How We Use Social Media Has Been Changed By The Outbreak

Recently, in social media one of the main stories has involved cutting down. Not spending as much time on platforms, putting out less of your personal information in public, and being more mindful when it comes to social media behaviour.

However, under lockdown, there have been dramatic changes. At the start of April, nearly fifty per cent of consumers stated they were spending more time on social media, according to our coronavirus research. From the beginning spike, levels are starting to stabilize. However, due to the outbreak, 43% still say they are logging in for longer periods of time, and 19% say they are on social media longer these days. Due to this, old social media assumptions need to be re-examined. The role that it plays in the lives of users has diversified and evolved over the course of the pandemic.

Social media for getting news

Since 2014 when we first started to track social media behaviours, consumption of news on these platforms has continued to grow steadily. However, this habit has become front-and-centre since the outbreak. If you are looking for online business networking then see here.

Social media for social activities

Prior to the outbreak, the role of social media to encourage socializing, connecting, and sharing was being replaced gradually by more purposeful and passive activities, such as consuming content and researching brands. To put it into perspective, people in 2014 were mainly using social to stay in contact with their friends and to share aspects of their personal lives and or share their opinions.

Currently, these purely social activities, all have seen about a 40% reduction in engagement. However, without other social interactions, consumers are once again being to look to social channels for community connection. The crisis has helped to bring back some of the social media’s social aspects. Our data from Q2 2020 details the recent surge in video calling and messaging is being used increasingly to maintain a feeling of community and to connect with other people.

Our custom research shows that 4 in 10 UK and US internet users report sharing more personal updates and news on their social media accounts – among millennials, this behaviour is most prominent (46%). However, this has not been limited to just one-on-one conversations or messaging platforms. During the outbreak, in fact, people have been opening up about the struggles they have been facing on private and public channels. 31% have said they have opened up more to public platforms such as Facebook and 33% have stated they have done it on messaging platforms such as WhatsApp.

We are seeing this pattern across all of the main demographic groups. The UK is one exception, where internet users still use messaging platforms more (39% versus 31%). Consumers have been encouraged by the crisis to look for support from wider communities since people are feeling just as comfortable sharing what they are experiencing in public as they are with their family and friends.

We have seen evidence of it when we asked consumers what content they have found most inspiration over the past 2 months, with the second-most-popular answer being local community content with the most popular being from family and friends. Collectivist approaches to taking on different environmental and social movements have become more widespread, so we expect the community-oriented change in behaviour to last. As marketing is ramping up once again, messaging with a more personal and local touch will be in a good position to reach a receptive and engaged audience.

For brands, what does it mean?

Today, 24% of consumers over 18 markets find brands via social media, with 55% approving of brands that run regular advertising. It is time for marketers to start to tap into the changing social media habits of consumers and make the appropriate adjustments to their messaging. So how can businesses market with social spaces without looking too opportunistic? What are the new priorities of consumers?

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