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TODD SMITH: SXSW showcases brands, entertainment & politics


Austin was the epicenter of the Brandverse during the SXSW festival, where brands, entertainment, music and politics mixed in an ethereal digital dance.

This year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) Festival and Conference offered interactive brand experiences all week long, along with bodacious live music, comedy, world premieres of TV shows and movies, product launches – and yes, the onslaught of presidential politics (already)!

SXSW – now in its 33rd year – started as a small, local music festival, but has metamorphosed into one of the largest, most influential gatherings in the world.

More than 400,000 people, celebrities and power brokers descended on the Texas capital, bringing an estimated $350 million to Central Texas.

This year’s SXSW kicked off with SXSWedu from March 4-7 but March 8 is the day when it all heated up.

Film, comedy and interactive sessions kicked things off with the music portion beginning on March 11.

The opening night film for the Film Festival featured the Jordan Peele film “Us.”

Two iconic entertainment brands, HBO and Amazon, traded punches for one of the festival’s biggest buzz events, as they pitched the new Game of Thrones season and the upcoming miniseries Good Omens, respectively.

The “immersive” experience that each brand brought to Austin was a theatrical spectacle where costumed characters from the show played their way through the shindig!

It’s another way brands continue to look for ways to bring something to SXSW that can inspire a “you had to be there” vibe that sets the trends for the year, and creates an electric atmosphere of dueling brands, which has become a SXSW tradition through the years.

A slew of Democratic presidential candidates also descended into the heart of Texas to ply their political wares, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and more.

Best times to post on LinkedIn

When it comes to social media, reaching an engaged audience requires compelling content – and such is the case with LinkedIn.

But, you must know the right time to post your content to connect with your audience. So what’s the optimal post time for your specific audience?

The best way to determine your brand’s ideal post time is by testing and uncovering the exact time and days your content generates the most engagement.

However, most don’t have the time or resources to conduct meaningful testing.

Sprout Social, a social media management platform with more than 25,000 customers, has you covered.

Last year, they analyzed their customer data to see what time and day their customers’ social media posts generated the most engagement.

And after examining their aggregate engagement data on LinkedIn, Sprout Social pinpointed the days and times – in Central Daylight Time (CDT) – that could generate the most engagement on the platform for your brand:

The best times to post, according to Sprout Social, is between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Central on Wednesdays.

Other high engagement times are between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Central on Tuesdays, 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. Central on Wednesdays, and 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Central on Thursdays.

During these periods, people are usually getting ready for work, just starting their day, taking an afternoon break, or going home, so it makes sense that engagement on LinkedIn is high at these times.

Only 1 Blockbuster store remains

Call it the last kid on the block. Or Blockbuster dud.

A Blockbuster store in Bend, Oregon, is the last of the once thriving and iconic video rental chain – after a store in Perth, Australia announced it would go dark at the end of the month.

Australia’s last Blockbuster store has begun a going-out-of-business sale, the downfall attributed by its owners to the arrival of Netflix and other streaming services in the Land Down Under.

Oh how mightily this brand has fallen!

A dominant brand during the late 1980s and 1990s, Blockbuster once had more than 9,000 stores in operation. The chain shut down its last corporate-owned stores in 2014, but some franchisees have remained operational in the years since.

The rise of Netflix, which instantly streams movies and television shows to its base of nearly 150 million paid subscribers, has rendered physical video rentals obsolete. Other competitors in the burgeoning space include Hulu and Amazon Prime Video.

If only Blockbuster had jumped onto the streaming bandwagon, it may still be a leading brand in movies and entertainment.

Facebook users decline by 15 Million, Instagram way up

Facebook’s user base is shrinking, particularly in the all-important 12- to 34-year-old demographic, according to new survey data compiled by market research firm Edison Research.

The survey, which only collected data about users in the U.S. (Facebook’s most lucrative market), found that an estimated 15 million fewer people use Facebook today than they did in 2017, with the biggest drop being among teen users and millennials.

The survey signals that the social network’s privacy woes and continued breaches of user trust may have some effect on its most coveted slice of users.

Instagram tops 1 billion users

One interesting element of this trend is that users may not be leaving Facebook entirely, but flocking to Instagram instead. The photo-sharing platform, which by its nature collects less personal information from its users, is thriving.

Instagram has now become the hip social network of the younger generation, rivaled only (and barely) by Snapchat. There may be little Facebook can do to reverse that shift.

Instagram boasts more than 1 billion users and more than 400 million monthly users of its Stories product, a feature originally copied from competitor Snapchat that has now become a vital pillar of how younger users engage social media every day and stay connected with friends online.

Silenced Mic | Sports writing legend, Texas icon Dan Jenkins’ death leaves a void

Dan Jenkins, the acclaimed sportswriter, proud Texas Christian University alum and Texas icon – whose biting, satirical humor captivated generations of sports fans – has quit typing (at least on this earth).

He was 90 years young when he died recently. His pithy prose graced Sports Illustrated, the holy grail of sports pubs, for more than 25 years. Jenkins – who played golf at TCU – rubbed elbows with some of the legends of the game, including Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. Like these legends, Jenkins was a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame – one of only three golf writers in the hall. At Sports Illustrated, he covered golf, of course, but also college football.

Jenkins wrote some 23 books, including the mammoth bestseller “Semi-Tough” that became a blockbuster movie starring Burt Reynolds, Kris Kristofferson and Jill Clayburgh.

He once told Golf Digest “If you grew up in Texas, and you’re not a sports fan, they’ll drown you.” So true!

Jenkins launched his career at The Fort Worth Press, rising to stardom at Sports Illustrated. He also wrote for other publications, including Golf Digest.

He covered his first major at the 1951 Masters, won by his beloved friend Hogan, and went on to cover nearly 180 consecutive majors.

Jenkins counted his top three moments in golf – Hogan’s win at Oakland Hills in the 1951 U.S. Open, Nicklaus winning his sixth Masters at age 46 and the 1960 U.S. Open, regarded by many as one of the greatest days in the history of the championship. Palmer shot 65 in the final round to best Hogan, the aging legend, and Nicklaus, the emerging star who was still an amateur.

His perspective was always viewed through Lone Star lenses. He was born in Fort Worth, and played on the TCU golf team.

Jenkins became TCU’s unofficial historian in recent years and was a regular at the Horned Frogs’ home football games. TCU named the press box at Amon G. Carter Stadium after him in 2017.

He lived a storybook sports life, capturing its greatest moments from a typewriter to Twitter, and everything in between. In death, he continued his humor. The requested message on his tombstone, “I knew this would happen.”

Somewhere beyond the Pearly Gates, Jenkins has a putter in one hand and a pen in the other, scaling the 18th green, and yukking it up with his pals Hogan and Palmer – and cheering for the Horned Frogs!

Each week, The Spin Cycle will bestow a Golden Mic Award to the person, group or company in the court of public opinion that best exemplifies the tenets of solid PR, marketing and advertising – and those who don’t. Stay tuned – and step-up to the mic! And remember … Amplify Your Brand!

Todd Smith is president and chief communications officer of Deane, Smith & Partners, a full-service branding, PR, marketing and advertising firm with offices in Jackson. The firm — based in Nashville, Tenn. — is also affiliated with Mad Genius. Contact him at todd@deanesmithpartners.com, and follow him @spinsurgeon.


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