South by Southwest is known for being a great platform for startups presenting the latest innovations to the world. In many cases, these startups have become popular after this instrumental week, however other startups were not as influential. A great success story comes from Twitter. In 2007, the social media platform used SXSW as a launching pad and went from having only 5000 users to 1.8 million in 2008 (Segall, 2011; Buck, 2011). The check in service, Foursquare, had a similar experience, gaining a sizeable amount of users after their time at SXSW. However, other startups like Gowalla were only popular for a time after their launch, but never caught on like other startups. Why have certain startups reached great success and why have others failed in the past? Will this year be any different?
These are the questions I want to find the answers to. I am interested in gaining an understanding of what affects the adoption rate of these innovations. The diffusion of innovation theory has often been used to determine the adoption rate of innovations for the public. This theory will be the basis for my project. I have used this theory in previous research, and am interested in learning more about it, and hope to apply it when determining the success or failure of the chosen startup.
Although the official list has not yet to be released, several startups will be eager to create a following during SXSW. My goal is to examine and follow one of these startups to determine their adoption rate before, during and after the time of the festival. Using social media will be influential in determining what impacts their success or failure.
Choosing the specific startup to follow will rely on research. I will need to perform in-depth research on the specific startup and determine how much promotion the startup has done prior to the festival. I also want to use news sources and social media to determine the startups popularity before the time of the festival.
During the actual festival I plan to follow the startup and document their time at SXSW. I will examine if and how the audience, inside the festival, as well as outside, adopts the specific innovation. Social media has played a huge part in expediting the process of adoption by users. Startups are able to measure, evaluate and if necessary, re-strategize their approach while at SXSW. I would also be able to use social media to analyze the constant communication about the startup and collect data on its progress. To add an interactive aspect to the project, the collection of data would be presented as an infographic. This infographic would be one of the many aspects of a webpage dedicated to determining the startups adoption rate. Another dimension would be an interactive timeline, a visual representation, using video, pictures and other visuals to depict the steps the startup takes before, during and after SXSW, including both minor and major accomplishments or failures they have along the way. I would like to be able to present the information by following the 4 steps of a product lifecycle, introduction, growth, maturation and decline. This would be beneficial in representing how and why the start up is or is not adopted.
Essentially, the content of this project can be used in many ways, either individually or simultaneously. I can develop a webpage, use videos, pictures and include one (or more) infographics to present the information. I have also considered turning all of it into an academic research paper. Perhaps combining the two to form an interactive research paper, something I don’t think has been done before. The logistics of this idea have not yet been completely worked out, but I believe the idea could be an interesting and innovative way to add to new media research.
Not only do I plan to follow and document a specific startup to gain influential information for future startups, but I would also like to use SXSW for my own benefit., I have a food blog and want to learn more about self-promotion and branding using social media. Although I do not have a specific project in mind for this, I simply would like meet and converse with others that have experience and learn the best ways to make my blog successful. The fact that Austin is home to great food helps a bit too.
New Media Concentration: No
Been to SXSW Before: No
Been in Program Since: 2011
Relevant TXST Courses: Issues in New Media, Online Media Design
Other Courses: n/a