Streaming or Cable? Who’s Dominating the Media & Entertainment TotalSocial Rankings for Q3 2021

Discovery Network Leads Offline and YouTube Leads Online Ranking Netflix, HGTV, Spotify, Hulu and ESPN Hold Top Ranks for Both Online and Offline

Streaming or Cable? Who’s Dominating the Media & Entertainment TotalSocial Rankings for Q3 2021 Over the course of the COVID pandemic, no sector has seen a greater rise in conversation than media and entertainment, as people shared their favorite recommendations for ways to entertain themselves and their families. Over the last year, we’ve seen the media and entertainment as one of the most dynamic category during the pandemic as consumer conversations about the leading streaming media services or over-the-top content platforms (OTT) dramatically increased as movies and movie theaters were shut down, and COVID limited other forms of recreation and entertainment. A slew of new brands entered the streaming services market last year and 2021 such as Disney+, Peacock, Apple TV+, HBO Max, Paramount+, and Discovery+ to name a few and people were seeking and sharing their experiences with family and friends. Against that backdrop, here are the top performing media and entertainment brands in Q3 2021 as measured by both their offline and online TotalSocial performance. Three things stand out.
  1. First, streaming and OTT services may have dominated the Emmy awards and are growing their subscriber bases, but quite a number of cable networks remain among the leaders in the battle for offline and online buzz.
  2. Second there are five brands that are top 10 performers both offline and online, and five that are in the top 10 in one list but not the other. Optimal performance comes from strength both online and offline, and we congratulate those that are tops on both lists and suggest to the others there is a need to build on your strengths and seek to improve where you are not yet in the top 10.
  3. Third, there is a lot of fluidity in the top 10 list. About half the top brands both offline and online were also top brand during the same quarter a year ago; about half are new.

Discovery and YouTube Outperforms for the #1 Spots

Top 10 Media & Entertainment Brands - 2021 Q3 (Yellow highlights indicate brands that are on both lists.) Discovery Channel takes the top spot in our offline ranking, while YouTube is the online winner. Discovery is one of five cable networks in the offline top 10, joined by HGTV, Cartoon Network, ESPN and TNT. Amazon Prime Video is #2 offline, and is joined by streaming/OTT brands Netflix, Disney +, Spotify and Hulu in the top 10. The online Top 10 is also a split between streaming/OTT services and cable networks. Joining YouTube are three other streamers: Netflix, Spotify, and Hulu. Meanwhile, there are six non-streaming services lead by WWE (#2 overall), ESPN, AMC, Marvel, MTV and HGTV. Also notable is the fact that five of the top 10 are on both the online and online lists: Netflix, HGTV, Spotify, Hulu and ESPN. As TotalSocial has demonstrated, strong offline and online performance are each important to business outcomes, and thus these five are to be congratulated. These five are top 10 performers offline but not online: Discovery, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Cartoon Network and TNT; these five are in the top 10 online but not offline: YouTube, WWE, AMC, Marvel and MTV. Each would benefit from strategies to build on their strengths and improve where they are not yet among the top performers. Comparing the current rankings to Q3 a year ago, seven of the top 10 offline were top performers in both years: Discovery Channel, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Disney+, HGTV, Spotify and Hulu.  This consistency is notable, especially in an era of such big change in the media landscape and the consumer marketplace more generally.  Newcomers to the offline top 10 in Q3 are Cartoon Network, TNT and ESPN. Marvel, Nickelodeon and YouTube are no longer in the offline Top 10. Top 10 Media & Entertainment Brands Offline - 2021 Q3 vs 2020 Q3 (Green highlights indicate brands that are on both lists.) Six of the top 10 online were also top performers a year ago: WWE, Netflix, Spotify, ESPN, MTV and HGTV. New to the online leaders list in Q3 2021 are YouTube, AMC, Marvel, and Hulu. Food Network, Amazon Prime Video, CNN and Disney+ have fallen from the Top 10. Top 10 Media & Entertainment Brands Online - 2021 Q3 vs 2020 Q3 (Neon blue highlights indicate brands that are on both lists.) At Engagement Labs we have demonstrated that for most brands, there is little to no correlation between what gets talked about online in social media and what gets talked about offline, so strategies to activate both are key. Why does this matter? This affects not just marketers in the media entertainment category but all brands that advertise. Conversations among consumers drive about 19 percent of purchases, according to our paper published in the MIT Sloan Management Review, including conversations that are triggered by paid advertising—we find that one-quarter of the impact of advertising on sales occurs by causing consumers to talk about the brand. To be successful, brands should develop a holistic social strategy. Start by understanding what consumers are saying about your brand both online and offline, what is driving those conversations and how they are different. Our patented “TotalSocial” Scorecard analysis takes a deeper dive into the drivers of your brand’s social influence. It is customized for your brand and provides valuable insight on your position, and competitive threats. Sign up and we will provide you will a complimentary social influence briefing. SIGN ME UP TotalSocial Briefing

