Welcome back to Stories from the New Normal – a curated collection of inspirational content to help you and your marketing thrive in the months ahead.

Is Instagram still relevant? Is TikTok just for kids? Could viral video be the future for marketing? In this edition, we look at the changing face of social media in the wake of Covid-19. Plus, The Return of the Pub! In this week’s edition of Friday Drinks Delivered we highlight our local favourites that are now open for business.

 

Has COVID-19 changed social media – for the better? 

Social media has followed the path of so many new technologies. In the beginning, the possibilities of this network seemed almost endless.

It gave people everywhere a new way to connect with family and friends from all over the world. And, businesses could get in touch with their customers directly.

Soon, annoying ads and invasive data collection tools dulled this initial shine. And then the keyboard warriors – the internet trolls and cyberbullies showed up.

So while social media still offered useful ways for people and businesses to connect, it was getting increasingly difficult to separate the good stuff from the noise. Millennials were opting for digital detoxes, parents were switching off social media, and previously active audiences searching out simpler more traditional ways to connect and communicate, IRL.

Then COVID-19 happened. As a result of widespread lockdowns, social media has had somewhat of a renaissance.

alonetogether

In the face of this crisis, social media usage has surged once more according to a recent study showing a whopping 61% increase in social media engagement.

Twitter has 23% more daily users than a year ago. Messaging across Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp also increased 50% in countries hardest hit by the virus.

Increased usage across all messaging platforms has been biggest in the 18-34 age group. WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram have all experienced a 40%+ increase in usage from under-35-year-olds.

People everywhere are returning to social media for updates and connection.

While some brands are ‘going dark’ to save costs on marketing and advertising, there is very little expectation from consumers that brands should stop advertising. In fact, absence from these marketing channels could have a profound and lasting impact on your brand awareness, potentially delaying recovery in the post-pandemic world.

What may have once been seen traditionally as a shorter-term marketing tool, the platform is proving useful for longer-term marketing strategies and cost-effective, faster content production.

“Brands which start thinking about the transition out of the COVID-19 crisis now will be in a better position to drive trends and emerge stronger than those that don’t” Mobbie Nazir, chief strategy officer, We Are Social

Prioritising connection over conversions

When disruption happens, social media has huge potential for brands – an effective way to reach large audiences and tell their brand story.

From tackling questions on Facebook Live, or highlighting the heroism of essential workers, or using social media to reach kids in need, businesses are prioritising connections with their customers.

Our very own Newcastle Live, are using Facebook’s live platform to host virtual Trivia nights. https://newcastlelive.com.au/newcastle-live-music-trivia/

On an individual level, messages of solidarity now overshadow selfies in social media. #supportlocal #stayhome #alonetogether

#istayhomefor image

Authenticity and the rise of Tik Tok 

In the past, platforms like Instagram have been panned for being ‘fake’ and lacking in authenticity, with its perfectly curated feeds and stylised photos.

Instagram vs Reality

And while the age of Instagram isn’t over yet, new social media applications are nipping at their heels. TikTok is potentially the refreshingly ‘real’ anti-dote to the ‘too-perfect’ Instagram. The platform allows users to create short, lo-fi video clips to shared with people who have similar interests.

So while Instagram has grown into a well-established platform, TikTok’s young demographic doesn’t care about the perfect shot. TikTok is making social media fun again and the videos have an unmatched viral quality.

“Part of the reason TikTok has taken off is that things move in trends,” says TikTok Director of Marketing, Stefan Heinrich. “People have been in a perfect, manufactured world for a while, where they have to live up to expectations and ideals. TikTok is about real life”

TikTok is a very powerful channel for content creation and brand storytelling. TikTok is offering a much-needed avenue for connection, creativity and comedy during coronavirus.

The ABC reports that TikTok has had huge numbers of videos with coronavirus-related hashtags like #quarantine (25 billion views), #happyathome (11.5 billion views) and #safehands (4.1 billion views).

Families and housemates are having fun creating the viral videos together. Those isolating are able to find a platform to connect creatively with strangers – all sharing experiences in this pandemic world together online.

tik tok grab
Friends and families isolating together are turning to TikTok.

So, how can businesses leverage this platform?

