The Benefits of Social Media During COVID-19
By: Jiya Makar As of 10th December 2020
A large number of people use social media. Whether it is to stay in touch with family and friends, stay up-to-date with current news, share an opinion, or for entertainment, social media has always been the go to. Popular social media sites as of this post include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat. When the Pandemic first began some of us decided to step away from social media, while the rest of us turned to social media to fill the void created by social distancing. 2020 saw an overall increase in social media engagement. US adult social media users spend 24 minutes more in a day than they did in 2019. That’s 146 hours more!
Social media has helped individuals stay motivated and positive during the pandemic. it is a tool to spread awareness, and educate the population in regards to COVID-19. In addition, social media has supported small and large businesses by promoting them and advertising things such as online ordering and curbside pickup.
Social media encourages some poeple to stay motivated. Whether that be sharing the struggles of working from home and studying online, to creating a routine for your own mental and physical health, to connecting others that share a hobby. Most individuals would record and share their journey such as losing weight in an attempt to inspire others to start or share their own journey. This included the famed Chloe Ting workout, which gained popularity through Tik tok. Social media also promoted the idea of positivity. Celebrities such as Jennifer Garner and Amy Adams posted videos of themselves reading popular children's books to raise money for child hunger. Memes, tik toks and tweets also helped lighten the mood and created an air of positivity. A whole lot of social media challenges gained popularity during this time including the ‘toilet paper challenge’ where pet owners would stack toilet papers to see how many stacks of toilet paper their pet could jump over. Toilet paper was hoarded initially when coronavirus began to spread, this challenge being a playful response to the panic buying and a convenient way to distract us from our painful reality.
During the pandemic social media also allowed individuals to spread awareness and educate the population. This included how to stay safe, how to donate and advice to companies. Most celebrities endorsed the #safehands challenge demonstrating proper handwashing technique in order to promote personal hygiene and contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. This included an 11 step process shown in a 2 min video. During this period most social media sources rushed to combat misinformation, making these sources more reliable. Facebook and Instagram prioritized feed algorithms instead fo trusted sources of information. Youtube demonetized all content related to COVID-19 and removed all ads related to them too. Snapchat launched an information campaign called ‘Here for you’ which is a mental health resource that gives all users access to search content from experts on topics related to mental health, anxiety, suicide and depression. Linkedln tried to maintain business as usual. Due to many international business conferences being cancelled, Linkedn provided free remote learning courses and shared financial advice to businesses to help them go through the tough times. A study conducted in Jordan found that social media platforms positively influence awareness of public health behavioral changes and public protection against COVID-19. Since the virus is fairly new, the best clinical practices on how to treat the increasing number of infections is scarce, leading some doctors to turn to social media to find answers. During this time of great uncertainty, doctors participated in reliable forums exchanging data about blood tests, CT scans, ultrasounds and thoughts about what worked well and what did not.
Due to the pandemic many small businesses had to shut their doors and the remaining others have gone into ‘survival mode’. This includes cutting costs, laying off employees, tightening profit margins and saving cash. Social media has had a major impact on helping these small businesses get through this survival stage successfully. Utilizing platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Youtube and Pinterest. In the past year Facebook launched two resources: Shops and Business Resource Hub. Shops is a feature which allows businesses to display and sell their products on the platform for free while Business Resource Hub is a free-to-access hub that includes a ‘resilience toolkit’, which has information about preventing business disruptions, and a ‘quick action guide’ to help coordinate response activities. Additionally Youtube launched ‘Video Builder tool’ that allows small businesses to create content for free, including images, texts and logos. Pinterest added a new feature called the ‘Verified Merchant Program’ where businesses which meet a certain criteria get a blue checkmark on their profile, increasing their distribution and benefitting from perks such as showing up on related products page and access to statistics such as consumer’s average order value, all which can be useful for the business. Lastly Instagram launched gift cards, food cards and fundraiser stickers which customers can use to support small businesses by ordering take-outs or by making direct donations.
Toilet Paper Challenge with your pet. This image shows Madison doing the challenge as reported on the My GBGV Life Blog.
"Here for you" Mental health resource by Snapchat. Here you can see a screenshot of the freely accessible source.
A COVID-19 meme that surfaced social media. In the meme you can see Fred , the protaganist of famous cartoon show Scooby Doo unveil the villain of COVID-19 which is Zoom. Zoom is a video sharing application which gained massive popularity to communicate with friends, family and teachers. (You can read more about this in the Staying Connected page)
An image of Aaron Weiss taking a selfie while recording a TikTok video on his black android phone. Aaron is a filmmaker and photographer from Chicago and has a whopping 200K+ followers.
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