Engagement Labs Awarded Patent for TotalSocial®

TotalSocial Is the Only Platform that Integrates Offline and Online WOM to Drive Business Performance

TotalSocial Is the Only Platform that Integrates Offline and Online WOM to Drive Business Performance Engagement Labs is proud to announce that the United States Patent and Trademark Office awarded a patent for TotalSocial, our data and analytics platform that uniquely measures offline and online conversation about brands and their impact on business outcomes. Officially titled “System And Method For Measuring Social Influence Of A Brand For Improving The Brand’s Performance,” our patent is based on the proprietary method by which we integrate offline and online conversational data for nearly 1000 brands in the U.S. and tie that data to business outcomes such as sales, brand health, and media amplification.

KEY DRIVERS OF BUSINESS PERFORMANCE FROM SOCIAL DATATotalSocial - KEY DRIVERS OF BUSINESS PERFORMANCE FROM SOCIAL DATA

Being awarded a U.S. patent is a powerful testament to our new technology’s leadership. It also illustrates the significant progress we made in intellectual property protection. This patent validates and builds upon Engagement Labs’ more than a decade-long track record of innovation and will continue to push the envelope with improvements for measuring, optimizing, and protecting data at scale, as demonstrated by our new patent. TotalSocial empowers brands to maximize sales and improve brand health. We have demonstrated that offline WOM is fundamentally different from social media buzz, and each drives business outcomes in roughly equal proportions. Thus, only through the integration of both can brands fully capitalize on the power of consumer advocacy. One without the other is at best only taking advantage of half the potential impact, and at worse the two can be working in opposition to each other and thus impede growth. This patent confirms the uniqueness Engagement Labs’ TotalSocial core technology and our customers can further feel confident of our solutions, but its practical value is something that marketers and insights leaders have been confirming since 2008. TotalSocial enables marketers to detect variations in brand performance, diagnose the underlying factors for these changes and predict movements in their brand equity metrics months in advance – taking advantage of the predictive power of consumer conversations on long term brand equity. This is a capability that quantifies the relationship of conversations, both offline and online, with long-term business results and provides strategic guidance on how to drive performance improvement. TotalSocial’s proprietary data is vital to senior marketing, analytics, insights, media, social centers of excellence and innovation teams across industries. TotalSocial is used by Fortune 500 companies and brands across virtually all consumer-facing verticals: CPG, technology, telecom, media and entertainment, travel, shopping, auto, finance and other verticals. To learn more about TotalSocial’s unique data, insights and how it can help you evaluate the full value of consumer conversations on your brand and marketing ROI, please complete the briefing form.

Who’s Hot, Who’s Not: Consumer Buzz Trends as Holiday 2021 Fast Approaches

Consumer conversation trends reveal who has the most WOM traction and who needs to take quick corrective action

Who’s Hot, Who’s Not: Consumer Buzz Trends as Holiday 2021 Fast Approaches For much of the country late August means back to school, and end of summer vacations. For marketers it means the final push to prepare for holiday 2021. As Adweek recently noted, “The holidays aren’t yet top of mind for most consumers, but brands and retailers know that planning for these make-or-break moments starts now.” Adweek’s article asked the question, “How Can Brands and Retailers Prepare for the 2021 Holiday Season?” One missing element in their mix is to understand whether your brand is riding a wave of buzz that will put your brand on everyone’s holiday list – and if so, to build on that momentum. Or, if your buzz is lagging, then no time like the present to take steps to remediate that problem. In either case, leave nothing to chance and don’t delay. Here then are some of the brands who’s WOM is on the rise, and those that are lagging.  

