In the run up to the US Election, Crowd DNA New York will track the conversation online, turning emergent trends into valuable learnings. First up in the Click State series, a fresh look at localization...

Elections have been playing out digitally for years, but 2020’s presidential race – with its virtual conventions, TikTok meddling, basement broadcasts, corporate activism and Twitter declarations – is like no other. As we hit the final stretch, Crowd DNA New York’s Click State series will track the conversation online, using our Culture At Scale social media data method to identify emergent trends.

Our first post is below. By analyzing conversations coming out of swing states, we can see how a polarizing election is fast accelerating the shift from a collective American identity to a more local one.


Challenging the idea of a blanket ‘American identity’

In a year where governor mandates took precedence over presidential guidance on the pandemic, we’ve seen an accelerated shift from nationalism to a locally focused mindset. The events of 2020 have fuelled a drive away from a collective American character. Now, pride and trust in states and counties, even individual cities, resonates more strongly with American’s sense of self than the country as a whole. This, crossed with the nation’s individualistic nature, has been challenging the idea of a blanket ‘American identity.’

Then came the election. With polls neck and neck, especially in swing states, causes that hold local significance have come to the fore. We’re witnessing demand for attention to local issues and representatives who support each state’s unique needs. Candidates always pander to swing states, but this year, with a reinvigorated sense of local self, these states are armed with demands for their locales. By analyzing online conversations in three swing states, we can see how disparate voices are replacing one American narrative. Listening (socially) to these divided voices helps us learn how to speak to a fragmented, local leaning country.

Wisconsin:

With Covid-19 already making voting in the US precarious, Wisconsin reduced polling stations from 182 to five, disproportionately impacting low-income Black and brown communities. After months of Black Lives Matter protests and strong demonstrations in Kenosha, Wisconsinites feel empowered, rallying behind these communities. Rather than sitting out the election, they’re activating and driving change online, teaching us the value demonstrations can have on a location’s spirit.

Florida:

Climate change is a very real threat in states like Florida, which have been ripped apart by coastal flooding. Cross this with Gen Z, a generation of first time voters who have continually ranked climate change as a top issue. As climate change continues to harm Florida, the state’s voters seek candidates who prioritize the cause. Using social, Florida politicians rally the state by speaking to local climate initiatives. By referencing impacted locations and drawing from local experiences, politicians can relate to voters as fellow Floridians.

Arizona:

If Arizona’s votes go to Biden, as polling suggests, it would be the first time the state favored a Democrat in 24 years. This shift is thanks to the state’s growing Latinx population. And as more US-born Latinx Arizonans turn voting age, they will add up to a significant voting bloc. Social outcries appeal directly to these voters through the use of language and cultural references. In speaking to Latinx Americans, authentically addressing the cultural nuances in their culture is crucial.

Looking at these states, and understanding their fragmented identities, presents implications for speaking to American consumers. Messaging will feel more relatable if brands consider local identities first.

The sentiment ‘we’re all in this together’ is tone deaf to America’s transitioning sense of self. Americans don’t feel a sense of camaraderie with states whose needs differ from their own. They want brands to speak to an identity that exists beyond the singular American character.


Source: Brandwatch, tracking data from Jul 1, 2020-Sept 28, 2020

Wisconsin: Jul 1, 2020-Sept 28, 2020, Wisconsin, United States: ((election OR election2020 OR “election 2020” OR presidentialelection OR “presidential election” OR 2020election OR “2020 election”) AND (votersuppression OR “voter suppression”) AND (wisconsin))

Florida: Jul 1, 2020-Sept 28, 2020, Florida, United States: ((election OR election2020 OR “election 2020” OR presidentialelection OR “presidential election” OR 2020election OR “2020 election”) AND (“climate change” OR climatechange) AND (florida))

Arizona: Jul 1, 2020-Sept 28, 2020, Arizona, United States: ((election OR election2020 OR “election 2020” OR presidentialelection OR “presidential election” OR 2020election OR “2020 election”) AND (latin*) AND (arizona))

Future-Proofing Quant

Our Crowd Numbers team are on a mission to revamp quantitative research. Download this PDF report to find out where they think things are heading...

Following their breakfast event way back pre-pandemic, our Crowd Numbers team have been building further on ideas for how to future-proof quantitative research; and to ensure it sits as a vital element in our method toolbox.

In this report, they’ve broken this down into three areas:

1. Transcending Demographics

2. Bringing In Culture

3. Telling Real Stories

Check out the full report to find out more: Crowd DNA, More Than A Number, June 2020

From celebrating Black voices to understanding regional conversation, this special installment of Crowd Tracks explores conversations of the Black Lives Matter movement...

Download the full copy of Black Lives Matter: Behind The Hashtag here.

Crowd Tracks is our social data dispatch, highlighting emerging trends using our Culture At Scale method. As people in all 50 US states, and around the globe, march together, demanding equality for Black people, this special issue spotlights conversation around the Black Lives Matter movement.

