The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way brands and consumers interact, while altering expectations on both ends. Companies that want to survive this shift will need to rely on intelligence from consumer conversations to adapt to the new normal. Here’s an overview of the emerging conversation trends you must take into account.Download the report
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way brands and consumers interact, while altering expectations on both ends. Companies that want to survive this shift will need to rely on intelligence from consumer conversations to adapt to the new normal. Here’s an overview of the emerging conversation trends you must take into account.
82% of respondents to our State of Conversation survey reported changes in the importance of consumer & market intelligence for their brand since the start of the pandemic. While COVID-19 has boosted digital interactions, consumers have been looking for more human contact & support in their brand experiences, and real-time consumer research has proved essential for brands to keep up.
"The pandemic has increased the need of our customers to be taken care of, with human support despite the digital interfaces."
Director of digital communication
channels and data, Orange France
“The pandemic has significantly changed the perception of what things mean, in every way, becoming more attached to feelings and ownership; the public now stops to voice their opinion more than before, and gives greater value to everything they see, read and hear around them.”
Regional marketing director, KIA
“Conversations are a way of knowing what the customers want or how they want us to package our services for their consumption. They also drive our decision-making process such as in content approach, service packaging and customer service. Additionally, they contribute to meaningful relationship building, community building and referrals to new clients.”
Digital Marketing Strategist,
ATC Digital Academy
“Customer communication is the name of the game: transparent, solution-oriented, individual - at best in real time. This requires optimal preparation, a willing team and a portion of courage, as well as the support of management in decision-making. Many customers are entering new territory in "online mode" and need some support. One observation: The questions have become more diverse - and so have the solutions. This development makes me feel positive, as it demonstrates an opportunity for digitization."
Senior Manager Corporate
Communications, GS1 Germany GmbH
“A reliable partner, personal advice, fairness and transparency. Personal advice and support was even more important during this time than before, always offering solutions to the customer. Especially with digital products there was a much higher demand than before.”
Senior Social Media
Research Manager, IONOS
"Communication has become more digital: Companies must look for new ways to reach their customers. On-site is still not an option in early 2021. Customers and consumers are currently best reached digitally. With the help of social media monitoring and social listening, you can very quickly find out which channels your target groups are using and what they are communicating about.?"
Stephanie A. Kowalski, M.A.
PR consultant for digital
and visual communication
"Social listening plays a strategic role in the marketing and communication of brands, but also for quality assurance, innovation or media activation… Consumer insights are at the center of each and every consideration, and drive decision-making."
Helena De Foucault
Social Media & Data Marketing
Expert, Groupe SEB
"Consumers are more and more demanding with brands, and they should be. Their expectations are evolving, and they wish for more transparency and authenticity."
CEO, J'ai un pote dans la com
"Nobody wants to be friends or engage in a conversation with a logo, it is thus important for the brand to show its human side. The COVID crisis has allowed us to go back to the fundamentals of social media. In social media, the most important word is social."
Martine Le Jossec
Digital Communication Marketing
& Social Media Strategist
"Working with customer conversations allows us to make the consumer human - and to bring their thoughts, frustrations and joys into the boardroom."
It’s a paradox: the majority of our State of Conversation survey respondents reported that brand, market and consumer intelligence were very important to their organization - yet most of them ranked the data maturity of their brand lower on a 1 to 10 scale.
Yet digital transformation and technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning will be key in 2021 to make sense of negative and positive conversations about your brand, your competitors or your industry at scale, forcing CMOs to look at more efficient processes & workflows, such as a unified platform to monitor all channels.
“We used social data to get a better sense of the 'new normal'. Technology & digital transformation will play a huge role in enabling survival of individual and businesses in the new normal stages, pressuring brands & categories to adapt.”
Vartika Malaviya Hali
Executive Director , Global Strategic Alliances & New Verticals, Consumer Intelligence, Nielsen IQ
“No amount of analytics or AI can ever crawl into someone's head to understand why they made a decision. The only reliable way to do so is ask them, and listen to their responses. That's where the power of AI and natural language processing shines - parsing all that data.”
Christopher S. Penn
Chief Data Scientist, Trust Insights
"Today’s consumers expect brands to meet them where they are, with empathy, and a shared set of values. Conversational intelligence is the key to unlocking meaningful customer relationships by understanding what customers are saying, where they are saying it and why."
Chief Innovation Officer, Talkwalker
“When the way of life changes, everything else does too. As brand representatives in the digital world, we must adapt. We cannot continue working as we used to.”