Children’s Products

Let’s start with children’s products and retailers, since after all, the holidays are for the kids, right? For products, Lego is riding the hot hand right now, with 4m+ more offline WOM impressions per week over the past 12 weeks versus the prior 12. OshKosh (+3.6m), Graco (+1.8m), Baby Einstein (+1.4m), Hot Wheels (+1.2m) are all up substantially as well.  In terms of children’s retailers, the greatest momentum rests with Gap Kids (+2.4m) and Baby Gap (+2m), Children’s Place (+1.8m), and Honest Company (+920k). Meanwhile, Fisher-Price has its work cut out for it, with the largest drop in WOM within the category, with -1.78m fewer WOM conversation over the past 12 weeks versus the prior 12. It is joined by NERF (-1.3m), Barbie (-1.3m), American Girl (-740k) and Sesame Street (sorry Big Bird – but your WOM is down by -630k WOM impressions per week). Top 10 Winners and Losers' Children's Products Category

Retailers

People are talking more about many forms of retail. Department stores lead the way (+11.9 m weekly WOM impressions for the category). The biggest drop is among the home centers (-34.8m), which is more likely a result of a drop from their extremely elevated standing during Covid as Americans rushed to invest in home repairs and upgrades to accommodate their new lifestyles. % Change in Retail Category Offline Volume More specifically, the top 5 retail brands with WOM momentum heading into the holiday season are Gap (+7.4m), Macy’s (+6.4m), Amazon (+6m), Sam’s Club (+5.7m), and Nike (+5.7m). Meanwhile, Target (-13.3m) and Walmart (-6.5m) are seeing huge declines in WOM, as are Best Buy (-3.7m) and Victoria’s Secret (-3.6m). Biggest Gains and Sharpest Declines For Retail/Apparel Category

Video Games

All forms of entertainment have soared during Covid, and at the holiday season video games are certain to be popular. But which titles? NBA 2k (+1.7m) has the most WOM growth, followed by World of Warcraft (+1.5m) and Assassin’s Creed (+1.4m), Roblox (+1.2m) and Resident Evil (+1.2m). Word of mouth has declined sharply for Age of Empires 4 (-3.2m) and League of Legends (-3m), followed by Call of Duty (-1.9m), Diablo (-1.9m) and Batman: Arkham (-1.8m). Video Games Gaining and Losing the Most Offline Conversation Volume

It’s Time to Act to Assure a Strong Holiday 2021 Outcome

Now is the time for brands that have WOM momentum to keep building buzz, and for those that are lagging to work overtime to get things turned around. As a marketer looking to maximize your Holiday 2021 results, there is no better group of consumers than those who are already talking about your brand and category – connect with them and let them share their stories. Engagement Labs has the data and insights to help you drive advocacy that will amplify your messages and accelerate sales, Engagement Labs. Further, with our digital activation partner Dstillery, you can reach powerful, new-to-market audience segments that will enable your media buying to be more efficient and effective in time to have an impact on this holiday season. Engagement Labs and Dstillery Partner to Help Brands Tap into Word-of-Mouth Audiences at Scale To get more information about Engagement Labs TotalSocial platform and the Engagement Labs/Dstillery partnership, request a briefing below.   SIGN ME UP TotalSocial Briefing  

Looking for Real Influence: Forget Celebrity Influencers, Focus on Real People

New Social Network Science Research Says it Time to Shift Our Thinking About Influence

Looking for Real Influence: Forget Celebrity Influencers, Focus on Real People At Engagement Labs we have long believed in the power of everyday influencers to drive business results. And now there is new, independent scientific evidence that supports our view. For example, in a piece entitled, Influencer marketing: beyond the hype, we said that while businesses are rushing to engage with celebrity and near-celebrity “influencers” with their huge followings on social media, “marketers have a much more sustainable opportunity to engage everyday influencers whose value comes from personal relationships with their closest friends and families. Because of the fascination with paid influencers, we believe marketers overlook a massive—and proven—opportunity to cultivate strategies that would put the power of these everyday influencers to work on their behalf.” Everyday influencers – by which we mean the 1 in 10 consumers who are sought out for their advice and whose recommendations are heeded – have 131 brand-related conversations every week versus the national average of 73. Further, they regularly seek out information, including that put out by brands, that helps them keep up with what’s new and worth talking about. By reaching these influencers, marketers enjoy almost twice the word-of-mouth reach than average consumers provide, and the impact of their recommendations is four times as great due to their credibility and perceived expertise. Weekly Consumer Conversations in the U.S.

Want to promote your new product or trigger a shift in thinking? Rethink your influence strategy.

