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How social media became a responsible lifeline for people during pandemic times

It has become difficult to imagine life without Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Whatsapp today. Social media has become an integral part of everyone’s lives, regardless of age, language, economic and educational levels. But perhaps the deep reach and need of social media was realised the most when the COVID-19 pandemic struck the world. Social media became the lifeline, helping people who were isolated in their homes to keep in touch with friends and family, stay entertained and informed, and above all, receive and extend help for people affected by the coronavirus.

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According to the new Digital 2021 April Global Statshot Report – published in partnership between Hootsuite and We Are Social – more than half a billion new users joined social media platforms over the past 12 months, taking the global total to 4.33 billion by April 2021.

World Social Media day was first celebrated by Mashable on 30 June 2010 to put an emphasis on the impact of social media and its role in global communication.Social Media Day is celebrated across the globe to highlight the importance of social media platforms and how they have impacted our everyday lives.

Social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram emerged as a ray of hope in the pandemic times, helping people get access to oxygen, hospital beds, ventilators, plasma, medicines, financial aid, information, etc. These platforms also provided people a space to share their stories, experiences and agonising battles of survival.

On the occasion of World Social Media Day, digital experts share their insights on how people are spending more time on social media platforms, and how brands are upping their investment in the digital ecosystem.

"2020 taught brands that the digital ecosystem is capable of results that rival and often surpass the impact of traditional media, it is no longer merely a space meant for entertainment and networking."

-Surbhi Allagh, Creative Director, Sociowash

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The onset of the pandemic has led to a much larger change in the way consumers now use social media. It’s not just the mindless scrolling on Instagram Reels, but also about looking at experiences that they can’t enjoy in the current times. At the same time, brands have had to constantly flow with the tide with every COVID-19 wave, preparing their marketing initiatives for a pandemic and a post-pandemic world. Surbhi Allagh, Creative Director, Sociowash, remarked, “2020 taught brands that the digital ecosystem is capable of results that rival and often surpass the impact of traditional media, it is no longer merely a space meant for entertainment and networking. And lately, social media has also paid back brands with higher returns on every penny being spent. Now that brands are also feeling a lot more confident with the kind of returns, they are getting on digital and you will see a lot more focus on digital, at least for the rest of this 2021.”

"We have had stories coming from global users who have managed to help small businesses by making video ads consistently through these tough times."

-Sanket Shah, CEO and Co-founder, InVideo.io

With more than half of the world (4.66 billion) now on social media spending 142 minutes daily per person on average, brands have enough leverage and more to go digital. Sanket Shah, CEO and Co-founder, InVideo.io, noted, “With the onset of COVID-19 in 2020, it is no surprise that digital marketing budgets are seeing an upward trend and this will continue because of the recent adaptation. There can’t be a better time for InVideo.io to empower users. We have had stories coming from global users who have managed to help small businesses by making video ads consistently through these tough times.”

The world witnessed a digital transformation like never before – right from e-commerce to video sharing platforms, brand and consumer relations have reached a new high. Meet and greet events turned virtual and advertisements turned into social media creatives, consumers slowly started actively participating in co-creating content along with their favourite brands, and more.

"With the entire world spending more time on their screens, brands have diversified their marketing budgets to digital."

-Chirag Gander, Co-Founder, The Minimalist

Chirag Gander, Co-Founder, The Minimalist, observed, “The strategic integration of social media that a year or two ago was just a tip of a lot of firms’ digital strategy for brands, has now become their communications strategy for metering up their target audience. With the entire world spending more time on their screens, brands have diversified their marketing budgets to digital. Social Media platforms have not only helped big brands, but also supported small businesses in India to survive. With influencers lending support via shout outs and tags, there has been a phenomenal shift in consumer patterns of consumption.”

Over the last pandemic year, people are now more inclined to spend time on social media platforms as it offers them distinct entertainment features at hand. Statistically, the number of social media users has increased by over 13% worldwide. This has definitely intrigued brands’ to invest more money in the digital ecosystem and experience skyrocketing web engagement with profitable lead generation.

"In the age of rapid digitalization, Social Media has grown to be not just our but numerous brands’ new best friend"

-Siddhartha Vanvani, Founder & Director, Digidarts

Siddhartha Vanvani, Founder & Director, Digidarts said, "In the age of rapid digitalization, Social Media has grown to be not just our but numerous brands’ new best friend. The social platforms, available online, have impressively made a huge impact on our lives; from connecting us to our distant loved ones to acting as one of the prominent digital marketing channels, Social Media has effectively come a long way. It is just the start; in coming times, better business-oriented options will be more frequent on social platforms to scale brands’ promotional activities and earn profits via connecting them to the target audience."

"Not surprisingly, more and more brands are joining this bandwagon with innovative campaigns."

-Kyle Fernandes, CEO & Co-Founder, MemeChat App 

Memes are one of the hottest trends in social media communication today. Kyle Fernandes, CEO & Co-Founder, MemeChat App shared, "Already popular with many millennials and GenZ users, we saw a sharp uptick in its usage during the pandemic. At MemeChat, we have seen a massive jump in less than a year, from 170+ monthly active users in June 2020  and a 900K + MAU  user base in June 2021. This manyfold increase in users is also indicative of the rising popularity of memes as a medium for communication. Not surprisingly, more and more brands are joining this bandwagon with innovative campaigns. We have seen our own campaigns becoming viral in a matter of minutes with new ideas picking up fast. We see this trend becoming stronger as social media usage steadily increases and more people use memes to communicate."

For most of us, social media has undeniably become an integral part of our existence. With the rise of the pandemic, individuals and businesses, large or small, have been leveraging social media to engage for various needs.

"The great thing about social media is that it has touched people living both in urban and rural India with almost the same speed."

Dilip Modi, Founder, Spice Money

Dilip Modi, Founder, Spice Money said, "In recent times, we have seen social media become the beacon of hope as it became a crucial tool for COVID-19 related communication and brought people together to collectively fight against the virus, and enabled businesses to reach and engage with relevant stakeholders. The great thing about social media is that it has touched people living both in urban and rural India with almost the same speed. 65% of our population lives in rural areas, and by 2025, there'll be more internet users in rural India than urban, and a large number of these people will have access to social media platforms, with vernacular platforms increasingly rising in India."

(Edited and additional inputs by Shanta Saikia.)

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