Meltwater was lucky enough to be on the ground at 2013 South by Southwest (SXSW) learning, listening, and running data until the wee hours of the morning to measure the social chatter.  Our collection of SXSW 2013 infographics that reflects our findings is live for you to enjoy on the Meltwater blog (and on Mashable).

As SXSW is the largest interactive media conference in the world with 25,000+ attendees, we were not surprised by the high level of chatter, nor were we particularly surprised by all the talk about parties, lounges and free food.  What surprised almost everyone, though, was that internet sensation Grumpy Cat managed to upstage all the human keynote speakers and declare herself “Chairmeme Meow” of the whole kit and caboodle.  Move over, Elon Musk.

Mashable’s genius in bringing Grumpy Cat to the event reminds us that getting heard above the roar of the crowd requires one thing most of all: know your audience.

The internet community loves its memes, and particularly loves its cat memes.  While the drinking word cloud would indicate that more than a few attendees were flexing their late-night beer muscles in search of Olivia Wilde, by the light of day folks were a lot more excited about the prospect of being on the inside of this timely feline interactive joke.  Heck, even PETA didn’t object.

Despite Grumpy Cat’s domination of mammal-based social chatter, though, party talk still won the day.  All business travelers love free food and drinks, and SXSW had a wide variety of sponsored parties and lounges.  The “Lounge” and “Party” word clouds give us a good idea as to whose budgets were giving them the most bang for the buck.  VegasTech showed up consistently in both lounge and party chatter, so hats off to you, VegasTech.  If disrupting the conference with chatter about your brand was your PR goal, you did well, even without a cat.

As traditional PR and social media continue to converge, it’s important to remember that a social media initiative does not even necessarily have to involve someone facing out and managing your Twitter and Facebook accounts.  One of the main advantages of social media is that it allows PR and marketing professionals to listen to the public at key times such as before they craft strategy, during crisis communications, and after a campaign is complete.  This sort of social listening allows marketing and PR professionals to filter out the noise from an analytics standpoint, and measure how effective their program was versus others.

For more on how social listening can inform your PR and Marketing strategy, check out this SXSW Summary 2013 article on Big Data, and be sure to download our new e-book, The 4 C’s of Social Media Marketing.

If you were at SXSW and want to know how effective your efforts were in generating positive PR, please contact your Meltwater account manager or sign up for a free demo.  We have the data, and would be happy to provide you with a brand analysis report.