SXSW is an alternate universe with a unique culture. The native SXSW language is dude-speak. For example, right now I’m sitting in the lobby of the Hyatt, and a crew is taping an “unboxing” video of some cool camera gear. Ever other utterance is “super geeked out ”or “sweet” or “that’s soooo awesome” or “that’s super, super awesome”.

But there’s another language used by the experts and participants at the workshops and panels. I started collecting some wonderful phrases throughout my visit to SXSW-land. And, of course, I contributed some myself. A few are legacy terms that just made me smile to hear them again.

My favs:

Phrase Definition
Random acts of connection This phrase was used by Jim Storer from Community Roundtable during the session about the importance of lurkers in your online community. The concept is a riff on “surprise and delight” except you reach out to a non-performer instead of one of your community super stars. The desired outcome is to turn them into an engaged, contributing community member.
Signal strength of the brand This describes the power of big brands to drive messaging and deliver content across multiple channels. It was used specifically to compare the imbalance between brands as publishers as they adopt more and more owned channels to traditional media outlets, whose voice has become diminished as both readers or viewers flee along with advertisers.
Earth worms to break up the earth Refers to the leaders inside of online communities who prepare the ground so the community can grow and thrive.
Iceberg effect of community management This was attributed to Rachel Happe of Community Roundtable. It describes the “under water” actions of the community manager, which are never seen by the community. The activities and presence that are visible are just a fraction of what is needed to successful guide and nurture a healthy community.
Snack-able content OK, I heard this one a few months ago and still love it. It references how we need to create content that is as approachable and addictive as snack food. Do not confuse this with junk food, but rather content that can quickly be consumed and goes down easy, but still satisfies.
Review Roadmap Guilty: I invented this term and used it during a session. It signals that brands need more than a product review engine; they need a crawl, walk, run strategy of how they will generate, syndicate, amplify and measure ROI of recommendations and product reviews.
“leave them alone to fester among each other” A very funny woman from AOL used this phrase when describing a dysfunctional customer service model.
Collaborative consensus I cannot decide if this is an oxymoron or not. The context is that in gaining consensus you have to include your detractors or those who automatically say NO in the process of getting buy-in. Could be a cluster you know what, but an interesting concept.
Viral like yeast The lady that used this phrase was expressing a need to be more thoughtful about engagement than simply hoping a growth culture takes over.
Flash mob community Is a flash mob a community? Or just a crowd that will disband later?

I’m going to keep adding to my glossary. What phrases would you add?

Cheryl Treleaven

Cheryl Treleaven


Engaging your customers is at the heart of successful marketing programs. For more than 20 years, Cheryl has been building and executing content and thought leadership strategies designed to do just that. She is excited to be applying that well-honed skill to a help companies like Microsoft, Cisco, 3M, Intel, Capital One and Barclaycard tap into their stakeholder communities and build sophisticated content strategies.

Her experience base spans a range of industries – from technology and financial services to retail, travel, consumer products and healthcare. Cheryl has served as an integral member of her clients’ marketing teams, providing counsel on marketing and brand strategy, thought leadership, media relations, product introductions, and event management.

Prior to joining ComBlu, Cheryl spent 10 years leading corporate marketing for large, complex organizations.