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Social Distancing And The Shift To Social Media
It’s no secret that COVID-19 is forcing a work-from-home structure for the foreseeable future. As a result, people are using the time away from the office to check multiple media channels for information, education and entertainment.

There has been an uptick in activity across different platforms as people adjust, including a spike in the usage of social media. According to a recent Global Web Index survey, 45% of respondents stated they spent more time on social media in the wake of coronavirus. This trend is likely to continue as more people seek alternative ways to alleviate the effects of social distancing. To date, these are the reported increases in activity across social platforms:

  • Traffic across popular social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat has increased 3% on average since January among 13 to 39-year-olds.
  • Countries hit hardest by the virus increased Facebook Messenger app usage by 50% in order to stay connected, and both Instagram and Facebook Live views doubled in a one week time frame.
  • TikTok usage has soared in response to stay at home mandates, with an 18% increase in app downloads between March 16 and March 22.
  • Snaps sent between users of Snapchat reached a record high, surpassing the platform’s usual holiday-related surges in activity.
  • Reddit reported that subreddits related to finance, ecommerce, news, education, travel and sports saw a 20%-50% increase in traffic within a week.
  • Pinterest reported all-time high usage as people looked for ways to remain safe and adjust their lives amid COVID-19 concerns.

This boost in user activity at a time where advertisers are pausing campaigns and reassessing strategy means the costs of reaching people are decreasing. Brands that are looking to connect with consumers would do well to consider social as an effective source.

Tweet Others How You Want to be Tweeted

Understanding user activity is key in determining media strategy during times of instability. Figuring out where a brand fits within the social space and whether or not a product or service is relevant to the current conversation is vital.

Facebook and Twitter tend to be where people turn for real-time information surrounding events. When it comes to brands, they’re often used to facilitate customer service interactions. Ensuring that content fulfills an aspect of the current consumer journey – meaning what options are available to consumers now that movement is limited – is important. That’s not to say that every brand’s message needs to reflect the seriousness of the situation. More irreverent brands can continue with funny content as long as they choose an appropriate channel. Snapchat, Instagram and TikTok offer opportunities to engage with the influx of users turning to online channels for amusement. Twitter is also a good channel for that, as trending topics surrounding working-from-home are typically humorous. Other popular platforms – like Reddit and Pinterest – allow consumers an opportunity to look forward and plan for the future.

This might be an optimal time to switch gears and try something different for your brand. Below are a few options for brands seeking new ad solutions in response to coronavirus:

  • Facebook’s “Click to Messenger” campaigns give brands the ability to take care of customer service and answer common FAQs surrounding their company protocols directly in the platform.
  • Snapchat has recently released their Lens Web Builder tool to all advertisers. Brands can now create their own Lenses using pre-made AR effects for people to use as they communicate with friends and family.
  • TikTok is one of the most widely downloaded apps in the world and has an increasingly high daily active user base. Brands striving to reach a younger audience would be served well by the inclusion of in-feed ads.
  • Reddit’s AMA (Ask Me Anything) feature could be used by companies to answer real questions from consumers and help alleviate concerns surrounding the current situation.
  • Pinterest’s keyword functionality allows brands to place relevant content among native pins, promoting products and services among content people are actively searching for.

Ad spend doesn’t have to stop or slow down as a result of COVID-19 but ensuring that content is contextual ensures that sentiment remains positive.

Keep Content Clear and Accurate

One thing to keep in mind when thinking about advertising during this pandemic is that almost every social platform has protections in place to decrease the spread of misinformation, which could impact ad delivery if there is specific mention of the virus within brand content. Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and LinkedIn – along with digital giants YouTube, Microsoft, and Google – have resolved to work together to help stop the sharing of inaccurate information on their channels. TikTok has partnered directly with the WHO to provide relevant information to users. Any content that mentions coronavirus or COVID-19 triggers the appearance of a banner that encourages viewers to “learn the facts.” Through partnerships with both the WHO and the US Center for Disease Control, Snapchat is ensuring that users have access to information in their Discovery feed via publisher controls.

To ensure that ads are delivered effectively, make sure all messaging is accurate and can be easily proven. While this situation is unprecedented, use it as a chance to connect with both new and established groups across social channels. Not only can this aid in consumer sentiment during an uncertain time, it can also help brands remain top-of-mind when things eventually return to business as usual.