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What the Lockdowns Have Taught Us About Online Communities

Thursday 28th January 2021

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What the Lockdowns Have Taught Us About Online Communities

Thursday 28th January 2021

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The COVID-19 pandemic, along with the international lockdowns enforced as a result of its prevalence, has unquestionably changed the way both brands and consumers engage with social media. By the start of July 2020, just a few months into the crisis, the global total of users had already grown by 10% to 3.96 billion. Not only have social platforms become essential for keeping up to date with news about the virus and staying in contact with friends and family, they’ve also proved useful for businesses to promote and sell their products and services, communicate with their fanbases and provide customer support, in a climate where face-to-face interactions are no longer possible. With people staying at home and using their phones more than ever before, online communities are continuing to evolve - and there’s a lot that can be learnt from these changes.

 

Business-Customer Transparency

A major aspect of the lockdown landscape has been the increased expectancy from customers towards brands to provide transparent, honest content that feels genuine and considerate. Social media users don’t want to see businesses ignoring the pandemic, downplaying the scale of its impact or keeping secrets from their fans regarding the situation - instead, they prefer them to be upfront about what’s going well and what isn’t. While it may feel disheartening to have to share regrettable updates, keeping your followers in the know about potential supply delays, delivery setbacks and site closures builds trust and integrity. Similarly, as mentioned in our 2021 trends blog post, we’ve also seen a rise in authentic homemade content, with brands opting to market themselves in a more down-to-earth fashion due to staff working remotely.

 

Support For Small Businesses

Online communities and social platforms have been saviours for small businesses during lockdown. Instagram launched a range of stickers to make it easier for customers to purchase gift cards and place orders with local stores and restaurants:


Meanwhile, Facebook introduced the Business Resource Hub, full of templates to help small businesses with their key messaging and tools for promoting themselves throughout the pandemic:


Consumers were also happy to support by engaging in Facebook Groups to keep up the sense of togetherness and positivity surrounding their favourite local companies, as well as embracing the changes brought on by the restrictions - such as takeaway options and ordering products through social media instead of visiting physical stores.

 
 

Importance of Feedback and Reviews

Now, more than ever before, customer feedback and reviews have begun to play a huge role in helping businesses stay afloat. Prospective buyers want to know if COVID guidelines are being correctly followed and if the appropriate measures have been put in place to make their experiences as safe as possible. A survey by Trustpilot found that a third of customers are checking reviews of online products and services more than they did before lockdown, demonstrating the utmost importance of maintaining your brand’s reputation.

 

Back to the Future

Due to the uncertain nature of each lockdown duration, many brands have decided to start incorporating throwback content or future inspiration posts into their social media plans - and customers have been receptive to it. In a time where it can be tricky to find things to share, especially if your business has had to temporarily close or reduce its services, reminiscing on better times or inviting followers to discuss what they’re most looking forward to when life returns to normal can both be great ways to keep up engagement and maintain a level of activity across your pages.

 
 

Summary

We’re certainly intrigued to discover which of these changes will remain in place once the pandemic is over. Will the heightened sense of community we’ve seen as a result of lockdown continue to bring people together, or will consumers and companies return to the more individualistic approach of the pre-pandemic world? With the social media sphere constantly diversifying, the only way to find out is to wait and see.