Category Archives: Blog

WEBINAR: Agile Social Media Insight In A Crisis (And The Rest Of The Time Too)

Digital technology and social media have dramatically speeded up the pace of brand-customer relationships.

They also speed up the pace of brand crises.

But has market research insight delivery kept pace?

Clients and agencies have learnt that you need new research tools, and in this webinar we’ll be talking about one of them: social media analytics and insight. But these new technologies often feed into old processes and old business structures, allowing much of the dynamism of real-time data to be lost.

That’s why we want to talk to you about agile insight.

Social media researcher Jess Owens will be presenting a  a 3o minute webinar on Thursday 13 February (4pm GMT / 11 am EST) – join her to find out more.

It’ll preview her talk at the Insight & Innovation Exchange conference in Amsterdam on 19 February – and offer the chance to ask questions about her experiences managing helping her clients – from mobile, banking and retail – manage crises and consumer backlash in social.


At 9am one morning I got a call from my client at O2: “We’re having a crisis. Total network outage. There’s an executive board meeting in an hour and we need to give them a total overview of the entire situation so that we can plan our response.”

In this webinar we’ll cover 4 topics:

  1. Social media insight for crisis management - what we’ve done for clients from O2 to banks to major retailers, and where the biggest value has been for our clients
  2. Brand threats and longer-term issue management – how can social help?
  3. Partnership with clients to build an agile, actionable research programme – aka is the weekly report always the best way to share research insights? Not necessarily
  4. The true power of the brand tracker dataset - how the unprompted nature of social media mentions allows far adaptive and flexible research, providing the ability to instantly answer questions brands didn’t even know they had

Sounds good?

Sign up here on GoToWebinar for the session on Thursday 13 February (4pm GMT / 11am EST). We look forward to seeing you there!

Or if you’ve got any questions in the interim, get in touch with Jessica via LinkedIn or Twitter – she tweets for us @FaceResearch as well as from her personal account, @hautepop


Jess Owens profile photo

Jess Owens is a social media researcher in FACE’s London office. As one of the first members of the Global Social Insight team, she has pioneered new research methods with social data, from audience mapping, channel effectiveness studies and studying social media virality and content diffusion. She’s presented several workshops at ESOMAR about social media research  methods, and will be speaking at IIEX on 19 February.

Asia’s Growing Art Scene Changes Our Conversation with Consumers

While growing up in Singapore, I don’t recall visiting art galleries or events as a regular activity, either in school or in my own leisure time. Art, for me, was merely another subject in school, where you get some fun out of making colour imprints from cut-up tomatoes and potatoes. There were organized annual art & craft competitions where only the best pieces would be displayed – the less good pieces would be shelved at home for closed-door appreciation. In my memory, there was little about exploring art.

Things have changed dramatically in the recent years. There is an upbeat tempo in the art scene in this region. Unlike in the past, art has become more disposable and accessible – more informal pop-up locations than formal museums; more free and open events than having to pay for expensive entrance tickets; more recognition of local artists rather than only foreign artists whose names we can’t even enunciate; more close-to-heart topics than abstract art that we can’t connect with .

In this post, I will share some of my “art encounters in Asia” with you and conclude with some thoughts on how this changes the way we approach advertising and consumer insights.

The following 5 exhibitions are ones that have particularly captured my imagination. I feel it’s valuable for us to share these from us here in the Asia office back towards colleagues and readers in the West, so you can get a sense of what the new creativity looks like in this market and how it may differ from trends in London or New York galleries. Brands and marketers headquartered in the West need to pay attention to artistic expression coming from China, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia etc  in order to understand the interests, questions, concerns and aesthetics at play in these markets. Brands’ visual languages can’t be imposed from the West on to “the rest” any more – they need to listen and learn.

On to the art:

Pop-up art exhibition in Georgetown (Penang, Malaysia) in a very dilapidated shop house 

13: Rebirth – a group exhibition in continuation of 12

A collection of installation and art pieces on the idea of Rebirth

Reflecting on the meaning of life, death, and rebirth

1 2

 Art space in K11 shopping mall in Shanghai, China

This is the world’s first art shopping mall

 A photography artwork inspired by the life-threatening air pollution in China

Artwork portray commoners in masks, each mask telling a different story

“I am afraid this will be a silence call for help”

 Reflects the relationship between environment and people and the vulnerability of life


Bangkok Art & Culture Centre (Bangkok, Thailand)

