64%* of people are watching more live TV than before the pandemic, news sites are experiencing a boom in visitors, but where are we going for a break? Our daily exercise, Zoom calls and pub quizzes with friends are providing some relief, but the reality is that we’re still drawn to hitting the refresh button on social media. Facebook reported a 50% increase globally in people using its live streaming service, whilst Kantar reports that usage across Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook has increased by 40% amongst 18-34-year-olds.
But what kind of content should brands be creating at this time? 55% of social media users want to see more positive news, and a third want stories completely unrelated to COVID-19.** There have been some brilliant examples of companies who are doing genuine good deeds throughout the crisis, Burberry using its global supply chain to help deliver 100,000 surgical masks to NHS workers; and Claridge’s opening its doors to workers needing to isolate from their families working at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington to name just two.
What about brands that don’t have the means to support the crisis in a big way? Or might be deemed irrelevant. Is there still a place for them? With more people tuned in and consuming social media than ever, it’s a prime opportunity. People are looking for stories and content that makes them smile or laugh. It’s impossible to read the news without feeling drained or anxious, and that’s where some platforms and content can bring genuine relief, tips, ideas and inspiration. It’s about treating the topic sensitively, but also remembering that our mental health is important too.
From Joe Wicks and his now institutional morning PE lesson; to illustrator Rob Biddulph who runs a live draw-along twice a week; to Benjamina from Bake Off creating store cupboard recipes for sweet treats without flour and eggs. This is a time many influencers have chosen to shine. Creativity is infectious, and we’re welcoming it. Campaign magazine reports that engagement on social media has increased by 61% during lockdown.
So how can brands make the most of the pandemic without being seen to use it to their advantage? Think outside of the box. Just as influencers have worked hard to adapt their content to the current climate, so can brands and with great success. Greetings card brand Rosie Made a Thing has created a wealth of new lockdown designs, and introduced a personal handwritten service allowing people to send her cards without leaving their homes. Thoughtful touches, helpful services and products, videos and memes that make you laugh…it’s not trivial, it is helping us through a global epidemic, and we all have a role to play, leading or supporting.
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*Havas Media Group survey
**Global WebIndex study of internet users in the US and UK March 2020