11 min read
Micah Levin - Feb 11, 2021

The Most Discussed Global Brands Online In 2020

It was a fitting conclusion to a series that had captivated the anxious and content-hungry minds of billions of people around the world, that the man who had subjugated to squalid enclosures such majestic and mighty creatures, had himself, become a prisoner inside a cage of sorts in a federal prison for the next 22 years. But this was the conclusion of “The Tiger King”, a limited series Netflix docudrama that became the talk of Twitter and Facebook, with a deluge of memes, GIFs, and posts people found relevant to the COVID-19 lockdown circumstances that turned the streaming platform into one of the most talked about brands online.


We covered this series, and the trend surrounding streaming services, almost a year ago in April, and since that time there’s been a flood of conversations on social media directly on the subject of many of the world’s top brands and companies, particularly due to the rise of the stay-at-home industry that came out of all of this mess. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, Netflix, as well as other streaming companies, haven’t been the only major brands that have had their fair share of discussions, and it’s vitally important to reevaluate what’s been said since then, and the impacts this has had overall on brand's reputations. Whether it’s a popular entry in the Animal Crossing series sparking massive spikes in conversations about video game company Nintendo, to the rise of video personalities and influencers blowing up the online world with conversations surrounding the ever-popular and politically controversial TikTok, we’d like to look back and see how discussion trends for both halves, and all four quarters of 2020, can provide insight for marketing professionals and companies moving forward into 2021.



We’re still dealing with the pandemic and the stay-at-home industries that are being discussed on social media each day! Check out what we had to say regarding brands during the year of COVID-19, and compare how things are now almost a year later!



1. Netflix: Streaming Into Our TVs And Our Twitter Feeds

One of the most recognized companies in the content streaming industry today, Netflix has seen a massive amount of attention in the last 11 months of the pandemic, cornering the global market on digital television and cinematic content leagues ahead of its competitors (save of course for the ever-growing-in-popularity Disney+, and the various competing companies, such as Hulu, Amazon Prime, and HBO Max) and serving up various means to distract people from the difficulties incurred by the economic downturn and multiple nationwide lockdowns. Enjoying overall second-place status behind Amazon (the company, not the streaming service) in the global listings of companies when it came to online discussions, Netflix will be a key company - with strong market value - to follow in 2021 for those interested in whether or not it can reign supreme among the netizens of the web, or if loses its luster as the technological toast of the town.




Netflix Logo

Netflix logo, courtesy of www.ntxbookmedia.com


From the first half of 2020, Netflix dominated the field on social media but dropped in overall rank variation score in the second half of 2020 - most likely owing to the growing popularity of the many challengers that were introduced in various global regions throughout the first three quarters of 2020 - and dipped in score by 14 points by the fourth quarter. Clearly the hype over other streaming services, with shows like WandaVision and The Mandalorian on Disney+, Star Trek: Picard on CBS All Access, and more, have shifted the conversation away from Netflix - though not by too much - and it’ll be interesting to see where things go later this year!



2. Amazon: #1 For E Commerce. #1 For Social Media Conversation Rankings.

One of the most valuable brands in the world, as well as one of the economically valuable brands when it comes to technology companies in general, Amazon has been shipping its way to #1 on the Nasdaq, as well as the top of our Twitter feeds since the pandemic made stay-at-home living a new kind of normal for most consumers who were already big on the brand loyalty for the Seattle-based powerhouse. From the first quarter, all the way to the last quarter, Amazon has only steadily increased its mentions online, both for positive and negative reasons. On the positive side, Amazon has continued to shine with its reliance on customer choice, easy and approachable shopping experiences, and flexible business solutions for the ever growing number of companies that relied on Amazon’s cloud computing technology.


Amazon Logo

Amazon logo courtesy of www.designyourway.net


On the negative side though, Amazon also grew its discussion rate over the course of 2020 for some less than desirable reasons among customers, such as a poorer reputation for their drop in their delivery capabilities, and a poorer reputation due to their lack of care for their shipping center workers - and not to mention the news that their association with other top tier Fortune 500 companies that made out like bandits due to the pandemic damaging their reputation as too big and too powerful for their own good. Either way, good or bad, their growth score by 22 points made strong indications that Amazon was not slowing down both on social media and on the stock market.

3. Nintendo: Switch-ing Over From Relevancy To Irrelevancy

And speaking of companies that command strong customer retention, Nintendo grabbed a power-up star early on in the pandemic due to their launch of Animal Crossing: New Horizons in late March, solidifying their name among those on social media as one of the most valuable brands in the world of gaming. Since that time, however, there’s been a titanic shift in the release of newer, more trending video game consoles that arrived in mid-to-late November, during the holiday season, like Sony’s PS5 gaming system, and Microsoft’s Series X and Series XS consoles.  With no significant new hardware or software releases to hype up their base, Nintendo found itself dropping considerably over the course of the second and third quarters, before plateauing in the fourth during that same holiday shopping season.


