Bitly at SXSW

This post was written for the Bitly blog by our CEO, Mark Josephson.

When we first started planning for this year’s SXSW, I was skeptical. It would be my second time and Bitly’s first time there as a company since my first trip to SXSW with a team back in 2009. While I had a really great time back then, it wasn’t clear to me this year how we would actually do business amidst the organized chaos that is SXSW.

Coming out of a five-day venture, it’s clear that my assumptions were way off. The conference is filled with decision makers, looking to learn how to make their business better. While it’s mixed with a lot of fun, the business being done there is undeniable.

Every year at SXSW, there are one or two companies or themes that emerge. This year, I was struck by the growth and presence of the social marketing platform.

I had the pleasure of meeting with teams from Hootsuite, Spredfast and Sprinklr, and I was blown away by all of them. Each are actively and aggressively moving to differentiate from each other, contribute to major marketing strategies and claim share for their business.

Additionally, the presence of major brands was incredibly strong. At my first SXSW experience, the Austin Convention Center was crowded with long lines of tech employees waiting to get into coveted panels. This year, representatives from all the major brands were there, actively learning and taking the initiative to further build and develop their marketing strategies.

The convergence of these two scenarios emphasized for me the role Bitly plays in the marketing ecosystem; we’re the connector. Or, to put it in Bitly terms, we are the link.

Just like we link users to their audiences and publishers to their content, we link brands with their platforms. While our presence was not massive, we co-hosted a brunch with Percolate and General Electric, and invited brands, customers and partners for a Superpower Hour, where our guests could discuss serious strategies for building business, connect to others in the industry, and even strike a pose with SuperChauncey in our gif booth.

Bitly at SXSW

It was great to have an open, honest dialogue amongst peers (in the past, we may have called some competitors) about the very real challenges and opportunities in our business. At the forefront of these efforts is the power of the link. While it is short in size, it is undoubtedly strong. The link is the connection between businesses and their audiences, platforms and brands, and users and insights.

Our marketing department is already coming up with bigger and better ideas for how we share Bitly next year, so I guess I should plan to book my hotel room early, like regular attendees do. I can’t even imagine how this conference can grow any more in the city of Austin, but I know I will be there to see it.