Given the current situation, with the coronavirus spreading across Europe, the world around us and our everyday lives have been turned upside down. Despite the many dire implications, the digital society we currently live in opens the door to an array of creative solutions – it can help generate new and unexpected ideas. In this blog post, we will take a closer look at three ways the coronavirus is making its presence known and changing the way people, companies and government agencies engage in social media. 

1. Increased use of social media

With recommendations and requirements across the world to stay at home, work from home as much as possible and to avoid large social gatherings, etc., we are seeing a clear increase in the use of social media. A survey by GlobalWebIndex shows that almost to 45% are devoting more time to social media as a result of the coronavirus. Rather than going out into the community and engaging in the consumer culture as usual, more and more people are turning to social platforms for entertainment, social interaction and shopping. As a brand, it therefore becomes important to meet the consumers where they are and maintain a dialogue with our target audience – a task that can be done effectively through the use of influencers.

Since consumers are not visiting physical events, stores and shopping malls to the same extent, we see many companies shifting their marketing budgets from offline to online, as this is where their target audience has moved. Coronavirus research by GlobalWebIndex from March 2020 also showed that 70% of people, across 13 markets, are spending more time on their smartphones since the start of the coronavirus outbreak. The same survey showed that Millennials and Generation Zs are increasing their online shopping. Take a look at your own screen time in the last few weeks – is it the same as usual, or has it decreased/increased?

2. Authorities and companies are looking for new platforms to reach a younger target audience

People aged 16 to 24 fall into Generation Z, a group who have grown up with the Internet and digital communication as a part of the fabric of their everyday lives. While older generations often turn to newspapers and TV press conferences to inform themselves of important public service announcements, the younger target audience does not seek out these media outlets to the same degree. In order to reach out to younger generations with information about the coronavirus, we see authorities and companies looking to new platforms, such as TikTok and Instagram, to communicate with the target audience on their terms and through their preferred media channels.

A good example of this is the World Health Organization (WHO), which is using the video-sharing app TikTok to reach a younger target audience and communicate important information while dispelling myths in connection with the global spread of infection. For example, earlier this week the WHO held a livestream on the platform and spread video clips from its press conferences. TikTok has also published an information page under the “Discovery tab” where the WHO provides answers to commonly asked questions about the coronavirus, dispels myths and talks about how to best avoid becoming infected. TikTok and the WHO are also encouraging TikTok users to create videos where they share the information provided by the WHO through the platform with their followers, thereby getting this important information out to even more people.

If you are not already familiar with TikTok, you can learn everything you need to know here in our previous blog post!

The Public Health Agency of Sweden also turned to social media and influencer marketing recently to get their message across to a younger target audience. The agency recently livestreamed their coronavirus press conference on Instagram via the Swedish influencer Margaux Dietz – an initiative that even led to more viewers than the TV broadcast! After the livestream, Margaux held a Q&A session with Deputy State Epidemiologist Anders Wallensten, where her followers had the opportunity to ask their own questions. This allowed the Public Health Agency of Sweden to reach many of Margaux’s younger followers with an important public service announcement – a target audience who, in all likelihood, had not turned on the TV to watch the press conference.

Another example is that Instagram itself published a notice at the top of the feed that directs users to the WHO website where they can read the latest information about the coronavirus.

3. Social media creates an avenue for people and businesses to help each other

A lot of us probably associate social media primarily with inspiration and consumption, but a clear trend we are seeing in the current situation is that social media can serve as a platform for people to help one another. Through these social channels, we see a trend of individuals and companies sharing, for example, free advice and expertise, trial periods for digital services and solutions to problems that have come up in connection with the spread of the virus. One example is that people are using social media groups to offer their help by doing the grocery shopping for people in at-risk groups or who are quarantined. Social media is being used, quite simply, as a platform to bring people closer together (at least virtually), and we think that opportunity is absolutely amazing – The Power of People!

Things are changing very quickly right now, and it is important to keep yourself up to date – and of course, this is something that characterises the industry we work in. Be sure to keep yourself informed and follow the recommendations from authorities to reduce the spread of infection – regardless of whether you turn on the TV or load the TikTok app. Take care of yourself out there!