Through the ongoing period of COVID-19 there is no doubt that community has been the bond that has kept us together. And throughout lockdown, it’s been social platforms that have kept us connected.
As the #StayHome message took hold, numbers soared on social media: Instagram saw a 22% increase, TikTok a 27% rise in engagement, and live streaming on both Facebook and Instagram doubled in March. Internet usage has surged to new highs during lockdown.
But does this mean the ‘social’ has been put back in social media?
Over the past couple of years we have gradually seen social media’s trajectory become increasingly marred by a saturation of aspirational and #AD content – removing the ‘social’ element in lieu of borderline push-marketing. Yet, the pendulum has swung and as ad-spend decreases, it looks as if brands have turned with the tide and are beginning to abide with the ‘new normal’; blending culture and social purpose to propel authenticity, and importantly engagement, with their community.
Winning hearts over minds
What trends are dominating this ‘new normal’? Undoubtedly virtual participation, user generated content (UGC), live streaming and social freebies have been popular forms of communications for brand social channels.
From fitness to fashion, the ability to not only to listen to audiences, but respond accordingly – echoing culture to inspire engagement has delivered content with greater emotional value to consumers. Thinking ‘product first’ no longer speaks to the masses; consumers expect their social feeds to reflect their communities, as well as its values, building one-to-many conversations.
Who has been #trending?
In this new environment, social needs to be smart, creative, and more inventive than ever – and brands are pivoting from lifelong aspirational messaging, jumping into unchartered marketing territories.
Low-brow, rough-and-ready yet clever content is trendy and more aware of current community tastes; from Prada and Burberry shifting their content to TikTok and Jacquemus releasing their Spring 2020 collection featuring models in their own homes shot entirely on FaceTime, campaign production has been overhauled to low-fi, consumer-led shoots and content. True creativity and connection for today’s lockdown world does not depend on big budget production – social media consumers have their arms open to fresh, inventive approaches.
Just a catalyst?
In the time before coronavirus, brands became increasingly reliant on connecting with audiences through paid ad content on social platforms – and of course, this remains a core tool in the marketers arsenal. Yet, the shift towards experimental content with a focus on adding value to the wider community is driving brand communication forward; for now.
In times of uncertainty, when numbers may tell us to play it safe, it is instead a moment to embrace creative instincts, and let intuition lead us to be bold in the face of ‘the new normal’?
Article by: Alexandra Faulkner