SXSW: Trending Topics and the Tale of the Grumpy Cat

South by Southwest (SXSW) rapped up last week in Austin, Texas and it sure made its presence known throughout the online world. SXSW, a set of film, interactive, and music festivals and conferences, began in 1987 and has continued to grow in size every year. While I wish I could have attended the event in person, I enjoyed being a part of the conference by engaging online. I was able to listen to and capture mentions in real time, as well as monitor SXSW conversations before, during and after the conference.

According to this Mashable article, more than one million tweets flooded the Internet throughout the conference. So, what were attendees talking about and sharing on their social media channels? In addition to a volume of mentions around Shaquille O’Neal and Elon Musk, one of the more popular conversations I noticed was around Grumpy Cat. There were more than 13,000 mentions of Grumpy Cat during the conference and 3,000 mentions specifically about “Grumpy Cat” and “#SXSW” on Twitter. Online users were talking about Grumpy Cat’s appearance, posting photos and sharing articles around her popularity at SXSW, which inadvertently became one of the most talked about topics online.

Radian6 Conversation Cloud.


This is the first public appearance for Grumpy Cat since she became popular after her meme debuted on Reddit in September 2012. She is one of the biggest (and grumpiest, of course) cats on the Internet and is most well known for her grumpy facial expressions. In addition to a Facebook page, YouTube channel and Twitter account, Grumpy Cat has her own website complete with photos and merchandise. Oh, and if you’re curious, her real name is Tardar Sauce.

What I found most interesting, though, was her popularity at SXSW—both online and offline—and the longevity of the conversation on social media, as it was one of the most talked about topics throughout the entire conference and extended well beyond March 17. In fact, there were more than 1,300 mentions around “Grumpy Cat” and “SXSW” on March 18, a day after the conference ended.

Radian6 River of News.


This furry feline drew in a huge crowd at the conference and attendees waited in line for hours just to get a picture with her. I think this is something we can all learn from this popular Internet meme: We have to not only accommodate our audience online, but offline as well. What do you all think? Are you as intrigued by Grumpy Cat’s presence at SXSW as I am?

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