The year 2020 has made many of us realize that we can never be prepared for everything that the future holds for us. Covid19 shackled our lives, our working styles, our communication style, and our lifestyle. With worldwide lockdown being imposed upon citizens for their safety, a surge in their online activities was witnessed. Social media appeared to the first choice of the medium across Millennials, GenZ, GenY, and Baby Boomers.
Lockdown has made consumers seek new platforms and discover ways to entertain themselves so that they can find new ways to exploit their time. Social media users have since the lockdown expressed the wave of their fears, uncertainty, loneliness, and then progressed towards building their new world. This new normal world consists of authenticity, importance on mental and physical health, creativity, community engagement, virtual communication, and remote working.
Due to a change in the consumption patterns of social media users has diversified and evolved during the pandemic. Let us take a closer look at these trends and identify patterns as to how brands need to take a leaf from this changing behavior and adapt their social media management tactics to continue engaging with their consumers.
Social media, a source of entertainment
Initially, users were looking for information around the pandemic and the means to cure the same on social media. This activity peaked during the month of March and later started to fade off. As the users sought content that uplifted their mood, relieved them of stress, and lightened their mood, uptake in the entertaining content was observed.
Amongst all the social media users, over 42% of the GenZusers sought more fun content. This preference triggered an increase in the consumption of videos on platforms like TikTok where there existed an abundance of entertaining content. Even though social media users continued to consume content around the pandemic; they engaged more with videos on dancing, clapping, light shows, that celebrated the spirit and perseverance of corona warriors.
Brands can leverage the changing consumption patterns and create light content coupled with humor that elicits a positive mood amongst social media users. As the demand for video content increases, varied video formats can enable marketers to communicate their message to their target audience. Businesses would have to strike a balance between humor and lightening the pandemic, to gauge consumer’s attention.
Social media, the expression of creativity
As users were confined to spend more time indoors, they resorted to mediums that empowered them to release their creativity and added the fun element in their lives. The rise of TikTok between March – April 2020 is a testament to the user’s involvement in content creation. With the platform’s core offering being user-based content creation and editing, social media users over the globe flocked to the platform to unleash their talent. This increasing popularity for TikTok led to over 2 Billion downloadsin April.
The outbreak created a shift in user’s behavior who have moved from passively seeking and consuming content to actively creating content themselves. Millennials and GenZ users have increased are filling their spare time by creating light content. Platforms like Instagram reels and TikTok have proliferated this need of the users by encouraging them to create their own content. Ease of content creation has resulted in the increased engagement on TikTok and Instagram since the pandemic.
Video content creation has attracted social media users to participate in challenges, create content, and connect with like-minded individuals who seek to escape the boredom of the lockdown. Parents too have joined in the bandwagon of creating videos with their GenZ and Millennial children. This diversity in the audience has fuelled the growth of engagement on TikTok and YouTube.
Brands can include user-generated content as part of their marketing strategy to increase their resonance amongst the consumers’. User-generated content allows marketers to experiment with varied content formats that enhance their target audience’s creativity. Some brands like Tesco and Buffalo Wild Wings have already implemented the UGC as part of their Covid19 campaigns which have increased their engagement on social media. Empowering consumers to present their ideas can go a long way in deepening the relationship with the brand.
Social media, the connecting medium
With social distancing being imposed upon across the globe, the need to see familiar faces and stay connected with family, friends, and relatives grew during the outbreak. This has led to an increase in the consumption of video apps, online gaming, chats, watch party, and much more. Shared media consumption gives a sense of belongingness to the users which ease their isolation feeling.
Though the concept of digital detox was on the rise in 2019, social media platforms have attributed to helping users cope with the pandemic pressure. The nature of the platforms that allows ease of sharing stories, connecting with people, and feeling a part of the community has combated their loneliness. This finding is backed by research that showed that 42% looked to social media as a medium to fill their void, rising to 54% among GenZ. The research shows a reversal in consumers to a large extent, where the very users who were propagators of digital detox are spending more time on social media. Consumers are identifying social media as a means of connection and comfort.
