It’s been almost five months since restaurants and shops started shuttering their doors, face masks became the newest fashion accessory and hand sanitizer elevated to elite status, no longer an item that’s just casually passed on the shelves in Walmart. We’ve been living in a pandemic, and a world affected by a pandemic is a world unlike most of us have ever witnessed before. Like everything else, social media has changed during a pandemic—and it remains to be seen which changes are temporary and which will become the new norm.
Keeping gatherings and getaways under wraps
With social distancing having become a must, we’re seeing fewer and fewer posts about trips, events, gathering and so on. On the one hand, part of this is likely due to the fact that social media users are doing fewer of these types of activities. On the other hand, part of this is likely due to the fact that people are not posting about these activities despite doing them, out of fear of shame from their peers. Either way, people are keeping more of the personal to themselves.
Making it about the mask
When we are posting, especially about being in close proximity to someone outside of our households, we’re making sure to mask up for the camera (and hopefully they stay on off camera). Now that we’ve added “mask” to the list of things to check for before leaving the house (phone, wallet, keys, mask), they’re everywhere—social media included.
Our team has even noticed an increasing abundance of mask photos on stock photography platforms like Shutterstock. Five months ago, mask stock photos might have been few and far between.
Vying for the virtual
Activities have been canceled—and it stinks. However, humans’ inherent need to have something to do—and something to look forward to—has led to the proliferation of virtual events. Virtual work meetings, virtual cocktail hours—even virtual 5Ks and cooking classes—we’re seeing these being advertised all over social media.
Ever-evolving business updates
Your favorite restaurant re-opened for dine-in—hooray! Five days later, an employee tests positive for COVID-19, and you’re back to ordering your second-favorite for take-out. With the pandemic situation changing by the hour, businesses especially are using social media to keep their followers abreast of sudden changes to their operations. In fact, in the current climate, a business’ social media page is often the most accurate and up-to-date source of information—even over a website.
Commercial commitment to COVID defense
Another way social media has changed during a pandemic—seeing more and more businesses include health and wellness as part of their marketing strategies. What do people want right now? To feel protected and safe from the threat of disease. Thus, it’s a no-brainer that brands are going to want to show patrons just how they are working and operating to ensure their protection and safety. Social media has been a critical platform during this pandemic for businesses to attempt a restoration of trust to keep customers coming in, whether virtually or in-person.
Combative vs. staying connected
Social media has always been a springboard for conversation, some of which inevitably turns combative. After all, people feel 10 feet tall when hiding behind a computer screen. Amid a pandemic, this hasn’t changed. In fact, it’s only heightened. If we can’t talk to each other in person, then social media will have to do for now. However, the choice to use the tool aggressively, vs. the motion to appreciate social media for its ability to keep us all connected during the unprecedented time we’re living, in is certainly a personal one.
Only five months in, we’ve already watched how social media has changed during a pandemic. With our situation shifting at the drop of a hat, it’s slated to continue to evolve to not only meet the needs of a socially distant society, but to fulfill our innate desire to feel connected to our fellow human beings.
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