When the pandemic started, social media use soared. As consumers began spending more time at home, social media became one of the only ways to safely interact with friends and family. Not only did users flock to old, familiar platforms, but the pandemic hastened the development and adoption of new social networks as well. Globally, social media usage since the pandemic grew at the fastest rate in three years, growing to 4.2 billion users worldwide.
Throughout 2020 social media became an indispensable part of everyday life. The new normal created a dynamic shift where users weren’t only using social media sites as places of leisure but also for news sources, education, shopping, and more. Even as businesses welcome back customers in growing numbers, it’s likely the increased reliance users have developed on social media during the last year is here to stay.
What have we learned from the pandemic?
The pandemic demonstrated that consumers and brands must be flexible because nothing is permanent except change. It also showed how adaptable society could be when forced to make sudden changes. Perhaps the greatest long-term effect on society will be that digital and virtual solutions are the first choice when performing many routine tasks.
Acceleration of Online Shopping Trends
Online shopping, already embraced by many consumers, catapulted forward in adoption over the past year and is now an integral component of many consumers’ shopping habits. E-commerce grew over 30 percent in 2020, a vast acceleration compared to previous annual average growth rates of 12 to 16 percent. Overall, 20 percent of retail purchases in 2020 were made online. Without the pandemic, that kind of increase would have taken several years to happen.
While no one can predict the future, it appears that the pandemic has permanently altered online shopping behavior and that this surge in e-commerce will be a lasting result. These new shopping habits may represent an opportunity for brands and retailers. Even with shipping delays caused by the increase in online buying, e-commerce sales are soaring, which means that retailers must meet their customers where they are and give them seamless ways to buy through social media. Social media is proving to be a common channel for customers to get information about a brand, its products and make purchases. With many shoppers visiting a brand’s social media pages before buying, it’s more important than ever to ensure your profiles are updated and accurately reflect your website, hours, location, availability, and other pertinent information for customers to find you.
A Growing Source of Information
Seeking information remains one of the top motivations for why people go online. While traditional search engines are still the primary way a user searches for information, an overwhelming majority of users now also use social media tools in conjunction with conventional search engines.
Throughout the pandemic, social media proved to be a useful tool for brands to disseminate helpful information to a wide audience. Overall, Americans spent more time on social media in 2020 than they did in 2019, spending an average of 82 minutes per day on social media platforms, which represents a seven-minute increase from 2019. Users also increased their time spent on mobile messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, now spending an average of 24 minutes per day just on those types of channels. Although overall usage did go up, it’s important to remember that some social media channels are likely to sustain more engagement long-term than others.
However, while users are spending more time on social media, they are often posting less, consuming information instead of creating or sharing it. That provides an opportunity for brands to create engaging content that stands out, encourages a response, or drives action. Users want to see businesses that genuinely care about their customers, building a connection between consumers and the brand. Businesses need to focus on crafting social media channels with great content by focusing on sharing stories, highlighting current trends, and employing captivating visuals. When used well, these platforms can be an excellent customer service tool. By promptly replying to questions and utilizing messenger services, customers are able to see how dedicated you are to keeping them satisfied.
Although we don’t yet know the full impact of the pandemic on social media, it’s likely the most significant long-term effect will be our increasing usage of these platforms. Looking ahead, successful companies must continue to remain agile and adapt to these changes.
This last year may have tested your business and resolve, but at Safeguard, we know that with the right products, services, and planning, your local Safeguard Advisor can help you build momentum as you move forward. Your advisor will learn about your unique goals and then help you craft a strategy with personalized solutions that fit your business. Call 855.778.3124 to get started.
- In 2020 social media users grew at the fastest rate in three years.
- Changes to social media usage since the pandemic include using social media sites as places for news sources, shopping, and more.
- Online shopping grew over 30% in 2020, a vast acceleration compared to the previous annual average growth rate.
- With the right products, services, and planning, your Safeguard Advisor can help you build momentum as you move forward.