  Newly published research by Damon Centola, a Professor of Communication, Sociology, and Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania who studies social networks and behavioral change, finds that as prominent and revered as social influencers seem to be — “think Kim Kardashian promoting a new product on Instagram” — in reality, they are unlikely to change a person’s behavior by example, and might actually be detrimental to the cause. Why? “An influencer is great at spreading information that already resonates with her followers,” says Centola. “But when she shares information that contradicts their worldview, it’s perceived as a breach of trust . . . Social influencers often do more harm than good.” To stimulate a shift in thinking, Centola’s research recommends turning the influence model on its head, a bottoms up approach rather than focusing on people in the middle with a huge number of followers, “Our study revealed that we should look to the margins, or the mathematical periphery: ‘regular’ people who may not have nearly as many connections as others in the same network.” Why? “Partly because humans make decisions with the assistance of people they see as like them in circumstance. If a family is considering moving to a new neighborhood, they don’t ask Gwyneth Paltrow or Kim Kardashian to weigh in; they ask families with similarly aged children, in similar financial circumstances — those with needs and bottom lines that resemble their own.”

Bazaarvoice Research Also Touts Everyday Influencers

Another new study from Bazaarvoice also makes a case for the value of everyday influencers rather than celebrity endorsers. In a piece entitled, What Influence to Influencers Have, Bazaarvoice reports on the results of a 9000 person global survey and finds everyday social media users (56%) are the type of influencer people followed the most, far ahead of celebrities (34%), subject matter experts (29%) and social media stars (25%). When it comes to trust, everyday social media users (38%) and subject matter experts (39%) were neck-and-neck, while celebrities (14%) and social media stars (9%) lagged much further behind.  

Engagement Labs Has Deep Data and Insight about Influencers and Partnership with Dstillery for Activation

Engagement Labs and Dstillery Partner to Help Brands Tap into Word-of-Mouth Audiences at Scale We are pleased to see these new studies that corroborate our long-held belief in the power of everyday influencers, or the group we call Conversation Catalysts. They are a cornerstone of our TotalSocial platform, an “always on” data and analytics platform covering both offline WOM and online social media conversation. TotalSocial lets marketers understand the role of everyday influencers in driving brand performance and strategies for maximizing performance among this highly influential group of consumers. With nearly one in four offline conversations now include people talking about things they see in digital media, our partnership with Dstillery allows marketers to identify these everyday influencers in the digital ecosystem and buy media to reach and activate this powerful audience segment.

Packaging Innovation Is a Great Consumer Buzz Generator – Just Ask Andy England

Packaging Innovation Is a Great Consumer Buzz Generator – Just ask Andy England “The marketer who steered Coors Light’s ‘cold’ ad messaging for years is now taking the same approach to vodka,” according to AdAge and other recent trade news. “Andy England—who was chief marketing officer at MillerCoors from 2008 to 2015—is now CEO at Phillips Distilling, a Minnesota-based spirits marketer that under his watch is about to flood the market with new innovations, packaging and campaigns.” AdAge’s article caught our eye because Andy England is an advocate for the power of word of mouth. His innovations with packaging while at MillerCoors were a powerful example of how to generate word of mouth in a category where differentiation is often difficult. At MillerCoors, and again with his new vodka brand Cubist, innovative packaging is the conversation spark. Cubist packaging uses thermochromic technology that turns the bottle blue when its temperature drops to zero degrees Celsius or below. We know that packaging plays role in people’s word of mouth conversation. Our offline WOM data shows that the beverages (6.68%) is the most likely category where people talk about product packaging when they talk about brands. Referencing Product Packaging by Category - Engagement Labs Offline, word of mouth conversation data referencing product packaging is also above average for beauty and personal care with 6.52% of the chatter, followed by children’s products (5.24%), household products (5.1%) and food/dining (4.87%). As part of a case study in our CEO Ed Keller’s book, The Face-to-Face Book: Why Real Relationships Rule in a Digital Marketplace, England discussed his philosophy about the one-two punch of product innovation and strong advertising to get people talking. “If you want people to talk about your product, you’ve got to give them something to talk about,” England told us when we interviewed him, “and at the end of the day I’d far rather that they were talking about my product than my commercial.” Two prime examples were cold-activated cans and wide-mouth venting. With cold-activated cans, the color on the can turns blue when the temperature reaches 44 degrees. This reinforces and dramatizes the idea of “Rocky Mountain cold refreshment.” When England refers to the copy line on the package (“When these mountains turn blue, your beer is as cold as the Rockies”), he told us, “you know you’ve achieved something when guys start talking about whether their mountains are blue, when they literally use that copy off the package or the ads. That’s just a beautiful thing. As vernacular for “my beer is cold,’ you’ve got ‘My mountains are blue.’” Similarly, with regard to Coors Light, England noted, “We already have 100 percent awareness in our target market, but you’re not necessarily going to have a conversation about Coors Light unless there’s something to talk about.” So Coors turned again turned to a product innovation with regard to the packaging and invented wide-mouth venting, in which package designers enlarged the opening on the can to improve the pouring and reduce “gurgling.” The marketer and its agencies came up with a campaign that played on the word “venting,” in the sense of literally letting off steam. One ad featured a guy who escapes his girl friend to go to his buddy’s place because he has “got to vent.” England told us that one way to achieve success is when you have an idea that becomes part of the vernacular. “I remember playing tennis with this twenty-four-year-old, and we are playing doubles, and one of the other older guys said to me, ‘So what’s new in the beer business?’ And I said, “Well, there’s the new wide-mouth Coors.’ And the twenty-four-year old instantly said ‘Let’s vent!’ I thought, I love that!” cubistFreezerWe are excited to see how England succeeded in bringing this playbook to Vodka brand Cubist, that “is specially designed to be stored in the freezer—a ploy that plays off of the custom many vodka drinkers have of putting the booze in the icebox” according to Ad Age. “Cubist packaging uses thermochromic technology that turns the bottle blue when its temperature drops to zero degrees Celsius or below. The brand, which will initially debut in Minnesota and Arizona in August, will use the tagline, ‘The World’s Most Refreshing Vodka.’” And we encourage any marketer interested in seeing its brand become a part of the vernacular, to think like Andy England about innovation wherever it might come from, including packaging. And then, give people a vernacular to use to talk about it, while the package itself also serves as a visual cue to spark that conversation. The results will be something you . . . and your consumers . . . will be proud to talk about. SIGN ME UP TotalSocial Briefing