Agencies are already beta-testing ad tools in order to leverage the user-base and take advantage of the viral nature of this platform.

Brands can tap into the memes, sarcasm and trends (dances, music, parodies) and there is still a place for authentic storytelling.

WHO is focusing on easy-to-understand text and infographics to get their message across. Whilst the Red Cross have tailored content to fall in line with the style of the platform. Their videos feature a mix of expert testimonials, graphics and IFRC team members dancing to popular songs.

WHO and Red Cross on Tik tok
WHO and the Red Cross are using the platform to dispel misinformation and provide advice and guidance during the crisis – in very different ways.

 

The enduring importance of video

According to Forbes, YouTube, Snapchat and TikTok represent the mindshare of the millennial generation are accessed more than any other ad platforms. The success of TikTok, particularly around engagement and active users, makes it invaluable for brands focused on connected to people under 30.

So, what do all these platforms have in common? Video content.

Whilst the success of video across social media platforms is not new news, it’s now more relevant than ever.

Instagram’s IGTV and Facebook’s Stories have both had noticeably higher engagement during the crisis, with brand and content creators leveraging these channels to produce more content more regularly to satisfy their captive audiences.

Youtube comedian Nats What I Reckon even raised over $60,000 collaborating with The Cancer Council by leveraging his viral social media Iso-Cooking Show popularity.

Cook-along with Nat’s What I Reckon for Cancer Council

 

Social (media) responsibility 

Social media is great for accessing content fast. However, whispers, rumours, and fake news can also spread faster than ever before, feeding anxiety, fear and increased mental stress, especially  in times of uncertainty.

Platforms are doing their bit, by using algorithms to help stop the spread of misinformation. It’s up to brands to be responsible for their social media communication too.

“We’ve always hoped that our digital tools would create connections, not conflict. We have a chance to make it happen,” says New York Times’ columnist Kevin Roose. “For users, it’s worth remembering that any technology is only as good as the intentions of those using it. Letting lies spread isn’t that different from spreading lies.”

According to this research, Consumers expect advertising to make a positive contribution to society: ‘Talk about how the brand is helpful in the new everyday life’ (77%) ‘Inform about their efforts to face the situation’ (75%) and ‘Offer a reassuring tone’ (70%)

Striking the right tone will mean brand messages are welcomed in the current pandemic environment, but will also deliver lasting brand equity in the longer term. What you say now will impact your brand in the post-pandemic world.

Life after Covid

Social media has enormous value for brands when disruption arises, as it is an efficient way to reach large numbers of people with their messaging and foster their community. As lockdowns are phased out, the time people spend with social media could normalise, but certain habits learned in the COVID era may remain.

The task for marketers is to remember the strategies they should keep once this crisis ends – be it a greater interest in live streaming, using this medium as a long-term tool for brand building, or more agile production techniques for developing video and other content.

 

Friday Drinks Delivered

As of last week, our local hospitality industry has seen the easing of restrictions and many are finally reopening their doors. So, with some pubs now open for business, we’re giving a shout out to some of our local favourites:

For all you meat-lovers out there Churrasco is back! Meet are now open for dine-in. Book ahead and enjoy a drink to relieve those inevitable meat-sweats.

Meet Restaurant

More of a burger fan? Head to Rascals for their Burger of the Week #BOTW and grab a tinny with your takeaway.

Rascals Burgers

Fancy the bar all to yourself? Our friends over at 5 Sawyers are offering exclusive access to you and 9 friends.

5 Sawyers

So that concludes our Stories from the New Normal, in summary…

  • Social media can play a role at the heart of brand-building.
  • The crisis has made consumers hungry for content. Find new ways to connect, tell stories through video.
  • Striking the right tone is crucial for success in social: be authentic, be real and make real connections with your customers.
  • Support your local!

Stay safe and see you next time.

 

Dive into a brave new world with us as we uncover inspirational content to help you and your marketing thrive in COVID-19 Australia.

 

References

WARC: The evolution of social media through COVID-19

Forbes: 11 Reasons TikTok Is A Sleeping Social Media Giant. 

Fast Company: Sorry, ads are coming to TikTok.

COVID-19 Barometer: Consumer attitudes, media habits and expectations.