Content manager, TBWA
“Client digitalization has accelerated in 2020, which is why in 2021 we will find consumers who consider digital channels to be the natural way to relate to brands, which will generate data that brands will need to analyze.”
“The pandemic has caused drastic changes in consumer behavior. In response to this, the need to enrich and provide ongoing audience intelligence is a priority. With claimed data sources lacking the ability to provide regular updates, social conversations are now an essential data source to understand and monitor behavior changes.”
Social Intelligence Specialist, OMD EMEA
“At Comin & Partners, we base the design of an integrated communication and advocacy strategy in support of our clients, on a deep understanding of the context - which is why Web and Social Listening is an essential step in the communication plan. Listening to the network allows us to catch the "weak signals", the relationship maps and to define in a targeted way the messages on the basis of the orientation of the various stakeholders.”
Communication Consultant, Comin & Partners
"Consumer & customer conversation is key to feel the pulse of the market, the power of your product and the impact of the customer experience. The narrative is at the heart of consumer engagement!"
Aart Jan Van Triest
With 50% of respondents confirming that access to insights from consumer conversations is limited to a specific department within their organization, there is clearly still some way to go in terms of data democratization.
It is time for organizations to break down their information silos, and let customer and consumer intelligence flow from all channels: social media, reviews, market research, live chat transcripts... - so that teams can access new trends in real time, optimize their marketing efforts, and create truly customer-centric experiences.
“While all previous market research and predictions were rendered mostly inaccurate during the pandemic, online conversations became one of the only options to get a timely and accurate pulse check of consumer minds.”
Global Director, Voice of Consumer Analytics, adidas
“Social media publications and interactions that happen in real time allow brands to tap into the client's voice, identifying trends, interests, pain points, social context and other key aspects that any communications specialist needs to fine-tune the marketing strategy.”
Head of Market Research, AMVO
“The essence of maintaining a strong brand is understanding what is being said about. While brands are not always mentioned in conversations, it is crucial to catch the dialogue and be able to understand the sentiment, and what opportunities or risks sit within."
Kristjan Mar Hauksson
Digital Evangelist, Pipar\TBWA
"In order to collect useful insights from online conversations, you need to be able to look back to a year of historical data to pinpoint key industry moments and identify the next trends that will be part of you communication, and the influencers that will contribute to and relay the messages of your brand."
Head Of Digital, Omnicom Public Relations
"As the din of marketing messaging continues its unabated assault on consumers, the art of listening to the audience has never been more crucial. That's how successful managers tune in to the voice deep within an unearth a goldmine."
"If we've learned one thing from 2020 and COVID-19, it's that consumers are demanding brands make changes and go a step further. This means that monitoring consumer conversations is crucial for brands. It means they have to go beyond social media, blogs, review sites, and go offline. Brands must gather data from a variety of sources or risk having only half of the story."
Digital Lead, Dury
"Conversations play a crucial role in a company’s brand awareness. Whether it’s from your prospects, customers or the media, it’s important for PR pros to monitor what's being said and by who to fully understand how their brand is being perceived. In today’s 24/7 news cycle any conversation can be amplified in seconds. If your team has early insights they can take swift action to change company positioning and communication."
CEO, Muck Rack
"Without feedback, we can't act with precision. At the beginning of the pandemic, there was more movement in communication. In the meantime, a kind of "paralysis" has set in ..."
Head of Marketing & Communications, UNIVITA
"Customer conversations are the fastest way to become smarter about how we can solve their problems before they happen. When one customer experiences a pain point, chances are others do as well. The faster we recognize the pain point, the faster we can build solutions to remove it."
CEO, DeepWater Strategies
"Consumer conversations are extremely important to me. I livestream regularly now and the highlight is definitely the immediate feedback I get from the questions and comments."
Twitter Video Marketing Specialist, keithkeller.com.au
Customer, customer, customer… You’ve seen that word in each and every trend presented in this blog, and we’ve seen it in all the comments on the topic collected from our expert networks when creating this report. Brands want to hear the customer voice, which explains why we’ve seen customer reviews and call center data most frequently cited in the top 5 conversation channels for brands.
“Consumer journey today is no longer the linear direct path it used to be. Through social listening and sentiment analysis, consumer verbatim will provide stronger insights and capture emerging trends for marketers to deliver highly relevant and engaging campaigns.”
Chief Operating Officer,
Omnicom Media Group
“We communicate to people. Knowing what they think is crucial to push out the right messages.”
