SXSWi 2012 Smart Wall
The Project: For the second year in a row, Samsung approached JESS3 with an interactive challenge for SXSWi 2012: create an intricate data visualization installation comprised of 23 Samsung displays. The result came to be known as the #smartwall.
JESS3’s goal was to make this year’s installation the live premier source of valuable real-time interactive social data for conference goers. We designed eleven different views across five screens, and were able to implement eight views to capture breaking social activity around conference panels, industry trendsetters, trending locations, popular topics, hot parties, and buzz captured at the infamous SXSW parties.
In addition the complex design, the JESS3 team came to SXSW with a team of 8 curators (including a few veterans of the Vancouver Olympics NBC Curation Team) prepared to unearth the most compelling data for the #smartwall using our custom-built curation admin tool called the Samsung Controlinator. Armed with essential keywords, killwords and trendspotting tools, the curation team worked on the ground for 12 hours per day to ensure the best social data was highlighted on the installation.
Our Methodology: Physical installations present unique challenges. Complications can arise with fabrication of the structure the digital installation sits in, hardware malfunctions, software bugs, and of course — making sure that what you’ve designed actually looks good in real life and not just in the office where you’ve been staring at it for months. But at the core, it’s always about finding a way to make something that fits in the space and conveys interesting and value-driven information in a beautiful relevant way.
The evolution from last year’s social visualizations to what we created this year is based on the concept of sharing what’s interesting at SXSW back to the people in attendance. It’s easy to get distracted by data and content that can be included instead of concentrating on what should be included. For 2012, we are looking at the most interesting content across categories of people, parties, locations, tweets, the day in review and overnight happenings. We’re paying attention to all of these areas across a set of curated “Subjects” curated by the JESS3 team.
The flow of conversation is just that – a flow. It changes over time in terms of what is important and what is interesting. Breakout news needs to be seen and included quickly, and marquis stories from yesterday need to be cleared out to make room for more relevant topics if interest in them has waned. The JESS3 curation team spec’d the Samsung Controlinator to help in this task and give them ways to filter and direct the flow of conversation for each of the categories on the screen.
In an environment characterized by chaos, dynamism and fluidity, the key is to build a platform that organizes at a stable level and provides maximum flexibility to react and adapt at more detailed levels. This ensures a curation of top quality content at a fast pace within beautiful design.
Results: According to NetBase, Samsung received the most social media buzz among non-media/tech brands, with about 165,000 mentions – even more than heavy-weight brands American Express, Pepsi and Chevy. Samsung was the most tweeted sponsor at SXSWi with 2,401 tweets overall and received coverage from a number of top media outlets including Fast Company, Mediabistro and AdWeek.
Called “The Essential Guide to Facebook Emoticons,” The Next Web premiered JESS3’s graphic outlining how to create emoticons in Facebook messages, comments and chats. Displaying everything from Chris Putnam to a penguin, the emoticons and their keyboard shortcuts give users a wide breadth of fun options. As noted by The Next Web, JESS3’s graphic reveals the tricks of the keyboard shortcut trade to solve an “age-old problem” — expressing one’s excitement, or penguin obsession, through Facebook of course.
JESS3’s founder, Jesse Thomas, sat down with Marketing Land as one of 8 industry experts, including other designers and top level executives, to answer the questions “What makes an excellent infographic?” and “What should my expectations be for an infographic?” Jesse stressed in his answers that infographics need to be beautiful, but also meaningful and have the data to back them up, because “the primary purpose of an infographic is to spark informed conversation and action.” He also noted that “An infographic should be intelligent and tell the audience something they don’t already know, but say it with words and terms they do.”
Mashable highlighted JESS3’s lo-fi approach to self-marketing at SXSWi 2013: posters. The site reported that for a conference positioned around new trends and cutting-edge technology, posters remain an effective and popular means of marketing. Tech start-ups have to compete for top-of-mind exposure at the annual interactive festival, driving companies to lace-up their shoes and go “old school” with marketing visuals. Mashable quoted CEO and founder, Jesse Thomas, as a leader in this trend, and someone who knows the “fight for space” is worth the return via logo exposure and business inquiries.
Infographic and data visualization community Visual.ly featured The Workplace Zodiac, an infographic created by JESS3 for Mindjet, on its front page. Outlining the dynamics of different Work Personality Types, the infographic was the final piece of Mindjet’s Workology series, which examines every team member’s role for maximizing team success. Although the project’s original intention was to drive brand awareness, Mindjet incorporated the series into their sales team’s efforts as well. The infographic is now in the top 5% of Business content on Visual.ly.
Mashable featured JESS3’s Creepy Cupid series of digital valentines as part of their Valentine’s Day coverage, publicizing their humour and connection to the all-too-real online world of dating. Our graphics, called a “hilarious set,” use real quotes from online dating site OKCupid to encapsulate the boldness — and the trepidations — of online dating. Ranging from the silly to the outright absurd, the shareable cards were optimized for social media and capitalized on the hashtag #CreepyCupid. Mashable noted that regardless of whether love is blind, our playful graphics are “all the visualization you need.”
JESS3’s third version of the Geosocial Universe premiered in an exclusive on The Next Web, one of the world’s largest online tech publishers. The Geosocial Universe 3.0 illustrates the vastness of geosocial networking, highlighting the major social networks as planets orbitting the "sun" of nearly 6 billion global mobile devices — “depicting exactly where mobile stands in today’s ecosystem.” The Next Web noted how the Geosocial Universe 3.0 sheds light on growing mobile traffic, showing “just how big those numbers have become” in the ever-expanding geosocial-sphere.
The Huffington Post’s Los Angeles vertical spotlighted “Coachella by the Likes,” JESS3’s infographic examining Coachella’s roster by number of “Likes” each band has on Facebook. We matched the number of Facebook fans per musical act with their graphic presence on the annual Coachella lineup poster. Making use of the Facebook-liking, data-driven generation, the resulting visualization triggered insightful discoveries about the festival’s lineup. The Huffington Post used our findings to surmise whether “Coachella's iconic poster [does] justice to the most popular acts when it comes to prominence and font size.”
iMedia Connection named JESS3 to the iMedia 25 agency list, recognizing JESS3 as a key agency that has advanced interactive marketing through big ideas, brilliant creative, cutting-edge technology, and the passionate pursuit of excellence in the digital space. Citing our work with Samsung, ESPN, American Express, and recent partnership with the Google Politics and Elections team for the 2012 National Conventions, the article states, “JESS3 has a gift for turning numbers into stories and a passion for creating content strategies that resonate over the long haul.”