Social media always has and most likely always will be an outlet for entertainment. However, before the COVID-19 pandemic, social platforms were used a bit differently than today. Social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook focused on gaining some sort of return – from likes and followers to website traffic and conversions. However, with many Americans out of work during the lockdown, people turned to social media out of pure boredom more than ever.
Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and other social media sites were used not only for leisure, but as news sources, education centers, storefronts, places of discovery, and so much more during the pandemic. They built a virtual sense of community to those who couldn’t see friends and family, and now that mask restrictions are lifting and almost half of the U.S. is vaccinated, it will be interesting to see how social media will continue to shift and optimize itself for a hopefully soon-to-be post-pandemic world.
The Social Burnout
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, social media activity saw an all-time high. In fact, more than half a billion new users joined various social media platforms in 2020. However, our feeds quickly became fatigued. Instagram posts from friends and family came to a halt as people stopped traveling or participating in Instagram-worthy activities and Twitter, an already news-centric environment, acted as an outlet for political and social opinions for those stuck at home on the couch. Additionally, our Facebook newsfeed saw an influx of DIY home-improvement projects or silly social media challenges that just…got old quickly. As the pandemic continued on, the strategy for businesses needed to adapt to this social media fatigue in order to continue to use it as a key marketing, branding and communications channel.
Creativity as An Outlet
Entertainment-focused YouTube ranked high as one of the most used platforms and with it followed the ever-so-famous TikTok that skyrocketed with popularity during the pandemic. Families and friends turned to video-platform TikTok for two reasons: endless scrolling with a personalized algorithm to keep you entertained for hours and the ability to join in on the fun by creating videos yourself.
Anybody can make a TikTok and that’s the beauty of it. A platform such as YouTube requires hours of expensive shooting and editing, where a TikTok can be recorded and posted instantly. This instantaneous upload in real-time mimics the rise in popularity Instagram saw in 2012. People wanted to see real people doing real things – but also needed a comedic relief in the craziness that 2020 was. For businesses, this trend is important, as it’s another indicator that people crave relatability on social media.
What Does This Mean for Social Strategy?
If you’re a social media strategist or marketer who’s been planning content for platforms within the past year, then you’re probably already in tune with how social media has been changing and what it means for brands going forward. With the shift to digital during the pandemic, it’s the best time to switch your marketing budgeting over to sponsored posts and digital marketing.
It’s time to appeal to new expectations. This doesn’t mean you have to post videos of your or your employees mastering a TikTok dance (although you could and we might watch), but perhaps share some helpful hacks to share with your customers or can explore new consumer journey paths leveraging users’ gravitation toward education and discovery on social platforms. People see social media as informal, so it’s important to relax your brand a bit to appeal to this.
Handle the overload of content that consumers are being exposed to every day with care. Shift your focus on creating content that is engaging enough to stand out, incite a response or maybe even drive action. People aren’t coming to social media to see ads or brand information – but a carefully crafted social media strategy with great content can go a long way for your brand.
Normalcy, relatability, with a touch of emotion. Create captivating visuals, impactful stories, nostalgic memories and current trends that can bring consumers together. Keep it real and honest, showing that your brand genuinely cares about its customers and local communities. Life has changed – perhaps forever – and your brand needs to show that you understand this and have adapted too.
Keep it real. Incorporating honesty and showing that your brand genuinely cares about its customers and local communities can help build a connection between your consumers and brand. This is the year to show how you are supporting your audiences in the good and bad times, and ready to move on to the next chapter with them.
Think short-form. Content like Instagram stories, TikToks and Instagram Reels offer quick bits of visuals that grab a consumer’s attention and interest differently than a single static post. Invest int his type of content so engage audiences, without a huge investment.
The real truth here is that social media is a constantly changing landscape. It’s up to us as marketers to think agile and adapt to these changes. Need a little guidance? Let our social strategists help your brand stand out from the crowd.