With social media use soaring, retailers must give followers and customers seamless ways to buy and create engaging, exciting social media content. Meeting your customers where they are is critical.

Suzin Wold

Suzin Wold, senior vice president of marketing at Bazaarvoice

COVID-19 and the resulting stay-at-home orders have changed just about everything, including our relationship with the internet, how often we use it and how we use it.

We are online more than ever, working from home, attending school from home, catching up with friends via video calls. And as stores and restaurants around the globe shuttered their doors for months on end, we all headed to the internet to order essential items online, causing unprecedented online order numbers.

As our screen time hits all-time highs, how has our social media usage changed? We wanted to find out, so we surveyed over 4,500 Influenster community members in North America about how much they’ve been using social media during the pandemic, what they are using it for, and how their behavior on social media has changed throughout the experience. Here’s what we found.

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 Social media usage is way, way up

The majority of respondents agreed that their social media consumption (72%) and posting (43%) have increased during the pandemic. The majority said they hadn’t decreased their time on any of the social media platforms they use. Respondents used Instagram most (44%); that platform also is where respondents increased their overall consumption most during quarantine (69%).

The majority of respondents are sticking to the platforms they know. But, of those who have tried a new platform, the platform of choice has been TikTok (33%). This should come as no surprise because Instagram (30%), TikTok (24%), and YouTube (21%) are the preferred platforms to use as an escape or to use purely for enjoyment during these times.

As we all spend more time on social media, reading about the pandemic can become overwhelming. However, more than half of our respondents are currently not avoiding any of their social media platforms due to COVID-19 information overload. Of the respondents who are avoiding social media, they are mostly avoiding Facebook (20%), followed by Twitter (12%). Almost half (42%) of respondents said there is not a preferred platform they turn to for COVID-19 information or updates.

Users are posting with a purpose

As their social media usage has increased, respondents seem to have noticed a change in what they and others are posting during this time. 

42% of respondents said the content they post during the pandemic is similar to what they used to post before. However, 33% indicated they are striving to avoid posts that others might perceive as tone-deaf. It seems as though there has been a shift in people’s timelines due to current events. Before the pandemic, respondents felt that the overall tone of content on their social media feeds was ‘too much information with selfies and life updates’ (26%) followed by ‘positive’ (29%). During the pandemic, respondents feel that the tone of the content is ‘overwhelming’ (17%), an ‘information overload’ (15%) and ‘stressful’ (15%).

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As social and racial justice issues have become a central focus in the current zeitgeist, especially in the US, 86% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they had seen a shift in the content they see on social media. They said that the content is now ‘political,’ ‘overwhelming,’ and ‘stressful.’ Almost half (49%) of respondents agreed that they had changed their posting behavior due to current events. Of the respondents who have changed their posting behavior, 43% share more information and resources as they relate to current events, 42% are refraining from sharing as many selfies and personal updates, and 37% are sharing more content supporting specific causes.

People are using social media for shopping 

People aren’t just on social media to share updates and read the news — they’re shopping too. However, this isn’t necessarily a result of the pandemic. Over half (54%) of respondents said they would shop via social media before the pandemic. It seems as though social media has been an integral part of many consumers’ shopping habits for a while. 

A vast majority (82%) of respondents indicated that social media is the most common channel from which they get information about a brand and its products. Almost a third (29%) indicated that most of their new purchases come from social media discoveries. But it’s not just where they discover new products; consumers like to resonate with a brand’s overall social media presence. Over half (66%) of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that social media plays a crucial role in impacting their decision to consider a brand and 62% agreed or strongly agreed that social media presence influences their decision to purchase from a brand. Ensure your profiles look good because almost three quarters (74%) of respondents visit the brand’s social media pages before buying.

As we all do our part to slow the spread by staying at home, we’re turning to social media to keep us occupied and entertained. As a brand, it is crucial to keep this in mind and give your followers and customers engaging, exciting content and a seamless way to purchase from you. Meeting your customers where they are is critical in a time when so many are not able to or will choose not to step foot in your physical store for the time being.

Bazaarvoice provides ratings and reviews technology to 647 of the merchants in the 2020 Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000.

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