Who is the champion of SXSW?

Sentiment analysis reveals the "Champion of Champions" of SXSW.

We have reviewed every SXSW twitter post from 2009, 2010 and 2011 to identify the show’s biggest influencers.

This year, as in past years, Chris Brogan (@chrisbrogan) is the champion of champions for SXSW. For three years running, he’s been the top influencer on PeopleBrowsr’s SXSW Interest Graph. The king of connectedness has the most friends on Twitter discussing SXSW — a reigning title that resonates with his social media identity.

SXSW influential individuals year after year

SXSW influential companies year after year

Why Chris Brogan?

Chris has the highest number of followers who are interested in SXSW. His followers are having conversations about SXSW and often tweet SXSW mentions and news. Chris is an influencer for SXSW because he has a high number of engaged connections who are interested in this topic. He is a brand champion for SXSW because of his potential influence in the SXSW interest-based community.

We identify champions as people who have the most followers tweeting a topic of interest. The same analysis can be done for champions within locations or communities. Community champions are those people who have the most number of friends within a particular community who are talking about a particular topic.

We analyzed the list of all SXSW mentions to find the central influence connectors. Our goal was to discover how influencers discussing SXSW are connected to each other and which influencers are the most interconnected among the group. We checked every connection, frequency of conversation and engagement, and compared each person to everyone else in the list. This process was repeated for individuals in the global SXSW conversation, as well as the top communities to create a connections graph based on interest.

Chris is connected to the highest number of people in the SXSW champion community who are also discussing SXSW topics. His messages reach the highest number of people who are interested in SXSW.

What does he say?

We were interested in the content of Chris’ messages and did human sentiment analysis to gather further insights into his influence. Chris’ tweets mainly focus on awareness and capturing attention, reviewing emerging tech and startups, and big picture ideas. Chris is a positive tweeter — even his negative comments have a nice tone.

Here’s another one of his tweets…

Most of his interaction on Twitter is with other tech influencers, social media experts and marketers who also have high follower counts and close connections.
Chris is a highly influential trust agent in social media. He’s a prolific tweeter, personal, approachable and actively engaged in conversations.

And he is not attending SXSW this year …

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Other champions

Perhaps next year we’ll have a new reigning head of the Twitterverse. Here are a few other top champions we analyzed, including Liz Strauss, Robert Scoble, and Kevin Rose. Through human sentiment analysis we found no surprises — the traits that these champions have in common is that they retweet, share messages, respond in real-time and provide useful information on topics that are interesting to their followers.

As a champion, Liz Strauss uses Twitter to both broadcast and engage in conversation. She often retweets others and is mostly neutral — though her tone is authoritative and her style is honest. She has a lot of mentions about public speaking and she posts recommendations to help others improve in this area of expertise. Her tweets about SXSW focus on finding ways to maximize her conference time — and she has frequent conversations with other Twitter champions.

Robert Scoble is another veteran of SXSW, and it was no surprise that he’d be a top champion for the festivities. His 160,000+ followers are interested in technology news and social media. He mainly uses Twitter as a medium to engage with other geeks — he’s active in @replies and takes the time to respond to people, regardless of their influence or follower count. He also seems to be sharing more than broadcasting. He has a fondness for startups and promotes and reviews new products often. Scoble has been tweeting a lot about SXSW this year yet his relative influence ranking was at its max in 2009.

Kevin Rose has more than 1.2 million followers. Reviewing his tweets with human sentiment analysis, we found that his positivity is off the charts. He’s very conversational with the developer community and encouraging to people who are launching products/ideas. He loves to thank the community and to get involved. Though he rarely retweets, he replies to others frequently. He’s also a dedicated sports fan and tweets a lot about food.

Rose will be a champion for many startups and will be at SXSW this year.

How we found these champions

We created SXSW Brand Champion Scorecards for 2011,
from global mentions of SXSW and invite you to walk the interest graph to see the connections of additional champions and the communities they influence.

The Brand Champion Scorecards and the Interest Graph are integrated with ReSearch.ly.

Twitter has made it possible for people to openly make friends with others who have like-minded interests — regardless of first-degree personal connections. We follow people who are interested in the things we’re interested in, and in many ways we are what we tweet.

We’d love to connect with you in Austin. Tweet me or @PriscillaScala or @Jen_Charlton and meet the team in person. We’ll be tweeting throughout and following all of our SXSW champions.


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  • I don’t get the point of “graphs” like this. The colors and sizes of the circles mean nothing, the postions of the circles mean nothing. Why not just make them in the shape of a giraffe? God forbid make one “graph” where you could actually compare the relationships over 3 years.

  • Thanks for your comment Peter.

    Good idea – will work on the graph for our next report…. btw love your twitter page.

  • John Anthony

    Another round of people we don’t care about who love themselves more than their loved ones. Welcome to the world of the social media circle jerk.

  • Interesting case study of how to use the twitter stream for research and analysis.

    Your summary of what makes a champion is right on:
    * retweet
    * share messages
    * respond in real-time
    * provide useful information on topics that are interesting to their followers

    Good stuff!

  • Human sentiment analysis, eh? You can do that with a small number of tweeters and a small collection of tweets. Human analysis doesn’t scale, however, for instance, if you wanted to systematically analyze all #SXSW tweets, perhaps categorize them by topic (specified or discovered via text analytics), look at trends over time and see how ideas diffuse, and so on. Do look into automated tools!


  • Jodee, thanks a lot for amazing analysis and great review! To me it’s a lot about being yourself and sharing tings to make the world a better place.

  • Alex, thanks for sharing your comment!

    Jack, thanks for your kind words and for reposting on your blog!

    Seth, we do human sentiment analysis in addition to using automated tools. Using mechanical turk provides a higher percentage of accuracy, in order to measure sarcasm, idioms and cultural references.

    John, being social and sharing are what we live for :)

  • So, why is my name not there? lol

  • Cheers for this very interesting analysis. For us at HootSuite, we’re proud to be on the list – as well as seeing HootSuite users like Chris Brogan and Mashable topping the charts.

    We make our social media dashboard with active users in mind and truly enjoy seeing the success achieved by folks using the toolkit. With more planned for the coming months, we expect to see even more awesomeness.