Maxim Behar for BG ONAIR: What Bulgarians were Searching for on Google in 2021

PR expert Maxim Behar and psychologist Mladen Vladimirov commented on the most googled names by Bulgarians for 2021, the discussion took place in the studio of "Bulgaria this morning", and focused on the likes of Kiril Petkov, Juliana Gani and the Covid vaccine. The two experts discuss the nation’s political interest in the parliamentary elections and the people's distrust of those in power.

Host 1: Kiril Petkov, Juliana Gani and the covid vaccine are among the most frequent searches of the Bulgarian on Google this year, a study shows.

So, what does this data about the interest of the Bulgarian show us, we will comment on this subject together with PR expert Maxim Behar and the psychologist Mladen Vladimirov. Good morning.

Host 2: Good morning to both of you.

Maxim Behar: Good morning.

Mladen Vladimirov: Good morning.

Host 1: What do ‘these words of the year’ tell you?

Maxim Behar: First, this is real, tangible sociology. We all remember the last election, the last three elections in fact. The failure of the sociology of the last election was more than obvious. There is no mistake here and this makes us very happy, because everything is done super accurately. We are told that people, all users, all of us, use Google to search for what we do not know. Kiril Petkov is almost unknown, not to mention completely unknown until the beginning of this year, this is quite normal. In general, this year was super interesting in terms of marketing and sociology in Bulgaria. Not only elections, sporting events, European football, what not, lifestyle. What we saw as the most searched keywords for those 11 and a few months were politics, sports, and lifestyle.

Host 2: These are the main things we focused on.

Maxim Behar: And some food.

Host 2: And some food. Mr. Vladimirov, what does the data tell us?

Mladen Vladimirov: To say the least, the process was reversed. We remember a few years ago, if something appeared in the morning news, then it was reprinted in electronic newspapers, generally speaking, and then it appeared on social media. Now social networks are setting trends, something very important, which I think the state itself is indebted to. We didn't have a good campaign. To ask the Internet, to ask Google - the search engine "What kind of Covid vaccine do I have?", Means you are left in an information vacuum, in an information niche. In fact, we probably no longer have as much trust in the traditional media, in our traditional information channels, and we look for it through Google and other search engines.

I hope we have a good enough filter to be able to sift through the information. For example, Mr. Kiril Petkov, I remember his first photo when it initially appeared on the Internet. People thought that the first photo he shared made a first impression akin to a protesting man who had raised a placard against Peevski (a Bulgarian MP charged with corruption). This photo initiated the search wave on Google, because people said to themselves, "This is probably fake news, this is a collage, this is a photo. This cannot be the person who is currently a minister in the first cabinet." The media failed to create, to brand and accurately represent. That's why the Internet, social networks, they are the ones shaping public opinion.  We are at a point in time where the internet predicts, it creates new information and there the user is alive. He is the active participant and shows what is important to him. Because we can give him what is important for the forces of the day, but the demand, what Mr. Behar said, is according to consumer behavior.

Host 1: I will read the Top 10 most searched names and then we will comment on how we can create such a profile. Kiril Petkov, of course, is in first place, we have already mentioned Juliana Gani, Nikolay Vassilev is in third place, Christian Eriksen is in fourth place - the football player, Iva Miteva, in sixth place - Ivet Goranova, in seventh place - Mika Zaykova, in eighth place - Maria Bakalova, in ninth place - Magi Bader and in tenth place - Boyko Rashkov.

Maxim Behar: These are the people who created the news in 2021, who were active, I'm a little concerned about commenting on the lifestyle aspects of the country. As for politics and those who most often set the direction of what is happening in Bulgaria, it is normal that the search demand is greater for them. Moreover, to a large extent these are new faces. Boyko Rashkov, let's say he is marching through, I would not say exactly politics, but in the corridors of power, for maybe 20-25 years, but he was never a front man, he was never in front, and many people said to themselves "Wait let’s see who this man is." It is incredible that there is now a method which enables society to judge how popular a person is and reflects how much people are interested in that individual.

