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SXSW Interactive Blog

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When it comes to social media and customer care the discussions on various panels at this year's SXSW Interactive talked about listening to customers, engaging with customers and giving up control to your customers.  Often easier said then done.  Engaging customers online that are angry with you or unhappy with your brand is not always one's first instinct.  However, the speed and ease at which customers can share information online and help shape and define your brand has led to a shift in who controls brand reputation.  As we often say at Sprint - the conversation is going to happen with or without you.  It's up to you to decide if you want to be a part of the conversation and help shape the message.

At Sprint we often refer back to the stop, look, listen and respond process of social media engagement.  During a SXSW panel on customer engagement one speaker provided his own guidelines.

H.E.A.R.

H = helpful

E = engaging

A = accessible

R = responsive

Customer engagement through social media can be a scary prospect for businesses.  But when it comes to customer care and brand building, the explosion of social media may be the best gift any business has ever received.

Customer engagement helps empower customers and make them feel as though they are a truly a real part of the decision making process and that their opinions matter.  If done successfully you build an army of brand evangelists - and who wouldn't want a gift like that?

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During SXSW it's about staying connected.  Blog posts, Twitter updates, Facebook updates, Foursquare, Gowalla...getting connected and staying connected is critical to a productive convergence of original music, independent films, and emerging technologies. The services being used may change but to quote musical legend David Byrne, 'Same As it Ever Was.' 

But this year SXSW attendees have something new: Sprint 4G and the Sprint Overdrive.  The Overdrive is the first dual-mode shareable device of its kind-available only from Sprint and here is a sample of what we are hearing in Austin:

'This [Sprint Overdrive] is going to help sell a lot of WiFi enabled iPads.  Apple should thank you.


-Guy Kawasaki, co-founder of Alltop and technology futurist


'The [Sprint Overdrive] is working well in my hotel room"


-MG Siegler, Techcrunch.com

Have you experienced Sprint 4G in Austin?  If so, what has the experience been?  We want to hear from you.

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There seemed to be a recurring theme on several of the panels I attended Monday, and it had to do with how to manage the endless stream of information that comes at us every day, or how do we take all the endless headlines, blog articles, tweets, etc., and put them into context to make them more meaningful.  At the "Future of Context: Getting the bigger picture online" panel, there was an interesting discussion about how lack of context online and a constant overload of headlines can actually be debilitating when trying to understand a topic, and can lead to confusion.  Elise Hu from the Texas Tribune has a great summary.  Also a tweetstream of the panel discussion.

While the panel primarily focused on journalism, I think there are some points that others can take from the discussion as well.  Whenever we talk about Sprint, it is helpful for us, our customers, and the general public to put whatever we're talking about in a larger context.

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Sprint is sponsoring TechKaraoke at South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWi).  View the live stream here - http://www.ustream.tv/channel/pinqued-presents-techkaraoke-sxswi-2010 starting tonight around 9pm Central.

[edited time start]

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Every March, much of the Interactive, Music and Film communities descend upon Austin, TX for SXSW.  This year Sprint will have an official presence at both the Interactive Festival and the Music and Media Conference.  Check back for updates on the following official Sprint activities and all things SXSW.

Tech Karaoke, March 15th, 8 p.m. - 2 a.m.  This invite only event has been dubbed a SXSW MUST DO event by many and promises to draw social media types and bloggers to Six Lounge in Austin.  Sprint is co-sponsoring the event, and will have Overdrives on site for demos.  The team members with the Overdrives will be wearing "I'm a Hotspot" T-shirts and will walk around encouraging guests to experience the Overdrive with any WiFi enabled device.

MMVs and Sweepstakes, throughout the music portion of the festival (17th-21st) - 2 MMVs will be stationed at SXSW throughout the music portion of the festival, one at the Auditorium Shores Stage, and one at a location to be determined.  Visitors to the Sprint 4G Mobile Marketing Vehicle are able to enter for a chance to win 4G’s ($4,000) and an Overdrive 3G/4G Mobile Hotspot by Sierra Wireless. The prize will awarded on March 31st and SXSW visitors can enter at either MMV location.

Auditorium Stage Sponsorship.  This will include Sprint branding and an MMV will be stationed there throughout the music festival (March 17th-21st).

"I'm a Hotspot" Street Teams - From the 17th-21st, street teams will be deployed with shirts that read "I'm a hotspot."  They will roam the festival and invite users to actually experience it and see what 4G really means.

Billboard.com event sponsorship - Exclusive sponsorship of Billboard.com’s national online coverage of SXSW, including an invite only live concert on March 20th streamed using Sprint 4G technology!  Current headliner performers are Astelle and Diane Birch.

•    Billboard.com lounge offers additional experiential touchpoints with 4G-powered video/photo booths where consumers can upload content to various social networking sites via 4G mobile broadband


•    Street team personnel will take photos of guests and help them post the photos to the official event Facebook page.  Computers will be stationed in the 4G lounge area that will allow people to tag their photo to their personal website.


•    Within the Billboard.com lounge, Sprint will host a blogger lounge where bloggers can talk about the 4G-powered experiences in the lounge and throughout the SXSW footprint