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If there’s one theme at South By Southwest Interactive, it’s brand influence. Whether that’s through a talk underscoring a brand’s expertise or a happy hour building community, the goal of each engagement at South By is to build clout and business. Friskies cat food is sponsoring the Mashable House. Cottonelle has an entire outdoor pavilion dedicated to toilet paper. Pennzoil put together a real-life Mario Kart race.
Gogo, the country’s largest in-flight WiFi provider, was able to put its mobile lab and marketing tool, a Challenger 600 corporate jet, to work. The group teamed up with Keith’s Barbecue to host an airborne food truck where members of the community could stop by, grab a variety of dishes and fly in circles sharing their experiences.
Though wildly popular, Gogo isn’t immune to the same teething problems that all market disruptors face. With growing volumes of inflight users, those on bandwidth-intensive flights occasionally see slower connection speeds — and though those occurrences are limited to a small portion of flights, angry users are most often the loudest on social media. Gogo is additionally facing increased competition ranging from those offering transoceanic service to others filing litigation. So any positive dialogue is a good counterbalance against the fickle and unwieldy community.
To their credit, Gogo’s community outreach is working quite well. Already, social posts from the likes of Guy Kawasaki, Rob Pegoraro, Calvin Lee and a handful of other well-followed personalities have drifted through the web, and a variety of journalists came and left the private facility at Austin Bergstom airport with smiles on their faces.
Gogo’s community will leave South By Southwest stronger and more positive as a result of these efforts. Down the road, hopefully those happy consumers pay off.