind Reading: Seeing Needs Users Don’t Articulate helped to cut through the clutter of research to better understand   how businesses can encourage user feedback and how to meet consumer needs. Using Bing’s insight development practices as a case study, the presentation aimed to discuss techniques for gaining deep understanding of and empathy with customer’s pain to spur product innovations. Among the top lessons of the day were:

  • Find out why a user does something, not why they say they do something
  • You can’t design products without talking to your users
  • You want to observe your extreme users because that is where you can understand the inspiration

Understanding motivation

  • Observe pain points to determine which activities are undertaken to address needs
  • Observe behavior and question the needs behind the behavior
  • Aspirations are generally beyond observable reach, but are highly powerful

Ethnography results from a case study

  • Seeks to manage identity: sense of self and reputation
  • Seeks to manage mood: escapism and “getting going in the morning”
  • Connect with others
  • Be more productive
  • Stay in-the-know

The last few slides are detailed and interesting.

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Group Deals Begin to Grow up: Tips for Retailers, Restaurants From South by Southwest Interactive

How can small businesses benefit from group deals like Groupon?

Kara Nortman Senior Vice President of Publishing CityGrid Media

Kara Nortman, CityGrid Media

One of the best South by Southwest Interactive 2012 talks was jam-packed with lessons, tips, and stats on the state of group buying. With fatigue setting in on both sides of the equation, consumers and merchants, how can everyone get what they want?

Kara Nortman, senior VP of publishing at CityGrid Media, took the stage solo and wowed everyone attending.

Here are some highlights

Group Deals Are Killing Your Small Business: How small businesses can uniquely and effectively tap into group deals as a key piece of a smart overall marketing strategy.

Have you heard about Groupon?

Create a more effective group deal strategy

  • SMBs and deal sites are at odds … SMBs must show clear return on investment. Businesses are being more critical
  • Prior to 2008 there were 2 personas: enjoy a high-price experience (get-what-you-pay-for) and the couponer
  • Prepaid transactions are not dead. Consumers will get more relevant deals through them
  • Deal sites need to provide their clients with great analytics
  •  Correlating behavior with credit card data is commencing, but it still needs consumers’ trust with data and privacy
    • Proximity marketing and credit are going to be the most exciting developments in next few years

Deal sites to consider

Think Near

  • Pulls in demand patterns, weather, traffic, and events reports. It allows you to auto-generate 5-10 campaigns each week for each business
  • Targets local, high-quality customers
  • Became bigger than Groupon in NYC


  • Targets high-quality restaurants and has focuses on experience and high value – creating a clear brand can help your deals succeed
  • Forces users to commit to reservations and align them with restaurants’ slow times. Offer 30% off with no embarrassing coupons
  • Encourages diners to post pictures of their receipts that shows their discount


  • Aims to collect who loyal customers are without merchant cooperation, then present to the business owner
  • Users take photos of receipts to collect data for PunchCard
  • Targets low-frequency and high-spend customers

The truth is in the numbers: Group deals statistics

  • 44% subscribe to 4 or more deal services – often causes user fatigue
  • 44% of daily-deal customers will come back, but some might have already been customers
  • 66% of people let their deals expire before redeeming
  • A third of all Americans shopped on Small Business Saturday and saw 23% boost into small shops. This is Amex taking a long-term approach
  • 15% of Punchcard customers generate 50% of revenue – you consolidate loyalty cards and even redeem at businesses that don’t offer cards
  • 20%-30% of Groupon’s 10,000 employees are in sales
  • Studies show it didn’t matter whether you offered 50% off or less, the majority just want some discount and will convert

Thanks to @mauriciopina, @journalynn, @DeeSwartz, and @lorennoel for sharing their insights!