I am Fat / Mannequins – an interpretation of beauty and perfection

Reflects the hard truths of acceptance against social expectations on beauty


Singapore Art Museum (Singapore)

Actual-size installation on a Primary School in Yangon

Brings fresh perspective on living standards and education

Set in a developed country, this installation is a thought-starter to get people thinking about their own (comfortable) environment and dwellings


 Noise Singapore 2013[J1] 

An annual open-public event dedicated to recognize the creative works of youths – work ranges from art and design, music and photography

There is one of the photography pieces that were curated for 2013

This event encourages youths to showcase their creativity and infuse fresh perspectives


Art is clearly another language to communicate meaning and emotions without language barriers. It opens up a different window to interpret the world, cultures, environment, politics, society and emotions. This brings about new values and perspectives, which may change our attitudes and behaviour.

The increasing vibrancy of the art scene in Singapore – and across a region becoming more affluent and more middle class – means potentially new public sphere for ideas. It allows more space for expression and creativity. By creative, I am not implying that everyone will become an artist, but that the audiences are able to realize themselves as capable and inspiring thinkers. There’s more of a public forum for people to discuss representation, and meaning, and creative ideas – and for these thoughts to feed back up and be heard by artists, brands and cultural institutions.

This changes how brands should approach consumers with their communication strategy. While a single-minded message is the rule-of-thumb, this doesn’t mean the delivery must be linear. With a changing consumer profile, consumers are capable interpreting meanings with broader perspectives, and brands that recognize this – who don’t feel they need to talk down to their audiences, but who trust them to be able to interpet complex imagery and narratives – have a chance to win a greater share of attention, personal recognition, and loyalty.

Many brands have succeeded in this – Coca Cola is a classic example that doesn’t need further introduction. Absolut Vodka continues to build buzz with its limited edition bottles with iconic designs. In 2013, Absolut Vodka put up its first Absolut Canvas exhibition dedicated to the art and creativity of the brand at the Singapore History Museum. Other brands advertised using creative art installations to connect with people in their daily lives.

We also need to move away from the traditional marketing hierarchy. Consumers are no longer ‘external’ stakeholders but ‘internal’ stakeholders, who can play a fundamental role in directing the brand strategies.  At FACE, we believe every consumer has a voice – hence it is essential for brands to engage with consumers at an early stage to shape the idea. Through co-creation workshops, brands can start conversations with consumers, build ideas and create stories together with them.

After all, it is an art to paint a full picture.


Calin Chua is a Research Manager for Face Asia. She has worked on a diverse range of brands, including Starbucks and Nokia. 

Connect with her on LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter.



Social media customer service as awesome brand building

You want to meet someone special. Someone that you could start a long, prosperous and mutually beneficial relationship with. Someone whose goals match yours and who you can work with to achieve your goals together. You know what I mean?

No, I’m not thinking about joining an online dating site. I’m thinking about how we work with our clients here at FACE. It’s a partnership, and over time it gets even better. At the start, it can of course be terrifyingly… new.

When you’re in a truly social business, you have to put yourself out there – just like in any other relationship. You have to talk openly. You have to listen. To experience the benefits of a dialogue with your clients or customers– not just a monologue by your brand – you have to be real. My former colleague Pete Blackshaw used to say: you’ve got to demonstrate trust, authenticity, transparency, confidence, consistency, and integrity to be socially successful. Subtext here is that being selfish and isolated is not recommended.

Alongside account manager Anna Dorywalska, I thought we’d share some thoughts.

Consumers are changing, so should you

What do you do when you want to find information about a new product, service or organisation? Do you Google the name and check relevant websites, or ask your peers and see what Twitter has to say?  How about complaining about a company – phone call to their customer service or quick note to your Facebook friends and Twitter followers? In times when trust in businesses is declining (check out the Edelman Trust Barometer), an increasing number of us are likely to say the latter in both cases.  It’s easier, quicker and, lets face it, less frustrating. For that reason it’s important for organisations to be truly present in social media and engage in conversations evolving not only around their brand, but also competitors and the industry in general. Participating in honest and dynamic discussions will help you strengthen existing relationships, but also be crucial in acquiring new brand fans.

This is how they do it

Whether your online presence is established and you’re rocking your customer service on social, or have only just started thinking about jumping on the wagon – one thing is certain, your customers are talking about you (and to you), and they expect you to react. And it’s a good thing!

