Key Takeaways from Interactive Day 2011

By Michelle Peck

What do you get when you mix Google, Facebook, Groupon and Pandora in a room? Those lucky enough to attend Interactive Day San Diego got to find out. The panel representing today’s largest digital companies concluded an inspiring day of knowledge with competitive banter, digital camaraderie, and desire to be a part of your next great ideas. So, where do we start? How do we come up with successful digital ideas, great interactive campaigns, and something worthy of Google’s attention? I think it all can be wrapped into one big idea: brand engagement.

Interactive Day was a unique experience for me since I started the morning as a volunteer. I got to greet all the familiar industry faces I recognized from social media—Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and even Flickr. It felt like one big interactive family coming together to learn and tweet about our always-evolving industry. My first two sessions followed the mobile/social track with panelists sharing tips and tricks about implementing campaigns involving local, mobile, social and commerce (aka “LoMoSoCo”). Over lunch we heard from the mighty Groupon about how they are bringing new experiences to the world and changing the way we do things. And for the afternoon, I jumped in on the creative track with more social examples from local companies TurboTax, Taylor Guitars, and Hot Spring Spas. The best was saved for last with a jaw dropping demonstration from Juxt Interactive showing us how we can combine mobile, augmented reality and Xbox Kinect to create amazing virtual experiences that truly engage with audiences who live in the present.

While I missed out on some of the hot sessions like Concepting for Conversation and Optimizing the Zero Moment of Truth with Google’s Sam Sebastian, I definitely picked up on the key takeaways of the day:

1. Content is still king

The importance of good, relevant content is still extremely important. You can’t just expect people to find your site and read information about your brand. Content needs to entertain our audience and be something worth sharing. Whether it’s viral videos, localized storytelling, ratings and reviews, or user generated content, if people won’t click the like button, you may want to rethink your content strategy.

2. Social should be at the core of every campaign

One thing Interactive Day reminded me of, is that any brand can be social. You may think toilet paper and taxes are topics people just don’t care about, but Charmin’s Sit or Squat app and TurboTax’s social badges (so you can boast “I just finished my tax return” to all your friends) show us how to do it right. Brands need think outside the box and create experiences that people care about. Every campaign should think how to leverage social ideas to create real human connections and drive cross platform engagement.

3. Mobile is the way of the future

If you haven’t heard, mobile is where we should all be heading. People live in the moment and want quick, on-to-go interactions with the brands they care about. When a person gets a smart phone, his or her desktop or laptop use goes down 30%. Advertisers need to catch up with this audience and ensure content is accessible and promoted on mobile devices. It could be an app, a mobile site, in-store tablets, QR codes, iAds or augmented reality, just make sure to start integrating mobile with your campaign now to further brand relationships.

4. Good ideas come from solving simple problems

Every successful digital idea somehow enhances peoples’ lives. By providing creative real-life solutions, making it fun, and connecting with consumers, we can provide tools that empower our audience and keep them engaged. We should design around how people use things, and not the other way around. Touch screens and body movement simplify experiences with intuitive interactions and should inspire a new way to think about interactive.

Brand engagement that sparks connections and consumer dialogue, using multi-platform technologies is where interactive campaigns should start. So, go out there, be creative, have fun, and engage with your audience. Maybe you will be speaking at Interactive Day next year…I’ll see you there.