Study: Podcast Audience is a WOM Powerhouse

podcast “Even before COVID-19, the podcast industry was seeing rapid growth, with monthly listeners reaching 645mn globally in 2019 and advertising revenues growing at a double-digit rate; industry revenues are poised to more than double by 2024,” according to PwC’s Entertainment & Media Outlook 2020-2024. Good news for podcast advertisers: we have strong evidence that the podcast audience is a word of mouth powerhouse. They talk more about brands across a variety of categories – in fact more so than the audience for any other medium including social media. And they are richer in word of mouth influencers, as well. Given the important tie between word of mouth advocacy and sales, they are a marketers dream audience. According to newly released Engagement Labs data, heavy podcast listeners, who on average listen to 1 or more hours of podcasts per day, engage in more than 100 offline conversations per week about products, services and brands. This compares to 76 weekly conversations for the general public – an increase of 34%. Source: Engagement Labs, July 2021 At 102 weekly WOM conversations, these heavy podcast listeners are at the top of the list versus other media. Heavy social media users and heavy radio listeners are tied for second, both close behind at 99 offline conversations per week, with heavy TV viewers at a distant 67 conversations per week. Average Weekly Conversations Among Total Public Source: Engagement Labs, July 2021 Moving from total conversations to conversations by category, podcast listeners outperform the general public across each of 15 categories. Food/dining and media/entertainment lead the way. And the gaps between the podcast audience and the general public is particularly wide in categories such as technology, children’s products, beauty and personal care, sports and retail/apparel. Average Weekly Conversations by Category Average Weekly Category Conversations Among Heavy Podcast Listeners Source: Engagement Labs, July 2021

More influential, too

Heavy podcast listeners not only engage in more word of mouth, they are also richer in their concentration of WOM influencers than other media. Compared to the total public, they are 54% more likely to be influential – once again, placing them ahead of heavy radio listeners (+34%) and heavy social media users (+25%). Heavy TV viewers, meanwhile, index at 89. % of Influencers Indexed to Total Public Source: Engagement Labs, July 2021 The highest number of influential consumers among heavy podcast listeners are in the telecom category who index at 208 versus the general public when it comes to their concentration of category influencers. This followed by everyday influencers of wine & spirits (178 index), beauty and personal care (169), financial services (165) and travel services (164). % of Heavy Podcast Listeners Identified as Category Influencers Source: Engagement Labs, July 2021 One indicator of the value consumer conversations is that they tend to occur among very influential consumers or what we call the “everyday influencers” who have large social networks and regularly make recommendations. Becoming a beloved and enthusiastically recommended brand involves connecting with consumers through purpose-driven storytelling, delivering great experiences, and refreshing the connection through innovative marketing and advertising. Marketers should keep this all-in mind as they plan and respond to the rapidly changing nature of consumer behaviors and conversations. While social media may send one signal, what people talk about and what impacts them the most is often much more complex and a major reason why offline and online are often uncorrelated to each other. The combination of TotalSocial data and insights and well-crafted storytelling can help brands and companies achieve their goals whether to development of original programming, grow their user base, or maximize customer retention and usage.   SIGN ME UP TotalSocial Briefing