You can see that in these rankings there is no Boyko Borisov (head of the largest party in Bulgaria), there is no Slavi Trifonov (pop-culture icon turned politician) and there are not many other names with which we have gone to bed and got up in the morning with for the last 15 years. Why? Because consumers know about them. No, it is absurd to write Boyko Borisov and search. I remember at the time that there was a study in a kindergarten and a reporter asked a child, "Do you know who Boyko Borisov is?", and the kid said, "I know, I see him on TV every evening." That is, these people were part of our daily lives to such an extent that you did not need to look for them. On the other hand, Kiril Petkov is not such a person. By the way, last night I took the time to read up on the 100 most searched words in America, France, Germany, I tried to do some cross-checking, to see if there is anything in common between world trends and those in Bulgaria.

Host 2: A comparison, any similarities?

Maxim Behar: There are only two common topics. One is the Danish footballer who had an incident during the European Championship EURO 2021.

Mladen Vladimirov: Christian Eriksen.

Maxim Behar: The other is Covid vaccines. More vaccines than Covid, because Covid was super relevant last year as well. Now we are all interested in vaccines. This is wonderful in modern life, because only 10 years ago it was impossible.

Host 2: We were very interested not only, as we have already mentioned, in "How and which vaccine to get?", but also, in "How to vote by machine?".

Mladen Vladimirov: "How do you vote by machine?" is because, that's what Mr. Behar said, if the world was focused on Covid, then Bulgaria was focused on politics. And I will only add that we have certainly been searching about Mr. Borisov and Mr. Trifonov, because, after all, you see that Maggie Bader and Iva Miteva are frequently searched names, and they are additional, missing information from the puzzle we've had so far, I'm closing this bracket, and we've had a political year. We are only talking about politics; we were all in on politics this year. This goes to show again that we have had enough fake news in the traditional media that some fake voting machines are coming, which Mr. Behar said, and sociologists have taken good care to touch on our fears that some fake voting cards will be delivered by the people who want to be in power. This is the active person; he has two instincts - fight and flight. This is how he manages and when it is difficult for him, he looks for a way to fight it. How do you search? By raising one’s level of informational awareness and because one does not trust the traditional channels, because in some way they have lost him, or he constantly sees the same people or something else. People with little expertise spoke. Speaking during Covid, one of the crisis communication specialists was a math teacher, my God, believe me, such a person should not be trusted with such task and when the media appoints a person who does not have the expertise, you will probably go looking for a person which will give you the expertise. Most likely, staying at home we have enough time to dig into computers, search engines and smart devices.

Host 1: What diagnosis would you make and what political analysis would you make based on these searches for the profile of our people's psychology and national mentality?

Mladen Vladimirov: I strongly recommend that your viewers beware of psychologists who would make diagnoses. This is the responsibility of psychiatrists and people with medical education. Our society is looking for security because there is no one to give it to them. Through traditional channels, we cannot experience security related to our health, the prevention of Covid's development and our vaccination. Somehow this year, here we have one of the best PR experts, this year the PR people are the big debtors of the political campaigns, they couldn't do it very well, they tried to do it through some old non-traditional channels, and the world is moving forward, the world is already digitalizing.

We are seeing that business is digitalizing, education is digitalizing, medicine is digitalizing, and it is good to think that people are active on the Internet, and it is good for things to be happening there. Here is a wink, a light bulb, how can effective, real digital campaigns happen? It's not about buying a Chinese watch and saying, "You win this watch if you get vaccinated”.

Host 2: What impresses us in the most sought-after personalities, which we have already listed, is that Juliana Ghani is in second place. We continue to take an active interest in the lives of such celebrities. Why?

Maxim Behar: This is normal. Especially now, during a pandemic, we sit at home more, go home, drink two brandies, eat a salad, what is there to look for? Are you interested in Kiril Petkov or Boyko Borisov? People became interested and began to show curiosity in the elections once the cycle kicked off.

