Blowing the whistle on Twitter at SXSW

I’m delighted to publish this op-ed piece from Brendon Craigie, Hotwire Group CEO. Brendon was on site at SWXW (the lucky man, I’ve never made it yet!) and I asked him to summarise his experience from a social standpoint.

Over to Brendon.

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Brendon Craigie, CEO of Hotwire Group
Brendon Craigie, CEO of Hotwire Group

Each year thousands of people descend on Austin, Texas to celebrate the latest and greatest in music, film and emerging technology at SXSW festival. A natural by-product of so much innovation in one place is the amount of online chatter created, and 2014’s festival is absolutely no exception to this.

At Hotwire we got our Insights and Analytics team to monitor the swathes of activity on Twitter to see what it was at the show that was really catching the eye of the social media community. In the astounding 1.14 million tweets that came from SXSW there were two mentions that really stood out, the ‘virtual’ conference appearances of Edward Snowden and Julian Assange.

Both men gave their slant on how the tech community needs to react in terms of data protection and security and this was clearly exciting festival attendees. Not forgetting the tech itself, there was still plenty of interest in ‘wearable’ technology and mobile app businesses.

I was lucky enough to attend the festival and experience first-hand the events that were making people talk and I found that SXSW has proven to be an interesting one to watch socially. It isn’t like other tech conferences where the buzz focuses on just three or four big brands. Instead, SXSW gives other smaller companies and emerging startups the chance to shine, with the likes of Oculus Rift – the virtual reality headset – racking up more mentions than industry trends like ‘wearables’.

The main battle for share of voice, however, was between Edward Snowden and Julian Assange, who both received a lot of pre-speech attention and excitement. In the end, though, Snowden’s Monday address hit over three times as many mentions as Assange did for his Saturday speech. With Snowden’s speech highlighting the need to “fix” mass-scale government e-surveillance, it’s unsurprising that his comments on the need for privacy online received massive social media attention as an issue that is front-of-mind for many consumers at the moment.

There’s no doubt that SXSW continues to be an essential date in the calendar for the tech community and it remains interesting to see if the tech successes of the next 12 months reflect the online conversations of this year.

#SXSW: The battle between Edward Snowden and Julian Assange

Top mentioned in tech at SXSW:

Edward Snowden: 62,468
Julian Assange: 19,310
Health: 3,493
Uber: 3,084
OculusRift: 3,051
Biz Stone: 3,001
Wearables: 2,941
Grumpy cat (meme): 2,887
Nate Silver: 2,350
Android: 2,039

Source: Hotwire – Insights & Analytics

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Excellent analysis Brendon, thank you (and to the Hotwire Insights & Analytics team!) for taking the time to contribute this post.

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