Kotex Once Again Demonstrates How to Become a WOM Sensation

Ed Keller’s commentary published on June 7, 2021 in MediaPost “How To Become A Word-Of-Mouth Maven”  Kotex brand’s partnership with YouTube creator Simone Giertz Recently MediaPost published a piece, Disrupting A Once-Staid Category, Kotex Builds A ‘Menstruation Machine,’ that described the Kotex brand’s partnership with YouTube creator Simone Giertz who built a menstruation machine to dispel universal confusion about how monthly periods work. “The goal is to demystify periods to help reduce stigma. And we wanted a fun way to show how little people know about the way menstruation works,” says Sarah Paulsen, senior global creative and design director for Kimberly-Clark’s adult and feminine care brands. In fact, Kotex has been hard at work creating conversations about menstrual health for over a decade. And in doing so, it has helped to dispel a myth I often hear about word-of-mouth marketing – that it works only (or best) in “exciting” categories like technology, cars, restaurants, travel and movies. Not true. Word of mouth also works for everyday products and brands in categories like children’s products, beverage, and beauty products . . . as well as women’s personal care products.  

Starting an Unlikely Conversation

Back in 2010, Kimberly-Clark was launching a new tampon brand, U by Kotex, and made a bold decision to change the conversation about this traditionally staid – and quiet – category. To the extent people were talking about menstruation at the time, it was generally limited to private whispers between mother and daughter, sisters, or among one’s closest girlfriends. Advertising and marketing in the category had long been based on breezy images of snow, white purity and euphemistic language about “freshness” and “protection.” Kimberly-Clark executives believed that society’s unwillingness to talk honestly about vaginal health and menstruation was a serious matter with the potential to lead to bad health decisions and outcomes by teenagers unable to get the information they needed. And they decided to change that. The crucial idea behind U by Kotex was that feminine protection should not be a taboo subject. Not only should women feel comfortable talking about it, but the category could even become fashionable. The packaging and applicators would be colorful, and its marketing would break the cycle of euphemistic advertising and communications about the category. Tampons would become acceptable topics for conversation. The launch campaign was designed to encourage honest conversations and to provide essential health and how-to-information to young women. “Right from the start, we believed it was about word of mouth,” Kimberly-Clark’s Jay Gottlieb, VP of adult and feminine care marketing told my co-author Brad Fay and me when we profiled U by Kotex in The Face-to-Face Book. And it worked, both commercially as well as achieving its goal of starting a conversation –ne that lasted a decade, as Kimberly-Clark continues to engage young women with entertaining, creative and educational content to make menstrual hygiene talkable and shareable. The brand is increasingly trying to bring young men into conversations about periods, too. A new brand video launched in Brazil, for example, shows a young boy passing a Kotex back to the girl sitting behind him in class, according to the MediaPost article.  

Offline Conversation is Very Different from Social Media

Kotex’s decade of success with driving a conversation about feminine hygiene is a strong reminder that WOM can work for any brand in any category. It is not just for those that are in high consideration categories or limited to brands with Super Bowl sized ad budgets. And yet, I hear this misconception often. This may reflect two sources of misunderstanding: (1) that word of mouth is really a synonym for social media, while overlooking the huge volume of daily WOM that takes place offline (whether face-to-face, text, IM, email or video chat); and, (2) offline and online are mirrors on each other, when in fact they are fundamentally different from each other. A recent analysis of offline versus online WOM shows that social media buzz about brands is very concentrated, with technology now leading the way (44% of all brand buzz on social media is about tech), and together with media and sports, these “big three” account for nearly 80% of all brand discussion in social media. Offline, word of mouth conversation is more evenly distributed over a wide range of categories. Retail and apparel brands lead the list with 16% of the chatter, followed by technology (13%), food/dining (11%) and beverages (10%).   Category Distribution of Offline and Online Word of Mouth (2019-2020) - Engagement Labs In other words, online data does not reflect well people’s offline behavior. Word of mouth is not channel neutral. One cannot automatically generalize the results from online to offline. As we have shown elsewhere, each is important at driving business results, but one is not a mirror on the other. Do not look only at social media for inspiration or as a guide for creating a successful social brand. A focus on one at the expense of the other is at best achieving half the results and could possibly lead to incorrect decisions. Successful brands need strategies to drive both offline and online word of mouth. The 100-year old Kotex has demonstrated that any brand which puts its mind to it can tap the power of word of mouth. As Kimberly-Clark’s Paulsen notes, “it’s about continually testing and learning.” SIGN ME UP TotalSocial Briefing

