by Kéra Holzinger
Social media consumption saw a 44% increase worldwide since coronavirus started making news headlines. I can’t say I’m surprised! Between scheduling trips to the grocery store, walking my dog, and how and when I’ll work throughout the day—it became apparent to me that the more I tried to schedule my day around avoiding people, the more I was desiring connection. My screen time went up 31% with Instagram ranking as the most-used app. I was physically distancing myself and making myself socially available at the same time, and I wasn’t the only one.
Okay Google, how do my friends and I stay connected during a pandemic? I’ve asked this question many times. Social platforms have become a large source not only for quick access to developments across the globe and local communities—but to human connection.
So what does that mean for your business during this time? Well, the long and short of it is — you have consumers’ attention now more than ever. At a time such as this, you have the opportunity to get closer to your audiences when real closeness is not an option. And here’s how:
Gen Z: Schoolwork and communicating on their mobile devices is second nature to Gen Z. But now that they are stuck at home with their family, they’re turning (even more) to creating content—on platforms such as TikTok—rather than just consuming it. Tik Tok saw a 27% increase in consumption in March alone. And with the ever-increasing revenues, TikTok has reported in the last couple of months, I’m sure we can see this number continue to increase. With 25% of all Tik Tok users between the ages of 18-25, this is a prime time to grab their attention.
Messaging to Gen Z will take some finessing. Gen Z will now see the world adapting to their preferred means of communication, and though they may use social media as a main source of communication, we may see them tapping into some more wholesome fun during the quarantine. It’s noted that nearly half of all Gen Z reports that social media makes them feel depressed or anxious, so during this time, they may be more likely to put down their phones for a little while and enjoy activities that they haven’t participated in much before.
Millennials: Millennials on the other hand, now see social media as a time of hope, encouragement, and community—encouraging friends and family that it’s all going to be okay because, “look, I’m now enjoying more cooking.” But the truth of the matter is that even though a good lot of us were urging companies to enlist a work from home policy, we are now feeling the hard effects of what it means to be alone and not around people.
Millennials will download new social apps and continue to encourage their friends through their feeds, but their yearning for real human connection will ultimately lead them to telecommunication apps such as Houseparty or Zoom where they can catch up with friends instead of spending time on social scrolling their feeds.
Gen X and Baby Boomers: Gen X and Baby Boomers grew up without social media, but as we know, took a big liking to Facebook as it allowed them to catch up with old friends and keep tabs on their children. And while Gen X and Baby Boomers enjoy the media, it’s not their go-to way of communicating. However, these folks are die-hard brand advocates and are more likely to purchase from a brand they follow on social media; making it more important to not fall silent.
If you don’t invest and show face now, your audiences will remember your competitor who did. Worked on a campaign that’s no longer relevant? Change it! Agencies across the country are working with businesses to act quickly. Furthermore, finding a way to give back will allow your audience to connect deeply and give them more reason to interact with your brand now and for the long term.
a. Is your business donating profits to relief efforts?
b. Does a customer’s purchase give fuel to healthcare workers or their community?
c. Are you curating content that could alleviate anxiety and provide hope?
Here are a few examples of businesses doing this successfully.
It’s 100% possible that some people following or interacting with your brand right now have been affected directly or indirectly with the pandemic. Messaging should be dripping with empathy. At the time of this post, over 26 million people in the US have filed for unemployment during this Stay at Home order, so before you plan your whole agenda around making a sale, be considerate of what your customers may be dealing with.
Social media’s barriers of perfection have quickly come down and more people are reacting positively to authentic messaging. In addition, social media shouldn’t be a set-it-and-forget-it scenario. Now that more people are craving that connection, it’s possible your engagement will go up by way of comments. This is your time to respond and to be present.
According to a recent study, social media videos generate up to 1200% more shares than text and images combined. And really, it’s a no brainer. Video is effective and easy to digest. During a time when audiences are having a hard time focusing, video may be the best way to draw them in. Furthermore, video is personal and this, too, will allow audiences to see the REAL you. And if you’re looking for some tips and tricks on remote video production? We’ve got you covered.
When humans are forced to practice physical distancing, it seems we only have one reaction — find a way to connect by any means possible. And the common bonds forged out of this hardship can be the foundation your business uses to build that connection. Humans rely on each other for survival, and coincidentally, our economic health relies on businesses like yours to continue pushing through. By humanizing your business by way of even the smallest connection—a nod to your customers’ fears, offering a message of hope, or offering a way to make the world better now—your business can learn to be a friend, too.
So when the pandemic is behind us, will social media still have this lasting effect on all of us? And will we still be as consumed with it as we are now? Well, as uncertain as this pandemic is, we just don’t know. But what we do know is that brands that stick it out now will have a greater chance of being successful later.