It’s been a few months since we’ve asked, “What’s up in social media?” Now seems like a good time to regroup and look at the current trends in the space including the latest platform functionalities, consumer usage rates, how brands are marketing on social now and content ideas. Much of what is happening in social media is a result of the lifestyle change we’re all going through, but will these changes last or are they a temporary phase?
Let’s examine the areas closely to find out:
According to “The Future of Social Media at the Turn of the Decade” in The Drum, half of the world (3.5 billion people) is on social media as of December 2019. The author predicts this decade will bring more government regulation and oversight for the industry to protect privacy and fight online harassment.
Probably not surprising, social media usage has surged during the pandemic. Business2community posted an interesting look at the sites that are surging and those that are changing. It reports usage of Twitter, Instagram Stories and LinkedIn are up, while Facebook and Instagram are changing. These sites are seeing a change in the type of content people are posting and it’s much more interactive.
Other social media platforms considered “dark” are also surging. TechCrunch reported at the end of March that WhatsApp usage is up 40%.
Conversely, the number of people listening to podcasts (which was hot, hot, hot at the beginning of this year) is down because no one is commuting. Time will tell if audiences return.
What are Brands Doing Now?
Brands are reevaluating their social strategies. Many have cut their ad spend in other outlets and have increased their focus on social. As AdWeek put it, “every brand’s social media strategy went from nice to have to a necessity.” Social Media Today reports the Interactive Advertising Bureau says that one in four media buyers and brands have paused all advertising for the first half of 2020. The article points out that as usage is up and competition for ad space is down, now might just be the perfect time for brands to continue to advertise.
There has been at least one significant change in functionality on social media platforms recently: Instagram Live Streams can now be viewed on desktops. This enhancement comes as more brands, celebrities and influencers are interacting with their audiences on social media, live video is growing and people are viewing online videos in general now more than ever. Watch for additional features to come from Instagram in the very near future as well. It is rumored to be working on tools to support donations (a feature already popular on Facebook).
While some of this current activity is likely temporary (I don’t believe social usage will remain as high once people return to work), some things, such as the growth of interactive content, live video and government oversight around the world is likely to be long-lasting.
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