20 Apr Social Media During COVID-19: Good or Bad?
One of the lesser known side effects of COVID-19 has been an increase in social media usage. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, almost everyone with an internet connection has seen a surge in screen time. Not just out of boredom either.
With regular and dramatic media updates about the virus taking hold across the world, we have become more glued to our screens than ever before. According to a Global Web Index Report:
- 44 per cent of New Zealanders reported an increase in laptop usage
- 55 per cent reported an increase in mobile phone usage
- 47 per cent of people said they are using social media more because of COVID-19.
- From March to April there was an increase in social media usage, and a decline in recreational hobbies, messaging and family activities.
This data indicates how behaviours are shifting in response to COVID-19. The decline in social behaviours could be an early sign of mental health issues to come, which begs the question – is using social media during the pandemic healthy?
The answer depends on the individual and how they’re using social media. It really comes down to duration, frequency and content. How long do you spend on social media each day? How often are you checking? What are you looking at? Many of us are experiencing COVID-19 fatigue, it’s not a symptom of the illness but the collective exhaustion of reading breaking news throughout the day. Pre-COVID-19, average social media usage was two hours 42 minutes a day, but experts recommend far less suggesting 30 minutes per day. That may not be realistic for everyone, however, we should set ourselves boundaries when it comes to our devices. If you’re struggling to put the phone down during the day, try setting a curfew before bed, the light emitted from screens affects our circadian rhythm, and fuelling your COVID-19 anxiety with the latest breaking news just before sleep won’t help.
What about businesses and organisations who want to reach their audiences? How do they keep communicating while staying mindful of what their audiences encounter every time they check social media?
A careful, considerate and flexible content approach will serve best. It’s not advisable to plan content or campaigns too far in advance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Everything is moving so rapidly, so don’t let the pace of change catch you out. Remember all those non-essential businesses who forgot to hit pause on their campaigns over the first week of lockdown? It’s not a good look.
If you’re providing tips to your audience, make sure that it comes from official sources. Only 14 per cent of people found social media a trustworthy source, but if you’re referring to official information, that trust level can be increased. We’re all feeling like we want to steady the ship right now, so authenticity is more important than ever. Talk about the struggles, the wins, what’s going on behind the scenes and what’s being done to continue to serve the audience, customers or members.
Campaigns centred around the COVID-19 crisis are generally approved by the majority of audiences. However, BAU advertising has a low approval rate of 20 per cent which means businesses can’t stick to the status quo and expect the same results. However you choose to engage with your audience, be mindful that much of the content they see will be negative or COVID-19 related. If you can bring your audience positivity, clarity and most importantly something they value, then you’re on the right track.