The Digiday Guide to SXSW Panel Pimping

Somehow it is already that time of year when people ask others, often via social media, to vote for their SXSW panel. For the uninitiated, SXSW has a bizarre system of selecting its content that involves people drumming up votes for their sessions. This creates the social media equivalent to Girl Scouts cookie sales. There’s really no good way to solicit people on Twitter or Facebook to vote for you or something you are involved in without being an annoying, self-promotional goon. That said, Austin has great barbecue, cheap beer and great music. Time to get grubby. Here are some panel pimping techniques we’ve observed and examined for you. Proceed at your own risk.

The All-Caps, Not-That-I’m-Desperate Plea

The all-caps plea is a shameless, blunt and visually assaulting (and insulting) way to pimp your panel. This technique gets a zero for subtlety, zero for creativity but bonus points for a sense of urgency/derangement. Will it work? PROBABLY NOT.

The Ask a Friend to Be Your Pimp Approach

The slightly more subtle friend-as-pimp move is a canny approach, at least compared to “PLS VOTE FOR ME!” The key here is plausible deniability. Having coworkers do this, particularly those who report to you, comes across schlocky. The best is to get a book on network theory, then spam the hell out of your Gmail contacts and Facebook friends to ask for their help behind the scenes. And then, voilla, The Groundswell.

The Beer Bribe 

The most tempting of the techniques, the beer bribe recognizes the importance of the gift economy: you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours — or in this case, I’ll buy you a frosty mug. Taste points for Tom’s execution here. His added politeness in his request (the “Please consider voting”) shows he understands that he is asking a favor of people and recognizes the grossness of pimping oneself out on Twitter. What’s more, there’s the “in Austin” caveat, which should cut down on the out-of-pocket expenses and drive up ROI. After all, social media ROI is very important these days.

The Self-Aware Spammer

This is for the tortured soul who feels trapped by The Man into engaging in the social media equivalent to  door-to-door sales. He doesn’t want to be hawking Ginzu knives, see? Honesty and self-awareness are the only way to make the best out of a no-win situation.

The Viral Marketing Attempt

The viral marketing attempt gets zero for subtlety and minus even more for asking people to retweet. Pimping your panels for votes is one thing, but to ask for more pimping? That’s just greedy.

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