3 TSL Takeaways From SXSW 2023


This March marked the 36th year of South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, TX, and this year we sent a crew of six TSL-ers to connect with other industry leaders from around the world, learn about the latest trends, and spend dedicated time thinking about what’s ahead.

Here are just three (of many!) takeaways from our Director of Strategy Annie Mullins:

We have officially entered the Assistive Computing Era. 

  • Generative AI was the single most discussed topic at SXSW this year. Conversations around the current state of AI and future implications across industries arose in nearly every panel and event. AI-themed posters, parties, and pop-ups were everywhere. It’s clear that every company and employee has an immediate responsibility to adopt and learn AI tools so that we’re able to skillfully navigate their integration into our futures (and fight a potential digital divide between those who understand and can harness these tools – and those who don’t). 

Location-based social is ready for its comeback tour.

  • Fourteen-year-old app Gowalla, the location-based social network, made its reappearance at SXSW this year with a new aesthetic and feature updates. Simultaneously, Truffle, a new location-based social network from the creators of Pokemon Go, launched its beta during the conference, as well. Both companies are banking on the belief that the mainstream is primed for geo-location social in a way that it hasn’t been in the past (thanks to Find My Friends, Snap Maps, etc.). 

Understanding people is (still!) the key to connection.

  • Across sessions on “creating viral brands,” “approaching online culture,” and “future-proofing,” it was evident that one universal truth remains: brands who understand people will win. Relating on a human level and connecting online via truths about human nature will continue to be the way that brands break through the clutter of content and connect with fans (a tale as old as time). This persists across newer platforms, like TikTok, as well more established platforms, like Reddit. 


Want to learn more from the TSL team about SXSW and how it could impact your social marketing plans in 2023? Click here to inquire about a custom 1:1 session with our team.

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Background on The Social Lights
The Social Lights® is a social-first agency headquartered in Minneapolis that partners with clients to grow their business through strategy development, creative production, media buying, and social media management. Current clients include General Mills, Ecolab, Cargill, Caribou Coffee, Kwik Trip, Polaris and Massage Envy. The Social Lights was founded in 2011 and is a WBENC-Certified Women Business Enterprise. Learn more at The Social Lights.

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