Episode 4:

Inside the Minds of the “Social Meowdia” Creators

This episode of The Launch Party takes an in-depth look at the booming success of Avalaunch’s social media cat graphic, Social Meowdia, and the minds involved in its creation. As our host, Luke Alley, interviews the president and CEO of Avalaunch, you’ll find out what makes a social media graphic so sharable and how you can apply the same principles to create killer (maybe even viral?) content. So get comfortable, cuddle up to your cat, and take notes!

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The participants of this podcast are as follows:

Matt Siltala

Luke Alley

Dave M.

Hannah D.

Nikita K.


Matt S. (00:04):

… That’s where this whole idea of the social meowdia that we created put us on the map — that’s where it all was born. I don’t know if you remembered that very moment, Dave, when we’re in the conference room and talking about all this, I started saying, “Hey, we need to compare cats to social media sites.”

Luke A. (00:28):

Welcome, everyone, to The Launch Party: An Avalaunch Media Podcast. This is Luke Alley, one of your hosts, and this is me recording our first-ever show intro. Yes. Ever. I just Googled “how to record a podcast show intro” and listen to my favorite podcasts, so hopefully, I’m doing it right. On today’s episode, we had the chance to interview our president at Avalaunch Media, Matt Siltala, on the most successful piece of content that Avalaunch has ever produced. It is called Social Meowdia, and it explains different social media channels with cats. So, for example, grumpy cat explains Yelp because Yelp has a lot of grumpy users and they don’t hold anything back when they review. We go through each of those channels with cats. And from that graphic, we had a lot of success. The graphic itself was licensed by multiple governments, publishers, schools, and universities. It got and is still getting dozens of shares in marketing conferences. It got hundreds of links to Avalaunch Media. So, myself and Dave Mink interview Matt today on the story of that, on where the idea came from, how it spread, the other content that came from it, and we hope you enjoy it.

Luke A. (01:53):

I am here with Dave Mink, CEO of Avalaunch, and Matt, one of the founders of Avalaunch Media, and we are going to talk about cats today. Matt, why do you think people are fascinated by cat videos? 

Matt S. (02:07):

I don’t understand people’s obsession with cats, you know, cat people. But I live in a house full of people obsessed with cats. It just takes them to a happy place. I don’t know exactly what it is because, in my opinion, cats are super evil, like, we’re their servants and you pet them and if you don’t pet them right, they bite you. I dunno, honestly. It’s a good escape. There’s a lot always going on in the world, so it’s not just what’s going on now, but I think it’s just a nice escape for people, and they are little cute furballs that make you laugh.

Matt S. (02:46):

And I mean, it’s the whole reason why I think we’re talking and what we’re going to be talking about today — just because of cats and this whole concept of people loving cats. 

Dave M. (03:01):

So, Matt, I don’t know if this stat is still accurate, but as of 2014, which is a few years ago, of course, but NBC News reported that cat videos actually received more views per video than any other of the YouTube content categories. Does that surprise you? 

Matt S. (03:20):

It doesn’t surprise me. I think the cats are still dominating on a different platform today. I mean, obviously, you know, YouTube is still huge, but people are consuming all their content right now on Reddit. And they’re watching the TikTok videos on Reddit, and those categories dominate. And funny enough, in fact, my kids and even my wife, the way that they’ve upped their karma on Reddit and have grown their accounts to be pretty decent, has been because of cat videos that they’ve uploaded out of everything, so I find that super funny. 

Dave M. (04:00):

As I was watching that NBC news clip, the thing that surprised me was not just that the cats were so popular, but that they actually found there was a boost in people’s energy level and that it heightened positive emotions when people watch these cat videos. That probably surprised me more than the popularity itself. 

Matt S. (04:20):

Again, anytime I’m hearing a giggle or I’m seeing phone screen sharing between mom and daughter or sons, I’m going to say probably 99% it’s a cat video. If it’s not a cat video, it’s a corgi video. Dave, you love corgis, but we’re not talking about dogs today. We’re talking about cats, but again, most of the time it is a cat video. And even I get caught up in watching them because they’re just funny creatures. 

Luke A. (05:00)

Cats are funny creatures. And before we get into the business of cats, let’s hear what some Avalaunch cat owners have to say about their cat.

Hannah D. (05:09):

So I am the team lead of the copywriting team at Avalaunch.

Luke A. (05:13):

And do you like cats, Hannah?

