Since lockdown began in mid-March of this year, people across the world are spending more time online due to spending more time at home and isolated away from friends, family, work and other real-world activities. Online streaming and video services have boomed, with Netflix reporting their usage up by 32% and YouTube reportedly attracting 16% more users than average. In conjunction with this, video-calling services such as Zoom have thrived in this ‘new normal’ as we all crave human interaction and connection during these unprecedented times.
For the past 14 years, social media has played a significant part in the way we see and interact with our friends, family and the wider world. We’ve come a long way since the days of friending Tom from Myspace and colour-customising our profiles while chatting with our friends on Bebo.
In light of recent events that have happened this year, we’d like to take a look at how user behaviour on social media has changed during lockdown and since the coronavirus pandemic. Here are some observations on how user behaviour on social media has changed.
How has user behaviour on social media changed during lockdown?
The main observation so far is what users are posting online, whether that’s on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram has changed. We’ve noticed a shift in user posts and behaviour, particularly on Instagram. So the answer is yes, user behaviour on social media has changed during lockdown.
Advocacy and Infographics on Instagram
Instagram: once a social platform that was predominately used for images of food, selfies and holiday snaps and accompanied with a multitude of hashtags. Not so much anymore. Those types of posts are still present, however, we’re now seeing lots more posts centred around the spreading of global news, with particular focus on news that is useful and provides vital information. In addition, there has also been increased posts around advocacy, specifically human rights advocacy.
Advocacy posts often took the form of ‘swipe-along to read’ infographics supporting racial justice, raising black voices by sharing resources and stories to users on their feed and through particular hashtags. Infographic posts were shared extensively by users across the platform in direct response to the killing of George Floyd on the 25th May 2020 and as part of the Black Lives Matter, anti-racist movement.
During lockdown, with many of us working from home, furloughed and staying indoors, the movement supporting racial justice and human rights gave people tangible purpose and focus during a time where our day-to-day had been flipped upside down during the pandemic. This generated an even greater sense of urgency in educating yourself and sharing useful information – we all needed focus, purpose and cause.
Instagram stories over this summer have transformed into a place where many people are reading and sharing headlines, infographics, quotes, videos and images, perhaps as this is a snapshot of information to digest when feeling overwhelmed by the mainstream news. This shift in behaviour can be interpreted as reflective of the times. The sharing of useful and powerful content can be interpreted as bringing purpose and focus to millions of people across the world.
In uncertain times, it is observed that many users and audiences were looking to engage with more relatable, real-life content rather than aspirational posts. All in all, we were craving that sense of ‘we’re all in this together’ and unity online.
Craving Community on Facebook
When heading over to Facebook, we observe that many users during lockdown turned to this platform as a social space to meet a like-minded community. Many people also turned to Facebook for its original intent: as a way to connect with friends and family.
As many of us were isolated from our loved ones for several months with limited social connections and stuck at home, we were craving a deep sense of human connection and looking for a community. Many people rediscovered this on Facebook.
What is the impact of changing user behaviour on brands and influencers?
The global pandemic is shaking up business and consumer habits. This means that people are more likely to be making online purchases, and seeking out brands and influencers that are forces for good.
By this, we mean that users want to be purchasing from brands and companies that are doing the right thing. Users and potential customers are more likely to be seeking out companies and listening to influencers that aren’t performative in their activism, they’re transparent and ethical, as well as being advocates and innovators for good change within workplaces since lockdown.
How can businesses adapt to this ‘new normal’ on their social feed?
1. Authenticity is key
Be relatable and show that human side of your brand. Users want authenticity, especially in these changing and uncertain times.
Users want to purchase from a company who is genuine. This period of time has been hard on individuals and companies alike. As things are opening back up and we’re gaining a new sense of normality, share your journey with your audience on social media. Reassure them, let them know you’re going through the same things, as well as sharing how things have changed within your business. There is a lot of anxiety surrounding shopping and operating as ‘normal’ in the real world. If your business has visitors, provide them with video tours and walkthroughs of how their experience with you will be different compared to pre-lockdown times.
2. Be natural, avoid coming across as pushy
To be honest, this applied before lockdown too, but brands and businesses shouldn’t be too pushy or ‘sales-y’ with their customers. While it is tempting to promote all your products and services to your customers after months of being closed, or not being able to operate, hold off this temptation. Instead, focus on developing your company voice. Be natural, friendly and above all, human.
In the next phase of your marketing strategy, try to keep in mind that many people are looking to reconnect with their loved ones who they haven’t seen in a while, as well as navigate this ‘new normal’.
3. Keep personal and political opinions to a minimum
Cancel culture, particularly on Twitter, is not a new phenomenon, it has been around for a while and your brand or business does not want to get swept up into it. Having thousands of people tweeting and retweeting in a cancel campaign to get other users across the platform to not use your brand anymore is difficult to recover from. Therefore, it is recommended that you don’t have too much of an opinion on your business social media accounts. Unless of course, you’re being authentic and genuine.
So what should businesses post online to users during this time?
- Be a force for good, but be genuine
- Be interactive with your audience, but authentic
- And get creative (especially on Insta stories)!
Here at Active Internet Marketing, we take the time to understand our clients’ needs and goals, ensuring an effective social media strategy that’s guaranteed to succeed. If you’d like to find out how we can help with your social media marketing, you can speak to our friendly team by calling 01604 765 796. Alternatively, fill in a contact form and someone will be in touch very soon!