As the first day came to a close, our on-the-ground team wanted to provide you with the top three topics and trends we’ve seen thus far. We’ll be sure to recap everything each day, just in case you miss a panel or are watching SXSW from afar!

QR Codes Are the New Billboard, But Will You Use Them?

Featured predominantly on T-shirts, traveling billboards, program books, signs and more, QR Codes are clearly one of the biggest promotion tools used at SXSW this year. It’s impossible to miss them as they are scattered about the conference. The best uses we’ve seen thus far: Blogger Robert Scoble has one on his t-shirt that syncs with his Twitter account; Android built a code seamlessly into their new campaign logo design which is effective and not obtrusive; and most folks here are using QR Codes to spread around their virtual business cards and information.

Even seeing these great uses of the code, it leaves us wondering: Are they truly effective and will consumers fully adopt these practices nationwide? With everyone using them, we are really waiting to see how brands, companies and organizations are truly differentiating themselves from the code clutter to encourage attendees to use them. We haven’t experienced one yet that has blown us away down here (Marc Jacobs and NYC Gov have caught our eye in the Big Apple), but then again, there are so many around, we could have missed one. SXSWers– any code campaigns you recommend we check out?

Mobile Apps- Not a Replica of Your Website

We were able to catch the “App, Schmapp, Tell Me What Works Across Platform!” panel with Aaron Forth of Intuit Inc. and As the kickoff to our panel attendance, we heard a few themes that we are expecting to see echoed at other panels throughout the conference. The top concept: do not treat your mobile application as another extension of your website.

In order to create a successful mobile application that users will want to adopt and rely on, businesses and brands need to understand that each mobile device – Android, iPhone, iPad, etc. – is different, and consumers will want and need different functionalities to effectively use each application day in and day out. By truly understanding each user’s actions and device functionalities, you’ll increase the success of your application.

Additionally, developers need to make sure they cover off on one other major concern when creating a mobile app: security. Consumers need to feel and know that their information is secure at all times, and developers need to lead the charge before they ask for additional measures.  Creating simple, but effective security checkpoints is a must- just make sure they are not so obtrusive that your users get annoyed and are resistant to adopting your application.

Heading into the rest of the conference, we are sure both security and differentiating functionality will continue to be key points at all mobile app panels.

Group Chat- The War is On

After walking into a few of the after parties last night, we noticed that everywhere we went, there were discussions revolving around a different March Madness: the four contenders for the group chat championship. Beluga, GroupMe, Kik messenger and Fast Society have all solidified their spots in the top four and our game day bet is that the final matchup will be between either GroupMe and Kik Messenger or Beluga and GroupMe.

With Beluga most recently being acquired by Facebook, Kik Messenger being one of the fastest grouping apps in history, and GroupMe receiving $11.5 million in funding, all parties have the backing to take it all the way. Here at Access, we have a bit of a bias to GroupMe as it seems every team in our agency throwing events has come to rely on the application as an integral communication line, making us a part of the 1,000,000 text messages and few thousand conference calls made each day through the service. However, many of our staff also are utilizing Kik Messenger for both their professional and personal life, so we have our own battle waging internally as to who will reign supreme.

Seeing another trend that you think we should keep our eye out for? Anything you disagree with? Leave a comment or join our conversation on Twitter through #AccessSXSW.