These trends can be leveraged by brands who aspire to create an engaging community on social media. Marketers can share content that gives users a feeling of comfort and facilitates them to communicate their experience. This would give a sense of belongingness to the consumers’ who would spread the word and garner further engagement for the content. Brands can create niche communities by involving experts and influencers who can provide useful tips to overcome the loneliness of the lockdown. Incorporating Facebook Live, LinkedIn Live, YouTube Live, Instagram Live, or Twitter Chats in their marketing mix, can aid in doubling engagement rates for the brands.
Marketers can increase the virality of their content by including challenges that give freedom to the users to express their creativity and at the same time become connected with varied audiences’. The trends of challenges are already rising with challenges around Bingo, dance, workout, drawing, creativity, and much more. Some challenges like #FliptheSwitch become popular on TikTok and then moved to Instagram, showcasing the nature of virality that these challenges hold.
Social media, the rise of authenticity
Once upon a time, social media was a medium where users placed far more importance on the appeal and their look. With readily available filters, the platforms offered to edit the content before the upload, the difference between real and fake had become a thin line. The need for appreciation and popularity drove the trend of creating artificially beautiful content amongst the consumers.
However, the pandemic seems to have reversed this consumer sentiment on social media. Consumers are more comfortable in being themselves on social media than ever before. The pressure to portray an unrealistic image of themselves on social media has declined during coronavirus. Users have become more open to sharing their battles on social media across the platform than only in their individual interactions.
The lockdown has given meaning to users who value their life more than before. The desire to connect with communities for support or users who are facing similar problems has led to users go raw on social media platforms. Community sharing of experiences from the patients, nurses, doctors, and family members has led to more social media users adopting realness in their social sharing.
Thus, brands too are expected to drive authentic content that displays empathy, honesty, and social consciousness on social media. Brands that showcase their employees, their team, safety measures, protocols, and their process can find themselves establishing deep connections with their target audience. Consumers are interested in knowing how their brands are contributing to support the communities. Marketers need to deliver this in their message to establish their credibility and trust within their consumers. Some brands like McDonald’s in the Philippines showed the precautions they were taking to ensure a risk-free service to their customers.
Social media, a source of mental wellbeing
It is a human tendency to look for inspiration during trying times. During the lockdown as users became more open to their struggles, they sought content that uplifted their mood and gave them hope. Though ‘infodemic’ news was on the rise during the initial months of the outbreak, it faded away as people wanted to overcome the negativity. This has encouraged users to look at social media as a source of mental wellbeing.
The rise of the therapeutic side on social media has led consumers to seek positive that can cheer them up. Inspirational videos, webinars, live chats from the experts have witnessed a surge in engagement. Platforms too have taken note of this trend and upgraded themselves or included content to continue the engagement with their users. For instance, Snapchat launched ‘Here for You’ tool a week earlier than scheduled, while TikTok promoted hashtag #MentalHealthAwareness by scheduling live sessions with mental health experts and invited users to share their experiences.
Brands need to rise to the situation and promote content that aspires a sense of hope within their consumers. Some brands have already harped on the trend and garnered the first-mover advantage by launching dedicated campaigns that address the mental health of individuals. Jansport, holding a large base of GenZ and Millennials launched conversations with mental health experts on Instagram via #LightenTheLoad campaign. Ikea with its #I’mStayingHome campaign gave a new perspective for users to stay indoors.
Marketers can take an edge over their competition by motivating users with influencer-led content on creativity and fun indoors, family entertainment activities, workout, cooking, yoga, and meditation. Fostering positivity among their consumers will increase the association and consideration for the brand.
Transcending the uncertain pathway
The pandemic has changed the social media consumption and usage patterns of the consumers. Amidst the fears, negativity, uncertainty, and loneliness, users have resorted to social media to uplift their mood, express their creativity, connect with the community, and build their mental health.
Brands should weave in these trends in their social media marketing efforts by producing relevant content and campaigns that foster a sense of positivity, drives a community feeling, and safeguards their mental wellbeing. One would need to match the changing expectations of consumers and humanize the brand to build brand recognition for your consumers.
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A perfectly crafted story empowers your brand to stand apart from the rest. At DGsaga, we expertise in creating digital experiences. DGsaga is a strategic digital consulting agency that expertises in amplifying your story on digital channels.