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Going Viral: Keeping up with trends of the pandemic – ETTelecom.com


It was not just the coronavirus that went viral since March 2020, our social media habits too flew off the charts. As the screen – phones or laptops – became a means to connect in a locked-down world, new trends have emerged in the way we communicate, engage and consume content.

Going Viral: Keeping up with trends of the pandemic
All online
Writer Manasa Rao Saarloos tweeted: “Recently thought of deleting my Facebook account and start using Twitter, but realised it’s not easy. Facebook has become like the boyfriend I no longer like but scared to dump because I’ve invested so much time in the relationship.” This pretty much sums up our “it’s complicated” relationship with social media. But that was pre-pandemic. In April-July, said a Broadcast Audience Research Council and Nielsen report, content consumption on smartphones rose 16%. Users spent 3.54 hours a day on their devices – nearly 18% of that was on messaging apps, 15% on social media apps, 15% on video streaming apps and 11% on gaming.

Going Viral: Keeping up with trends of the pandemic
In other news
News consumption on social media platforms has been rising steadily, Global Web Index said, and 2020 accelerated it. It gave birth to “doomscrolling” – reading a long stream of disheartening headlines on social media. Globally, checking on social media to stay up-to-date with news and current events was the top reason for logging in, at 36%. The study found that this was consistent across all age groups except Gen Z, who login for entertainment.

Going Viral: Keeping up with trends of the pandemic
Everyone’s on camera
The consumer, said a EY-FICCI report in March, is becoming the new content creator. The report expects over 10,000 creators in the fray by 2025. Social media world that follows “go viral or go home” diktat was flooded with mini, maxi and bite-sized videos at an alarming rate. According to a Global Web Index report, nearly 33% and 34% login to social media to find funny or entertaining content and to fill up spare time, respectively. Video creation has been accelerated by the outbreak, and it is a behaviour we expect to consolidate in the post-Covid reality.

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Going Viral: Keeping up with trends of the pandemic
Video is the winner
About 80% of those surveyed in the US and UK were consuming more video content since the outbreak, said Global Web Index. Online video content saw a spike in consumption among Millennials and Gen Z. Netflix ended 2020 with over 200 mn paid subscribers, including 37 mn new ones, a 22% increase from 2019. Its revenue for the fourth quarter rose to $6.64 bn, against $5.47 bn a year ago.

Going Viral: Keeping up with trends of the pandemic
Positivity cult
In 2019, social media was considered the biggest factor that negatively impacted mental wellbeing. Cut to 2020, a Global Web Index survey found that 57% consumers in the US and UK said that social media helped them feel less lonely during the outbreak. Just under half said it contributed positively when it came to stress and anxiety. About 42% of internet users who use public platforms agree there was less pressure to portray an unrealistic image of their life on social media and that has helped them. It also gave rise to mental health influencers who promoted talking about their “feelings”.

Going Viral: Keeping up with trends of the pandemic
The “exfluencers”

The influencer-audience connect, built on the premise of relatability, was broken during the pandemic when audiences realised “they are not like us”. This doesn’t mean the influencer market is down, but there is a shift in what people and brands are demanding. Micro-influencers with 30k followers or hyper-specialised influencers are in demand. Many are voluntarily becoming “exfluencers” – someone who used to be an influencer but gave up to not profiteer from consumerism. Vocal for local, handmade, reuse, restyle and thrift are the new things they are indulging in.

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Going Viral: Keeping up with trends of the pandemic
Now hear this
Hitherto considered a niche, podcasting got the boost it needed due to the pandemic. Jacobs Media Tech Survey 2020 found that globally, one in 4 now listen to podcasts weekly. A YouGov survey found that 27% listen to podcasts at least one or two times a week. Spotify data said that 18-24 years was its largest audience for podcasts. It also observed a 1,100% year-on-year growth in Hindi podcast on Anchor – a podcasting platform. India is the world’s third-largest podcast listening market and, according to PwC, the number of listeners was going to rise from 4 cr in 2018 to 17 cr in 2023.

Going Viral: Keeping up with trends of the pandemic
Watch in real-time

If you are inside, you are probably online. And this was evinced in the growth of live-streaming. This segment grew 45% between March and April, according to StreamElements and Arsenal.gg. Twitch, the world’s biggest live-streaming platform with 10 million active users, saw the most growth in terms of hours – a 50% jump between March and April and a 101% rise for the year. It has more than 10 million active users. Gaming, fashion shows, stand-up comedy shows and more are all going live.

Going Viral: Keeping up with trends of the pandemic
Home décor
Staying home made us realise the importance of interior design. Home spending has grown more than 30% between March and October YoY, according to The NPD Group. It was visible on Pinterest and Instagram. In fact, the photo and idea-sharing sites are the reason why home DIYs are on the rise. They even heralded a rug revival – not to mention embroidery and home crafts.

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