Host 2: And with this in mind what about Juliana Ghani and the Turkish series?

Maxim Behar: Yes, curiosity about the people who are on screen, the people who create news, whether in show business or anywhere. It is normal when a person creates news to be more interested in him. However, two things surprised me.
One is that in first place in the search engine beginning with the word "What" is "What to eat?". It's a big surprise for me, because I imagine 2-3 million people coming home in the evening, going on Google, and typing "What to eat?". Not "Where?", Not "What restaurant?" But "What to eat?". We have already exhausted our ideas to such an extent, not because refrigerators are empty, although for some they are empty, for some they are fuller, normally, all over the world. We have no information on what to eat. The other thing that surprised me was that among the recipes in the first place is "Panagyurishte-style eggs".

Panagyurishte is a wonderful city, I love it very much, but why is Panagyurishte-style eggs the most unknown and searched for recipe in Bulgarian cuisine, if it is absolutely Bulgarian?

Host 2: It should be familiar, it's not that complicated at all.

Maxim Behar: Of course, this is not something Sicilian or some exotic dish, like a Seychellean curry. Interesting things are emerging, but in general the trends are quite predictable - politics, sports, lifestyle.

Host 1: General searches, again ranked from 1 to 10, I will split them into two categories. Some of them have given us results. People are looking for the results of something that is an information event, some of them do not have specific ones.

In 1st place is "Euro 2020", the results of the matches were searched by people, understandably. In second place is "Vaccine-Covid". In 3rd place is "Census", we are looking for results. In 4th place is "Elections". In 5th place is the "Green Certificate". Results "Elections 2021", "Measures", etc. What can this second place of the Covid Vaccine tell us about the vaccination campaign? If it was Euro 2020, it is clear that we are looking for results, that is why it has become number one, but we have Vaccine-Covid at number two. What does this tell us?

Mladen Vladimirov: Confused messages. That's how all talk regarding Covid panned out. It was that Covid was either harmless or scary. It was all medical talk.

Then we started to discredit certain vaccines. People want to see that. All these things demonstrate how to jump over and transform society. People know, we voted three times this year and people know the preliminary results at noon, so why hide them until 20:00, when it is known that it expires? Let's encourage activity in this way. We see that it exists. This is also shown by the results related to the green certificate, Mr. Behar said "What to eat?". We used to eat in the office, ate outside, and went home for a while.

Nowadays being in the home office and the children studying at home and because we cannot visit the restaurants, because of the green certificate we had to cook. This is the last year. We return to some forgotten habits and recipes. All this must be analyzed and from now on to consider how to give this information to people preventively. They sat and searched, curious, probably uncertain, and actively sought information. They searched all the information sources and finally decided to look for it.

And it's good when we talk about serious things, here the information campaign for Covid didn't happen, additionally the census campaign didn't go well either. That's what people are looking for, do good informational campaigns in general and then you will increase the activity related to counting people from the get-go. This will even probably increase the public trust in the party, for society to be more confident, more informed when they go to get vaccinated. This is about 4 year-term parties, but when it comes to your health it is something much more long-term.

Host 2: A quick comparison of what we were interested in last year, showcases a larger interest in global events, rather than local ones. Now it is the opposite, given the elections, we were more interested in local, regional events.

Maxim Behar: That's not true. By the way, the Covid theme is a global theme. It is not local. You know, because we've commented on it many times in your studio, I'm very sad that some governments this year and different people have been dealing, especially in Parliament, with the Covid issue, and they haven't moved a finger to do a basic communication campaign, to put things in order.
There were some people in some halls, holding hands, staring intoxicated at the cameras, and thinking that they would expel the evil virus from Bulgaria. Instead of normal public figures, people of science and doctors who understand. We have a wagon of doctors going around Europe. Bulgarians who are super capable. Some of them are directly responsible for Covid wards, heads of wards abroad, no one thought to reach out to them. We didn't have any information, and I'm surprised that the word "Covid" doesn't come in first. The information is relayed in hairdressing salons and taxis, and by people who have the faintest clue on the subject-matter. When I call someone and it's about vaccination, they exclaim "No, I will not get vaccinated, because of this and that…" and so it is normal that the topic of "Covid" has a strong presence in search engines and will continue to be present. To this day, December 9, 2021, no one in Bulgaria has set a goal to do something normal so that people know what this is all about, to know the truth, that is, to know and receive it from the scientific community.

