A Look at Social Media Usage in the Summer of COVID-19 and Beyond

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In March, Campaign reported on a study that found that people were spending more time on social media in the early days of the pandemic.

While the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, things have started to look more “normal” in recent weeks. So, has this trend of increased social media usage continued? And, what does this mean for businesses looking to engage with consumers online?

In an effort to answer these questions, I searched the web to see what experts and the data have to tell us.

eMarketer Explains How Coronavirus Is Changing US Social Media Usage

In a recent article, eMarketer highlighted the fact that increased usage of social media had continued into early May. They also point out that the increased social media usage varied by platform.

However, social media usage and engagement levels will evolve as time goes on.

According to the article, “…certain social media sites will sustain more engagement than others, and time spent on these social networks and messaging may change as people start to go back to work and school.”

“Platforms like Instagram and Snapchat will see a more sustained boost than Facebook from coronavirus, as US adult Facebook time spend is up just 1 minute from our previous forecast, at 34.4 minutes per day,” the article continues. “However, the pandemic has helped to flatten their significant 2017-2019 decline of time spend, and any growth at all for Facebook is considered positive.”

Additional information can be found in the eMarketer’s US Social Media Usage Report 2020.

The Smart Insights blog also has some interesting information that supports the findings reported by eMarketer.

In particular, they report that “engagement rates are significantly higher on Instagram compared to Facebook, but there tend to be fewer posts per day.”

“As might be expected, the Fashion sector has some of the highest engagement rates and post frequency,” the author of the Smart Insight’s blog post writes.

Econsultancy Weighs in on Worldwide Social Media Usage

As Econsultancy reports, “New data has revealed that the number of global social media users grew to 3.96 billion at the start of July 2020, which is a surge of more than 10% in the past year. This also means that more than half the world’s population now use social media.”

That last statement is impressive.

It is therefore not surprising that Econsultancy’s Future of Marketing report found that “64% of marketers see social as becoming more important to their organisations’ marketing effectiveness over the next two years.”

They list some trends that they are watching, including: “Ad revenue slowing down,” “Marketers re-evaluating influencer partnerships,” “Video goes from strength to strength,” “Brands to capitalize on growth of Tik Tok (or Reels?),” “Risk of boycotts and backlash increase,” “New features to reflect our new normal,” and “social selling gains momentum.”

An article on SocialMediaToday also has some predictions about what social media marketing will look like as we move into a post-COVID world. Their predictions include: “Social media jobs and creativity skills will be valued more than ever,” “Video content will continue to rise in production and demand,” “The more authentic the content, the better,” “Honesty, empathy, and social consciousness will win on social,” “Social listening and community engagement will be at the forefront of marketing strategies,” and “We’ll be constantly adapting to new technology and changing consumer needs.”

Strategic Considerations

Until we find a reliable treatment or vaccine for COVID-19, people will be forced to look for alternative ways to communicate with others.

As a result, social media usage and engagement levels should remain strong in the next few months. The current statistics available seem to support this prediction.

As more people return to work and school, the use of social media should start to trend downward somewhat. However, it should remain higher than it was before the pandemic. And, since we are creatures of habit, it is entirely possible that social media usage will remain higher than the pre-pandemic levels long after a cure or vaccine is developed.

Until then, it is a good idea to monitor social media trends and the conversations that are happening within your online communities.

The increased usage of social media during the pandemic and beyond might make social media marketing more important than ever.

However, as is always the case, it is important to remember that your results will vary based on many different factors.

With this in mind, your business should be evaluating your social media efforts and making changes where needed. This will help you adjust your social media marketing efforts to best meet the needs of your customers and accomplish your marketing objectives.

Chad Thiele

Chad Thiele

I am a marketing analyst and strategist. I earned my master's degree from West Virginia University in Integrated Marketing Communications in 2023. I also hold a bachelor's degree from UW-Madison in Sociology with a Concentration in Analysis and Research, and I completed the Mobile Marketing Professional Certificate Program from Auburn University in 2015.