@O2’s epic response to customer feedback during their network outage in 2012  probably will be used as an example of great customer service for years to come. The company managed to turn what seemed to be a hopeless situation into a successful showcase of its social media ninja skills (forgive us for using this phrase!) and company values.

O2 Conversation for Blog

Not only O2 have benefited from a humorous and witty approach to customer care online. Netflix, Sainsbury’s, and Bodyform have also decided to show their ‘human face’ via social and engaged in a friendly banter with customers.

We acknowledge some companies, financial services in particular, might find this type of approach challenging or even impossible.  Fear not! It’s not only about the humour. What matters is having a solid social media strategy, a dedicated team (consisting of one or 20 members, depending on business needs) and technology supporting both.

As Daryl West, Social Media Insight Manager at Telefonica UK, says:

“Social media customer service is now a large part of our service remit with over 4000 customer queries handled by more than 20 trained social media service specialists on a weekly basis. We helped develop an engagement platform with FACE that helped create a strong workflow management system that could filter and categorise queries to drive efficiency in social customer service.”

Telefonica was one of the first companies to realize the potential of social and implement innovative solutions within the business. The brand hasn’t stopped there and being a social business is as important as ever. Says Daryl:

“We truly believe that our presence on social media demonstrates to consumers that we are a forward thinking brand that’s future proofing our customer service by being responsive and supportive on new and developing service channels. Furthermore, we also use social media service as an indicator to flag customer problems, if repetitive issues arise in social we can flag to our other service channels. This is a great way of using real time social media insight to feedback and maintain excellence across all service channels.”

Being real should be easy, not to mention fun, right? So why is the threat of social failure still one of the most frequent concerns I hear from clients?

Well, because just like personal relationships, brand and client relationships take work – and sometimes they can be scary. Inevitably, sometimes needs won’t be perfectly aligned and there will be differences of opinion on the right steps to take. And at FACE we’ve had a breakup where we’ve listened to our client’s point of view but in the end had to be confident about our transparency and remain consistent and true to ourselves. Thankfully, when you’re a truly social business, working on your client and customer relationships also defines you. Each interaction is an opportunity to affirm and communicate what your brand stands for.

FACE CEO Andrew Needham wrote just a couple of days ago about the importance of “delivering customer obsession in the digital age”. Business is changing – moving away from a old manufacturing “product first” model, towards one where customer needs lead.  That’s why we think social media listening, engagement and customer care is so important. It’s what turns an interaction into a relationship – it’s what turns brand awareness into customer loyalty.



Erika Ammerman is the Head of Social Insight at FACE. She has worked for clients ranging from healthcare to hair care and beyond. Connect with her on LinkedIn.



Anna Dorywalska is a Social and Pulsar Account Manager. She is following her passion for social media, working with brands including O2, eBay and Samsung. Connect with her on LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter.


Product Manager wanted – the FACE Pulsar Team are hiring!

Looking for a new challenge this year? Does the idea of working on one of the most exciting and innovative products to emerge in the social media space appeal to you? Well, then this might be for you, so listen up!

We are currently seeking a Product Manager with excellent technical and communication skills to join our interactive Pulsar team in the London office, working on the Pulsar Platform suite of products (


Your primary product focus will be Pulsar Flow and Pulsar Live. We’re looking for someone to truly own the development of these products in terms of new features and functionality – managing user needs, defining roadmaps, correcting course and delivering releases on the scheduled date.

You will have at least 3 years’ experience working in a Product Manager or Product Support role, building enterprise-class software products. You will be accustomed to working in a fast paced, technically driven and client facing environment and be well versed in navigating various social media platforms at both a user and technical level. A strong practical knowledge of social media reporting and engagement tools is a great plus.

If this sounds like you, then we would love to hear from you.


Visit our Join Us page to download the full job description, then send a CV and covering email to our Chief Innovation Officer, Francesco D’Orazio (

the FACE Pulsar Team


Delivering customer obsession in the digital age is critical to business success

Amazon aspires to be “Earth’s most customer-centric company” and CEO Jeff Bezos speaks passionately not about customer-driven, but customer obsession. An empty chair is often kept in meetings, where the customer is symbolically seated.

As we start 2014 more and more CEOs are recognising that to deliver sustainable competitive advantage in the digital age they have to be able to meet the demands and expectations of today’s empowered and connected consumers consistently and continuously in real time. To achieve this successfully their organisations are going to have to put the customer at the heart of everything they do and then apply scaleable social technologies across the entire company to help make this happen in a human way. They are going to have to become what is being coined a “human era” company, able to manage brands that are more “human”, people-powered entities.