New Engagement Labs Data Ranks Top Brands Across Categories, with Travel Leading WOM Growth as US Looks Forward to a Post-Pandemic Future

Expedia Tops Travel Category; Auto, Telecom and Financial Sector Also Enjoy Rising WOM, Led by Toyota, Comcast, and Robinhood Respectively

travellingpostcovid Our last blog talked about America’s changing brand buzz since Covid-19 , noting that WOM levels held steady during COVID-19 era, with certain categories gaining momentum during the pandemic. This week, Engagement Labs takes a closer look at the brands that have the greatest WOM strength as we prepare to enter the summer months, with hopes and dreams for a return to a more normal America this summer. To do so, we, examine the top brands by industry sector and report on those whose WOM has grown over the past quarter versus the prior quarter. These are the brands that are showing the most improved performance. As more states plan to fully reopen, the ranker gives an outlook to what may come. We start with a category view. With warmer months approaching and vaccination numbers surging, Americans are ready to hit the road. We see WOM about brands in travel services increasing the most (+13% as a category, led by Expedia, Airbnb and Southwest). After travel, the categories with the biggest WOM growth are automotive (+9%, led by Toyota, Ford and Honda), telecom (+5% led by Comcast, Tracfone and Cricket), and financial (+3% led by Robinhood, Navy Federal Credit Union and Wells Fargo).

WOM Growth by Sector

WOM Growth by Sector - Engagement Labs Meanwhile, some categories continue to have challenges: children’s products (-23%), beauty and personal care (-14%), sports (-8%), and household products (-8%) have each decreased dramatically for the same time period. At the individual brand level across nearly 1000 brands, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer are all among the top 5 brands in all industries in terms of growth in offline WOM, joined by Toyota and Home Depot. Reopening Outlook: Top 5 Brands in WOM Volume Growth (All Categories) Here are the top 3 brands by category. Top 3 Brands per Industry Sector based on % Growth - Travel, Auto, Telecom, Financial, Healthcare, Beverages, Food/Dining, Technology Top 3 Brands per Industry Sector based on % Growth - Media & Entertainment, The Home, Retail/Apparel, Household Products, Sports, Beauty & Personal Care, and Children's Products WOM is a proven indicator of sales and brand health. Congratulations to those brands that are getting ready for summer with the wind behind their sails (and sales). If you’d like to know where your brand ranks, contact us.

America’s Changing Brand Buzz Since COVID-19

Understanding How Conversations Have Changed Since Covid-19 The COVID-19 pandemic has brought countless challenges to Americans over the past year. From the everyday issues of social distancing, sickness and childcare, to the financial issues of concern over jobs / personal finances and understanding the stimulus – the past year has altered everyone’s way of life. But has it impacted how we talk about brands? This analysis looks at trends in brand WOM since the pandemic to reveal the impact of COVID-19 on how Americans talk about brands.  

Overall, WOM levels held steady during COVID-19 era, but certain categories gained momentum during the pandemic

Overall, offline WOM levels were largely steady (a small decline of 1%) during the COVID-19 era.* So even with social distancing and lock downs, Americans kept talking offline about products, services and brands as they navigated the many changes in their lives, and with it new brand choices that they needed to make. This average includes certain categories that gained momentum during this time, including health/healthcare (+10%), financial services (+4%), beauty/personal care (+3%) and media/entertainment (+3%). At the same time, other categories decreased, some dramatically. Among those declining in offline talk are sports (-13%), as well as travel (-7%), home products (-7%), telecom (-7%), auto (-5%) and beverages (-5%).   US % Change in Category Offline Volume COVID Era Ending 4/18/21 vs. 1 year prior Looking closer at specific product sub-categories, streaming media services, websites, discount stores, facial and body products and home centers gained serious ground since the COVID-19 era began. In contrast, talk about sports teams (NFL, MLB & NBA) tapered off significantly, as did talk about movies and casual dining – both industries shut-down across much of the country and throughout much of the pandemic. US: Change in Sub-Category Offline Volume COVID Era ending 4/18/21 vs 1 year prior US: Change in Sub-Category Offline Volume COVID Era ending 4/18/21 vs 1 year prior

