How COVID-19 is Changing Social Media Strategy

For weeks now, COVID-19 has been consuming our collective thoughts. From our social lives to business, it has impacted all aspects of life. As more and more Americans adjusted to quarantine life, social media use increased.

According to eMarketer, Facebook saw a 70% increase in usage of all of its apps in March. Government officials, influencers, and brands alike have turned to social media to keep their audiences informed, customers up-to-date, and fans engaged and encouraged during an uncertain time.

COVID-19 and social distancing have impacted social media strategies across the board and some of these changes could be long-lasting.

Messaging Shift

Most brands realized pretty early on they needed to change their messaging to remain sensitive to what people were going through. Restaurants took to social media to promote curbside pickup and delivery options as well as daily specials to help boost takeout orders. Local retailers shifted their focus to e-commerce and virtual shopping for customers. Many businesses in the travel industry shifted from encouraging tourism to supporting local businesses while following health guidelines.

Organic Community Building

While some brands have adjusted their paid media ad spend on social media, they aren’t disappearing from social media by any means. They’re still participating in the conversation, just with more organic strategies focused on building and engaging with an online community. No brand wants to betray the trust of their fans by being insensitive right now. As a result, many marketers are hoping to offer encouragement and solidarity with their audience during this time, instead of promoting themselves too quickly.

More Video Usage

Social distancing requirements are making it impossible for many to see friends and family face-to-face. Due to this, more and more users are utilizing video messaging platforms to stay connected. WhatsApp made their group video calls easier to use. Houseparty, a popular video chat app, saw 50 million sign-ups in the past month. Social distancing has created the perfect conditions for video chat apps to explode in popularity, and it’s not hard to imagine the success of these apps right now will make a lasting impact on the way users connect online.

TikTok Distraction

More influencers and brands are exploring how TikTok can fit into their social media strategy. According to Music Business Worldwide, TikTok saw an 18% week-on-week uplift in downloads over March 16-22. As more users flock to the channel, more marketing teams are bound to see the value in it.

Live Digital Events

Many brands that rely on in-person events have had to get creative and learn how to move their events online. This could give brands the confidence they need to plan future virtual events on social media, including conferences, fundraisers, and more. When they see how budget-friendly they can be, will more brands opt for online, live-stream experiences in the future? We’ll see!

Some of these impacts will fade, but they won’t all be short-lived. They have the potential to turn into long-term shifts in the way consumers, and therefore brands, use social media. After all, if your brand pivots to create an efficient organic or paid social media marketing strategy now, why go back? Brands should observe what their most effective strategies are during this time and continue to utilize them, even after social distancing has ended.