May 25, 2021 [cresta-social-share]

The social media landscape: 2020 How it started? VS 2021 How it’s going?

On the 1st of March 2020 South Africa saw the first case of COVID-19, and with that came a plethora of changes in how we live our lives and of course, the advertising and media industry. The “new normal” had businesses encounter an undeniable shift that served to better or worsen situations for companies, depending on how they responded to what they were faced with. Luckily for us, we were prepared to survive through the lockdown – read about our tips on how we did it.

COVID-19 Struck: What now? 

From the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, social media became crucial as it was used as a communication tool for the dissemination of information, news sharing, escapism, consumption, and entertainment. Naturally, that was what social media was intended for, but the outbreak saw people forming virtual networks and relationships which helped them cope with the pandemic better. The 2021 Trends Summit shows that 46% of women and 41% of men spent more time on social media than they had prior. We see this in how people have taken to platforms such as Instagram and Tik Tok to escape from their realities and entertain themselves through the stories and videos that they record, watch and share. Studies have shown that in the United States, Tik Tok has increased in terms of dominance amongst users but it still has some way to go before it catches up to Instagram. 

As unpredictable as 2020 was, we witnessed the social media landscape create, nurture, and maintain connections and relationships. The shift to social media platforms cannot be denied as it helped people continue to have livelihoods, reach untapped audience groups and create business opportunities. Digital marketing is held in high esteem as it was the bridge that helped businesses connect to their audience and customers. Alas, the catch here is that brands had to think smart about how to fit into their customers’ lives on social media.

Fast forward to 2021: What was our takeaway from the pandemic? 

For many, COVID-19 is not something to write home about. However, we beg to differ. We say COVID-19 accelerated what was already coming in that it was inevitable that the digital sphere would reign supreme in the future. Some businesses thrived under the hard-hitting changes that came with the pandemic and still pushed strongly to get through it. We can attest to that as we survived through the unpredictable wave of the pandemic by using the digital space to our advantage. Not only did we secure new clients, become a top media buying partner but we maximised on how much we could achieve our goals as a company through using social media. In addition, we looked into the needs of people who are also still trying to survive through the lockdown and offered our services to meet and exceed those needs. Our previous blog contains tips on how we prepared for the “new normal”. 

Honestly, the shift to social media platforms was eye-opening as it separated innovation from creativity as we worked remotely and relentlessly to still produce our best, despite the status quo. We realised that a lot of industries had to figure out how to marry innovation and creativity while running a tight ship and delivering optimum results. 

From threat to opportunities: What has become of the social media landscape? 

With more people working remotely, it has made room for fluidity in terms of social media marketing strategies, as well as easier access to people at specific times. Brands can now track and keep up with the thoughts, attitudes, desires and needs of their followers and consumers through what they share on social media.

According to Talkwalker, 40% of South Africa’s population are social media users and with the pandemic striking, it forced nearly everyone to alter how they communicate and interact. The term “social” took on a new meaning as the usage of social media shot up.

 4 ways in which the social media landscape was impacted by COVID-19:

  1. It gave rise to more creativity and entertainment with people’s content. Reports show that 42% of Generation Z users want more “fun” content on their feeds, and they delivered that kind of content. Social media platforms followed suit as Instagram launched Reels where users could create brief videos that educate and entertain viewers. 
  2. Marketing companies have since kept their fingers on the pulse and recognised the change in the times that people post, and the number of engagements their content receives. For instance, on Instagram, before COVID-19, the best times were Wednesday at 11 AM, and currently, studies show that there is higher traffic during weekday working hours. 
  3. The pandemic has caused a shift in the kind of platforms people gravitate towards to produce and consume content. Whatsapp saw a 40% rise in usage, and Tik Tok’s global downloads grew by 50% every month since March 2020. Facebook has reported a 50% surge in messaging.
  4. Different social media platforms are now used as business tools to further brand interaction and bridge gaps between the brands and their users. Talkwalker highlights how social commerce has changed in the way that we are purchasing through social platforms. And with that, we are experiencing the move from web and social, to an Application that allows people to make purchases. Social shopping is prevalent and continues to work out for the masses.  

The year is 2021 and beyond

The virtual world has grown and found its users forming different communities which contribute to the survival of brands and businesses. We can’t talk about 2021 social media trends and not mention the shake-up that social media platforms have seen this year. People have gotten used to interacting with brands from the comfort of their own homes, and this has been a growing trend we still see in the year 2021.

Here are 4 trends that we think are pivotal this year

  1. The uptick of live streaming and events – Live stream broadcasts have taken the spotlight on the list of social media trends this year as its viewership has risen by 50% since the start of 2020, coupled with higher rates of engagement compared to regular video uploads. The migration to digital and social media spaces to make the most of the “new normal” are like second nature as we still have to maintain social distancing to prevent the spread of the virus. Live streams held for tutorials, classes, concerts and meetings on platforms like Zoom help businesses and brands get by and achieve their day-to-day operations. They have been proven to be effective in maximising engagement, driving optimal viewership and dominating the world of social media as game-changers.
  2. Growth of social commerce- Social media storefronts and pop-up shops have been a great addition to the social media industry as they created opportunities for people and birthed new business brands. Quick, easy, safe shopping has been made possible through platforms like Facebook Shopping, launched in 2020, where you can set up a shop and make purchases there. The Deloitte Insights report states how purchase behaviours have seen a change, not only for consumers but for the brands as well. This echoes the importance for brands to integrate their service offerings with social media advancements to take advantage of the surge in their target audience, using these social media platforms.
  3. User content generation- The content created by social media users has been transparent and real, to a point where brands could leverage that to figure out what users want, need, and what they are lacking. UCG has enhanced the customer experience as it has made it more important now more than ever. People are cravings enjoyable experiences with brands that are memorable. What does this mean for brands? They now have to put the customer first and create content that is relatable, with the use of influencers. Furthermore, market research took on a different meaning and therefore the increase of content creation, influencer marketing, and inclusivity has grown and worked out for brands as they also got onto that bandwagon. For brands and individuals, this is a good way of having purpose-driven social media campaigns that go towards worthy causes.  
  4. Social content for goodwill- Purpose-driven campaigns and strategies have taken centre stage as the pandemic illuminated the causes that need more attention and immediate help. Sprout Social shows that 74% of respondents on a Twitter survey wanted brands to show acts of kindness and with that, brands receive positive traction as their efforts to support society are seen and felt. This year, we are more likely to see brands helping however they can to make their mark in people’s lives. To achieve this, one of the things brands also must understand their raison d’etre and commit to the strides they take to make a change. 

Get in touch with Wetpaint Advertising

We have soldiered on through trying times and made it out to tell the tale of how we are still thriving. We create experiences that transform, engage, and make brands more memorable whilst growing businesses and riving ROI. Contact Wetpaint Advertising, for agile, innovative, and sustainable results, par excellence. 

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