Hannah D. (05:16):

I like my cat. His name is Bowie, like David Bowie. He’s a little bit chubby. He just loves everybody, so he’s really sweet and really weird. 

Nikita K. (05:29):

So I am a marketing manager. I love cats. And Mila, she’s almost three years old. She is a gorgeous black cat and kind of panther-esque. And Rosie is my younger cat. She joins all my Zoom calls. She’s the perfect pet. She’s so cute.

Matt S. (05:49):

It takes me back, Dave, to when we were having a conversation way back when we were first growing Avalaunch and trying to figure out different things to do. Obviously, a lot of the stuff that we do is very creative — infographics, motion graphics, all that kind of stuff. But we were trying to think of what to do, and we’re sitting there, and we’re doing a little brainstorming and for whatever reason, I was really upset at Yelp at the time because I’ve dedicated a lot of my time into building up a decent account. I had a nice history with Yelp, and at the time it mattered to me, but I was an elite. And then something happened: they found out that I owned a business and they stripped me of that. I was really upset at Yelp for that reason. I started finding out a bunch of other stuff about Yelp, and this was during the time of grumpy cat’s heyday. I was thinking, well, this is making me really grumpy. And if I had to compare a cat to a social media site, I’m going to compare grumpy cat with Yelp because that’s how it makes me feel right now. 

Luke A. (07:02):

Let’s pause for a second. Get it? Cat? Paws? Pause? Anyway, Matt is not kit-ing around when he says business owners have gripes with Yelp. Businesses have gone as far as posting signs with “No Yelpers allowed” on their storefronts and launched anti-Yelp websites for purrrrfect ways for them to get back at Yelp. All right. Back to Matt.

Matt S. (07:29):

… That’s where this whole idea of the social meowdia that we created put us on the map — that’s where it all was born. I don’t know if you remembered that very moment, Dave, when we’re in the conference room and talking about all this, I started saying, “Hey, we need to compare cats to social media sites.” 

Dave M. (07:55):

This infographic has been around for years. Some of the social media channels have gone by the wayside. Some are still there, but what are some of your personal favorite matchups? What we did for the audiences was we essentially lined up famous internet cats of that day and time with a social media platform that we thought was the cat’s personality embodied why people would use that social media platform. What are some of your favorite compilations that we came up with there? 

Matt S. (08:30):

Obviously my favorite one is Grumpy Cat, just simply because when you have a cat that’s so popular that he’s invited to South by Southwest — I read a number somewhere and I just can’t remember it off the top of my head how much he would charge just for an appearance, and that was just crazy. But obviously the piano cat was fun. Honestly, I don’t know all of these cats’ names. I can’t remember, but the business kitty was LinkedIn. The hipster cat was definitely Instagram.

Luke A. (09:08):

Let’s help Matt out for just a second. Here is the full list of cats on Social Meowdia. For Instagram, we have Hamilton, the hipster cat. For Facebook, it’s the derpy cat. For Yelp, Grumpy Cat. YouTube is the piano cat. Twitter, Sir Stuffington. LinkedIn, business cat. For Pinterest, dancing cat, and for Google Plus, let’s just call him Google cat.

Dave M. (09:38):

I don’t know if you know this or not, but we’re actually near the year anniversary of Grumpy Cat’s death. Grumpy Cat actually passed away last May, and if you do some research, it’s kind of amazing how people reacted across the world, the globe. If you’ve got a few minutes, go check it out, people holding memorial services. It’s just kind of amazing, the impact this particular cat had on pop culture and people all over the place.

Luke A. (10:19):

I did have a minute and I checked out a little bit of how people reacted to Grumpy Cat’s death. The reactions came in swift and sad. People tattooed grumpy cat on themselves. Many wish Grumpy Cat to rest in peace. And one simply said, “Rest in peace, Tartar Sauce. You will always be the grumpiest cat.” Anyway, back to Matt.

Matt S. (10:43):

Well, it’s funny, since you say that, we don’t have a lot of famous cat things from this era, but on our fridge right now is a magnet and it’s a Grumpy Cat. It’s one of those memes that says, “There’s two types of people in this world, and I don’t like them,” and it’s a Grumpy Cat one and it’s been on our fridge forever. So I dunno, I can definitely see how she penetrated the heart and souls of everybody. It was just a fun cat. The thing that I found was interesting is it had its real name, Tartar Sauce, but it had to be held everywhere cause it had this deformity and couldn’t walk very well, but it was known for grumpiness. It’s so crazy to me how it just penetrated everybody’s heart. 

