The Influence of Social Media During the COVID-19 Pandemic

2020 has been a year of significant change – and social media usage is no exception.

As we adjust the way we live, work and interact, we’ve also pivoted the way we use social platforms. Here are several insights experts have uncovered involving the influence of social media during the COVID-19 pandemic:

Social media usage has increased overall.

A GlobalWebIndex survey revealed a 10.5% increase in social media usage from July 2019 to July 2020 – indicating that the COVID-19 pandemic has left many of us increasingly tethered to our devices.

46% of women and 41% of men reported spending more time on social platforms during the pandemic than they did previously. This can be attributed to the overwhelming increase in remote work and e-learning, and the collective uncertainty linked to the public health crisis.

Users are turning to new platforms.

With the pandemic has come a surge in the use of new platforms altogether – in large part because people are looking to be comforted and entertained. While Instagram is far from obsolete, 113 million users downloaded TikTok in February 2020 alone.

The app – previously considered a space for Gen-Z dance videos – now boasts a highly-engaged user-base of all ages. Today TikTok is the top-rated entertainment app on the iOS App Store.

Utilitarian services like Zoom and Google Classroom are more widespread.

Corporate meetings are now taking place online. Classrooms are gathering virtually. And as a result, many social services are prioritising function and security above the dopamine rush of “likes” and comments.

This is because, in addition to searching for comfort and entertainment, users are prioritising social platforms that allow them to easily work and learn from home. The use of utilitarian sites like Zoom and Google Classroom has skyrocketed in 2020.

Social media has become a critical source of information.

Where’s there’s information, there’s also misinformation. According to a recent PEW Research Center report, about half of social media users in the U.S. (and many others across the globe) have seen fabricated news about the pandemic online.

Yet users continue to search for COVID-19 news and updates on social media, scouring sites for the latest information. To acknowledge this, platforms like Microsoft, Reddit, Facebook and Twitter are doing their due diligence to combat fraud. (Still, only trusted sources of information can be taken at face value – and even these must be fact-checked.)

Authenticity has become more attractive.

Trapped at home, people are desperate to connect with others – and they’re eager to engage with one another on a deeper level. This means that content creators must be authentic above all else.

Gone are the days of superficiality above connection. Influencer travel and fitness posts, for instance, have increasingly been replaced by users sharing their deepest concerns and fears, expressing their political beliefs and striving to cultivate a sense of community in the midst of all the chaos.

Companies are acknowledging COVID-19 in their marketing.

The pandemic has given brands a platform to reassure their customers on social media. From putting a positive spin on an otherwise fearful time, to developing a socially-responsible marketing plan, many companies are in fact taking time to reflect and acknowledge what is happening in the world today.

Admittedly, brands must prioritise ensuring the safety of their team members and staff above all else. At the same time, however, they can leverage their social platforms to address the pandemic and reach their audience in new and innovative ways.

Do you have questions or comments about social media usage during the COVID-19 pandemic? Please contact me for more information – or subscribe to stay up-to-date on all things Unsocial Media.

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Categories: News