The full report features:

– BLM growth – mapping the trajectory of conversation around Black Lives Matter

– Viral stories from across the US organizing protests, battling voter suppression, holding brands accountable

– Buying Black – uncovering how through the exposure of the racially unequal practices of big brands, emerges a celebration of Black businesses

– The role of brands – examining how brands are participating in discussion and what effective brand allyship looks like

– Amplifying Black voices – exploring how the internet is celebrating and making space for Black voices

– Deep dives delving into how the movement is reviving community and shifting from cancel culture to accountability

Download the full copy of Black Lives Matter: Behind The Hashtag here.

Listening to and amplifying the voices of the Black Lives Matter movement
Listening to and amplifying the voices of the Black Lives Matter movement

Culture At Scale at Crowd DNA At Crowd DNA, we’re constantly tracking conversations online across a range of categories. We deploy social media and other unstructured data sources in a number of ways; either as a stand-alone method (including producing one-off and periodical reports for our clients) or integrated alongside semiotic, ethnographic and quantitative approaches. If you’d like to find out more about how we can use Culture At Scale to meet your business challenges, get in touch.

More observations from our Crowd Numbers quant team as - in partnership with Norstat - they investigate some of the mid- and post-pandemic themes that are emerging...

We are now six weeks, or 43 days, into the UK’s coronavirus lockdown. Almost a month and a half of living under imposed conditions, causing us to change many things about the way we live. Some of our habits are no longer possible: socialising at the pub, going to the gym, commuting to work. Some of our habits have been compounded: watching TV, eating snack foods, ordering online. And then some of us will have formed new habits: working at home, video calling friends and relatives, cooking with new ingredients, helping others in our community.

Research suggests that forming new habits can take as little as 18 days, and as many as 254, with the sweet spot landing around 66 days. So, at day 43, we are well on our way to breaking in some of these new habits – meaning that even when things return to normal, we may find ourselves continuing some of our lockdown behaviours.

In our Covid-19 study with Norstat, we have seen a notable uplift in the way the crisis is affecting spending habits. Between early April and mid-April, the number of people claiming that the crisis will have a long term effect on their spending habits jumped from 46% to 57%. Now into early May, this increased figure is holding. The longer the lockdown lasts, the less likely it is that life will return to an old ‘normal’ and the more likely it is that some of the habits we have picked up during corona will simply be the ‘new normal’.

For brands navigating through this crisis, knowing which habits will stick (because, of course, many will) and which will twist, is a difficult call to make. It’s a topic we’ve started exploring for clients across categories such as alcohol, water, media and home; reaching powerful outcomes that are having an immediate impact across comms, brand and innovation. Check in to find out more.

Previous Crowd Numbers/Covid-19 content here

*  Crowd DNA’s Numbers team collaborated with Norstat on this work, surveying an 18+ nat rep UK sample; most recently on May 1.

Our Crowd Numbers quant team have partnered with Norstat to start investigating some of the mid- and post-pandemic themes that are emerging...

With the picture changing so quickly, we are a little suspicious of anyone making particularly bold claims for what life post-pandemic will be like. Instead, we’ve focused on more channelled and specific work, focusing on the very real and particular challenges our clients are facing across different categories and markets.

But we do think there is now the potential to starting pinpointing and tracking some areas of sentiment. And hence we’ve partnered with Norstat to gather data across the next weeks, using a UK sample.

We will flesh this work out as the weeks go by; revisiting themes that we feel are worth tracking; and also introducing new themes as they become more pertinent.


 

DON’T GO QUIETLY INTO THE NIGHT

With reports that advertising budgets are being slashed across the board, does this leave consumers in the dark as to where to spend their post crisis cash? 58% of UK consumers agree that brands should continue to advertise throughout lockdown and 34% agree that they are just waiting to get in store and treat themselves to some retail therapy. Now is not the time to go quiet on your customers.

ACTION POINTS: Don’t go quiet on consumers. Be vocal in both marketing and PR. Demonstrate your role in the community and be a destination for consumers when they return to the highstreet.

SAVE OUR STORES?

Consumers are rallying to save their favourite brands from the brink, as both big and small brands start to fall casualty to the crisis. 72% of consumers say they will be sad to see some brands disappear due to Covid-19 and 68% said they would be willing to help local independent shops navigate the crisis.

They are particularly willing to help those supporting the vulnerable, with 60% saying they will continue to align with those brands post-pandemic. But for now, attitudes appear ahead of behaviour, as only 45% agree that they are actively trying to spend more with the independents, and only 33% say they have been exposed to new brands during this spell.

ACTION POINTS: Demonstrate that even global brands can have community value, and promote local produce/products where possible. Consumers are willing to help but need to know how. With marketing down, consumers are missing out on opportunities to help brands in the way they wish.

LIGHT AT THE END

72% agree that Covid-19 will have a lasting effect on British culture, and hopefully a positive one. 41% say they will continue to give up time to help the vulnerable, and 42% said that they will make more time to help out in their community.

And what’s more British than the pub? If British culture does change, the average punter does not want to lose their watering hole. 72% said they feared for the future of their local bars and restaurants. But when we do emerge from our homes, it will be to commute back to the office. Only 31% agree that they will try to work from home more often post-pandemic. And with 69% agreeing Covid-19 will have had a positive effect on the environment, it should be a more pleasant commute at that.

