COVID-19 has massively increased the amount of public opinion online

Covid masks on yellow background

The fact that the internet – especially social media – is a powerful and widely used vehicle of communication is a universally accepted truth. With 2.95 billion people on social media in 2019 and increased penetration of 49% worldwide as of January 2020, the staggering numbers can’t be ignored. 

People worldwide spend an average of 144 minutes per day on social media – the number for North America averages at 2 hours and 6 minutes while in Europe it’s 1 hour and 15 minutes. 

In Q1 2020, the world found itself on lockdown because of COVID-19. 

With the unforeseen arrival of the COVID global pandemic, this trend was augmented even more. Since the outbreak, the amount of daily time spent in mobile apps – like social media – has grown by 20%. Spain saw the highest increase in all of Europe with a 55% jump since the coronavirus-induced lockdown.

Social media users in Latin America were already found to be some of the most active in the world, yet many countries saw even more activity in March 2020 right at the height of the quarantine. In Chile, the publications of social media posts increased by 53% compared to the same month in 2019. In Brazil, posts increased by almost 37% and by 9% in Argentina.

As most of the world’s population was quarantined at home – cut off from friends, work, shopping, restaurants, and “normal” life as it was – people began turning to the internet to stay connected more than ever before. To express worries, financial hardships, societal concerns and to vent personal frustrations, social media networks and the internet have become more and more abundant with information. 

A huge upside to this is that public institutions have access to feedback and needs that are being expressed directly by citizens and consumers; the insights are out there for the taking for institutions that know how to get it.

What are society’s biggest fears as quarantine restrictions lift? What expectations and requests do citizens have from financial institutions to get through this challenging time? What policies will help people in the short and longterm? These are all questions that can be answered by tuning in to what the people are saying.

Since the outbreak, the amount of daily time spent in mobile apps – like social media – has grown by 20%. Spain saw the highest increase in all of Europe with a 55% jump since the coronavirus-induced lockdown.

But with so much out there, how can the public and financial sectors make sense of all the commentaries, extract them and turn them into actionable insights?

The answer is Artificial Intelligence. 

The Citibeats platform is powered by artificial intelligence to use Natural Language Processing technology that can scan and analyze millions of text-based data in any language, in any region, in real time. 

This means that public institutions looking to address a certain sector in order to provide people-focused solutions can harness AI technology to extract insights from this unprecedented amount of social commentary. Nobody knows for sure what the post-COVID reality looks like, so service sectors that can identify and foresee people’s needs as the world transitions into its “new normal” are best positioned to aid society.

The other advantages that AI has – compared to other traditional market research methods – are time, efficiency and relevance. COVID-related news and ramifications are constantly changing. But because the Citibeats AI-powered platform works in real time, it’s possible to track how the situation evolves in an environment that changes so quickly – and adjust initiatives accordingly.

For institutions in the public and finance sectors, this is particularly important. These are two areas that affect people in challenging times the most and need proper attention. As tensions run high and people’s uncertainties continue to escalate, being able to provide solutions efficiently and in a way that most relevantly addresses the concern that people express is key to success.

Events that create such an influx of public sentiment – as seen by the increased volume of activity online and on social media – present an opportunity for institutions. By nature, communities turn to decision-makers to help them navigate through uncertainties and provide guidance. It’s, therefore, their responsibility to understand what these anxieties and grievances are so that they can help citizens with solutions that provide a sense of security and well-being.

We believe that artificial intelligence is the right tool to create these solutions. By adhering to strict ethical standards of data collection and analysis, and keeping the needs of citizens at the forefront of all endeavors, Citibeats promises to be an invaluable partner to institutions looking to serve their communities and to use the power of technology for social good.