The rise of COVID-19 has had endless effects on industries of all forms. Brick-and-mortar retailers have finally been forced to take up digital operations or close their doors for good; hair and beauty has taken an enormous hit and the medical field are once again the unsung heroes of our decade.
But beyond the obvious outcomes of coronavirus, our behaviour as humans is shifting and changing as we make do with social distancing regulations and new consumer methodologies. How we're used to shopping has completely moved, and how brands have had to target their prospects takes a whole new level of strategic thinking.
One of the biggest fluctuations in online behaviour – aside from eCommerce – has been the changing pace of social media engagement. Some of the data has been surprising, while other figures only further emphasise the need for a solid digital marketing strategy on these channels.
Several sources are indicating that engagement rates across platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn fluctuated over the last few months, depending on industry type. Essentially, there was no one definitive trend across social media user behaviour.
According to Rival I.Q., for example, analyses during March showed that engagement rates were down across more than 14 primary industries. Of these, fashion, hotels and resorts took the biggest hit – of which we could only expect. On the other hand, higher education and even non-profit organisations managed to survive the downfall.
Fast-forward to April and things surprisingly changed: engagement rates across the board are some of the highest monitoring organisations have seen. Beyond this, the frequency of posts has decreased across sectors, but industries like accommodation and alcohol are starting to make a comeback. And at the bottom of the barrel? Sports teams.
If green figures are lighting up your analytics and dashboards, there's reason to celebrate – but not too hard. It's important to understand why and where this behaviour is occurring, and how to reap the benefits of it before it's too late. After all, we'll eventually fall back into the regular routine of heading to work as we take up former lifestyles again – social media behaviour will change again at some point soon.
For those that have mixed up their strategy or even posted less, but seen a rise in user interaction, there is an explanation for it. Here are the top considerations to keep in mind when it comes to coronavirus and current social media usage.
There's always that one guy on LinkedIn that posts a number of times a day; you can almost predict precisely when it's going to pop up, too. And while it's all well and good to be present and active on these platforms, it's crucial to maintain balance and space – you can't miss someone when you constantly see them, for example.
In the first few months of 2020, Rival reported that social media engagement had taken a big hit overall. By the fourth month, however, this trend exploded, and frequency started to balance out to a median rate of posts at three a week. Compare this to the former median of four posts a week before March.
So what was the result? It was actually reported that engagement rates went up after post frequency trended downwards. Ultimately, we can attribute this to the fact that these platforms are designed to serve up like-minded posts to users. If a company constantly publishes throughout the week, they're less likely to hit the same target audience – A.K.A. no one likes a spammer, and these channels don't advocate it either.
All in all, our best tip is to cut down on your posts if you have a trigger-happy mindset, and assess whether a change in frequency has a positive impact on your engagement rates.
Frequency aside, there’s no point investing time and effort into working out how few and far between your updates need to be if you’re not generating quality-driven content in the first place. Your analytics won’t see any positive influences if what you’re putting out there to the world doesn’t resonate – and that’s always been the case.
When marketers spend more time fixing up what they’re eager to publish, the result is a well-polished piece of content that sparks user attention. No one wants to invest their time and energy into a brand that doesn’t give that in return, so sitting down and really putting in the hard yards is always worth it.
During the pandemic, we’ve seen professionals working from home dedicate more time to personal branding and overall content efforts. Articles, graphics and various other formats have been more enlightening – filled with substance and designed to inspire. This is exactly all industries have been missing to date, and we’re finally seeing dedication and determination rise to prominence.
Key take-away point here: spend more time on what you’re creating and see the difference it makes to user behaviour.
Like all contenders, there are always winners. COVID-19 has been a game-changer for digital platforms, some snatching the jackpot while others lose out. So here's who rose to domination and who saw a decline.
If there’s anything we know for certain during this time of, well, uncertainty, it’s that there’s bound to be another set of changes we don’t expect. It’s unlikely Twitter will see a downfall in user engagement, but while brands continue to adopt digital marketing efforts, competing for target audience attention will become harder.
So where to from here? It’s important that brands looking to reap the advantages of these trends adopt a solid online strategy that reflects them. From pinpointing prime time for users on various channels, through to remaining relevant in a time where you seemingly feel you aren’t – now’s your chance to pave new paths.
If you’re looking to implement social media marketing to help your business recover from COVID-19, we recommend getting in touch with the team at Edge for a no-obligation discussion.