In light of the recent outbreak of Coronavirus and self-isolation on the horizon, the world is spending a lot more time glued to their screens to stay connected. New research, conducted by Global Web Index, found that 27% of people are checking social media more than they usually would in order to keep up with the latest information. Similarly, influencer agency Obviously found a 76% increase in daily accumulated likes on Instagram #ad posts over the last two weeks.

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As the Covid-19 pandemic unfolds, many have turned to online groups for community support and assistance. Some are in Facebook groups, others have set up sub-threads on parenting forums and NextDoor has seen a big spike in sign-ups. Reddit have also reported a huge traffic surge in the past week.

On top of social media, the use of digital in general is significantly on the rise. In healthcare, GPs have been urged to go digital to prevent the spread of Covid-19, while in government, more and more MPs are undertaking political engagement virtually. Many video conferencing services such as LifeSize and Microsoft Teams have amended their offerings at no additional cost to ensure employees can communicate and collaborate from their homes efficiently. For example, live streaming service Discord, which is usually aimed at gamers, are allowing up to 50 users at a time to videocall, aimed at attracting teachers and students so classes can continue remotely.

Many brands and industries are also using digital creatively and effectively to communicate messaging and cut-through the noise.  London Museums are conducting virtual tours while Bumble are actively disassociating social distancing with loneliness in their “it’s time to take dates digital” campaign. They’ve used this as an opportunity to promote their new video chat and positioned it as a “new best friend” for Bumble users. In addition, they’ve used Instagram Stories to gauge public interest in virtual dating. Finally, Borussia Dortmund attracted 2.9 million fans to a ‘digital fan viewing party’ after their matches were cancelled – showing a UGC challenge, fan reporter vlog, and a documentary. This continued to promote the brand and their sponsors, despite sport fixtures being suspended.

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Social media platforms themselves are playing a key role in helping people stay connected and cooperate during this time by promoting their different tools and features that can be used.  A selection has been outlined below.

·      Facebook have given local authorities access to their ‘local alerts’ notification tool, allowing them to distribute relevant updates and information among communities much more quickly and easily. They have also created a $100m grant to assist small businesses during the Coronavirus outbreak

·      Twitter has offered advice for how brands can communicate effectively and helpfully to their audiences during the outbreak, with a focus on getting the right tone of voice, and correct up-to-date information

·      LinkedIn have made ‘LinkedIn Learning’ courses giving working from home advice free for users during the outbreak. The courses focus on both mental wellbeing, alongside technical and efficiency advice while working away from the office

·      LinkedIn are also adding a ‘Coronavirus’ banner in the news feed for content that focuses solely on the outbreak

·      YouTube have eased it’s ‘sensitive events’ policy to allow WHO and other bodies to advertise on the platform regarding coronavirus – to help them spread accurate information to users. All income from these adverts are being donated to relief efforts

·      Google have launched a new Covid-19 website dedicated to education, prevention, and assisting local resources. They have also made it easier for businesses to mark themselves as ‘temporarily closed’ to assist with any coronavirus closures

·      Google’s Classroom feature is also readying itself to manage widespread online teaching should schools be closed across the world

·      Snapchat and TikTok have both partnered with the WHO to keep users informed with accurate, timely informationSnapchat have also rolled out AR filters and stickers promoting health measures to their predominantly younger audience

·      YouTubers and other influencers from around the world have been enlisted to help spread accurate information about COVID-19 to their audiences. The move has to been to try and engage younger audiences, and prevent the spread of ‘fake news’ about the outbreak

·      A number of social media platforms, including TwitterYouTube and Facebook have had to accelerate towards automation tools to detect and remove content that goes against community standards, with their human workforce out of offices around the world due to the outbreak

Thinking by Will Atkins