Billions of people around the world are locked up in their homes following stay at home directives issued by governments in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. This has seen many people turn to social media for support, communication and entertainment. As such social media engagements have increased over the last few weeks.
A report by Kantar, a data, insights and consulting company shows that there has been a 61% increase in normal social media engagement.
Instant messaging platform, WhatsApp happens to be experiencing the greatest gains. According to the report, WhatsApp has seen a 40% increase in usage. Its parent company, Facebook also witnessed an increase in use of 37%. These gains are attributed to users under 35 years.
Facebook itself acknowledged this surge, saying voice and video calls have more than doubled on Messenger and WhatsApp. Live video has also doubled on Facebook and Instagram. This is obviously because many people want to stay connected with friends and family during this period where they may not be able to meet in person.
The company also admitted its challenges in keeping the apps stable during this period since most of its employees are working from home.
The Facebook family of apps is not also the only one that has seen a spike in usage over the last couple of weeks. Popular video-sharing app, TikTok has also seen a surge. According to MBW, TikTok’s global downloads in a week were up by 12%, rising from 25.4m on March 9 to 28.5m by March 16.
The ByteDance-owned short-form video-sharing app, allows users to post videos that can last up to 60 seconds, appearing on phones in fast-paced feeds. Many of these videos are fun, with users dancing or lip-syncing to songs for a trend. This makes it a top spot for young internet users who will love to still have their fun even while they stay at home.
Best Time and Place to Pass Information?
Beyond entertainment and keeping in touch, these platforms can also deal with more serious issues. One of which is helping to spread the right information and measures while this outbreak lasts.
Most of these major social networks have put in place measures to combat vaccine misinformation as well as to encourage people to connect in new ways. On WhatsApp for example, there’s a World Health Organization (WHO) bot that gives access to accurate information about COVID-19.
Facebook and Twitter have also put in place measures to weed out misinformation and hoax during this period and surface reputable sources when coronavirus-related queries are searched.
On TikTok, which focuses on younger demography, WHO has also rolled out informational videos, livestream Q&As and a challenge to make hand-washing fun – #SafeHands challenge.
With all these measures combining with the already interactive nature of these platforms, usage can be expected to soar even more as the stay at home directives last.
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