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UPDATE: The Impact of Coronavirus on Social Media

We wrote a piece just over a month ago when this whole lockdown lark started asking “Is Social The Best Marketing Tool We Have During Lockdown?”


Now, over 4 weeks on, have we changed our minds?


And just how has COVID-19 impacted day to day life online?


I believe the best way to highlight the social shift is with a story, but not just any story - an underdog story.


Born in 2016, Houseparty is an app that showed a high amount of initial promise.


A year prior, its parents had made Meerkat: a video sharing app where users could connect their Facebook and Twitter accounts in order to live stream directly to their followers. The company initially generated $12 million in venture capital funding, pushing development and thrusting it into the limelight.


Yet, in March, disaster struck. Twitter withdrew portions of Meerkat’s access to its platform and purchased rival app Periscope.


On March 26th, 2015, Twitter formally launched Periscope, providing the audience with the additional benefit of being able to re-watch any live stream and leaving Meerkat behind.


Not long after, Meerkat shut down.


Undeterred by the bigger boys in the playground and their history for copying or purchasing up and coming trends, the creators of Meerkat began work on Houseparty - a video sharing app that focused on private chats opposed to public streams. It takes advantage of the basic functions of facetime, Messenger calls, and WhatsApp videos, and brings in additional features such as gaming, 8-person chats, and the ability to be used on desktops.


It was launched on the App Store and Play Store in February 2016, initially giving its developer the pseudonym “Alexander Herzick” in order to remove any association with Meerkat. By the end of the year, Houseparty had raised $52 million in venture capital funding.


Growth was initially quick, with 20 million users jumping on the platform, forcing the creation of Instagram Live and Bonfire - a Houseparty clone app built by Facebook for nothing other than to slow Houseparty’s speed.


In 2019, Bonfire closed, and the team behind Houseparty were purchased by the makers of Fortnite, slowing its momentum, but putting it in a better position long-term.



Recently, where others have faulted, Houseparty has flourished. Lockdown has meant that app usage is up 72x with 50 million downloads in the past month alone.


"The company doesn’t disclose total user numbers, but it has been the most-downloaded social networking app in Apple’s U.S. App Store every day since March 20th - ahead of Facebook Inc.’s trio of Facebook, Messenger and WhatsApp - and it was the second-most downloaded app of any category over Easter weekend behind only Zoom,” Bloomberg wrote.


And this leap in usage isn’t exclusive to Houseparty.


Snapchat’s recent figures show that daily average users are up by 11 million - a 20% increase year on year - AND they’re expecting a further 18% increase in the next quarter.



Plus, overall revenue increased by 44% YoY to $462 million, causing shares to jump 20%.


Big, big numbers.


Now, it’s all well and good peeking in from the outside, but we’re also dealing with these changes day to day - and from what we’ve seen, if you can commit further, then you should.


According to RivalIQ:


“After an initial dip in early March, engagement rates have reached a 2020 high across [Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter] in the last few weeks thanks to decreased posting frequency.


As for posting frequency, median posts per week across all industries has been rock solid at 4 posts/week all year, but dipped a full 25% to 3 posts/week the week of March 15 and correlated with higher engagement rates.”


As some brands have dropped their marketing efforts, it’s left a gap for others to take advantage, building a follower base and enticing more people into your brand to put you in a stronger position once this has all blown over.


And the same goes for paid efforts, too.


We’ve seen both CPMs and CPCs drop quite substantially over the past few weeks, allowing ads to not only reach more people, but a more engaged audience willing to take the time to browse and scout out new products.


Why has this happened?


Because some brands can’t afford to advertise at the moment, bringing down the competition for ad placement auctions, which, when coupled with a higher number of active users across all social media platforms, leads to bigger and better returns.


According to eConsultancy:


“Nearly half of consumers reported that they plan to decrease their spend on apparel throughout all offline, online and social channels in April. However, 24% said that they want to purchase more through social media and a further 18% want to buy more online.”


Recent data from Shopify confirms a higher level of intent.


“As we help thousands of businesses to move online, our platform is now handling Black Friday level traffic every day!


It won't be long before traffic has doubled or more.”



One of our brands is a major sweet retailer.


Comparing January and February to March and April, we’ve increased the ROI by 2.7x and increased Revenue by 4.8x, gradually building up spend in line with interest and returns to brand new highs.


What this means is that we’ve taken advantage of this time to increase the funnel, improving brand awareness by drawing in new audiences and building the retargeting pool which we can then use to blast around key sales dates.


Sure, these social media highs won’t continue forever, but you can still make progress that is concrete and will come back to help you down the line.


Final Thoughts


So, the interest is there and the platforms are open.


If you can funnel more into your marketing budget, are looking for a reliable marketing route through these rocky times, or want to test new platforms to expand your efforts, then make social a prime contender.


If you can and you don’t, then your competitors will.


Bonus Coronavirus x Social Media Facts



"As our social and professional norms shift, people are turning to learning to help them get through. In the first week of April, people watched 1.7M hours of learning content on LinkedIn Learning vs. 560K hours in the first week of January - a 3X increase in time spent learning."



  • Snapchat AR lens usage is up 37%, “playtime with Sponsored Lens AR experiences has increased by 18% as the COVID-19 crisis has developed”, and “Lens swipe up rate with Sponsored Lenses has increased by 22%”

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