Listening During COVID-19: How Digital Ethnography Can Illuminate Audience Attitudes and Differences In Difficult Times

March 17, 2020, by , in Blog, News, no comments

Timely Research Options on Public Perception of Brand, Facility, Competitors, and More During the Coronavirus Outbreak

As you manage responses and organize the ongoing issues surrounding the Coronavirus crisis (COVID-19), your audiences continue to shift and sway in sentiment. It takes a careful, sensitive behaviorist hand (not a blunt dashboard that only looks in limited channels) to provide thoughtful summaries with additional depth. In these uncertain times brands need to assess how they have been and continue to be impacted among internal and external audiences. Your voice of the customer is radically changing before our ears and eyes – what are you doing to track where it is going?

Digital ethnography provides a pulse-check of audiences in a way that other methods can lag behind and dashboards can miss. Time-consuming interviews and focus groups will not illustrate the sentiment in the wild and how it shifts in the same way that online behavior can. More importantly, it will not identify what sentiment is informing those merely looking for answers, and how your consumers are making decisions.

Dashboards and alerts of basic mentions miss the majority of audience discussion – particularly those on discreet message boards. Radian 6, Brandwatch, Meltwater and others won’t be able to see – much less articulate – how an employee from an affected state speaks of their experience working at your company, review posts on an interest-based message board, or point out trends in brand trust across all reviews and local discussion.

Timely research now, during, and in the aftermath of the pandemic can give you actionable intelligence and shine a light on:

  • Brand, product, service, and location trust and sentiment connected
    to the virus
  • Competitor sentiment, comparisons, and mentions
  • Related virus components
    • Behavior change in decision making
    • Economic issues and considerations
    • Isolation’s impact on attitudes
    • Supply chain sentiment
  • How your reviews across all channels are impacted
  • Employee sentiment
    • How it reflects on brand
    • Impact on employee reviews
    • Effect of cutbacks and layoffs
  • Local discussion of the virus
  • Other notable trust-related sentiment and issues
  • Demographic differences
    • As they vary by market
    • Even among those isolating in the same house
  • Geographic differences in your markets and region(s)
    • Compared to state
    • Urban vs. rural differences
  • Top online locations of discussion between key audiences
    • Major channels
    • Message boards and forums, including demographic specific, and geographic-specific insights
  • How influencers have changed and what new ones have emerged
  • Effect on philanthropy and emerging charitable / volunteer opportunities
  • Specific to Healthcare:
    • Trust in hospitals and facilities
    • Trust in physicians
    • Staff, Nurse, and Physician public discussion
    • Receptivity to testing sites
    • Brand trust as it relates to all facilities including outlying clinics
    • Condition-specific channels
  • Specific to Higher Education:
    • Prospective student and parent attitudes
    • Alumni discussion and fundraising
    • Faculty and staff discussion
    • Town/gown issues
  • Specific to Consumer Goods:
    • Trust in brand
    • Brand loyalty based on brand’s actions
    • How purchasing decisions are shifting
    • How remote working has affected the decision cycle
    • What B2C opportunities and threats have emerged
  • Specific to B2B:
    • How purchasing decisions are shifting
    • How remote working has affected the decision cycle
    • What influencers have emerged

These only scratch the surface of how qualitative behavioral research online can be customized to provide rich insights and recommendations. By conducting focused new research/monitoring, brands can have a far more comprehensive view on how their populations are reacting to the Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19), the radically changing voice of the consumer, and the brands, products, services, employees, and peers within it. This helps improve communications, gauge impacts, and reveal trends to your key stakeholders and teams dealing with this on a daily basis.

– Dean Browell, PhD

If you’re interested in how Feedback can help, reach out and we can customize a discreet plan and approach that works for you. Let us show you how we can help – contact Dean @