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Impact of COVID-19 on Social Media

social media marketing

The Pandemic has a tremendous impact on social media  in terms of its usage and in terms of the plan of action for the social media marketing calendar ahead.

It’s no secret that with the COVID-19 pandemic forcing people to stay and work from home for months, it has significantly affected the usage of social media, as well as how brands approach social media marketing throughout the majority of 2020 so far. 

Social media is now a major source of information for both the pandemic and other elements of our daily lives, but at the same time is now inseparable from many people’s lives as a source of entertainment.

So, how has the COVID-19 pandemic affected our social media usage? Will it change the face of social media marketing forever? Here are some key takeaways of how the COVID-19 pandemic has and is still changing social media.

Social Media Usage

Around 50% of U.S. adults admitted to using social media more during the pandemic, with many admitted to having doubled the social media usage during the quarantine period. WIth how the majority of people have stopped going to their offices and public places, socializing online is now the norm. 

Despite the concerns about privacy and security during the early days of the quarantine period, Zoom has been a clear winner throughout the pandemic, with close to 200 million daily active users in April from just 10 million daily users before the COVID-19 crisis. With so many people working from home, online video conferencing is now a necessity, not a luxury.

Social media entertainment is also on the rise. Twitch viewership, for example, rose by more than 30% during the early days of the quarantine period back in March, and YouTube also saw more than 15% viewership increase.

How about Facebook? Facebook use is up nearly 30% and Facebook has successfully added 100 million users throughout the pandemic with 11% revenue growth. With Messenger being one of the most popular messaging services at the moment, there has been a 50% increase in messaging across Facebook. 

TikTok, the controversial video-sharing app, is also a clear winner during the pandemic. TikTok received more downloads in the first quarter of 2020 than any other social media in history, even Instagram during its early days. Yes, it has also generated many controversies and an official ban in India, but TikTok is, at the moment, here to stay, stronger than ever.

Instagram Live

Live streaming, in general, has been on a dramatic rise throughout the quarantine period, but Instagram Live has been a major winner. Now more than 800 million people watch live video every day on Instagram and Facebook. Before and after the quarantine, the number of people watching live videos rose by nearly 70%.

A major cause of this phenomenon is how many major celebrities have broadcasted themselves live on Instagram, but 80% of live broadcasters have fewer than 1,000 followers, showing how many people look for ways to replace face-to-face activities. 

While it’s too soon to judge whether live streaming and especially Instagram Live will stay in power after the pandemic has receded, for now, it is a huge opportunity for both creators and brands to engage their audiences. Instagram has also rolled new features and updates for Instagram Live, including ways to monetize live streams via Badges and Live Shopping. 

Influencer Marketing

At the start of the COVID-19 quarantine period, many brands and advertisers were unsure on how to approach marketing, but studies have suggested that sponsored posts on Instagram have generated significantly more engagements throughout the pandemic.

This phenomenon has also driven influencers to create more content in response to the quarantine period, with half of the influencers now creating more video content compared to the pre-pandemic period.

Influencer marketing is now also one of the most popular channels used by brands to promote their products, and with the obstacles brands faced in producing new content, many have employed influencers to create content for them, and some even re-purpose existing influencer content for their brands. 

eCommerce During Pandemic

With how so many people are tied at home, it’s quite obvious that online shopping has seen major increases throughout 2020. However, online marketplaces like Amazon are still winning compared to dedicated brand websites with eCommerce features. According to Adobe’s research, 57% of surveyed consumers have made a purchase from an online marketplace, and only 13% made a purchase from a brand website. 

Meaning, it’s best for brands to utilize the existing eCommerce channels rather than investing in their own infrastructure (if they haven’t already). 

Throughout the pandemic, Amazon has seen a 40% year-on-year increase in net sales, an impressive number especially considering Amazon originally expecting a loss in Q2 2020, but managed to double the profit instead from Q2 of last year. 

Information Control

The rise of social media usage throughout the pandemic has also created a significant challenge: how can we control misinformation during this time of panic?

Facebook claimed that it has removed 7 million posts containing misinformation between April and June on both Facebook and Instagram. In Q2 2019, Facebook has reported the removal of 9.6 million posts, but the number has more than doubled to reach 22.5 million in Q2 2020. Facebook has admitted that the increase in numbers has been caused by the improvements in its hate speech-detection AI, showing how Facebook (and hopefully other social media platforms) is very serious in combating misinformation.

End Words

The average number of hours spent on social media is expected to reach 863.8 hours (around 36 days!) per user by the end of 2020. This is especially true for Gen Z and millennial consumers, that have been spending significantly more time on social media during the pandemic. 

Will this number continue to rise after the COVID-19 pandemic is under control is remain to be seen, but at the moment there’s no doubt that social media usage has significantly increased due to the pandemic. For SEO and digital marketers, this also means a great time to invest in social media marketing and influencer marketing.

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Mike Khorev, SEO expert and digital marketing strategist
Mike Khorev is an SEO expert and digital marketing strategist helping businesses grow revenue online. He has 10 years of experience in developing and executing performance-based digital marketing strategies that helped many small and medium-sized companies improve their organic traffic, Conversion Rate Optimization, drive more leads and improve their ROI on marketing investments.

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