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Getting Out the Vote for Your SXSW Proposal

posted Aug 8, 2016, 6:00 PM by Anjuan Simmons   [ updated Nov 5, 2016, 5:52 AM ]
It's that time of year when you can vote for SXSW proposals using the PanelPicker website. Voting goes from August 8th to September 2nd.

Voting is just a third of what gets considered for acceptance into the Interactive festival, but it's the only part that proposal writers can influence. 

Over the years, I've learned ways to increase the number of people who know about and can support your proposal. Here are a few tips:


The URL shortening site is a great resource to use for sharing your proposal. First, it creates an easy to remember URL for your proposal. For example, the PanelPicker generated URL for my "Lending Privilege" proposal is However, I used to create this much shorter (and easier to remember) version:

The site provides metrics for tracking who clicked on your proposal link. It tells you things like Total Clicks, Referring Channels, and Location. It also shows a timeline of clicks. Since the PanelPicker doesn't show a count of votes, this provides a fuzzy understanding of who is looking at (and hopefully voting on) your proposal.

Leverage Your Social Graph

Use your social media graph to ask for votes. This is the case of “dig your well before you’re thirsty”. If you’ve put in the months of work to build a following on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc., then share your link wide and deep. You’ll be able to track clicks and get an idea of which platforms are working versus those that are not.

Ask for Comments

When you ask for people to vote for your proposal, make sure you ask people to leave comments. Again, since the PanelPicker interface doesn’t show votes, this is the next best thing. If someone took the time to leave a comment, then they probably took the time to upvote your proposal.

Enjoy the Insight!

A ton of people try to speak at SXSW every year so the competition is tough. However, if you use the techniques of creating links, using your online platform, and asking for comments, you'll get a great idea of how well you're getting out the vote for your proposal!