Social Media

Advocates vs. Agitators: Leaning into Relevant Social Conversations [SXSW]

March 20, 2015

360i SXSW ambassadors returned from their jaunt in Austin feeling inspired and creatively recharged. Armed with a wealth of new knowledge and insight, they have been enthusiastically sharing their learnings on the 360i blog this week. The below post is a first-person account from one of our brand ambassadors, Emily Bell, Media Supervisor at 360i. In this post Emily recaps one of the SXSW panels she attended – “Advocates vs. Agitators: The Social Influence.”


As a SXSW rookie, I was completely overwhelmed and unprepared for the amount of brilliance and creativity that infiltrated every corner of downtown Austin. Not only were there clever brand activations and new tech demonstrations, but there were also so many inspiring panels and speakers who challenged all of the festival’s attendees to think differently.

One of my favorite panels was entitled “Advocates vs. Agitators: The Social Influence.”  Moderated by Digiday’s Shareen Pathak, the panel speakers included Jamie Barbour of Chevrolet, Meg Bear of Oracle and Alice Wilson of Southwest Airlines. The session explored ways that brands can maximize the potential of social media by creating evangelists through best practices and unexpected opportunities. As social media continues to grow and saturate our daily lives, brands need to be even more aware of opportunities to lean into relevant conversations to increase engagement.

Wilson shared examples from Southwest Airlines’ Social Care program, which focused on listening and responding to distressed customers. While this might sound like an obvious solution for the customer service industry, the results are far from ordinary. Southwest Airlines was able to increase the amount of individualized responses to its consumers across multiple social channels, improving its response time on Twitter by an average of two minutes.

While discussing Chevy’s successful #TechnologyAndStuff campaign, Barbour described the story of its inception, which was a fantastic example of a brand that leaned into a potentially unfavorable faux pas. During an MLB postgame celebration, a Chevy spokesperson’s nerves took over and he unintentionally coined the phrase “Technology and Stuff.”  Following intuition and knowing that this was an opportunity for the brand to lean into the conversations, laugh at itself, and engage with its fans, Chevy was able to turn a negative conversation into a successful campaign that resonated with its brand audience.

It is extremely important for marketers to understand the enormous impact that social channels can have on our audiences. Although this panel focused on more direct response and customer service situations, these examples illustrate the core insight that: consumers just really want to be heard. Brands that are able to embrace this quality and respond to consumers in unique and custom ways are rewarded with loyal advocates who defend the brand and become life-long customers.

Cover photo via SXSWstate