Nintendo Logo

Nintendo logo courtesy of www.nintendolife.com 


Though the take-anywhere-play-anywhere technology of their proprietary gaming system, The Nintendo Switch, makes great sense when you’re out and about, traveling to work or across the country as a fun and and advanced way to play your favorite video games, when people are all stuck inside, it loses its luster and appeal, especially as a topic of conversation on social media outside the already established fanbase. Nintendo prides itself on its values of high quality games and unique couch cooperative experiences, yet none of these elements of their business could change their overall discussion ranking online from sixth place - something that’s still quite impressive considering how it managed to maintain an overall discussion lead over its two big competitors in 2020.



4. TikTok: The World, And Our Attention Spans On Social Media, Keep On Ticking Away

Another company that we covered in a previous article, and whose market value rose during the pandemic, TikTok has redefined collective live-streaming social media content in ways that Facebook and Instagram have failed to do with their own live-streaming services. Maintaining an air of political controversy over the previous US administration’s headline-grabbing announcements of potentially banning TikTok from one of its largest markets, but later avoiding such a fate, the upstart Chinese-based platform has maintained a 4th place spot in the overall ranking of brands that were discussed during 2020, losing some mentions online towards the third and fourth quarters.


TikTok Logo

TikTok logo courtesy of www.logo.wine


TikTok’s reputation as a tool of expression for Gen Ys and Gen Zs has provided the social media company a gateway not just for silly filters for making you look like a happy dog for a limited amount of screen time, but it also gave people around the world an opportunity to stave off the reality of their situations through an ever-growing library of content that could be liked and shared in real time. Though its score variation dropped by 6 points, it actually managed to jump up by two rank points to become the most discussed social media brand during the last year, something that should very much interest investors, marketers, and big name brands alike.

5. Zoom: Staying Connected Alone Online

When it comes to customer choice, it would appear that Zoom is the only game in town in the communications market - at least as far as the online discussions on Facebook and Twitter are concerned. Zoom, the affordable video business meeting company came out of nowhere during the pandemic of 2020, and zoomed right past Skype and other various video conferencing softwares to become both the #1 brand for getting direct video face time with you grandma, as well as the #1 most talked about communications brand on social media. In the early days of the first quarter and the first half of the second quarter of 2020, Zoom managed grab headlines online and steer the discussions for both being a savior for employees and families alike, while also attracting unwanted attention for their occasional crashes, privacy/data leaks, and string of embarrassing “Zoombombing” episodes where unwanted strangers could access private videos without permission.


Zoom Logo

Zoom logo courtesy of www.techzim.co.zw 


Managing to become one of the more valuable brands utilized and spoken about during the COVID-19 pandemic, Zoom has somewhat dropped off the social media map, as it were, with their overall global discussion rates dipping in the third and fourth quarters of 2020, most likely due to the service becoming less of an standout innovation or dumpster fire in 2020, and just more of an everyday staple of working men and women who’re now accustomed to the stay-at-home way of conducting life and work, like Google or Wikipedia. But no news can sometimes be good news, and with Zoom still carrying a comfortable 8th place in the rankings of discussed brands on social media, and a 13 point increase in their rank variation score, it’s likely that this isn’t the last we hear of Zoom as 2021 provides them time to roll out more features, new services, and plenty more chances to mess things up as potential new rivals come to unseat the video conferencing king from its thrown.

A New Age For Brands To Engage And Increase Their Overall Reputations Online

Reputation is what matters the most at the end of the day. The titular Tiger King, whose real name is Joseph Allen Maldonado-Passage, or Joe Exotic for short, is now a veritable internet celebrity, a social media juggernaut whose wild antics and bizarre story has now made him famous the world over. But as we’ve discussed earlier in this piece, for each of these most-talked about brands from 2020, reputation can swing both ways, whether you’re getting a lot of attention or very little. A brand that manages to properly engage with its loyal consumer base, while effectively reaching out and marketing to potential new customers in 2021, will have a better time obtaining not just more discussions about their products and services, but more positive conversations surrounding their business brand image itself. And as Joe Exotic can attest to, sitting alone in his own tiger cage with no freedom, presidential pardon, or friends to support him, having a negative reputation can make you the worst kind of social media monarch: the losing kind.

Leverage Social Media Insights

Written by Micah Levin

With a background in creative writing, advertising, and psychology, Micah is a copywriter in name and a Digiminder at heart. When he's not developing content for agencies, you can find him crafting novels, cooking and running around in Brooklyn, NY.