Host 2: So, you think we're still in an information blackout regarding Covid?

Maxim Behar: First and foremost, we are in last place in terms of vaccination and secondly, we are in first place in the world in terms of mortality. We've known all this for months. It is not a blackout; it is even worse than a blackout. We are full of fake news, neighborhood gossip, all sorts of phantasmagoria. I remember that a month and a half ago we talked about this topic, there is no problem to have different opinions on television or in the media. This is the most normal thing. Ultimately, one must choose from the great ocean of information what is most right, but there must be a very strong presence of those who understand this, those educated and informed on the subject-matter. There are two or three people who go around TV studios, write all kinds of nonsense on social media, and then there are people who actually understand, they sit in the hospital and provide treatment. It seems to me that they must be found, they must be given a strong a platform. The new Minister of Health, whoever he is, will be elected next week, may he sit firmly on his seat, prioritize, and lead a well-organized communication campaign for the virus. Even if not just for vaccination, let everyone choose whether to get vaccinated or not, but based on information.

Host 2: What lies ahead is a new cabinet. Do you think that an active search has started by the Bulgarians for the new ministers in the cabinet?

Vladimir Mladenov: Not only for the new ministers, but you also saw how much younger the National Assembly has become. Surely anyone who has just come out and is new, will be sought after. As Mr. Behar said, we have great specialist doctors, but for the last year and a half, doctors have been politicized, put on paper, which has automatically taken away the trust instilled in them by the public. When they become politicians, they stop being experts. We will certainly say to ourselves "What are the new forces of the day?" And we will certainly seek them next year.

Now I see a wonderful young lady who is starting to appear as a communication specialist of the leading party, which won the election and I am also curious, and I searched for her on Google. We will look for information because new people will enter the National Assembly. Young people entered, young faces. We will want to see if these are the promises made by intelligent Bulgarians who have graduated abroad over the years, or it will be more of the same as before. We will want to see the new cabinet. We have already understood who Mr. Rashkov is and who Mr. Kiril Petkov is, and we have found out about Mr. Minekov in recent days. We will probably have to check the other names if they are, of course, new.

Host 2: Mr. Behar?

Maxim Behar: I expect in 2022, the 7 most searched names on the Google search engine to be people who are in politics. Middle-aged people are very important for parliament. For me, however, it is much more important that a large portion of these people are engaged in business, so far, they have been engaged in business. That is, they made money, paid salaries, made decisions, and it seems to me that these people will be more pragmatic. Of course, in our politics, and in general this is a global trend, there is a lack of pragmatism and a lack of good assessment of how if you invest one lev, two levs will come. This is super important for the way we live. Probably these names will raise a lot of questions and they will definitely be trending in the search engines. By the way, it surprised me in this year's rankings that I didn't see any brands and I didn't see a search anywhere, like "Which refrigerator to buy?" Or "Which TV to buy?".

Host 2: Now the most important thing is what to eat.

Host 1: There is a high ranking for both TV series and reality format shows.

Maxim Behar: The TV series, yes, but as a consumer I did not see so much interest reflected in the search, which means that the pandemic has brought us down to earth, and we have calmed down a bit. We don't wake up thinking, "How do we get a new TV or car or cell phone?", rather we say to ourselves, "Wait a minute, the pandemic must pass first, we need to be vaccinated, we must survive, all this must pass."

Host 1: Let's form a new government

Maxim Behar: Let's form a government and then we will think about the TV and the refrigerator.

Host 2: Thank you very much for this conversation. PR expert Maxim Behar and psychologist Mladen Vladimirov in the studio of Bulgaria this Morning.

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