COVID-19’s Digital Impact and What It Means for Your PR Efforts.

Nearly a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, we took a deep dive into the data and assessed how COVID-19 has changed the digital sphere for the billions (4.6 billion online, 4.2 billion engaged in social media) across the world. “Mobile First” Is Here To Stay, But a Multi-Device Strategy Still Essential for Success According to App Annie’s State of Mobile 2021 Report, mobile adoption across the globe advanced two-to-three years in the span of just 12 months when compared against the average YoY percentage growth. In 2020 alone, mobile advertising spending totaled $240 billion, a 26% YoY growth rate. Interactive, full-page ads, in particular, saw a +186,000 unit growth, the largest growth among the mobile ad formats. As COVID-19 induced executives to decrease their marketing budgets, the growth of interactive, full-page ads likely rose out of seeking cheaper ad inventory than mediums such as video. Additionally, mobile time spent increased by 20% YoY to an average of four hours and ten minutes per day globally. This transcends generational gaps, with a 16% increase in Gen Z, 18% in Millennials, and 30% in Gen X and Baby Boomers. In the United States in particular, however, data from October 2020 shows 52.15% of total websites were on desktop, compared to just 43.89% on mobile devices. Interestingly, October 2020 also marks the first time since the percentage of desktop traffic (48%) has overtaken that of mobile since mobile edged ahead for the first time in 2016. This suggests that multi-device optimization is still necessary. The Social Situation - Awareness and Innovative Experiences are Still Key While COVID-19 has forced many organizations to search for short-term, maximum ROI solutions in paid advertising, it’s important to note that purchase or interest from customers alone don’t maintain customer growth or brand recognition. When looking at a modern marketing funnel, the customer must constantly be reverted back to the awareness and/or consideration stages of your organization (even if they’ve just purchased or interacted) due to the intense saturation of information within the market. Therefore, the creation of general awareness-based content and future innovative experiences that help recreate the customer experience will make or break your organization’s long-term digital footprint.  For those following user growth trends, a Hootsuite 2021 Social Trends Report showed that more than half of all businesses (61%) are planning to increase their Instagram budgets. Instagram’s advertising reach grew 7.1% in the most recent quarter, more than three times that of Facebook’s at 2.2%. For those who choose not to invest in paid media efforts, Twitter is seen as the most effective platform, due to the increase in news-related necessity.   The Selectivity of Platform is Crucial According to Forrester, brands continue to have a hard time connecting with their audiences—68% of consumers don’t think companies share interesting content on social media and only 24% of adults agree that it’s “cool” to be associated with a company/brand on social media. In this era of oversaturation, it’s important to listen to your audience and understand not only where they are, but how to align your messaging to best resonate based on trends around that particular platform. This data can be obtained through topical trend research across a variety of third party platforms or even via a quick, cursory glance of a particular hashtag or phrase when searched on said platform. Recommendations
  1. Continuing to prioritize mobile, while simultaneously optimizing for desktop to ensure your stories remain top of mind and meet your audiences where they are.
  2. Ensure that your editorial calendar includes consistent pieces of content that reflect the awareness and consideration stages of your users’ engagement with your organization.
  3. Listen to your audience and determine the 1-2 platforms that are most relevant to your consumers. Once there, utilize social listening to understand what topics they are interested in and the forms of content they prefer. Promote for the benefit of your consumer, not your organization.


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