By Caroline Henley

March 2nd, 2015

One of the biggest marketing conferences in the world is coming up fast—SXSW Interactive. It’s early yet, but let’s look at the popularity of the official event hashtags and the Interactive sponsors these past two weeks. We’ll be updating our analysis of the digital buzz as we get closer to the event.

We set up a listening query for “SXSW.” In it, we are tracking “SXSW,” as well as “SXSW Interactive” and “SXSW AND [sponsor]” (which includes all the SXSW Interactive sponsors). 

sxsw social media

The overall hashtag, #SXSW, is trending far and away more than the Interactive one—naturally, as it encompasses the three separate conferences of Music, Film, and Interactive. The breakdown of the SXSWi query is very telling in how well the sponsors are tracking in the lead-up.


These mentions are being picked up on social as well as across the web. 80% of people are mentioning these SXSW topics on Twitter; 8% in blogs and comment boards; 4% on Facebook; 3% in the news; 3% on Instagram. SXSW is very Twitter-heavy!

More relevant to our industry is the breakdown of the “SXSW Interactive” query, as well as the Interactive sponsors and which ones are doing the best in the lead-up to the conference.

The top trending keywords for SXSWi are: interactive; march; cancer. Most of these are self-explanatory. Looking deeper at “cancer,” though, a press release made waves last Tuesday. “‘Breast Cancer? But Doctor…I Hate Pink!’ Blogger Ann Silberman and Healthline’s David Kopp to Lead SXSW Interactive Session on Finding a Breast Cancer Cure” had been picked up across News and Blogs, with only two mentions of the story on social. The spike in SXSWi news mentions is evident when you look at the graph of SXSWi’s distribution of mentions—the News peaks on February 17th.

The highest peak so far was on February 28th, when Mashable tweeted an article: “SXSW Interactive returns to Austin in two weeks. But has it jumped the shark?” The catchy headline was shared widely on social.



Sponsors keeping it free
I clicked through the sponsors’ mentions to look for trends in the data that would point to a promoted campaign or trending creative of some sort. There isn’t much so far, but there are trickles of campaigns, all hoping to keep it weird.

Many sponsors are offering tickets to SXSW, some with airfare included. Mashable ran a contest with Esurance called the “SXSW My Way Twitter Contest.” They asked followers to answer questions about how to make the most out of SXSW. The three most creative answers were awarded a private session with Mashable on curating the perfect list of panels, roundtrip airfare, $500, and access to VIP events throughout the conference.

sxsw social media




Sponsors keeping it local
Pepsi is teaming up with a Texas convenience store chain, Stripes, to offer locals free tickets.

sxsw social media

This is the one mention of the campaign so far to the Stripes page’s 149k fans, and the sweepstakes hasn’t been shared by Pepsi itself. (In fact, this post is one of the least-engaging posts on Stripes’ wall.) In these last two weeks, Pepsi has only been running a local campaign–will they choose to make a nationwide splash closer to the event?

Sponsors keeping it exclusive
People on Twitter are buzzing about the “IFC Fairgrounds” after IFC announced this year’s list of performing bands and opened its RSVP list. People are sharing the news of the 2015 Fairgrounds and asking IFC for information on entry.  

sxsw social media

Sponsors keeping it weird
Mazda promoted a post on called “Your Guide to Austin’s Weird Side,” which has generated a healthy amount of shares in the lead-up to the conference so far.

sxsw social media

With 868 likes on Facebook and an editorial partnership with the SXSW blog, Mazda is keeping it weird pretty well. This is the strongest piece of content marketing between the sponsors so far.

The Austin Chronicle is hosting a few panels, and reporting on any bands, films, or tech personalities who are being added in to the schedules. They are deeply rooted in the content of the panels throughout the three conferences, and no doubt will receive plenty of traction that way.

With a listening project solidly in place to track what’s trending through the next two weeks, we’ll get a thorough idea of what is working well for these sponsors. Stay tuned for Falcon’s ongoing analysis of the SXSWi digital buzz, as well as our curated list of not-to-miss panels.

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