Albane Flamant (’10) is an online detective of sorts. As the head of brand and data storytelling at Talkwalker, a social listening company, she uses her company’s proprietary software system to look for clues hidden in the millions of conversations that people have each day on social media and other online platforms.
For example, say a hypothetical beverage company is getting comments on its social media pages that one of its bottled water products has a metallic taste. Is it really a product-quality problem or just a one-off complaint? Answering questions like these helps organizations make informed marketing and business decisions that benefit their brands and ultimately their customers, Flamant explains.
Over the last year, the pandemic has been a “game-changer” for businesses, and the social intelligence Flamant has gathered reveals clear winners and losers. “It has caused a massive shift in consumer behavior and that shift is still happening today.”
While COVID-19 negatively impacted many industries, technology was a segment that largely soared through the crisis. “The tech industry — anything that’s online, including technology that’s geared to working from home and e-commerce platforms — is doing really well,” Flamant says. “It’s been interesting to see some of the partnerships that have started to emerge between brick-and-mortar stores with e-commerce. We’ve seen growth for anything linked to food delivery and subscription boxes. Online shopping options have really come to the forefront [during COVID].”
She should know. As part of Talkwalker’s marketing team, Flamant examines business trends and insights that are revealed through data collected by the Talkwalker platform.
“We’re really 360,” she says. “We crawl over 150 million blogs, forums and social media through our own technology and partners, like Quora [a question-and-answer website]. We also connect to traditional media — print, TV and radio.” She and her team transform this conversational intelligence into newsletters, presentations and white papers to inform the digital strategies of companies around the world.
That’s where Flamant’s bachelor’s degree in communication from Embry-Riddle comes into play. She also holds a master’s degree in journalism and international affairs from the Institute of Political Studies in Paris.
Teed Up for Success
While she admits her Embry-Riddle degree helped lay the foundation for her work today, it wasn’t the communication program that brought Flamant to the Daytona Beach Campus. “I came to Embry-Riddle mainly because of golf,” she says. “I wanted an international school, not too far north, so I could play golf year-round. I really connected with the coach [Maria Lopez] and the team.”
Flamant earned kudos on the links and in the classroom. Despite being a non-native English speaker, she earned a 4.0 her first semester, was selected for Embry-Riddle’s Honors Program and helped the women’s golf team earn a record-breaking 3.82 GPA for the program, for three years running.
Flamant’s performance on the golf course was equally impressive. She helped take the team to four National Championship competitions, and was the Region and Conference Player of the Year and Conference Champion in 2009. Her individual lowest 36-hole score 70/72 is a school record that still stands today.
“She is one of the most decorated members of our program in its 21 years,” says Women’s Golf Coach Maria Lopez (’12). “Not only is she highly intelligent, diligent and a gifted golfer, accomplishing things no one had ever done before, she was also the ultimate servant leader. Albane was always looking where she could grow and make a difference.”
Flamant’s inquisitive nature ultimately led her to Talkwalker. She says the technology side of social listening intrigued her. “I was very curious as to how private companies were handling data and actually transforming it into something valuable. I’m quite fascinated by the tool that they were able to develop.”
When Flamant was a student at Embry-Riddle, social listening was largely nonexistent. The year before she graduated (2009), Talkwalker’s founders came up with the idea to launch the software as a service platform. The technology was nascent at the time. When Flamant joined Talkwalker in 2015, the company was still considered a startup. Today, it boasts a staff of 400 and has nine offices worldwide.
Flamant credits the foundational experience she gained as an international student and athlete at Embry-Riddle with her success. “I was really young when I arrived at Embry-Riddle. I was only 17. In so many ways, Embry-Riddle really shaped me as a person.
“There, it was about being three things: It was not only being a player, a golf player in my case, but also a student and a person. Academics were super important. And they had this system to make sure that we had all the resources we needed. I got that from my golf coach; I got that from the athletic department; I got that from Professor Steve Master and the communication program. And any time I wanted more and wanted to go deeper into courses, I had support, and that was really amazing.”
Flamant, a Mons, Belgium, native who speaks four languages and has lived in six countries in the last decade, says she’s more of a “passive” user of social media, herself. She prefers connecting with like-minded colleagues in Slack communities. But for businesses, farming web conversations — and cultivating messages through influencers — is important, she says.
“Brands need to keep their finger on the pulse of their industry.”