Covid-19 impact: How have social platforms upped their game?
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Covid-19 impact: How have social platforms upped their game?

Covid-19 impact: How have social platforms upped their game?

Are social networks trying to capitalise on “social” distancing?

social media

Whether working from home or just biding away the days, people by and large are spending a lot more time on social networks at present.

The platforms, of course, are doing their best to seize this opportunity to grow and to leverage the significant uptake in traffic.

For what feels like an eternity, social networks seem to have been locked in a battle for a bigger share of the pie. But the current pandemic seems to have levelled the playing field, forcing titans and newcomers alike to reinvent themselves to adapt to this new reality. Ultimately, it’s a race against time to innovate and find new ways to monetise and drive traffic. This is evidenced by some of the updates and new product launches from social networks in the past month.

For starters, most platforms are trying to help brands navigate the waters of Covid-19 by offering resources and best practices to keep them advertising and spending money on social media.

For instance, Facebook released a ‘Social Distancing Best Advertising Practices’ report for brands, Snapchat launched a ‘Covid-19 resource centre’ for brands to best adapt business ads, Linkedin is regularly updating its ‘Navigating coronavirus’ resource hub, and even Shutterstock got involved by launching a Covid-19 hub with resources for brand messaging.

But all the resources in the world would be for naught, if they didn’t drive traffic, and perhaps more importantly, engagement.

So, to keep users on social media engaged around the topic of coronavirus, i.e. to create a use for these resources:

Facebook unveiled their new ‘Care’ reactions to share support during the pandemic
Instagram introduced ‘Thank You Hour’, ‘Stay at Home’, and ‘Support Small Business’ stickers and shared stories
WhatsApp released ‘Together at Home’ WHO stickers to help users check in on loved ones
TikTok introduced ‘Small Gestures’, allowing people to share gifts from the platform’s e-commerce partners

For those working from home, social networks have launched new features like ‘Quiet Mode’ from Facebook for screen time management and ‘Wanna talk about it?’ – a series of mental health awareness segments from Instagram featuring Netflix stars.

LinkedIn is also expanding access to the ‘Events’ tool and launching an AI-powered video interview training tool for digital recruiting.

Several platforms are also launching donation  features to help support the battle against Covid-19, with Instagram introducing ‘Live Donations’ to raise funds for NGOs during livestreams, Snapchat rolling out a ‘WHO Lens’ to donate to Covid-19 relief efforts, and TikTok releasing ‘Donation’ stickers to raise funds for select non-profits without leaving the app.

Additionally, and in the wake of video conferencing becoming the new norm, Facebook has also taken aim at Zoom’s market share by launching ‘Messenger Rooms’ for casual, free video calls, WhatsApp has expanded its end-to-end encrypted video call limit to eight people, and Google has made its video call service ‘Meet’ free for all until September 30.

This flurry of new resources, tools and features begs the question of whether all of this is an opportunistic power grab or a genuine act of solidarity.

But for all businesses, including social platforms, the current reality is to adapt or die; so, do the reasons for adapting really matter?

Fadi Khater is the founder and managing partner of digital marketing agency Netizency 

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