SXSW 2022: What to Expect

March 10, 2022

By Jake Schneider, SVP, Connections Strategy & Innovation                                [Header image credit: Canva]

1,090 days. When SXSW (South by Southwest) reopens its arms to embrace the flock of tech, music, and film conference-goers this weekend, it will have been 1,090 days since we last worried about badge pick-ups, mapping out our schedule of panels and meet-ups, and trying to make time for that super cool brand activation everyone was talking about on Twitter.

We’ve had a lot going on in those 1,090 days.

Just the fact that, “Hey! When are you headed to SX?” has made its wayback into my general conversations these days makes me feel happy and grateful. See, SXSW is my favorite holiday of the year, and if you were wondering, the order goes SXSW, Thanksgiving, CES. 

For me, CES is where you can watch innovation move from novelty to utility. SXSW is where you go to see and hear about the application of innovation – the “BTS” as the kids say. The trial and error.

So, what can we expect this year at SXSW after a two-year hiatus? I think some of the same trends that came out of CES will be prevalent with SX.

Scale it Back

I expect a scaled back version very similar to what we saw in 2017, and possibly a lot like what we saw from CES.

Before you start thinking to yourself, “well I heard CES was a…,” CES had a TON of big names bow out ahead of the Vegas event (rightfully so), but what and who was there provided a really cool intimate experience. In fact, it was one of my favorite experiences since I started going more than a decade ago. 

No Escaping Metaverse, NFTs, Web3, Crypto, & Blockchain:

At CES, if your talk or product had anything to do with the afore mentioned words, you were guaranteed to draw a crowd. There’s such a thirst for knowledge in the space at such a high velocity – expect the same at SX. Some of my most anticipated panels and activations center around this tentpole, and it is so broad in potential it’s probably the only topic that can span across interactive, music, and film, and have real impact.

Emergence of Microcontent

There’s a trend that is starting to bubble up in brand apps that I find super interesting: microcontent or stories-version content. They live and breathe natively within apps, encouraging engagement and offering experiences that inspire, entertain, and inform. This method of posting is gaining popularity and in turn, creating opportunities for shoppable content. Which leads me to my next topic…

Retail Going Mobile

As we start to leave our traditional ways of shopping behind and become more reliant (if that’s even possible) on our mobile devices and wearables – retail has started to adjust. As we’ve learned from the pandemic, there’s a convenience and personalization factor at a huge scale, which creates the opportunity for retail brands to break through.

So, what are the places and spaces I’m most excited about? Here are a few talks and activations I think are worthwhile for your list.



Remember this, conference-goers: pace yourself and have a great time. Happy SXSW. It’s great to have you back!