Luke A. (11:54):

Can you talk about some of your personal favorites of companies or even government who asked permission to use this graphic?

Matt S. (11:58):

I can’t remember all of the different governments. Maybe Dave can jump in, but it has been interesting that there has been government agencies or people that have reached out to us that have wanted to see if they can translate it and use it for various purposes. But to the company question, it’s been really neat. Like for example, I’ve been at conferences before where I’ve just been in the audience and there’ll be someone speaking from a company I don’t really know of, or I don’t really know the person. One of the slides that comes up is a picture of the social media graphic. And they explain it and they talk about how much they love it. They talk about Avalaunch and how we do this kind of creative stuff. It’s pretty neat because it like gets you out there in front of a whole new audience. There are people coming there to listen to them. They’re talking about it, and it’s just one of those things where you’re like, “This has so much reach and it’s so good for our branding.” When it shows up in places like that, random conferences, that’s always awesome. A good friend of ours and colleague, Scott, he’s used it on his presentation before. Mike Ramsey has used it on his presentations before. Andy Bill, who’s really big in reputation management, he’s referenced it before. There’s lots of different companies that have used it, and it’s always awesome. I like to see out in the wild. We made a poster of it back in the day and I see a poster of it on someone’s wall, or I see someone talking about it or mentioning it. It was like eight or nine years ago that it was first launched. 

Dave M. (13:45):

It was February of 2013. So yeah, it’s been seven years, and Matt, I can help you out a little bit. I have a couple of my favorite stories. I was on a business trip one time in Indianapolis. We were visiting a company called Pan, and people give you office tours, which is kind of customary. But anyway, I’m being led around this office and I walked past this cubicle and they’ve got that poster stuck up on the wall. And of course I commented on it. I said, “Hey, my company actually created that poster that you’ve got there. What’s the story behind it?” There was a new employee that had come from a different company, so they had zero connection to Avalaunch in terms of we weren’t their agency, but this gal just essentially said, “Oh, I love this infographic. I printed it out at my last office. This was part of my office decor.” I can clearly remember getting an email from a German state media authority asking if they could license the graphic for some big campaign they were doing to promote social media in Germany. We found out that an executive from Time magazine was speaking at a university commencement exercise, and he used the social meowdia in that commencement speech. Just a handful of fun moments over time where government agencies, famous people, just these random in-the-wild moments like you were discussing that always stick out in my mind.

Matt S. (15:23):

Yeah. It’s amazing how it branded us. When I would go to conferences, people expected to see some kind of a cat in a presentation because it’s something that we were so well-known for. And it’s also interesting just how many others, the stuff that was led to from this one graphic. One of the things after it ran for a while through certain social networks and either changed or went up in smoke, Google plus being one of them. Obviously Foursquare is not what it was originally. We updated the graphic, we changed it a little bit. We added new things, but that also got other people asking us, “We love this cat one, but do you have a dog version of this?” We didn’t have a dog version of it — hadn’t even thought of it — but we’re like, all right, let’s put a dog version of this together. And so we put a dog version of it together, and then I believe it was Dave’s idea, correct me if I’m wrong. But Dave was like, “This would be fun to see if we can raise some money for the humane society. Let’s put these up against each other. Let’s let the internet vote for which one they liked the most, and then the money is going to be donated to these groups and whatnot.” And so it was fun to see all the voting and everyone sharing what they like, obviously if you’re a dog or a cat person, but it was just neat. And the bottom line, I can’t even remember what group won, maybe Dave can share some specifics on that, but I know we raised a lot of money.

Dave M. (17:03):

Yeah, no, that was actually a blast. This infographic that we’ve been describing today came nearly at the same time we were starting our company giveback program, so it was awesome that this led us to our first big charitable partnership with the humane society, like you mentioned. I think the cats got the win over the dogs. We actually called it “Claws versus Paws,” if you remember. Anyway, we raised several thousand dollars for four animals through the humane society. That’s kind of led to a life of its own where we’ve run scholarships for years and so many other cool giveback programs. But we learned so much of how to do that through this Claws versus Paws contest that we put on only because this infographic had such legs underneath it.

