Collabstr | Effects of COVID – 19 on Social Media and Customer Behavior
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Effects of COVID – 19 on Social Media and Customer Behavior
April 14, 2020

Apart from causing a quick and spontaneous action in every sector of life and human behaviour, COVID-19 has created an abrupt change in business environments, including social media marketing and influencer marketing. These challenges presented themselves so soon that the resilient power of most businesses is failing them, while some other companies are experiencing a spike in sales and traffic.

Another factor in business that has continuously been affected by the pandemic is consumer behaviour. Those observing social distancing cannot go about their normal daily lives and are even forced not to visit local shops (most of which are closed). Many, due to concern about the availability of goods, resort to impulsive panic buying and stocking.

How are Consumers Buying?

Research by the Neilsen Company in the US on Canada, China, and the United States from March 3 to March 13 indicated different thresholds that affect the way consumers buy products. There were six different thresholds represented and addressed consumer behaviour related to a COVID – 19 effects. These consumer behaviours were not limited to buying more products that help the overall health, buying epidemic control materials such as masks and hand sanitizers.

China, which is inching towards 'normal' marketing environment, is experiencing a 100% increase in online grocery sales with companies like Alibaba recording about a 220% increase from the sale of grocery materials. Another interesting thing to mention in these facts is that most of these users came from old aged people. DIG Insights in for Canada and the US from March 3 to March 13 also confirmed that the number of users above the age of 40 grew by 237%, and Alibaba recorded a 400% increase for customers who are 60 years and older.

DIG insights went further to survey American and Canadian Users and found out that 50% of Americans make plans to shop online as opposed to going to shops, which is a 4% increase in that 10day survey. This survey also confirms a 14% increase for 50 – 64-year-old customers who will rather shop online than go to stores in the US. Canada recorded a 40% for people in the same category with an 8% increase for people who are aged 35 – 49.

While some offline businesses are in what may seem to be their biggest challenge in centuries, those who have built their business dynasties online seem to be rejoicing the more. A survey from Comscore Media Metrix Custom Reporting of Comscore Inc shows that consumers are visiting top e-commerce sites like Amazon, Target, and Walmart more. This data was collected from February 3 till March 19, with an increase from 705 million to 779 million people, respectively.

Categories of Products Frequently Bought

This growth in e-commerce has favoured some business categories more than the others. Categories related to food and health supplements have experienced a significant spike. This research was confirmed by Perpetua Amazon Sales Data by category from February 1 to March 21. This means that consumers are increasingly buying food and health care products online. Predictions are that customers are going to cling to online purchases even after the pandemic.

How Can Businesses Adapt to This Change?

Even though the categories of items that are most visited online fall in the category of staple products, food, provisions, beverages, and health and supplements. There is a need for businesses and social media influencers to respond to the different consumer behaviour of customers during this pandemic.

Brand strategists should ensure the proper education of their customers about their online presence. They should also educate the older audiences who are just keying into online shopping for the first time.

Social Media Behavior

If we are considering the effects of COVID-19 on consumer behaviour, there is an inevitability that binds us to talk about the effects of the same pandemic on social media behaviour. The Neilsen Company in the US published a report titled - "Staying put: Consumers forced indoors during crisis spend more time on media." This report presented data from the United States and Canada. Neilsen predicted that social media consumption would grow by 60%. This prediction was concluded from the data of other events that forced people to stay inside their homes. For example, Hurricane Harvey in 2017 caused a 54% immediate increase in social media usage in Texas and a 45% increase in New York during the Snowpocalypse in 2016.

The same thing is also happening for Canadians who experience. Comscore reported a 21% increase for time spent on social media websites, 31% for time spent on instant messaging websites, and 4% for entertainment websites. They went further to detail that 32% more minutes were spent on music websites.

If you are a social media influencer, these stats should affect your social media strategy. Since consumers are spending more time on social media, it is in your best interest to reach out to them with engaging content. They are also beginning to talk about topics that positively interest them. So, it is best to key into some of those topics and meets the interests and needs of your consumers in this evolving time.

How to Participate and Make Conversions

There are four basic things to consider in your business vision now, especially for social media influencing and marketing.

Credibility: your customers need the trust that their investments in your products will be worth the value and purchase. Hence, you should have an optimum service for your customers as well as portray the right image through ads and customer experience.

Relatability: It is always best to lead with empathy in this pandemic of coronavirus. It is understandable to have a vision and mission. But you should notice that other brands, too, are making adjustments to help the conditions of most people. Hopefully, when the whole issue ends, you will be having a lot of loyal customers for your products and services.

Realism: Consider a more intimate relationship with your customers. Instead of automated e-mails and robotic messages, you should come to the level of understanding for your client. Let them know you are there for their needs and make sure to fulfill the propagandas and promises of your business goods and services.

Engagement: with the surge in online presence and activity of people who are at home. Businesses should learn the best ways to keep their customers engaged. Social media advertisements should not just focus on passing a message about your brand. Instead, it should have customers' engagement in mind. A vivid example of these are companies coming up with hashtags, TikTok challenges that will both help pass on a clear brand message of empathy as well as engage customers and patrons.