COVID-19 remains the #1 most discussed topic

During the past three months, 36% of Americans reported discussing COVID-19 on a daily basis, confirming that this is still not only top of mind but also very much a topic of conversation. Although it should be pointed out that this percentage has come down quite dramatically from late March/April a year ago when it was at 62%. Places to shop, nutrition/dieting, and the President follow as other popular topics among Americans. “Concern about your own financial situation” remains discussed by one-in-five Americans on a daily basis, but this is down nearly 8-points since a year ago when times were much more uncertain and thus, this was a much larger topic. US: % People Talking About Issues Offline 12 Weeks ending 4/18/21 US: % Talking About Concern about your own financial situation

A silver lining for Financial Services: Americans have better things to say about the category

Net sentiment (positive less negative/mixed) of financial conversations has improved, especially since late 2020. In fact, net sentiment reached its highest levels since TotalSocial’s inception in 2015. Financial companies, generally, have been understanding and aware of their customers financial situations during these unprecedented times. Policies across the industry ranging from deferred payments to extended filing deadlines to lower mortgage rates have helped cement a stronger relationship between financial companies and many Americans despite the ongoing pandemic. Financial Services - Net Sentiment - Rolling 8 weeks

And, closing on a happy note…

A lot of consumers’ most impactful conversations in recent weeks relate to the COVID-19 vaccine, talking about loved ones (friends, family, husband) as well as the country and our President. A year ago, more Americans were feeling scared/confused as a result of their most impactful conversation. Today, the feeling of happiness far outpaces other feelings which is a good sign for our well-being moving forward. US: Trend of % Impactful Conversation Emotions among Total Public

Word Cloud of Most Impactful Conversation

Word Cloud of Most Impactful Conversation

Top 10 UK Brands Online: Sports, Technology, Media Dominate British Online Consumer Conversations

B&M Joins the Top 10 As Well

_112869699_gettyimages-1209519827-1 A newly released ranking of UK brand performance on social media declares Twitter, the social networking service, as #1, followed by Liverpool FC grabbing the #2 spot and YouTube claiming the #3 spot. Brands in media, technology and sports garnered 9 of the top 10 spots in social media performance. Retailer B&M joins this group as the only brand outside of this trio of categories to earn top 10 status, an honor it shared in 2019 as well. The ranking was released by Engagement Labs, a data and analytics company that measures online and offline performance for brands. This ranking focused on brand performance online via social media. The dominant role of sports, technology and media is consistent with prior findings from Engagement Labs that showed these three categories also dominate social media conversation in the US, where they collectively account for more than three quarters of all social media conversation about brands. Engagement Labs TotalSocial Top 10 UK Brands Online in 2020 The newly released analysis ranks the brands based on Engagement Labs proprietary TotalSocial® data and analytics platform, which continuously measures social metrics that are proven drivers of business performance of more than 400 UK brands. To achieve its top honors, Twitter holds the #1 position with scores dominating in volume, brand sharing and influence, but with a decidedly mixed performance in net sentiment – the brand has more negative online conversations about its brand than positive. Netflix has the biggest rank change among the top 10, from position #15 in 2019 to #4 in 2020. Due to the sharp increase in streaming media during the pandemic, consumer conversations about streaming services such as Netflix and YouTube are up from a year ago as the British population during Covid-19 – like people everywhere – were in lockdown, bored and desperate for home entertainment and eager to share with others. Similarly, while fans were unable to attend live sports events, football matches were aired live in the UK with its share of challenges of lockdown cancellations and delays, but very strong social engagement. Football clubs Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City online conversation landscape was primarily driven by high volume and brand sharing for sports leagues during 2020. The PGA did not garner nearly the same volume of online chatter as the rest of the top 10, but earned the highest online sentiment. B&M also earned high sentiment that helped propel it into the top 10 for the second year in a row. The Top 10 TotalSocial Online UK Brands is based on social media conversations along four conversation dimensions: volume (a measure of how many conversations mention a brand), net sentiment (the difference in the percent positive conversations minus negative), brand sharing (the extent to which people are share branded social content for the brand), and influence (the extent to which an influential audience is talking about a brand). TotalSocial Online Key Metrics The clout of consumer conversation is real – and it is an imperative aspect of any marketing strategy today. These conversations, reviews and the counsel of our peers have enormous impact on consumer choices and thus on brands in terms of sales, brand health, and other KPIs. The pandemic era has motivated consumers to explore new options across a variety of categories. More than ever, brands that respond most effectively to the pandemic through changes in products, messaging, and marketing should be in the best position to rebound once the economy returns to normal.