AUSTIN, Texas -- With 10 official sponsors, dozens of parties and countless startups, blogs, apps and ambush marketers vying for attendees attention, South By Southwest Interactive 2011 was a marketing maelstrom. But which brands came out on top in social media? The results may surprise you.
Ad Age teamed up with People Browsr, a social-media analytics firm, to gauge the impact of 30 key brands' reception at SXSW -- everyone from ambush marketers to tech companies to the conference's official sponsors (Chevrolet, Pepsi/Pepsi Max, Brisk, IFC, AOL, Microsoft, AT&T, Samsung and Monster Energy among them). The custom analysis from People Browsr analyzed total mentions on Facebook and Twitter from around the globe in connection with SXSW from March 10 to March 14. The results are filtered, so no FourSquare badges or check-ins and no Tumblr photos, and then scored based on sentiment.
Based on the brands submitted, the top 10 most-mentioned brands were Mashable, Twitter, Google, FourSquare, Facebook, CNN, GroupMe, Tumblr, Microsoft and Instagram. Prominent brand marketers such as Pepsi (No. 12), Samsung (No. 13) and Chevrolet (No. 14) ranked just outside the top 10, while AT&T (No. 11) was cited both for its sponsorship and complaints of iPhone reception among attendees. Unofficial ambush marketers such as Nikon (No. 19) and Friskies (No. 26) also popped up, as did hot startups such as Hashable (No. 17), SquareSpace (No. 20) and Loopt (No. 23).
Mashable scored top honors in total filtered mentions, with 6.1 million compared to No. 2 Twitter's 4.6 million. The tech blog teamed up with Facebook for "Facebook Live," an online news series that was updated throughout the conference, and also streamed coverage of the conference on its popular Twitter feed. But GroupMe was the big winner in terms of sentiment, as 59% of its social-media mentions were positive.
In fact, the social sphere was by and large a fairly gentle bunch -- none of the top 10 brands had a negative sentiment ratio higher than 3%. Neutral opinions were far more prevalent. Google got lots of buzz but 90% of it was neutral, while photo app Instagram had a 15% positive and 85% neutral ranking. CNN had the closest split, with 44% positive mentions and 55% neutral.