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How COVID-19 has changed Social Media Platforms

Imagine the coronavirus pandemic did not happen. Do you think your business would be where it is today? The likelihood is, consumers would still be slowly moving with their lives and purchasing the same products and services. However, COVID-19 has shown that consumers do not have the needs and wants they once did – there is no going back to the old normal.

The pandemic has changed everyday life in various ways, one of which, without a doubt, is the way people use the internet, and particularly, social media. Social media has been around long before the coronavirus pandemic, but now it is not going anywhere anytime soon.

So, what exactly can businesses do to stay on top of their social game?

The rise of Social Media

The latest research from Digital 2021: Global Overview Report, created by We Are Social and Hootsuite. This report has provided insights into the state of digital - it has revealed that connected tech, such as social media, e-Commerce, streaming content, and video games, is playing an increasingly more essential part in people's lives. After all, people have not been able to leave their homes - it is only natural to see higher demand.

For example, social media was already essential in many people's lives pre-pandemic. However, people really could not imagine life without it despite restrictions easing. There are now more people using social media around the globe than not; for example, social media user numbers have increased more than 13% over the past year - there are 4.48 billion active social media users in July 2021!

According to Statista, a Research Department survey conducted at the end of July 2020, 46% of respondents have increased their smartphone usage. The average social media user now spends 2 hours and 24 minutes on social media each day, equal to roughly one waking day of their life every week. If you are not taking advantage of this, you are missing out.

Mobile phone is First

Mobiles have become our first screen. App Annie’s recent State of Mobile 2021 report also reveals that mobile now accounts for a vaster amount of individuals time than live TV. The average Android user spending up to 4 hours on their phone each day – consumers have been adapting and changing their habits, so, have you? Consumers are all about ease, and they are only concerned about getting what they want. Creating targeted mobile ads and making their decisions for them might be your best bet to attract new consumers. After all, you are no longer competing with your competitors: you are now competing against their last, best experience. Ensuring your content is easy to read eye-catching will drive your current consumers to stay loyal and new consumers to shift.

Despite the movement towards social self-care and reducing screen time that we saw in 2019 and early 2020, people are not turning their backs on social media just yet. People were starting to wake up to the fact that screen time was not enjoyable and was causing bad habits, especially in the younger generations. However, COVID-19 has reverted the adjustments because, face it, what else was there to do? Although, consumers have been introducing new hobbies because of lockdown, mobile phones and social media have continued to be on the rise – especially; because of the introduction of screen apps such as TikTok that could keep you entertained for hours.

Platforms: Who is the most popular?

In the UK, the only anomaly in social media usage was for TikTok. The average number of social media accounts per user is 6.9 for 16 to 64-year-olds – this means that there is an overlap on social networking sites. Naturally, users will have their preferred app, but consumers will spend time on each platform, so you have time to target.

Facebook is still the most popular platform, followed by YouTube, WhatsApp, and Instagram. Globally “researching products to buy” is one of the key reasons why consumers use social media – which is now up to 27.5% because of the pandemic. This solidifies the importance of having a social presence and guiding consumers to your website or product pages.

Although TikTok is not the most popular app, it has become a raging success because of the pandemic. Data from Sensor Tower indicates that the TikTok Mobile app was downloaded roughly 57 million times in June 2021 alone – I wonder how consumers we have subjected to targeted ads or influencers on these platforms are influenced and how their purchasing habits change as a result of it.

Twitter did not get as big a bump as the more visual platforms that make for more entertaining doom scrolling: and is now second from bottom on the world's most used social platform – so does Twitter have to up its game?

According to HootSuite, the majority (70%) of Twitter users are male also, the target demographic is 25-34-year-olds - this is a very niche market.

Despite Twitter having fewer active users, they are still succeeding in particular areas. For example, 82% of adults aged 18 and above now consume news online: which is significantly more than the 64% who say they watch news content on TV. That is where Twitter excels. Despite claiming three times fewer monthly active users, Twitter is almost as popular as Instagram when it comes to news content with 59% of users regularly getting news updates from Twitter – social media users can select which sources and publishers they trust when searching for the latest news.

However, one issue Twitter ran into was removing millions of fake accounts, which resulted in an 8% hit on its share price. Though, it had to be completed for the credibility of its business and advertising.

Reaching new and old Audiences

Recent data from eMarketer shows that digital channels now account for nearly 6 in every 10; ad dollars spent around the world. Changing the way you use digital and social media platforms to advertise over the coming months will have to be modified to ensure that activities are as efficient and as effective as possible:

  1. Contextual targeting: For example, if a consumer is on a tech eCommerce site such as Curry’s, it might be a good idea to run ads for your brand of laptops as consumers are already interested in the overarching topic, so they are more inclined to make a purchase or click on the targeted ad.
  2. Do not focus on short-term stats. Look at what has been consistent throughout; all consumers have increased their phone and social media usage over the past year and a half, and it is unlikely that they will resume their pre-COVID-19 self-care habits. Making sure your website or product page is suited to mobile will benefit your business a lot.
  3. Creating content: content creating is not like it used to be. Having a personal brand and standing out against competitors will give you an edge against your competitors. Being memorable is the most important thing. Brands and businesses can change their approach. For example, there has been a 62% rise in video views from 2019 to 2020. Posting a standard image and caption does not sell it to consumers in this day and age.

Overall, social media is not going anywhere anytime soon, with 2021 looking like it will be another critical year for social media (marketing), as consumers are more active than ever before. Brands that can effectively communicate their message and invest time in relationships with consumers (old, current, and new) and employees will succeed. Hootsuite has explained:

“The smartest brands will understand where they fit into customers’ lives on social media, and they’ll find creative ways of fitting into the conversation.”

Be aware of the arising platforms and new ways to engage with your target demographic to cut through the noise.

Whether you need the insight to adjust your strategies for existing brands to the new normal or are thinking about launching new products we can help you get it right. Emotional Logic is a specialist behavioural insight agency and we offer a range of cost-effective research solutions to ensure your strategy connects with the constantly shifting needs of the consumer. Please get in touch for a free consultation.

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