Looking to get users to download your app? Sometimes it just takes a little nudging. Here’s how app companies schemed to get on people’s phones at SXSW. 

Offer something for free: UberX

Technically, some ride-sharing services don’t jive with a charter in Austin, Texas, that requires things like operating permits, a chauffer’s license and commercial insurance. But to gain more of a foothold, the Uber debuted UberX rides free during SXSW’s kickoff event, a bar crawl of Austin startups. (After the event, as a thank you for downloading the app, I received an offer for a free ride, up to $30, good for any Uber city in the U.S.).

Trade a download for a service: GoToMeeting

Collaboration tool GoToMeeting gave out free lunch. The catch, of course, was downloading their mobile tool. 

Create a special feature: Runtastic

This interactive mobile running tool released special running routes based around five of the city’s most popular hotels. If I had any time to run while at the festival, I definitely would have downloaded Runtastic (and used it instead of its rival that I’ve used for more than a year).     

Know what's fun: JetPac

This app creates a travel guide powered by big data. JetPac processes millions of Instagram photos to assemble Top 10 lists of bars, restaurants and other attractions for out-of-towners. For SXSW, the app generated a list of Austin’s top 10 bars based on photos taken last year at the festival between 12 a.m. and 4 a.m.   

Tap into what (some) people really want: Avoid Humans

Those looking to avoid the hordes of attendees might have downloaded Avoid Humans, which was created by advertising agency GSD&M. It uses Foursquare data to find the least checked-in places in town. Color coding tells users what they need to know, with green representing the “Number of vegans at Franklin Barbecue,” and red standing for “more crowded than a UT football game when the UT football team was good.” The app was likely the most popular with locals seeking a little peace and quiet.