Noémie Soetekouw, Digital Marketing Executive
With the majority of European countries in near-total ‘lockdown’, the digital world is the new centre for exchange, collaboration and human interaction. Therefore, unsurprisingly, we have already witnessed major shifts in the digital sphere.
We have listed some of the biggest changes and trends in digital since the start of the pandemic and ask will they be here to stay?
Despite social distancing, people are still connecting with loved ones – but online
Approximately 2.7 billion people are currently in lockdown, meaning social platforms and group video chat apps have become the ‘new normal’ method of communication, helping people stay socially connected with friends and family. This goes a long way to explaining the increase in internet traffic and the use of social media platforms around the world.
New applications allowing people to gather and communicate directly on their phone have emerged! The Houseparty app, owned by Epic Games, who developed Fortnite, offers virtual ‘get-togethers’ with friends (up to eight devices) so that users can chat and play games through their mobile device. In recent weeks, Houseparty has welcomed millions of additional users worldwide and the app has been a huge hit. However, recently users have been complaining on social media platforms that their Netflix, PayPal and Spotify accounts have been hacked and are claiming that Houseparty is responsible. These complaints have since gone viral, although there is no evidence yet that the application has been hacked. Houseparty believes that these rumours may be part of a smear campaign to undermine its success! Whether these accusations are false or true, this raises the issue of online security. As internet use diversifies and intensifies, could it be that the rise of using online communications channels are providing more opportunity for hackers? If so it is key for users to stay more vigilant than ever, following common security best practices such as staying aware of any online scams and skimming through junk emails.
While we have seen a number of new communications channels emerge, the Facebook-owned messaging app, WhatsApp, has recorded a 40% increase in usage, driven by demand to help people stay ‘connected’. Instagram has also quickly adapted its offering to bring people together, launching Co-Watching. This new feature allows users to share their ‘liked’ Instagram posts with friends via video chat, so that they can scroll through them together, and react live, in real-time. To access the feature, start a new video chat and click the new icon at the bottom of the video chat screen. Sharing a meme, funny videos or inspiring image has never been easier!
Social media platforms seed Coronavirus information and ask us to ‘Stay at home’
Faced with the dangerous rise of fake news on social media platforms, social media platforms are acting responsibly and using their channels to communicate official information about Coronavirus. It’s important people can stay informed but in the right way.
While WhatsApp is on the rise to keep friends and family connected, it is being used by the UK government to keep the UK connected to the very latest updates and alerts. Anyone can subscribe to official advice about COVID-19 via this new chatbot; to start receiving updates, WhatsApp users have to send ‘hi’ to 07860 064422 (or +44 7860 064422 for international users).
Instagram and Facebook are taking exceptional measures. On the Instagram news feed, WHO/NHS updates are highlighted to help ensure the distribution of reliable information. Across both platforms, if you search for Coronavirus keywords, there is a clear link to the NHS website, to highlight accurate and relevant information to prevent the spread of the virus. Similarly, all published content related to Covid-19 is being removed from the ‘explore’ tab unless it comes from official sources. Content highlighting any misinformation or conspiracy theories reported by health agencies and local health authorities will simply be removed from the platform.
Both Instagram and Facebook have also launched the #stayathome initiative to allow as many people as possible to have fun, grow and learn together through live sessions from their mobile, at home. The goal of the project is to support communities, artists, brands, museums and cultural institutions, by gathering and sharing live video content while fighting against the general gloom following the cancellation (or postponement) of many cultural events (concerts, exhibitions, festivals, etc.). Instagram also launched a ‘Stay at home’ sticker for people to use on their Stories when practising social distancing during this pandemic. The posts featuring this sticker will also be highlighted on a dedicated story thread. It aims to promote lockdown measures and encourage the population to respect the actions taken by the various governments.
Twitter, on the other hand, is also seeing growth, as people flood to the app to get news and updates from real people, in real-time – it is the informative social media platform of choice. The social network confirms that its number of active daily users has soared: +23% in just a few days.
Working from home means new communication tools
With Coronavirus, remote working is becoming the new norm. While some people have been used to this practice for a long time now, others will have to ‘step up’, adapt and acquire the right tools to stay efficient…
– Zoom, Skype, to not forget the face of your colleagues
Zoom is particularly suited for the current crisis: its free version already allows any user to bring together up to 100 people in a video meeting for 40 minutes. With more than 200 million daily users in March, compared to their usual average of 10 million daily users, Zoom is more instrumental than ever for helping organisations of all sizes to stay in touch and operational. Zoom also offers a practical option, you can, for example, add a background image to hide your home. Or, similarly, with Skype you can blur the background to give you some privacy.
– Slack, the messaging application to communicate swiftly
Slack allows you to create a virtual workspace with your colleagues for free. This platform offers several possibilities: communicating in a group or in private conversation, exchanging documents, photos and videos or making audio and video calls, which works well for communication between colleagues. Unsurprisingly, remote working being the new normality, Slack has become a must for many companies. In just one week, the application has welcomed 12 million additional users.
An interesting time for e-commerce
While footfall in physical retail stores is understandably decreasing due to social distancing measures, e-commerce actors have been particularly busy. Many consumers have been ordering online since the beginning of the month of March, for basic necessities such as food items and hygiene products.
It seems to be a sensible solution given that the shops are closed, and we are all encouraged to stay home. Consumers will have more time to do online research, compare prices and order on the internet.
People want to be entertained!
With lockdown continuing, one can understand the fear of individuals sinking into deep boredom after weeks without being able to leave their home. Although many people may decide to devote their free time to manual and cerebral activities: reading, cooking or sports at home, many of us rely on the internet and its diverse entertainment options.
Streaming services have already massively benefited from the Coronavirus restrictions. With a large variety of options: Netflix, Now TV, Prime Video and now Disney+, it will be interesting to see how much this crisis has positively impacted them once enough data has been collected.
Online gaming can provide an entertaining social activity and avoid spending days and days at home, bored, without human interactions. This is why the PC gaming platform, Steam, has in the last few weeks, attracted the highest number of users on its platform. This renewed interest in gaming is great news for an industry that has been suffering from a slowdown in recent years.
As we continue to adapt to meet the requirements of these uncertain times, the internet is more important than ever to keep us connected to a part of the ‘real world’ we once knew. Thanks to modern day technology, we can chat with friends virtually and meet with colleagues online, retaining a part of our more usual lives. As things progress, who knows what else is in store, one thing we do know, is that the world of digital will continue to react to customer needs and demands to bring us all together.
If you’re looking to stay relevant in this changing landscape but don’t know where to start, here at OneAgency we are always available to assist you. Whether you would like to focus on digital marketing or social media marketing, our team of professionals will be able to build a bespoke strategy for your business.
Get in touch today, give us a call or fill in a contact form.