Our world as we know, has turned upside down due to the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. With international borders closing, people being told to isolate at home, safety measures such as social isolation being put in place to tackle the situation, businesses are being forced to shut down (temporarily or permanently) and their staff is facing months of financial uncertainty and worry. Hence, there is no doubt that this global health crisis has created a massive impact on the economic climate.
In such a crisis, there has been a massive change in the behaviour of consumers. Since many local shops have shut down due to safety reasons, there have been concerns about the availability of goods. This has encouraged panic buying of items (mostly essential ones) in bulks. Furthermore, financial uncertainty and the prospect of a severe and long-term recession has led to a stark impact on consumer outlook, perceptions, and behaviours.
The online world is changing just as fast as offline. In early March 2020, ‘The Drum’ reported that annual advertising growth rates in China are predicted to fall from 7 percent growth in 2020 to 3.9 percent, e-commerce advertising spend is predicted to grow by 17.7 percent and social media spending to rise by 22.2 percent.
Therefore, as one would expect, the worldwide pandemic has affected both brands and users on social media. At Turiya Communications LLP, our expert team of social media strategists have studied the data coming in from various industries from different regions, and have reached the following conclusions:
Increase in social media consumption
Since social distancing is refraining people from doing what is inherently human, which is to find solace in the company of others, more and more people are turning to social media for information, communication, and entertainment. Snapchat alone recorded calling time increasing by more than 50% in the last month.
Apart from looking for boredom busting content, users are also utilizing social platforms to seek information about the coronavirus. YouTube is seeing tens of millions of search queries each day related to COVID-19 and billions of views on COVID-19 related content, whereas Twitter has also seen a massive surge in the number of tweets about coronavirus/COVID-19.
Social media is conveying a sense of unity
Video interaction is on the rise, to stay virtually connected in times of such crisis. In particular, people are “going live” more and more on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. From workout sessions to live concerts, various kinds of events are being streamed online. While most celebrities are flocking to Instagram and Facebook live to entertain their fans, many of them are also informing their followers about the pandemic and encouraging them to follow the rules and regulations issued by the authorities.
People are turning to online videos
With most countries currently under lockdown and people spending their time isolated at home, they are turning to online videos to adapt to this ‘new normal’. In March alone, average global daily uploads of videos with “At Home” in the title have increased over 50%, while ‘Study With Me’ has seen a surge of 52% in views. Whereas ‘Quick & Easy Meals’ has seen an increase of 49% in viewership, ‘Coping Techniques’ has seen a 38% increase in views, and ‘At Home Workouts’ has seen a 57% increase in average daily uploads on YouTube.
Hence, people are turning to online videos to adapt, cope and connect - from studying at home to getting creative in the kitchen, from learning coping techniques to maintaining workout routines despite social distancing and gym closures.
Brands are being forced to change their strategies
As most anticipated, the worldwide pandemic has affected brands’ social media strategies and performance. According to research, only 8 % of Facebook users thought that brands should stop advertising, while 78 % thought they should use their position to help with daily lives.
In the case of Twitter, 68 % of users say brands should continue advertising products, while 51 % of users agree that seeing or hearing ads gives them a sense of normality. Whereas, 81 % consider that it is useful for brands to support vulnerable people in the community in any way they can such as free deliveries, donation campaigns, etc.
In such a situation, while advertising, some brands are ensuring that they are sensitive and are not exploiting the situation. With consumers spending more and more time on social media, they are working to build their relationships with their target audience. To achieve this, brands are increasing their presence on social platforms, checking in on their audiences, and encouraging them to engage so they can converse with them.
Advertisements are cheaper
With many brands, having to pull spends in such circumstances; there is a lower demand for paid advertisements that have led to it now being much cheaper to advertise. The rapid growth in the content on YouTube and Facebook, which means that there is a spike in new inventory – has also contributed to the drop in costs.
The Bottom Line
As the impact of COVID-19 continues to unfold, brands need to keep a close eye on the changing consumer behaviours and impacts on individual industries to ask the right questions, ensure they are prepared for any outcomes and find new opportunities. They have to be more cautious in the way they advertise to ensure they do not tarnish their reputations by being insensitive to the situation and being viewed as inappropriately opportunistic.
If you feel you want help understanding the impact of COVID-19 on your business, our agency Turiya Communications LLP has teams of specialists who can help you. If you have any questions about how we can help you in this crisis, please do get in touch with us.