Matt S. (17:58):

And speaking of the legs, other things that people reached out to us were like, “I love that format. I love how you are using cats or dogs to describe social media.” We had people wanting us to use rednecks describing social media. We had people wanting us to use memes describing social media. I can’t even remember all the different things that we created over the years, describing social media, because it all came from this one idea and people loving it so much. It was just neat to see the amount of different types of ideas that this one main idea spawned. Everything that I’ve described about when you look and you see one of your graphics somewhere else in a presentation, I remember seeing the dog one come up one time. I remember seeing the redneck one come up one time in a conference. It’s just really neat to see the kind of influence and how this kind of resonated with people and stuck with them.

Luke A. (19:01):

So, Matt, there’s a lot of marketers who would like to replicate the success that you had with this part of it. You’ve identified capitalizing on current events or human interests, things that people are fascinated with. Have you seen other marketers be able to do that, to capitalize on current events or even interests? What has that looked like?

Matt S. (19:26):

You know, I have seen it, but one of the things that I had forgot to mention too, we started realizing as a company that this kind of stuff is very good for exposure and letting people know what it is that we do. I remember we created this periodic table of internet cats, basically like a periodic table, but it was just internet-famous cats. We did it originally to showcase the different types of things that we could do as a company, this one specifically being interactive graphics. If we have people that we can showcase of these special, unique, different kinds of graphics instead of just like infographics.

Speaker 1 (20:17):

In answer to your question, I’ve seen people try to showcase these kinds of things to show what their company can do. Obviously there are lots of different things that people pay attention to. The news, whether it be just thinking of some of the big ones that have happened over the years. Wendy’s has always been really good with their social media and whoever runs their accounts, trolling other restaurants, especially Burger King, they’re just basically the companies that are doing it right, paying attention to what’s going on in the world and capitalizing on it at the right time. As far as a specific example, I’m sure that there’s some out there, but I just haven’t seen any that have had the reach of like what we did with this specific one.

Dave M. (21:12):

I’ve got a pop quiz time for you here. I’m going to help you out and tell you cats sleep a lot. Here’s your question: By the time a cat is nine years old, how many of those years will have actually been awake?

Matt S. (21:36):


Dave M. (21:36):

Very close — three. Two-thirds of the time, which is pretty amazing.

Matt S. (21:43):

Well, I can believe that. Ours are a bunch of lazy butts.

Dave M. (21:46):

Question number two. What do you think is the more popular pet in the United States: a cat or a dog?

Matt S. (21:53):

I’m going to say dog. 

Dave M. (21:57)

I wish that was true, but the most recent numbers I was able to find are that there are 88 million pet cats and only 74 million pet dogs in the US.

Matt S. (22:10):

Maybe it was like you were saying, just a wish.

Dave M. (22:13):

We can’t measure love. If we could measure love. I think the dogs would eat that. 

Luke A. (22:19):

I’m going to take a turn on a couple of these questions. When cats leave their poop uncovered, it is a sign of what?

Matt S. (22:28):

That they’re jerks? That they’re sick? I don’t know.

Luke A. (22:32):

It’s aggression. It’s a sign of aggression. Any of your cats leave their poop uncovered, Matt?

Matt S. (22:42):

Luckily, none that I have seen.

Luke A. (22:45):

Do they ever get involved in scorpions around your house?

Matt S. (22:49):

Believe it or not, the dog is the one that’s actually pointing out the scorpions. There’s been a couple of times, I guess, that the cats have kind of been freaking out. I guess they kind of notify us that there are scorpions in the premises.

Luke A. (23:08):

Here’s a question. When a family cat died in ancient Egypt, family members would shave what?

Matt S. (23:15):

They would shave the cat. I don’t know.

Luke A. (23:18):

They would shave their eyebrows. The question to you is will you shave your beard when your cat dies?

Matt S. (23:28):

Absolutely not. I can’t be too cold because cats have done a lot for us, but I would consider myself more of a dog person than a cat person, but I can’t speak too ill about cats because I’m married to a cat lover and her cat of over 18 years passed away the last couple of months, and so I can’t be too insensitive. It’s still too close to the heart.

Luke A. (23:58):

Cats are not the only animals that pur; there are a few others. I’m gonna play two. Tell us what animal it is that is purring.

Matt S. (24:23):

That’s sounds like a hippo or something. 

Luke A. (24:26):

That is a gorilla. 

Matt S. 

Oh, really? Well, it’s still a huge animal. So gorillas pur then, huh? Wow, that’s interesting. 

Luke A.

There’s another animal that purs. 

Matt S. 

Well that sounds something like exotic, like a bird. A lemur?

Luke A.

