Have you heard? Mashable has challenged us to celebrate this year’s Social Media Day by proving why our city is the most social media savvy city in the world. Is it even a contest? When you think of social media’s birth of innovation and its spirit of togetherness while celebrating oppositeness, and find you still have the energy to be enthusiastic about it all, are you from LA? New York? London? No. You’re from Austin, baby.
That’s right. Home to the geek producin’, barbeque lickin’, music lovin’ masses, Austin, TX, is the birthplace of social media acceptance. Austin lifted the concept of social media from its crib and nursed it to maturity, accepting it as a part of its own flesh and blood, because that is what it has become. To Austin, social media is an organic life force, an interwoven fiber of networks that has been braided into nearly every aspect of our daily lives. Social media has tattooed itself upon our city and to prove it, we’ll give you the “A, U and S, the T and I to the N” of why Austin is the most social media savvy city in the world.
A is for Apps. Austin is a playground for social integration app developer companies. Anything from smartphone games for consumers to mobile web integration apps for businesses are created here. Many smartphone app developers call Austin home, including Qrank, Gowalla and Pangea Software, developer of the iPhone game Enigmo, which was one of the most downloaded apps in 2008.
U is for User-Friendly. For years, the City of Austin and other community groups, like the Austin Wireless City Project, have been campaigning for free wireless throughout the city. In 2006, the City of Austin partnered with the World Congress on Information Technology and Cisco Systems to provide high-speed, outdoor Internet wireless access to select areas in town. Austin’s emphasis on the importance of providing complimentary wireless access to citizens highlights its commitment to fostering an online, social and sharing community.
S is for SXSW. “South by Southwest” is probably the largest contributing factor to our argument that Austin is the most social media savvy city in the world. In fact, people from all over the world travel to Austin to spend one week of every year at the SXSW Interactive (SXSWi), Film and Music festival. According to SXSWi, attendees get “five days of compelling presentations from the brightest minds in emerging technology…showcasing the best new digital works, video games and innovative ideas the international community has to offer.” In fact, one of the most successful social media debuts at SXSWi was Twitter. That’s right, Twitter introduced its recently launched concept in Austin, TX, in 2007 to a very receptive crowd and has since grown so successful that the term, “Tweet,” has a place in the Merriam-Webster dictionary (as a noun AND a verb). Foursquare, which actually launched its location-based service at SXSWi in 2009, is another SXSWi success story. There is a reason that SXSWi in Austin is the go-to show for innovative technology companies to teach, learn and share ideas.
T is for Technology. It’s nothing new. Austin has long been known as a hot bed for technology companies. Some of the world’s largest Fortune 500 businesses including Dell, Apple, HP, AMD, Cisco and IBM have operations or even headquarters in Austin. So what’s new? In the last handful of years, these companies have been at the forefront of social media acceptance and innovation. Instead of rejecting the idea of easier, but uncontrolled, direct interaction with its customers, these companies embraced outlets like Facebook and Twitter, building winning social media strategies and policies that evolve every day—right in our own backyard.
I is for Influential. Many influential Austinites have tech blogs that represent the ‘new media meets technology’ community. Instead of going on and on about how blogs are an important part of social media engagement, I’ll just show you some great Austin tech blogs to follow. Some Assembly Required is a blog authored by business development mentor and speaker Thom Singer and discusses how branding is the integration of marketing, PR, networking, social media, etc. The Austin American Statesman’s own Lori Hawkins authors Starting Up, a blog about Austin-area start-ups, entrepreneurs and venture capital deals. Michelle’s Blog, created by web strategist Michelle Greer, is a good educational source for social media marketing tips.
N is for Networking. This is the best part. Austin likes to party, and party we do. There are numerous high profile social media/technology networking events that take place in Austin—Social Media Day has its own party here, after all. We have Tweet Ups, Foursquare parties, TechKaraoke nights and more. The first Tweet Up in Austin was said by many of the event creators to be one of the best, most productive events they’d hosted. Was it something we put in the water? Maybe. Or maybe Austin is the prime market for social media acceptance and innovation.
To be the most social media savvy city in the world takes more than having lots of RSVPs to a Tweet Up, more than having a popular, city-wide social media project, and more than being one of the most glamorous cities in America as claimed by a fellow nominator (*cough* LA…). To be the best, you have to prove that your city has been there since the beginning and has been evolving as social media evolves. It takes proving that your city has integrated social media into every day life to the point where many would notice its lack of presence. Austin, TX, is that city. We embraced social media at its birth and together, we have evolved ever since.