Just like all the other things in this universe, social media is a dynamic platform on the Internet. Even when the world struggles in the face of a pathological disaster, social media would go on at its usual pace. However, in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, social media ceased to be a mere social networking space. It became much more than it was supposed to be.
When news channels were busy reporting the death toll and positivity rates, social media in the pandemic became our only source of information on medical amenities. People connected on chat rooms and groups to stay updated on vaccination drives or stores offering doorstep deliveries.
Especially when we hit the rock bottom emotionally, social media provided respite in the form of short videos and simple food recipes.
So, how did social media take on the repercussions of the lockdown? What were the trends that flourished and the ones that flopped? Keeping these questions in mind, we have compiled the top 5 social media trends that were en vogue during the COVID-19 pandemic, which will also help you chart your marketing strategy on the Web:
Who could have possibly anticipated the soaring popularity of ‘reels’ on Instagram going head to head with TikTok videos? Last year, Adam Mosseri’s announcement on upgrading Instagram into a video-sharing platform was welcomed with open arms by social media users across the globe.
With the onset of the pandemic, media consumption has been at an all-time high as content creators and influencers have stepped onto social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube to create funny videos to cheer up their audience.
This new format of videos is characterized by their brief duration (maximum 15 seconds long), along with the use of AR (Augmented Reality) filters that help the creators to make artificial backgrounds or create virtual props to record their videos with.
The kind of impact Instagram Reels and similar short videos have had on social media can be best summed up by this excerpt from a 2021 report;
“National Basketball Association (NBA) teams that have taken advantage of Instagram’s new Reels feature are enjoying higher levels of engagement than they do for standard videos posted on the social media platform, according to Conviva…The engagements per Reel for those teams that used the format was 22 percent higher on average than the franchise’s average engagements per Instagram video during the same time period, Conviva noted.” (SportsPro, August 18th, 2020)
However, fame has its downside too. The ‘reels’ feature has often been misused by various users on social media to promote hate speech or pass misogynistic statements as “jokes”. In addition to this, the volatility of trending short videos is such that users often end up seeing 20 videos of the same trend being uploaded by 20 different creators. The repetitiveness of viral videos, therefore, has the tendency to become monotonous and eventually lose its charm among its viewers.
With restrictions on live performances and sports made mandatory, the pandemic paved the way for social media to revitalize its Live Feed feature. Both Facebook, Twitter, as well as Instagram, made the most out of this opportunity by offering creators some lucrative incentives every time they go live from their respective social media profiles.
When change is nigh, Facebook never fails to embrace it with brilliance. As far as live streaming is concerned, the tech giant launched its very own Facebook Stars program;
“Content creators rely on social media to connect with people who appreciate their work. Facebook has added a feature to give creators a new way to earn money and fans a new way to show appreciation. With Stars, viewers of Facebook live video can support content creators in real time.
Stars enables you to earn money from your video content. Viewers can buy Stars and send them to you in the comment section to show support and help their comment stand out. You get paid 1 cent for every Star that you receive.”
Whether it is dance performances, music recitals, live shopping, award ceremonies, film releases, or even indoor performances of your favorite band, the live streaming feature has been a part and parcel for helping various artists and creators grow in their respective niches.
Besides the global economy and the food industry in general, the healthcare sector was one of the worst-hit during the COVID-19 pandemic. As demands for medicines and clinical equipment increased manifold, the supply and demand chain suffered severely due to the lack of on-site workers and the subsequent logistic issues.
Enter Social Media.
Many local organizations created pages on Facebook and Instagram specifically to provide information regarding new stock of medicines, life support equipment, and other basic necessities that were in high demand all over the world.
WhatsApp, however, was one of the biggest players in the pandemic.
Users made use of the instant messaging app to forward important contacts of local food deliveries for COVID-19 patients, as well as for the elderly and the disabled. The humanitarian efforts made through WhatsApp for the sake of supporting other people in times of crisis are a testament to our determination to stay tall in the face of adversities.
4. Making Entertainment More Productive
Given the sedentary lifestyle imposed upon by the pandemic, the very term ‘entertainment’ has been redefined by social media to a great extent. In fact, amusement is no longer limited to binge-watching films and shows on OTT platforms.
Many influencers and creators have wholeheartedly encouraged users all around the world to partake in certain activities that would enrich their daily experiences in one way or another; be it baking, origami, tailoring, gardening, or even playing indoor games with your family.
In this manner, many individuals have been able to kickstart a new venture right from the comfort of their homes - a bakery, an accessory store, online tuitions, food deliveries (or the dabbawalas), artworks, and the list goes on. Most importantly, these new avenues of earning have gained prominence only through social media.
As friends and family started promoting their handmade products online, they were further encouraged to start an online store that would help them conduct business in an organized fashion. There is no doubt about the innumerable possibilities that the pandemic has offered to people from all walks of life.
It goes without saying that one of the conventional ways for local businesses to boost sales is through word-of-mouth, that too by their customers. On top of that, the horrors of shuttered shops not only convey the desolation inflicted upon the business sector but also the fear of unemployment that skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Moreover, with groceries and medicines being home-delivered by popular online retail brands, the small and medium businesses were posed by an unconventional challenge - to go online. As many business owners lacked the know-how to set up an online store to sell their products on the web, they were in need of support, both technical and emotional.
Vepaar came to the rescue.
This Ahmedabad-based tech startup was conceived to help small and medium businesses conduct their sales through WhatsApp. This way, they can connect with their customers easily, and look into business analytics at the same time. Throughout the pandemic, Vepaar has helped over 100k brands to launch and manage their digital stores with the right business tools to gain traction in their sales.
Most importantly, Vepaar endeavors to make each and every business financially independent, and in turn revolutionize their lifestyle and inspire those around them.
The littlest of things have the power to create something unimaginable and unanticipated. In the same way, social media gave people something that the world beyond the front door could not offer – hope.
Social networking sites encouraged people to make life livable during the lockdown, and also motivated them to make the most of the inexhaustible time that they now had. The concept of productivity, therefore, got transformed by these virtual spaces, as each of these motivated people to support themselves and those around them.