When the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic hit the United States, it immediately affected how Americans lived their constantly on-the-go life, and made them to spend more time at home. With stores, restaurants, movie theaters and more shut down, Americans had to find new forms of entertainment, which meant more time online.
More time online means consumers have flocked to social media during this pandemic. This provided an unexpected boost to platforms of all kinds. Not only has there been an increase in Facebook and Instagram, but we have seen other platforms, like Tik Tok, skyrocket with new users during this pandemic. Throughout this article we will discuss how the pandemic has not only affected social media engagement, spending, and mobile usage, but many more factors that we will see continue in a post-pandemic lifestyle.
How Has Consumer Usage Changed?
According to eMarketer, as many as half of adults in the United States said they were using social media more at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic – March and April. Many marketers conclude that the rise in usage and engagement could be due to the fact that consumers are looking to connect with others during this lonely time. Many people are spending most of their time at home with not much to do or very few people to connect with. Technology has given consumers a way to stream videos, connect via video or instant messaging, stream music, play games online and more. Below is a survey report of what activities US adults are spending most of their time doing during the coronavirus pandemic.
As seen in the graph, social networking platforms were among the top three activities adults are doing to keep themselves entertained during times of quarantine and social distancing. Another survey done by The Harris Poll that was conducted in waves between late March and early May found between 46%-51% of US adults were using social media more since the pandemic began. The users that were questioned in this survey were a wide range of ages – 60% of the users surveyed were ages 18 to 34, 64% were ages 35 to 49, and 34% were ages 65 and up. The users that were in this study said they were on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and more.
The change in social usage was the most pronounced among younger generations. According to a study done by the Business Inside Intelligence, about 70% of Gen Zers (ages 18 to 20) and Millennials (ages 21 to 38) reported spending more time on different social networks.
Social Platforms Affected
Most of the major social platforms have seem increases of not only users, but traffic as well during the pandemic. As stated above, Gen Zers and Millennials reported the most increase in time spent on different social sites. With them making up the largest group of users on social sites, we have seen the rise of newer platforms, such as Tik Tok. Tik Tok has had millions of downloads and thousands of trends come from it over the past few months. If you were not one of the millions that downloaded this app, there were probably many instances where you were confused by seeing these videos on other social sites, like Instagram. Many believe Tik Tok grew so much over the past few months due to its unique ability for content creators to create videos and reach users through them. We have seen many influencers and Tik Tok stars grow huge followings, as well as large brands begin to advertise on Tik Tok. Although with the concern of privacy issues, it will be interesting to see how the United States allows users to continue to use this app moving forward.
Along with Tik Tok, platforms like Snapchat, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram all saw a large increase in time spent by users. These platforms reported some of their largest increases in users in quite some time. As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, these platforms have continued to stay consistent in the amount of time users have spent on them. Reports show that in May 2020 the percentage of usage had not declined, even as some states slowly reopened certain amenities, meaning we will likely see these behaviors continue on social media for the foreseeable future.
How Has Consumer Spending Changed?
Now that we have looked at how much more time US adults have been spending on social networking platforms, both old and new, let’s take a deep dive into how this time is affecting spend on social sites. Due to the increase in users, engagement, and time spent, it will be very likely that 2020 ad revenue will increase due to coronavirus. Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat have all stated that their worldwide ad revenue will increase year-over-year from 2019 to 2020 due to the amount of time people have spent on these platforms. The more often people are on these platforms, the more likely they are to shop when they are targeted with the right message. Whether we like to admit it or not, we all have been guilty of buying something from an ad we have seen on social media. Without the opportunity to shop in-person at many stores, many people resorted to shopping online. So, although the pandemic has caused a lot of uncertainty, ad revenue on sites like Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat will see a boost.
What is to Come Post-Covid?
Although there has been an increase in social media usage, there is a thought that when consumers eventually return back to a normal life –working in an office, in school, stores are opened, etc. – the boost will begin to drop. Come 2021, with hope that the pandemic has slowed, we could see a downward trend when it comes to the amount of time people spend on social media.
There are a few things that have become popular on social that marketers believe will continue to have a boost in post-pandemic life – and if any of these are something your business can utilize in social strategy, you should. Live streaming, video messaging, and gaming will continue to intersect with social and stay consistently popular as the pandemic ends. Live streaming is something we have seen a lot of influencers, brands, and celebrities take full of advantage of to interact with consumers, and we do not see this going away anytime soon. Video messaging will almost become second nature post-pandemic – and with that, Snapchat should not see any drop off in users. Online gaming has also seen a huge spike during the pandemic and has intersected with social media.
As users being to go back to a normal life post-Covid, we believe there will be a small downward trend to how much time is spent on social media platforms throughout the day. Although, if your business is able to tap into the audience that is using social for popular activities, you will have a great head-start to marketing in post-pandemic life.