ACTION POINTS: Consumers believe the new normal to be a brighter one, with more community care and more support for the vulnerable. Cafe culture and bars/restaurants may see a bounce back as consumers remember how good socialising can be. Don’t abandon office spaces as your staff want to get back in the office with their colleagues.

Check in with Crowd Numbers director Dave Power to learn more about this work – and about Crowd DNA’s quantitative capabilities more broadly.

*  Crowd DNA’s Numbers team collaborated with Norstat on this work, surveying an 18+ nat rep UK sample on April 4.

 

Inspired by Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec's Dear Data, Crowd DNA NYC had a go at charting their own week in transportation...

The ability to create and communicate stories is one of the evolutionary factors that has defined human development. By using stories to share ideas, humans have been able to build philosophies, belief systems and form entire communities around one collective goal.

Through creativity and invention we have been able to play with storytelling, using myriad ways to share our message and captivate our audience. In the cultural insights field, telling a story using data in a creative and engaging manner can be challenging.

It’s important to make the stories we tell with data as compelling and easy to understand as possible (just ask our Crowd Numbers team). In order to do this, we turn to different sources of inspiration. One creativity sparker is Dear Data, a TedTalk and book about two new friends who maintained a relationship via postcards charting a topic of the week.

Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec recorded 52 weeks in untraditional data charts – with topics ranging from compliments received to swearwords said. Inspired by these two penpals, our New York team decided to chart their own week of transportation. Without discussing how we’d interpret the task, we developed our own unique takes.

Here’s what we ended up with…

Eden spends much of her commute sandwiched between fellow 4/5 train riders, but uses books to transport herself away:

When commuting solo, you might find Hollie speeding over the Williamsburg Bridge on her bike. But when she’s joined by the fifth (and four-legged) member of the Crowd NYC team, Boboji, it’s a ride on the J train:

Tom commutes into the office from just across the water in Brooklyn. In summer, you’ll catch him zipping over the Manhattan Bridge on his Boosted Board, but with the cold of winter comes a return to the subway:

The office’s only Manhattan resident, Lizzy walks to work, making use of the time to catch up on podcasts and brush up on her speed-walking:

What did we learn from our experiment? The first standout is that there are clearly many different ways to represent the same data. Even what might seem like relatively boring data – travelling to and from work every day – can be shown in an interesting and dynamic way.

It also showed us the value in collecting additional data beyond the basics. For example, Lizzy’s chart shows how environmentally friendly each method of transport was; and Hollie maps when she was walking with her dog, versus with other people. These additional elements of context all come together to tell a more complete story in our week of transport.

So next time you’re going about a seemingly mundane task, exercise your creative muscles and think about the different factors surrounding a particular topic – and how this could be represented visually.

Exciting New Work Alert!

As so much of our work can’t be shared, it’s great when we do get the chance to. Here’s some exciting projects for Twitter and HSBC

We’ve been working with Twitter in the US, merging machine learning, cultural exploration, semiotics and quant surveying, making sense of billions of tweets to identify trends (18 of them, within six core themes) that have a consistent upward trajectory. Check the work out (with downloadable PDFs aplenty) here.

And we’ve been working with HSBC on the Enrich List – aimed at their high net worth Jade customers – combining cultural analysis and interviews with our Kin network to understand motivational trends for those who have achieved a certain level of wealth; then finding 50 rewarding experiences for personal growth. You can find out more about the approach here. And you can check out the full Enrich List here.

Crowd Tracks: Alcohol

Thirsty? The first in a series of Crowd DNA social listening reports, Crowd Tracks serves up the frothiest alcohol trends from the last four months...

Crowd Tracks is our regular social listening dispatch, examining trends taking place at the intersection of brands and culture. First up, we get the drinks in, focusing on alcohol and uncovering some of the viral stories and category shifts that have encouraged the most engagement over the last four months.

Using social data, we’ve dug deep into global conversations to track trends and measure their impact over time, including pinpointing the brands that are making the most noise. 

Inside the first Crowd Tracks you’ll find: 

Viral stories from around the world, including the state sponsored Qingdao Beer Festival in China; the rise of craft beer in the Philippines; and a new vodka made with ingredients from the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone

– A brand leaderboard charting the organic conversation around Guinness, Heineken and Bud (who successfully tapped into the viral Area 51 story)

– We dive into the American summer phenomenon that was White Claw and the growth in hard seltzers (even for fraternity bros) 

– We also track the worldwide growth in alcohol-free living through the newly dubbed ‘sober curious’ trend, as well as the shift towards sustainable drinking, in which the environment takes centre stage for both consumers and brands 

Exploring Hard Claw in Crowd Tracks
Exploring Hard Claw in Crowd Tracks

You can download a full copy of the report here.

Social media at Crowd DNA

We deploy social media data in various ways at Crowd DNA; either as a stand-alone method (including producing one-off and periodical reports for our clients) or integrated alongside, for instance, semiotic, ethnographic and quantitative approaches). If you’d like to find out more about how we can use social media data to meet your business challenges, get in touch.