South by Southwest (SXSW), the once indie- and DIY-centric music and film festival held in Austin, TX, has come to a close for 2013. In recent years, advertisers and big business have taken notice of the giant marketing opportunity that SXSW is, and many have remarked that the festival has thus become too corporate. SXSW Interactive, the week-long conference dedicated to technology and digital media, has especially been criticized for having lost its edge.
Wherever you may stand on the SXSW critique spectrum, you cannot maintain that SXSW Interactive is insignificant. Attendees waited for hours to meet and take a photo with a grumpy cat, and the closing keynote speech (given by the creator of web comic The Oatmeal) received an overwhelmingly positive response—a first for SXSW. What’s the significance in this, you say? Well, the Web is fickle, but the tech world is ready to be wowed (Grumpy Cat won’t be a phenomenon forever) . And devoted online fans take their devotion—which is both active and contagious—seriously. Marketing is tough and important, and there are countless others to compete with for attention online. But if you can create something more compelling than a cat meme, you may be on track to garner some serious attention, and most importantly, some serious devotion.