8 Predicted Shifts in Consumer Digital Behavior Due to Social Isolation
Since March 13th (which I pointed out recently was Friday the 13th), I've been spending my days at home trying to maintain as somewhat similar social life I had pre-Coronavirus through group virtual hangouts, "happy hours" and chats. In conversations with other marketers, we agree that along with the immediate crisis at hand, there are larger implications about how life as we know it has been radically disrupted. I'm personally using my time to take a long overdue introspection on myself, my priorities and what is next for me.
One observation I've made over the past few weeks is the role that content, social media, and the Internet at large plays into our day-to-day lives. The intersection of technology, isolation, adaptability, and the need for connection has led to communities coming together and creativity thriving like I've rarely seen before. As a marketing consultant, here are a few behavioral shifts I'm predicting that get me excited:
Online entertainment becomes less produced and scripted, and more authentic and genuine. Jimmy Fallon has flipped the script on his show by reframing it The Tonight Show: At Home Edition while in his "country home" (there is one whimsical room that looks like a treehouse), with his wife filming and his daughters being very distracting but adorable co-hosts. His interviews with celebrities feel much less forced than his traditional late night schtick, especially as he is genuinely interested to hear how they are doing.
Social media users are more comfortable with live streaming, especially Instagram Live through Stories. I've seen beat battles, weddings, concerts, and CEO's just winging it with a spontaneous Q&A. It's fascinating.
Virtual conferencing becomes the new norm for work culture. I would love as a result of all this chaos that working remotely becomes more acceptable. Marketers will deem content as a "viral success" when it taps into a collective conscious, so it's telling how much the broad population is working from home with the abundance of memes that have appeared and tweets that have gone viral. One of my personal favorites is "my husband is a circle back kind of guy".
Increased engagement through Instagram stories. I've drawn a carrot, Eric has drawn his tattoos, another friend drew his home work space. I've also been a part of chains leveraging the @mention sticker in Stories promoting other creatives. People are so, so bored.
Group chat apps have made a crossover from professional contacts to personal connections. Slack and Discord are constantly running in the background of my desktop. One of my groups STRTGST recently created a slack channel after starting weekly "slide in" chats on Zoom. I'm also part of a Discord channel with a random group of friends sharing everything from recipes to movie recs or just saying hi.
Dating and socializing have only benefited from the fourth wall/digital screen. It's no surprise that Gen Z has quickly adopted to social isolation while staying connected. Even though some college students have been sent home, they are still experiencing the college party scene with online Zoom parties. Because all attendees are safe at home, there is less risk of a night out going wrong. Dating is also something that has not gone away, and anecdotally people are finding higher quality connections through hours-long phone dates, like Love Is Blind but IRL.
Offline events dabbling with digital integration are now immersive online experiences. Choosing to host what was originally an offline event online has one advantage: more direct calls to action and engagement, if you can keep your audience's attention. I'm personally looking forward to the Girlboss Rally, now being held online and for free.
Visual entertainment is on the rise, while content designed for individual consumption on the go is decreasing. Spotify streams are down as less people are commuting, while TikTok is reporting a global increase in downloads while folks are bored at home, either looking for digestible content to view or taking a stab at making it themselves.
Do you agree or disagree with my predictions? What insights or predictions do you have about how online behavior is changing due to social isolation? How have you had to change your online strategy due to COVID-19?
This post was originally published on our founder's personal website RebCarlson.com