30th of March 2020
By: Michalis Michael, CEO of Digital MR
My perspective is informed by social intelligence which is what I do for a living, as well as stoicism which is a philosophy I admire.
I will discuss a few related themes in this article.
The first theme is:
What can we do differently in order to be helpful to others and survive the covid-19 pandemic intact?
I will attempt to answer this question for 3 separate constituencies:
- market research companies because DigitalMR is one :)
- clients of market research — the brands
- all individuals, all of us
The premise for the first theme is that people have to stay at home which results in more time in their hands. They communicate more online, they proactively share more content, respond to more posts and they most definitely read or watch more clips.
1. Market research companies
They can play a useful role by tapping into this online chatter to distill the communicated needs and fears along with messages of hope and tips on how to overcome challenges. Distilling and interpreting is what insights practitioners do best.
There is a multinational market research agency in Brazil and Mexico already doing this with DigitalMR. They provide helpful information to their clients in a daily email. In this day and age harvesting millions of online posts from twitter, FB, IG. forums etc. and using machine learning to annotate them for topics and emotions is indeed doable at a high level of accuracy.
2. Clients of market research (brands)
They can listen to what people post about their product categories and brands in order to discover ways to be helpful.
There are 3 groups of companies: the ones that produce products in high demand (such as toilet paper or disinfectant sprays), the ones that went to zero revenue from one day to the next like a chain of restaurants, and those that are somewhere in between. All can benefit from social listening: from learning how to tap into newly created demand, fine tuning their products to address new needs and struggles, and by providing tips on usage creating good will for the return to normality.
3. All individuals
For all the people who are reading this I want to share a few stoic principles:
It’s not the things that happen in life that drive our emotions and behaviors,
it’s how we think about those things that does.
So, when faced with a new challenge I suggest the following thought process inspired by my good friend Justin Stead the founder of Aurelius Foundation:
It is what it is. I don’t label it, I don’t judge it.
What is required for a positive outcome?
Is the action I am about to take driven by altruism, ego or wishful thinking?
The second theme is:
How to stay engaged with customers that cannot use your product or service during lockdown.
As already shared, the pandemic forced companies into one of 3 groups, agencies and brands alike:
- those who experience explosive sales growth
- zero sales from one day to the next
- somewhere in between
If you are experiencing higher sales as a result of the crisis you have your hands full and you are probably not reading articles like this.
If your sales went to zero or were reduced drastically, your first concern is obviously to survive, create enough runway for the cash that you have available or can still get. The second concern — assuming the crisis ends before you go bankrupt — is how to keep your customers engaged so as to ensure that your brand equity is strengthened rather than weakened.
You want to know how?
Well, social intelligence is the answer.
What is it?
It is thousands of posts harvested from sources such as Twitter, FB, IG, forums, blogs etc. on a daily basis, annotated for topics and sentiment by machine learning algorithms.
Here are the 10 things you can do to improve your brand equity even while your revenue is plummeting:
- understand the biggest challenges resulting from consumers not having access to a product or service and offer them tips on how to deal with the situation e.g. cannot go to a hair salon to dye hair; how to choose and use a hair colorant at home
- connect posts about needs and challenges with posts that suggest solutions — by sharing both continually.
- find out which social media platforms are the most popular during the crisis by target group so that you can use them to communicate
- produce an information campaign with positive developments that give people hope
- consolidate all the posts that communicate fear, mistrust, anger and respond with a helpful message
- identify scams and myths and communicate them via your information campaign
- uncover behaviour, purchasing decision making and product usage changes that might be helpful to you on day 1 when we are on the other side of this pandemic
- check what is your brand’s net sentiment score versus your competitors
- infer from online activity how your competitors are preparing to hit the ground running on day 1
- discover something useful that you did not even know you were looking for
It is actually simpler than it sounds.
The 3rd, 4th and 5th themes are:
New habits that will carry on
Is lockdown a solution to our climate problem?
Unique opportunity to press the reset button