Head of Social Strategy, Memac Ogilvy
“Our social feeds are a springboard for connection, frustration, and a voice for change. Brands need to incorporate social listening to find and harness these conversations for an impactful strategy. It isn't enough to resonate with your audience. You have to read the room and understand that a breaking news item could shift your audience's needs in a matter of seconds.”
Senior Marketing Manager,
Offline Community & Advocacy, HubSpot
“Since there is no business without customers, communication with customers or consumers is essential and existentially important. More information instead of just advertising. More honesty instead of pure prepotency. The tone of communication is warmer and more understanding.”
Corps Touristique Austria
“Without understanding what your customer is speaking about you can't understand your customer!”
Director of Academy
and Creative, BFBS
“The customer is king. But do you know who your customer is?”
Head of solutions, Auxipress
"Since we view a full brand as collaborative and connective, consumer & customer conversations are a foundational objective of any strategy we build."
Gary J. Nix
Founder & Chief Strategist,
The brandarchist: strategy as a service
"Social networks are the diaries - public rather than secret - of our daily life; Google is the trusted friend to whom we entrust the most inconvenient questions; Amazon, Booking and TripAdvisor are the virtual places where we express our discontent or satisfaction. Conversations are gold mines for brands, both in the analysis phase and in lead generation and loyalty activities."
Ludovica De Luca
Copywriter, Content Manager
and Social Media Manager
"Customers, not marketing teams, determine the success of brands. That is why it is critical to actively manage, analyze and respond to consumers' offline and online communications."
Managing Director, Territory Influence
"Tracking customer conversations is critical to any marketing strategy. The ultimate arbiter of a successful brand positioning are the customers, and without truly open communication channels, we might end up asking the questions and answering them on our own."
Director Sales & Marketing, B2BNitro.com
Social listening is only the beginning of the equation, if you’re looking to predict consumer trends and create innovative experiences for your customers.
Data-driven brands are now looking at much more than social media trends: they analyze conversations at scale on a single platform, no matter where they happen: product review sites, forums, call centers, traditional market research… to extract what we call conversational intelligence.
“Consumer conversations for my organization are the key to better understanding how consumers perceive what we produce. They are the natural, spontaneous and free evolution of market research, and can complement the latter to give a complete picture of what is actually relevant for a given target.”
Community & Engage Project Lead, Nestlé
“We know that every brand needs to know their audience. What’s changed is that the conversation is no longer between the brand and their audience but between the audience themselves. If you combine conversational data sources and listen deeply enough, these conversations will tell you what to do, and how to sell and deliver experiences..”
Dr Jillian Ney
Founder,Social Intelligence Lab
“The need for external data sources is more important than ever to understand the market, the customer and the context.”
Global Head of Data and Analytics, Golin
"Social media has transformed the world. Monitoring online conversations is essential for brand equity, as it allows us to anticipate and interpret attitudes and opinions, as well as measure success of our campaigns. No brand today can survive without monitoring online conversations."
Director, Grayling New York
“Conversation monitoring is key to making data-informed - and valid - decisions. I have been an advocate for social listening, from the early days. Now, the growth of conversational platforms calls for expanded monitoring. Why? These are the best sources of information coming directly from existing and potential customers.”
Founder and Principal Consultant, Resumption
“During these unprecedented times, there is a drastic shift in social behavior, as people move their offline presence to online. As consumers get better at expressing themselves online, brands are recognizing this shift and there is increasing focus on social listening to understand their audiences.”
Social Media Listening Manager, Vaynermedia APAC
"If you want to know what people actually think about your brand, forget about reach and frequency and listen to what they're saying. Social media monitoring is how you mind the gap between what you say versus how people feel about your brand."
Digital Marketing Author, Speaker & Trainer
"Conversation monitoring allows brands to understand their consumers needs and wants, which helps the development of marketing strategies that are directed to the right target audience, and the ability to generate leads from potential customers. It also allows brands to engage with their consumers for both positive and negative posts."
Head of Marketing, Mudah.my
"Social listening is not the only way to know your audience. Beyond the vocal, active audience that exists around a brand, there is also a more passive audience. The one that follows a brand on social media, who engages (or does not engage) with its publications, and that needs to be known and taken into account."
Senior Analyst, We Are Social
"Brands are more empathetic and caring about their customers’ needs. These are sensitive times and mere marketing or selling won’t work. Brands are really listening to what their customers are saying online. Agility is the key now – be it in offering a more personalized customer experience, creating value, introducing innovations."