This post was written by Dana Thomson, one of our excellent social media guns.

1) What impacts did COVID-19 have on social media marketing?

Over the past few month’s there’s been some big changes to social media marketing as the community faces what has to be one of the most confusing and toughest times across almost every industry. As daily routines changed overnight, more of people’s’ daily and work lives shifted to online, and social media became an even more important tool for connection. Some of the biggest changes that I’ve noticed which have been incredibly insightful for us have been:

 

  • Users have become more active than ever on social media, spending longer periods on the apps/websites and consuming content more than ever before. Users understand that social media is one of the best ways to share news nowadays, especially if you are trying to alert people of something serious in a very, very quick manner. Whether it be COVID-19 news for individual states or news on a national scope, social media gets the message where it needs to go.

 

  • Contrast to the above point, social media has also seen the rise of accounts spreading information and news, that can be misinformation or “fake news.” Misinformation, especially about COVID-19, can cause panic, as users think that what they are reading is actually true.

 

  • Many businesses have shifted to communicating with their audiences through social media channels like Facebook and Instagram. Here they can quickly and cost-effectively inform their audience on business updates e.g. changes to opening hours, new initiatives like delivery options or directing people to their online store.

 

  • As a result, organic (unpaid) posts have increased slightly across all regions since the start of the year. This trend is expected to continue as businesses look for less costly alternatives to engage their audiences.

 

  • Many campaigns and social media strategies became completely irrelevant once COVID-19 hit. Businesses have pivoted their strategies and formed new, innovative ideas to help them stay afloat (and relevant) in the current climate.

 

  • Brands across all regions have consistently posted fewer pieces of paid content (social media ads) in 2020. Not all of this can be attributed to COVID-19, but as the trend continues it has become clear that some of it is related to the tightening of budgets. We have also seen advertising costs decrease during this time, meaning that for some businesses, they are finding it a lot cheaper to reach their target audience across paid content.

 

2) What are your predictions for social media marketing post-COVID-19?

Going forward, I predict that social media advertising and ad spend costs will increase post-COVID-19. An example is East Asia, where brands have started to recover from what they hope is the most difficult part of the coronavirus. In that region, ad spend increased by 21.5% since the beginning of March. This suggests that as other regions get the coronavirus under control, their ad spend may return to more normal levels. Brands will be spending money on paid advertising so that their messaging can be seen by their target audience, above organic content.

As ad spend increases and the space becomes competitive, costs for results will begin to increase and it will become more costly to reach target audiences. I also predict that we’ll see a slight prioritization of organic access to audiences, which essentially means a focus on content marketing. There will be many businesses with new, innovative campaigns being promoted on social media, as well as an increased focus on customer loyalty content. As such, organic posts on social media will continue to increase post-COVID-19 as businesses and organisations maintain a prominent social media status and do everything, they can to reach their target market.

 

3) How have businesses benefited from launching a social media marketing strategy during COVID-19?

During the pandemic, business have benefited by using the social media strategy of staying active. By being active and ‘showing up’ more on social media via organic content, stories, paid social ads, engagement community management and audience outreach efforts these businesses will be remain at the forefront of their audience’s mind as restrictions ease and opportunities to interact arise.

By launching their social media marketing strategy during COVID-19, brands and businesses are essentially ‘warming up’ their audience by familiarising them with their product or service to increase consideration. Then, when ready, the business will be able to re-target this warmed audience and send them along the purchase funnel to convert (e.g. make a purchase/ sign up/ subscribe).

Achieving cut-through with your organic content is more competitive than ever so cleverness, empathy and creativity is key, while smart advertising on socials has never been more important, or as cost-effective. Launching this strategy is often rewarded by loyal customers ‘sharing’ content, as well as having feel-good business stories or innovative approaches picked up by media outlets, both helping the business reach larger audiences. This has been very prevalent across the hospitality industry during this time with the introduction of home delivery and ‘make at home’ pre-prepared options.

With added hours of scrolling providing more time to make an impact, brands have an opportunity to showcase a proactive, innovative and heartfelt response. This might seem obvious, but at a time of such high emotion, the right messages and posts will really resonate. And the brands who get it right are likely to be the ones remembered for it.

 

4) How would a business benefit from implementing a social media marketing strategy post COVID-19?

Post-COVID-19, businesses will need to reassess what their distribution channels for content currently are. Do they have to pay to reach their audiences, or can they still reach them when their marketing budgets are cut? This will affect their social media strategy going forward post-COVD-19 and assist them with prioritising and distributing budget to different forms of social media and digital platforms (e.g. content/ copy/ different platforms/ paid advertising/ influencer approaches/ collaborations).

Businesses that take the above into account, will benefit from implementing a social media marketing strategy post-COVID-19, as they have defined a clear pathway to the ‘return to normal’ as well as identified their high-value products and services that they should be promoting going forward. Doing so will benefit their business post-COVID-19 and support their diversified revenue streams.

 

5) It was reported that the newer platform TikTok saw a 27% increase in downloads from February with 62 million downloads – was there growth across other social media platforms? Why?

With the community being encouraged to stay home, people have more time than ever to spend time on their phone. We have found there has been a huge growth in active users and time spent on social media platforms. Many consumers are searching for ways to connect and make sense of what’s happening in the world around us, and with empty hours to be filled each day, we’re all spending more of our time consuming social media and communicating with friends and family.

Since March, as well as TikTok, we have also seen a rise in:

  • What’s app – 40% increase in usage (Tech Crunch 2020)
  • Wechat and Weibo increased usage by 58% (Tech Crunch 2020)
  • Facebook usage increase by 37% (Tech Crunch 2020)
  • Instagram and Facebook live views doubled (Facebook 2020)

Related to this, another report from influencer marketing platform Klear compared the week of March 7-14 to the week of March 15-21, in order to drill down into more specific Instagram user behaviour. It found that users posted 6.1 Instagram Stories per day, on average, an increase of 15% week-over-week. Stories’ impressions, meaning views, also increased by 21% during that time.

To find out more about social media marketing and what it can do for your business contact us here.