Use SEO and content marketing best practices to reach a broader audience
7 ways to drum up better results using content and SEO savvy
November 6, 2020
The synergy between digital marketing and direct mail
3 ways to incorporate direct mail into your digital marketing strategy
November 16, 2020
Show all

What does social media look like after COVID-19?

Social media predictions

How does your weekly screen report make you feel these days? Mine just notified me that my screen time is up 6% from last week. Should I be embarrassed? Or is this normal?

Estimates say that U.S. adults will spend seven more minutes a day this year on social networks than they did in 2019. I am certainly spending more time scrolling on my phone during these stay-mostly-at-home times. And although I habitually check my personal social media accounts, I have grown a bit wary of my social feeds lately. 

With documentaries like The Social Dilemma touting the evils of social media, CEOs of social media companies appearing in front of the Senate, and usage being way up despite all of this, it’s apparent that companies and users’ relationships to social media will change post-pandemic. 

We examined the current state of social media and asked some questions to theorize how a post-COVID social media landscape could work. How will brands and businesses recover after 2020? What role will social media play in the recovery process? And how much of the current adaptive strategies will stick once we develop a vaccine and get back to some semblance of “normal”?

Social media shapes our world 

Regardless of how we personally feel about social media, we can’t discount its influence over us — here and abroad. Currently, 3.6 billion people around the world use social media, citing it as the most popular online activity. 

And while we’re online, our consumer behavior is changing constantly during quarantine. It can be hard to keep up with any sort of business trends and how to respond now and once this is over. How consumers reacted to social media in March and April during the first lockdown is completely different from how consumers will react during the holiday season.

Here are our top three predictions for what the social media world will be like heading into 2021 and once we return back to “normal.”

No. 1: Virtual gatherings are here to stay.

Virtual events are up 1000%, and Facebook reported a 50% increase in live viewers as companies got creative during the coronavirus outbreak. Digital events, video, and social media groups are all on the rise during COVID-19, and we predict they will continue to stay relevant well into 2021. 

For example, several fitness brands have offered free live-streamed classes through their social platforms, and zoos have offered virtual tours of their facilities. People appreciate the “community” of virtual gatherings and will use social media as a safe space to get to know new people and brands.

Businesses have been forced to adapt to this new landscape, and smart companies are using the virtual platform to enhance the customer experience. Brands should focus on content that engages, adds value, and demonstrates empathy for people’s daily lives. 

No 2: Greater authenticity will inspire brand loyalty.

Eighty-five percent of Gen Z and millennial consumers say they will stop supporting a brand after a scandal, and we predict demand for social advocacy and authenticity will only continue to grow  in 2021. The next generation is more in tune with brands that stand with social causes, because they want to feel like they’re making a difference when they buy from these businesses. 

Millennials are a brand-loyal generation and appreciate when companies are real — real people doing real things that aren’t tone deaf to the current climate. We aren’t as concerned with perfection as we were before our lives changed in lockdown. We’re all working in sweatpants now, and it’s good to know we’re not alone.

This pandemic has forced us to change our behavior in numerous ways. Many of us have reevaluated our values and needs now that we’re spending more time indoors and in front of screens. Online has become a place where we can confront serious issues and let our voices be heard. When brands don’t align with our values, they risk alienating us. 

Some brands are getting it right by actively listening and engaging with their communities; others are taking a political stand and temporarily leaving social media. The point is that brands are doing something, and people are noticing. 

Additionally, while people are spending more than three hours a day on social media on average, brands have the opportunity to stay relevant — now more than ever. Brands that satisfy their customers’ craving for experience will be rewarded when we’re done with this crazy year. 

Moving into 2021, think about the real value you want to bring, what you want your brand to stand for. Don’t post just to post. 

No. 3: Brands will see their customers as humans.

Mental health awareness has become more important during the COVID-19 pandemic, and 40% of young consumers say they appreciate brands that address mental health. Moving into 2021, we predict more brands will bring mental health awareness to the forefront of their marketing campaigns. 

Recent research suggests that authentic posting on social media may actually have a positive impact on our mental health. Brands can create an emotional connection and be an advocate for social change through meaningful content.

Communicate, inspire, and educate your audience. Show real people in your posts. Storytelling is a far more effective way to sell your brand — and your customers will be better off for it too. 

It will be a long time before we return to “normal.” Brands that have ignored the plights of their customers will have to overcome the hurdle of making themselves relevant again. Meanwhile brands that got to work, paid attention, and showed empathy will be better positioned to succeed when the fog of this pandemic lifts.

Brands that advertise on social media platforms will always be able to get in front of buyers. Additionally, trends are showing that shoppers are likely to continue their ecommerce shopping long after we’re able to safely return to public life. 

If this year has taught us anything, it’s that it is nearly impossible to prepare for what life throws at you. But we still have lives to live, jobs to work, and businesses to run. With a bit of forward thinking and social listening, we can handle the unexpected in a post-COVID world. 

Maggie Ryan
Maggie Ryan
Maggie is a marketing + sales enablement specialist for Belo + Company. She has experience in various aspects of business, including starting her own company in Uganda, Africa, while she was serving in the Peace Corps. When she is not creating at work, she enjoys spending time with her family and making jewelry.