How COVID-19 Has Changed Social Media Trends
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by Korrin Bishop
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, nonprofits had a fairly reliable formula for determining the best times, days, and ways to market on social media. However, with more people working remotely and looking for virtual connections, there's a need for a more fluid social media marketing strategy.
COVID-19 has taught us several marketing lessons, such as taking a more empathetic tone, which are predicted to stick around once we're through the pandemic. Another trend we've seen is that social media use is up, reported as 10.5% higher in July 2020 than in July 2019. Twitter also saw its own first quarter increase of 23% for daily active users compared to 2019.
This presents an opportunity for your nonprofit to assess its social media marketing strategy. As people are spending more time on social media, you need to know when, where, and how to meet them where they are. In this post, we'll explore the ways COVID-19 has changed social media trends and how you can update your nonprofit's social media marketing formula to keep reaching your supporters.
Changes in the Best Times to Post on Social Media
Marketing companies have been analyzing social media engagement since the start of the coronavirus pandemic to gauge any changes in the best times to post on social media. These findings vary by platform and with the evolving landscape of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many companies report weekly updates, which you can check for changes over time.
Below, we share some of the latest findings for three of the top social media platforms, as surfaced by Sprout Social. Your nonprofit can use these to elevate or pivot your social media strategy to drive more engagement and get in front of supporters when they're most active.
Pre-pandemic, the most optimal times for posting on Facebook were Wednesdays at 11 a.m. and between 1 to 2 p.m.
Following lockdown orders, Facebook engagement has been consistently higher throughout the week. Currently, the best days for posting are Monday, Wednesday, and Friday between 10 to 11 a.m. Posts after 5 p.m. have lower engagement, presumably because remote workers have more demands on them during this time.
Before COVID-19, the best times to post on Instagram were Wednesday at 11 a.m. and Friday between 10 to 11 a.m. There was also fairly consistent user engagement in the early mornings and late evenings throughout the week. Weekends were the worst time to post, particularly on Sundays.
Currently, Instagram is seeing overall higher traffic concentrated during the weekday working hours. Monday, Tuesday, and Friday at 11 a.m. and Tuesday at 2 p.m. are the best times to post for engagement. In addition, with more users turning to Instagram for a distraction and form of entertainment, weekends between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. have seen high user activity, as well.
Previously, the best times to post on Twitter were Wednesday and Friday at 9 a.m.
Currently, peak activity on Twitter is happening on Fridays at 9 a.m., with engagement generally higher starting at 7 a.m. Overall, user engagement with Twitter has remained more consistent than other social media platforms before and after COVID-19, likely due to people using the service as an information and news source.
Movement Toward Creativity and Entertainment
In addition to changes in engagement times, the impact of COVID-19 on social media trends has also affected the type of content with which users are most likely to engage.
Overall, there has been a movement toward posts that showcase creativity and aim to entertain. Social media users in the United States spent over 90% more time using apps to create and edit visuals post-pandemic than they did previously, and 42% of Gen Z users report wanting a greater volume of "fun" content in their feeds.
TikTok, a social media platform that focuses on short, creative videos, added over 12 million U.S. visitors in March 2020 alone and had over 2 billion downloads by April. Following the popularity of this trend, Instagram launched Reels, a similar concept to TikTok, where users can create brief, engaging videos that entertain and educate viewers.
You can respond to your supporters' rise in creativity by increasing your nonprofit's, as well. By pivoting your content to include greater creativity and entertainment, you can tap into an engaged social media user group.
Greater Reliance on Organic Material
With companies and nonprofits needing to cut advertising budgets or otherwise be mindful of their marketing funds, there has been increased reliance on organic, user-generated content post-pandemic.
- Understanding what types of content your supporters are already sharing and on which platforms, and focusing your efforts there
- Providing your supporters with a unifying, accessible message that creates a sense of community through social media
- Incentivizing your supporters through social media games, giveaways, and partnerships
- Leveraging the power of virtual events and livestreaming
- Interacting with supporters' posts to reinforce your gratitude for them sharing your message
User-generated content helps organically spread your mission to new audiences in an authentic way. If you're looking to tighten your marketing budget due to pandemic-related funding cuts, user-generated content is a great way to continue to have a strong social media presence during this time of increased user engagement.
Follow COVID-19 Social Media Trends to Establish an Effective Marketing Approach
Social media marketing during the pandemic is a fluid situation. Engagement levels and times are subject to change with the evolving situation, and users are finding new ways to create entertaining content. By following these trends, your nonprofit can stay in tune with the moment to maintain an effective social media marketing strategy.