Control and certainty are for someday.
Right now, we’ll settle for — no, we crave — comfort, entertainment, community.
We reach for stories of real people’s experiences to unite us and swipe or look away from tone deaf, lifestyles-of-the-rich-and-famous drivel.
What a difference a few months and a vicious virus can make. Social media used to be all about sharing our lives, (the polished IG-perfect versions) and living vicariously through others.
Now, it’s still about our lives, but without the polish or filters. We post our fears about the present and the future and others breathe a sigh of relief; “I’m not the only one.” We share our crazy, uncoiffed hair, still boxed, undone projects, and stress baking holy disasters, and we are reminded of how imperfectly perfect life can be.
Because of a new level of vulnerability, we learn that even if times are not, we are all normal.
Just as in normal times, we turn to social media when we need a laugh.
And humor is not off-limits during this time of social unrest. According to this article on Wearesocial.com on how brands should be responding to Covid19, the author, Olivia Valentine writes, “Many are on the lookout for entertaining content in their feeds too; a third want more funny content, memes and how-to videos.”
Speaking of memes, Karine Bengualid wrote a stellar — and very funny — article on the topic titled: “COVID Memes: Why we’re using laughter to get us through a pandemic”.
It’s filled with some of the best memes I’ve seen and tons I hadn’t. But it’s not just for laughs. Karine did research on the science of humor, even interviewed a “neuro-humorist,” (yes that’s a thing).
She reports, “These days, the anxiety, fear and inherent loneliness from being isolated for weeks at a time can be jarring, to say the least. Humor, in that sense, is helping to unite us in a socially acceptable way.
It’s been shown that as a positive emotion, humor can undo the physical effects of negative emotions like anger or sadness, which corroborates the idea that one of the evolutionary purposes of positive emotions (notably humor) is to ease or reduce tension.” She also lays out what makes a successful meme and how to use them in your marketing.
Social media is also where we swap stories and where we go for hours each day to be comforted, educated or challenged to think differently.
Global Web Index found that over 80% of consumers in the U.S. and UK say they consume more content since the outbreak, with broadcast TV and online videos (YouTube, TikTok) being the primary mediums across all generations and genders.
Older users are spending more time on Facebook and YouTube, while younger users are spending more time on TikTok and Twitter.
TikTok, what the heck is it and who is it for?
I’m a newbie to this platform and probably wouldn’t have given it a second thought had it not been for the brilliant comedienne, Sarah Cooper. She’s famous for her lip syncing Donald Trump videos.
The app is all about short form video and according to InfluenceMarketingHub.com who answered my question, “What the heck is TikTok?”In this article, “videos start playing one-by-one and a viewer gets lost in a sea of fun, entertaining, addictive video content.”
The company won’t share their user demographics except to say it’s “mostly young people.” And then there are the TikTok Boomers. More and more of that population are exploring and getting hooked.
Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram
The big four have all seen an increase in time spent on their apps, but not exactly at the times of day they are used to. SproutSocial.com publishes a comprehensive report on social media trends at the start of each year. It includes best times to post on the heavy hitters here and what’s happening with engagement across a number of industries.
They recently updated the report to reflect changes since people began working from home or not working but staying home. If you schedule your social posts, I’d suggest checking in with their update.
Here’s what they said about Facebook:
“While we previously found that Wednesday from 11 a.m. and 1–2 p.m. were the best times to post on Facebook, and Wednesday was a peak day overall, our updated review showed that activity was more consistently high throughout every weekday.
Currently, the best times to post on Facebook are Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10–11 a.m. In fact, every day at 11 a.m. was a slight peak compared to the rest of the day.”
Important takeaways from my research on how to use social media during the pandemic:
- Check your images to ensure you aren’t sending the wrong message. No images of big gatherings, air travel to exotic locations, people hugging.
- People are looking for reassurance, and commonality. Be vulnerable. If you don’t include some personal story in your marketing, now is a good time to start.
- Admit if you feel awkward or unsure of what to post. Times are fraught and confusing.
- Share user-generated content. Hootsuite defines UGC as “any content — text, videos, images, reviews, etc. — created by people, rather than brands.” They used the example of “a cute image of a baby wearing Warby Parker glasses (posted by mom) that racked up more than 15,000 likes and inspired comments like “I die of cute.”Had the brand staged this image with an actor and high production values, would the audience have been so moved? It’s all about being human right now.
- Listen to your audience so you can read their It will inform what you write about or offer.
I’ll let Rhian Mason of Mumbrella.com.au put a button on this round-up. In her excellent post titled, The Pandemic is Changing the Social Media Pecking Order, she points out that “we are entering a period of digital disruption on a global scale.”
What I’ve compiled here may or may not still be the case in another few months.
She closes by saying, “We’re adapting to a new normal that changes at every stage of this crisis. We don’t know what will be a blip in the media landscape versus a long-term behaviour change – all we do know is that to be heard, you need to be useful, authentic, and most importantly, human.”
One thing will always be true. We are not avatars or demographic composites. We are, and long to be seen as, human.