A lemur does pur. That was an elephant. 

Matt S.

Oh wow. You threw me off. I’m thinking little creatures and you’re going with the big ones. 

Luke A. 

Well, maybe my last question. You talked about this, capitalizing for marketers to replicate some of this success. What advice would you give to marketers that want something to go viral? What advice would you give to content marketers right now, given what you’ve seen with not just social meowdia, but with other content?

Matt S. (25:34):

Well, what I would recommend, is something that we’ve always tried to do — we’ve always tried to evolve. What has become of Avalaunch was me doing SEO. If I was doing SEO now the same way that I was doing it back then, we would not have survived. In that way, knowing that there’s different platforms that people view the content, there’s different types of content that’s consumed, whereas when we were first getting going, if we had something hit the front page of Digg, that was like the greatest thing in the world. We get so many links out of it and this and that, and the way we market is completely different than how it is now and the different channels that people are consuming.

Matt S. (26:31):

There’s so many more mobile devices now, and things have to be changed and evolved. But as far as the type of content, it’s basically just whatever is going to provide that solution, answer the question, make you laugh. If it’s something that can be very visual — I think back to one of a couple of examples of graphics that we’ve done over the years that have done really well, that explained this perfectly. If you were to explain to someone just through talking to them or showing them a text document of the history of marketing channels that are out there, you just had newspapers and then radio and then television, but then all of a sudden when the internet age came and things like that happened, you see this explosion of different opportunities and different marketing channels.

Matt S. (27:33):

You had email and online ads, banner ads, and then all the different websites that came out, search engine and things like that. It was really neat to see forever. They were just this one long line of channels. And all of a sudden, it just explodes into this huge tree of opportunities. That’s not something that you can see very well from a text document, but it’s something that you could see very well visually just the explosion of what’s happened. I think of that and also I know creating something that gets people wanting to discuss and wanting to talk about it. I look back to our history of the electric guitar graphic that we did. It’s still one of those ones that I see shared. I wish we would have done a better job of getting it known who did it and had it on a specific page because it’s been shared so many times that I think people have taken it over and claimed it as their own.

Matt S. (28:29):

And we don’t get nearly the credit we should get for it, but I see it everywhere still. And the reason it did so well is because it got shared on a ton of social channels, but it was because of the conversation that it started. We decided to go ahead and throw the Xbox controller there at the end. Of course, the gamers loved it, but the guitar purists, the electric guitar purists hated it. They were the conversations. The two of them would go back and forth on it. It was one of those things that just sparked that discussion and debate. I think if you can figure out what’s going to appeal to the masses, you figure out what’s going to start a conversation, what’s relevant what platforms you use it on, how people are viewing it, where to promote it, all that kind of stuff. I think that’s what you’re looking for with something like that. That formula still works today. If you can hit that with what you’re doing and the specific kind of content that you’re working on. Also, one other thing to realize too, is it doesn’t have to be something that goes completely viral.

Matt S. (29:43):

What we used to do is create something that was broad that everyone would love and share, but it can be specific to certain industries. It could be to create something that a certain group or specific type, whether it be the mommy blogger crowd or whether it be the dad bod crowd or whatever it might be, you can create content that’s specific to those groups that can do really well. And that’s a lot of what I’ve seen happening lately as well. 

Dave M.

That’s a compliment to Luke and Matt. But I think our entire 50-person company has always had the greatest understanding of how you can play off human fascination and pop culture awareness to really build out content marketing strategies that work. For me, looking back on the success that social meowdia had, it was really Matt’s keen understanding of human fascination of what’s happening with pop culture and how you blend that together. Then, having the promotion side that Matt just laid out so well in terms of where are we going to promote it? How do we promote it? How do we angle our messaging different with the different groups that we’re messaging it to? But anyway, I just thought the audience should know both of you guys are amazing at doing that, and it’s led to a lot of cool content wins for Avalaunch and our customer base over time.

Luke A. (31:16):

To wrap it up, if you are looking for dad bod content, you can talk to me. If you want to see the social meowdia graphic, jump onto our podcast page at avalaunchmedia.com and check out the show notes. Best of luck in your content creation. Thanks for listening to The Launch Party: An Avalaunch Media Podcast. If you would like a complimentary audit for your SEO, paid media, or social strategies, shoot us an email at podcast@avalaunchmedia.com. And if you liked the show, please subscribe and give us a rating and a review on Apple Podcasts. Thanks.

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