By: Dr. David Bridwell, People Scientist
There will likely be many long-term changes in consumer behavior and psychology that we’ll see as the COVID-19 crisis comes and goes. In this article, we’re focusing on three changes in people’s behavior on social media that we’ve already seen within the first few weeks.
An Influencer Shakeup
The first change in social media that we’ve already seen is a change in our perception of influencers. Before the onset of this global pandemic, we typically thought of influencers as people who traveled and lived lavish lifestyles. Based on the change in human values that happened as a result of this crisis, these influencers no longer hold attention like they did before. There’s been a restructuring in what we value in our influencers.
The new influencers will be focused on our basic needs. They will give us nutrition tips, they’ll teach us how to cook, they’ll teach us how to exercise at home and they’ll recommend new hobbies and household projects.
One of the interesting consequences of this change in influencers is that people initially won’t recognize that these new influencers are influencers. That means that when we initially see these influencers talking about products, we won’t recognize that they’ve been paid to talk about those products. This means that we’ll be more receptive to what they say and less likely to dismiss their content as an advertisement.
Rethinking Calls To Action
The second change in social media behavior to consider during this crisis is that, since people are staying at home, they tend to have multiple devices in front of them at the same time. This means that people will be more likely to respond to a call to action on their phone by searching for a product on Google than they previously would. Before, we saw a lot of ads while searching our phone in public, and we didn’t have the time to click on a link to another website on our phone. Now, we can simply search for the product on our other device without losing track of where we are in the social media feed on our phone.
Ephemeral On The Rise
The third change in social media behavior that we’re seeing is a rise in ephemeral content. Ephemeral content is content that only appears for a limited time and then disappears. This is how Instagram stories and Facebook stories work. Live streams are also a type of ephemeral content because you can only catch them live for a limited time.
People will always be attracted to ephemeral content because it creates a fear of missing out (FOMO). We used to frequently experience FOMO when we saw social media posts of our friends going out to events and doing a bunch of fun things that we were missing out on. We aren’t seeing these posts anymore, which opens up the opportunity to continue to engage our desire for FOMO online through ephemeral content.
Many companies like YouTube and Twitter are already looking at how they can add more ephemeral content to the mix (e.g. stories). And brands can take advantage of this increased attention in ephemeral content by going on YouTube live or Facebook live and talking to their customers. B2B companies can especially take advantage of this opportunity to talk to their clients live and address their concerns. Since things are changing so quickly, live streaming is an important opportunity for take-out restaurants to update their customers on their hours, their products, and how they are careful in packaging our food during these difficult times.
In summary, there are many changes that we’ve seen in the way people consume media during these difficult times. In the world of social media marketing, notable changes include the influencer shakeup, changes in calls to action, and increase in ephemeral content.
To learn more, check out our webinar on Psychology of Fear: Consumer Behavior and Marketing During a Pandemic.