Over recent months, we have seen dramatic changes in people’s lives and routines around the world. With many of us self-isolating and staying home to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, our collective attention has turned to online social platforms unlike ever before, in an effort to keep us connected and entertained. Innovation in content creation coupled with creative features being rolled out on platforms themselves is contributing to this shift in the way in which social media is being used. Here are a couple of things we’ve noticed:
If you regularly scroll through your Facebook and Instagram feeds, you’ve probably noticed a spike in notifications for live streams, and their associated icons pulsing at the top of your feed. You’re definitely not alone. As people are staying indoors, more creators and brands are using the live platform than ever before, to reach and communicate more personally with their followers. The best thing about live streaming is that there are very few barriers to entry, such as minimum follower count or verification. Anyone can go live. With options for multiple users to join forces to live stream, this method is effectively providing an exchange of audiences, and getting multiple communities to come together.
Cross-Generational Content on TikTok
TikTok’s low-level production value and simple in-app editing make it accessible for most people with a smartphone, but up until recently, its main user base has been Gen Z, the most tech-native generation to date. With many families at home together throughout the recent months, there’s been a rise in multi-generational TikTok content, with Gen Z getting their parents, grandparents and siblings involved. With short-form video challenges made by parents, for parents growing in popularity, and parents getting involved in viral dances and skits with their kids, social media is being used as a tool to bring generations together during their quarantine and it makes for incredible entertainment.
The rise in video communication methods is both extremely useful for community-building and working remotely, but can also be used as a quirky way of staying in touch with those close to you. Zoom, the video-conferencing platform, has seen a major uptick in usage over the recent months. In an effort to make the app more appealing to their users, Zoom enables you to apply a filter to your video display that gives your face a softer look and minimizes the appearance of imperfections.
The Houseparty app has also seen an increase in users since self-isolation started, with people eager to retain their connections with people as normally and effectively as possible. The video hangout app, a somewhat more casual version of Zoom, had 2 million downloads last week, compared to 130,000 a month ago. Facebook has also experienced a 70% surge in video calls on their messenger platform, demonstrating how a video call has become a preferred option for many as it can be more personal than a phone call.
The entertainment industries have been significantly impacted by self-isolation restrictions, with musicians, dancers and celebrities turning to social media to maintain continuous content and connection with their fans and followers. These groups of creators have also been seen leveraging live platforms.
The Global Citizen and World Health Organization initiative #TogetherAtHome is made up of a series of virtual concerts infused with factual news about the COVID-19 virus. The hashtag trend is being used by those with influence to build safe spaces for communities to access both entertainment and information while also celebrating brave healthcare workers doing life-saving work on the frontlines. The event has been streamed online on multiple global platforms including Alibaba, Amazon Prime Video, Apple, Facebook, Instagram, Twitch and Youtube.
Social media platforms are increasingly being used to fuel creativity, build community and support mental health during this challenging time, and we’re seeing affirmation of values like unity and transparency across content made by brands and content creators. It’s expected that online creators will continue to become more and more inventive and frequent with what is shared, although the competition to be visible is at an all-time high. With each platform so saturated with content, it’s crucial that the spread of uplifting and fact-checked material is at the forefront, in order to continue to have a positive impact on communities.