Over the last few months, the fear of Covid 19 infection and restrictions put by the authorities has pushed more and more people to the internet usage. July of this year saw a 10% increase in the use of social media as compared to 2019. Up to 45% of people admitted they are spending more time on social media during the pandemic.
Different social media channels have seen an increased use during and after the pandemic, mostly because of the lockdown measures imposed by various governments. As people remain home, they have turned to social media platforms for entertainment and connections. Let us try to understand how this pandemic has influenced social media.
How Social Media Usage Has Increased?
1. Messaging and Connecting
As the social distance measures came into practice, a number of social media channels saw an increase in usage as they became the primary mode of communication for people who wanted to maintain connections. Facebook Analytics reported more than 50 percent increase in messaging during March 2020. Similarly, WhatsApp experienced an increase of over 40 percent.
People who learnt using video chat functionality on social media platforms like Zoom during the coronavirus pandemic would continue the behaviour. Downloads for social media apps have increased globally since the beginning of the pandemic.
With public gatherings banned, people have started seeking entertainment options on social media platforms like YouTube and connecting on Facebook and other media. One of the biggest reasons for the increase in social media usage is the desire for fun and entertainment.
A lot of growth of these channels comes from those users who considered them too silly but started finding them beneficial when they could not find other modes of entertainment. Groups and pages on these platforms have been catering to the needs of people who find it difficult passing time at home and coping with the present situation.
3. Spread of Information
Organizations, agencies and the general public started using social media for the spread of information about the pandemic and other aspects of life. WHO and other health agencies have been continuously updating information across the channels by partnering with Facebook, Twitter and other platforms.
Doctors from around the world joined groups on these platforms to spread information about the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of the infection. Such groups have been rising in popularity with thousands of members joining to stay updated. Medical professionals have captured a huge amount of attention from social media users by educating the general public about the precautions for safety.
How These Changes Affect Businesses?
With such a huge splurge in social media usage, it is the right time for marketers to leverage the changing social media behaviours and adjust their strategies. Here is what marketers should know about the changing patterns and how they can boost engagement as the effects of the outbreak continue.
1. The Audience Looks for Entertainment
The increasing desire for fun and lightness in these difficult times has fuelled the growth of social media. People want fun content which can distract them from the seriousness of the present situation. Marketers should take clue from this desire for light content that gives users a sense of rescue from the difficulties.
While video has always remained a popular format for engagement on social media, the newly emerged demand driven by distractions makes it even more powerful for marketing. A report suggests that people want to hide the reality and perceive ads as a way to escape from the stress of the outbreak.
2. Creativity is At Its Peak
Social media users have not only increased their consumption but also creation since the outbreak. Lockdown reports show that people spent up to 90 percent more time on apps to create and edit videos than ever before.
Marketers can respond to such a rise in creativity with creative campaigns. The target audience, today, is likely to consume experimental style and content of marketing. So if you ever wondered about how an idea will be reacted to, this is the time to introduce that idea. You can try to play around with concepts and creativity to come up with innovative approaches.
3. Consumers Want Comfort
When stuck at home, people want to handle their isolation by connecting with others as shown by the rise of ‘watch party apps’ in the past months. Marketers should find ways to build and strengthen communities around niche and products.
They should also introduce comforting content that makes them feel they are not alone in these difficult times. Content should be easy to share and discuss about so that people can easily connect with each other, while doubling the engagement.
4. Genuine Positivity Can Help
Today, nobody is ignorant of the dangers and effects of the virus. They no longer want to hear about social distancing or personal hygiene. Social media users are now looking for uplifting, inspirational content that cheers them.
Content creators have started focusing on making their lockdown content more colourful, inspiring and positive. See that your brand invokes good feelings, focuses on positivity and shows how you can give back to the community. Start using soothing music and colourful themes that bring hope and possibilities.
Fear of the virus and social limitations from the pandemic has changed the way users interact with social media platforms. The coronavirus outbreak has driven them to seek elements of entertainment, connection and creativity.
Marketers can benefit by responding to these changes in the behaviours and needs of the audience by coming up with fun and positive content that distracts the users from the seriousness of the situation they are in. With such efforts, your brand can see improved customer engagement and visibility regardless of the current marketing environment.