The Big Data Secret of SXSW Parties
Alex Williams | March 4, 2013
SXSWi is right around the corner.  It is *scary* close.  As we run around frantically trying to plan meetings, add panels to our calendars, and get social strategies planned, we’re bombarded with party invites.  How on Earth do we handle this problem? You might have guessed that this post has to do with data?  Party data is confusing and overwhelming, much like Big Data.  The title of this post is a pun: big (adjective) data (adjective) secret (noun) and Big Data (proper noun used as an adjective) secret (noun).  We all have data problems, and in the grand scheme of things, shifting through SXSW data as an individual isn’t Big like tetrabytes per minute. However, it is a Big Data problem for brands to figure out how to incorporate data generated during SXSW into the Big picture?  I don’t have the perfect answer, and the approach to handling this massive outlier-ish wave of data will differ for every company.  My preferred approach for this type of data is to treat is as a repeated test; SXSW happens every year, and there’s at least five years of pretty good data. Twitter and Facebook have been adopted by SXSWi geeks for at least that long. So here’s the cliff notes of what you might do if you are facing the problem of incorporating SXSWi data into your normal Big Data plan:
  • Score the data by whatever factors are meaningful to your industry
  • Chart changes over each year by relevant factors
  • Perhaps add in a variable for how much investment your company as a covariate for each year (this could also be split into different types of investments)
  • Run some models
  • Interpret and have fun
For the individual SXSW attendee, there are many services out there for RSVPing for parties including a Twitter feed just for it: @SXSWParty.  Even @Hipstercrite has a post about it. Another big question that many party-goers might have is: do I really have to RSVP?  From the brand side, I would say, “Yes!” SXSWi is a big data collecting adventure.  When you RSVP to a party, the brand grows their email list.  Whether or not you show up, they now have another contact.  I guess it is no surprise that Trendline Interactive is interested in growing email lists. From the attendee side, we really don’t need to RSVP.  I haven’t been to a party yet where anyone cared about RSVPs.  The ones that do require a badge might check whether or not you have a badge, but not much beyond that.  That’s the big secret.  RSVPs might not necessarily be used for limiting parties, rather for collecting data. So go and have a great time!  I’ll be attending with a Chevy Volt.  Let’s sync up!
Alex Williams
Alex Williams
Creative Director
More posts by Alex →