What Is the Impact of COVID-19 On Social Media?

01 June 2020By Michelle

What Is the Impact of COVID-19 On Social Media?


When a pandemic hits, things change – routines, attitudes, working arrangements, health protocols. Social media might not be your first concern during such a turbulent time, but like everything else, it has been affected by recent events in more ways than one. If you work in social media, it pays to reorientate yourself with the rules and rhythms in order to maximize your marketing strategy.

The Effect of Furlough & Home-Working


The biggest change in social media habits has doubtless been caused by changing working arrangements, as staff in various industries have either been furloughed or ordered to work from home. With the morning commute discontinued, many of us are waking up later and thus not getting to our desk (or the sofa) until we “clock on” for work.


Similarly, stats show that social activity – particularly on Facebook – is now tending to drop off after 5pm, when we step away from our laptops or computers and go about the rest of our day. As more mobile-centric networks, Twitter and Instagram appear to have remained broadly consistent in terms of posting times and activity, with Instagram featuring many messages of hope and positivity motivated by the widespread fear and anxiety in the community. 


Twitter, of course, remains a major source of COVID-19 news, public health information and conversation.


The take-home? Make sure you’re posting at times that reflect the “new normal” as far as social media is concerned.

Has Message Volume Changed?


Has COVID-19 made us post more or less? Well, that very much depends on our industry. With flights grounded and all major sporting events, festivals and concerts canceled, brands in the travel, tourism, leisure and sports sectors have been far less busy. The same can be said for the retail industry, although those with online shops have naturally been impacted to a lesser degree.


On the other hand, both healthcare and media outlets have increased their posting output, with content (infographics, videos, news articles, interviews) devoted almost exclusively to the pandemic. Another sector that has been busy is entertainment, with Netflix in particular raising its game to capitalize on the number of subscribers spending more time at home. Indeed, the streaming giant onboarded 15.77 million new customers in Q1 of 2020 so it’s only natural that their social media channels have been humming with activity.


Data suggest that overall engagement rates (likes, comments, messages, RTs) have been gradually declining across the three major platforms following a posting frequency high in February, probably as a result of brands reducing their social spend and posting less.

Brands Doing Their Bit


A noticeable trend caused by COVID-19 has been philanthropy – companies doing their bit by donating to charitable causes related to the fight against coronavirus, and publicizing their endeavors on social media. This is an opportunity for brands to create a positive impression by supporting a good cause that everyone can get behind.


It remains to be seen whether the effects of COVID-19 on social media will be a temporary aberration or portend a new era. Either way, brands must be ready to pivot their social strategy to reflect changed times. 


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