SXSW Analysis: Who were the Real Winners of the Notorious “App Battles”?

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SXSW Analysis: Who were the Real Winners of the Notorious “App Battles”?


By now we’ve all seen various analyses of SXSW buzz coming from the likes of Mashable, AdAge, and TechCrunch, listing top group-messaging apps, check-in apps, etc. within their respective categories – all based on popular Twitter chatter.  So we thought it would be interesting to see who would win the battle of the most buzz-worthy breakout app overall. Who is the true breakout app king of SXSW?

But before we announce the big winners, I should point out that we couldn’t grant a title of this enormous magnitude (touch of sarcasm there) based on Twitter chatter alone. If we really want to understand what people are talking about on the web, we can’t just listen to some of the conversations, right? Much like with real-world marketing, Twitter is only one piece of the media puzzle, and analyzing it alone simply doesn’t provide the complete picture. Come to think of it, what about languages? Or countries? People are talking about our brands outside the U.S. as well; in today’s global village, shouldn’t they be taken into account? Taking a step back now, compiling a list based only on Twitter chatter, only in English and only within the U.S. seems a bit limited doesn’t it?

At Synthesio, we like seeing the big picture, so we looked at public banter in 30 languages worldwide across the web, including blogs, forums, Twitter, and even mainstream news sites from March 4th (one week before the start of SXSW) to March 15th (one day following) to find out which “breakout apps” truly got the most buzz throughout the event. So now, without further ado…

The Top 10 Breakout Apps are:

Viewing the big picture, we can see that GroupMe truly was the big winner with just over 22% of public banter across the web and the world, but now we see other apps emerge, taking the global top spots, with Hashable and Instagram tying for 2nd place, and Fast Society close behind.

Diving deeper into the data, however, reveals some interesting insight about the true meaning of SXSW buzz for these apps – does higher buzz directly translate to public acceptance and usage? Or is there a “higher power” perhaps responsible for inflating some of the buzz?

Some apps got even buzz throughout the event, but many of them had very specific spikes in mentions. Yobongo for example, barely got into the Top 10 with its low level buzz during the monitoring period. However, had we extended just a couple days both ways, it would have reached much higher rankings thanks to a Mashable article about the app on March 3rd, which caused mentions to spike just before the event.

It did have fairly steady buzz throughout the event, however, as did Kik:

Beluga, and Fast Society share a similar story, having limited mentions during SXSW, but specific peaks thanks to mentions from tech blogs. For Beluga, a TechCrunch article about Beluga and an exclusive video demo of Fast Society caused their sharp rises in mentions but didn’t prove to last even during the conference:

Picplz and Kik, were the only applications that saw a steady rise and fall of mentions throughout the event, showing constant use of the application throughout the conference and perhaps staying power over other apps. In other words, with deeper analysis, we can see that the continual rise of Picplz was due to people actually using it:

GroupMe was the big winner of all breakout apps throughout SXSW, but upon deeper analysis it’s interesting to see that there is more going on beneath the surface, as the buzz generated for some apps may actually be more meaningful than others, even if there’s less of it. Which brings me to my last point, that online listening alone isn’t enough to get a meaningful picture of a brand’s reputation online. It’s through dedicated human analysis that we can truly understand the story behind the data, and convert it into meaningful, actionable insight.

Congrats to the true big winners, and see you at the next SXSW!

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