29 May 3 Lasting Changes to Social Media Communication Beyond COVID-19
During this time of major, constant change, social media has become much more to businesses than a quick check-in by consumers – it’s been their lifeline. Organizations have had to adapt quickly to a new set of best practices, learning to communicate more quickly and directly than ever before.
Some have made this transition smoothly; some have fallen behind, and some are split between a social media department pushing for quicker response time and leadership hesitant to act or speak too soon. As the pandemic continues to various stages, what’s next for social media and the business owner relationship?
Engagement Has Skyrocketed – Will It Stay That Way?
Reflecting our increased usage, incoming engagements increased on average by 44 engagements per day across all networks and industries. On a per-post level, they also increased by about 7.3 engagements per post per day, according to Sprout Social.
This is a testament to the strength of the social media communities built up before the pandemic – before there were critical, time-sensitive announcements to share – because they were established with a community that expected to find information and connection there.
Consumer Expectations Have Changed
As businesses reopen, our economy and social life start to re-stabilize, and the weather (in the Northern hemisphere) gets warmer and sunnier, we expect to see social media engagement decrease – but to higher levels than before the pandemic.
Consumer expectations have risen since COVID-19 began, and the public now expects businesses to anticipate their questions, clearly and succinctly communicate new procedures, and show leadership by getting ahead of news and even government officials. And of course, to display empathy and humanity.
Businesses that want to stay relevant, even post-pandemic, must continue meet those demands… and this will require shifting social media strategy to incorporate how the majority of us have been using these tools.
When It Comes To Communicating, Employees First
Employees, too, have new expectations. They are looking for leadership within their company first – for trustworthy information, clear decisions and policies, and connection to their colleagues and the company’s mission.
And they are the first line of communication for businesses: they seed word of mouth and influence reputation, whether their employer is trustworthy. Social media may not be the best or first way to communicate with them – but it will certainly play a role in how they share with their communities. Companies must provide content worth sharing, as a tool for their entire staff.
What Does Pandemic Social Media Look Like?
From Zoom meals with friends and family to YouTubing how to play an instrument, it’s clear social media has forged a path that even rookie digital platform users can embrace. A Fact Tank article from Pew Research tells us how Americans are using the internet during COVID-19: We’re ordering online more than ever before, enrolling in virtual classes, hosting virtual parties, and downloading more apps.
The harder-to-measure, but indispensable, parts of our work have also moved almost entirely online:
- Share our global experiences… and create new ones.
- Stay connected to colleagues and peers, even as some continue to work remotely for the foreseeable future.
- Make new professional connections and deepening existing ones.
- Discuss blog posts and podcasts – not because we have more time, but because we are all hungry for connection and alternate perspectives.
- Enhance our professional development – by learning about leadership through crisis, learning about industries that are emerging, radically adapting, and those that are struggling to stay afloat.
Now that we’ve developed new skills and habits, much of this work will stay online – and it will continue to morph with the coming phases and new ways of doing business that haven’t yet stuck. COVID-19 has permanently altered the way we communicate and connect with each other. As businesses, we should focus resources on anticipating – and shaping – the future of professional communication.
GillespieHall VP of Operations ◆ Consumer Behaviorist ◆ Digital PR & Marketing Strategist