Applying customer obsession in the digital age

Customer obsession in the digital age means understanding that consumers expect their interactions with your organisation and brands to be not just “always on” but “on demand”. They want to be able to do things immediately and interact anywhere at anytime (immediate, real time); they want to do truly new things that create value for them and that delight them (valuable). They expect all data stored about them to be targeted precisely to their needs and personalised to their experience (relevant & personal). Above all they expect their interactions to be simple (easy). And lastly the “on demand” customer desires a more human interaction with companies and brands (human).

Meaningful human connections can’t be formed in one direction — they require the company or brand to reciprocate, to level with consumers. When they do, the connections become a foundation for something we all intuitively understand and value highly: trust. However, for companies to be human in deeds as well as words, a fundamentally different mindset must prevail – that the role of the firm is no longer just to make and sell products, but also to engage deeply and openly with customers as collaborators in creating value together  (Social Capital).

Already, search technologies have made product information ubiquitous; social media encourages consumers to share, compare, and rate experiences; and mobile devices add a “wherever” dimension to the digital environment. Technology will only continue to empower consumer expectations in these five ways. Further developments in mobile connectivity, better designed online spaces created with the powerful new HTML5 web language, the activation of the Internet of Things in many devices through inexpensive communications tags and micro-transmitters, and advances in handling “big data” will just accelerate the appetite of the “on demand” customer. Soon they will be able to search by image, voice, and gesture; automatically participate with others by taking pictures or making transactions; and discover new opportunities with devices that augment reality in their field of vision (think Google Glass).

So to deliver against these 5 key expectations of Immediate, Valuable, Personal, Easy and Human in real time there needs to be a clear framework where the “on demand customer” is at the heart of everything a company does. A customer driven knowledge framework that sits at the centre of a company’s organisation like the hub of a bicycle wheel where all marketing and business disciplines feed in to and out from the “on demand” customer.

Putting the voice of today's consumer at the center

Applying social technology with a human touch

The application of social technology is essential to helping companies put the “on demand” customer at the heart of a company.  In many ways technology can also allow companies to be more human; to do things that we would naturally do in 1-2-1 and face-to-face situations. Technology can help us apply a human touch but on a mass scale. But achieving this can be a major effort for organizations that were not born digital.

What is most challenging for our clients is the ability to operate in a joined-up, end-to-end way. Many of the companies we work for are siloed around different functions or geographies. But “on demand” customers expect a fully consistent and joined-up experience. And that requires companies to think quite differently about the way they organize, their governance structures, and their standards for data and systems.

It’s also apparent that this is not just about the marketing function on its own. The company as a whole must mobilize to deliver high-quality experiences across multiple disciplines and across the entire value chain: sales, innovation and collaboration, service, product use, finance, logistics and marketing. Social technologies can help ensure “on demand customers” touch every part of the organisation in a human way and every part of the organisation is driven in real time by “on-demand” customer expectations.

Applying Socially Intelligent Research

McKinsey said recently: “We’re placing a bet that as customer behavior becomes more fluid and complex and where business models can be disrupted overnight, the client community will welcome the opportunity to have a more holistic, adaptive and responsive view of the customer”. 

To win over on-demand customers, companies will increasingly need to spend a lot of time getting to know them, what they expect, and what works with them, and then have the ability to reach them with the right kind of interaction and content at the right time. Unsurprisingly at FACE we believe that big social data integrated with other research methodologies lies at the heart of efforts to build that understanding—data to define and contextualize trends, data to measure the effectiveness of activities and investments at key points in the consumer decision journey, and data to understand how and why individuals move along those journeys.

Here are 3 important questions we want our clients to be asking themselves this year:

1. How does our customer experience compare with that of leaders in other sectors?

2. What will our customers expect in the future, and what will it take to delight them?

3. Do we have clear plans for how to meet or exceed their expectations?

We believe that socially intelligent research has a big role to play in helping companies and brands become more socially intelligent by informing their behaviour with a holistic view of the consumer so that they become more human, more social, people powered entities.


Bad Andrew picture

Andrew Needham is a Founding Partner and CEO of FACE Research. A pioneer in the use of social data in qualitative and quantitative research to deliver a holistic view of the consumer, Andrew is leading the global expansion of FACE. 


 Read more of Andrew’s thoughts here. Or reach out to him on LinkedIn or Twitter.