“The pandemic altered the world’s usage of social media in 2020 as illustrated by its initial engagement increase to 61%(5) during the first outbreak wave.”
The Outbreak of Covid-19 which began in late 2019, spread a highly infectious disease which affected over a hundred thousand people since its first detection in China. It changed our world as we knew it. The disease forced our world into various lockdowns and individuals had to remain at home and maintain social distance for months. This disease caused mass change in minimal ways such as the way we communicate and care for others. In maximal ways it affected our income, causing social and economic changes. The news spread from the Chinese media as a “mysterious pneumonia from visiting a live animal market in Wuhan(1).” The news spread almost as fast as the virus, as the World Health Organization declared a “public health emergency of international concern,” for the sixth time in history(2).
On March 12, 2020, a neighborhood in New Rochelle, New York, was designated as a “containment area,” resulting in the first, coronavirus-related activity restrictions being imposed in the United States(3). Although this began the start of social distancing and limitations on social interactions, this pandemic-based action also started online social interactions almost immediately. The pandemic altered the world’s usage of social media in 2020 as illustrated by its initial engagement increase to 61%(4) during the first outbreak wave. As countries moved deeper into the pandemic and worldwide social isolations continued, media consumption continued to increase. In later stages of the pandemic, web browsing increased by 70%, followed by (traditional) TV viewing increasing by 63% and social media engagement increasing by 61% over normal usage rates(5). The popular social media app TikTok had worldwide growth during the pandemic as its usage grew a whopping 180% among 15-25 year old users(6). There is no doubt that the pandemic broke the internet as well, increasing engagement on all platforms.
Social Media’s Shot In The Arm
One of the main impacts it has on society and our world as a whole is its influence on communication. Social media, which is known for allowing immediate access to any information at your fingertips, has proven its ability to spread worldwide information. Social media which started in the early 2000’s has grown drastically in population usage. According to the most recent studies, there will be 4.89 billion social media users globally in 2023, up 6.5% over the previous year(7). Because social media allows for instant spread of news, and current events, the covid-19 pandemic has had a drastic influence on the world of social media.
Negative Impacts of Sharing
As we analyze this specific impact a current event had, we can acknowledge the fact that sharing news on social media is part of our human nature. As we dive deeper into the topic, we also must acknowledge how social media can negatively impact us by sharing misinformation. Although we can be grateful for the development of social media and its ability to spread information as stated above, there is also the negative side of things. This became massively apparent during the pandemic due to such unprecedented levels of engagement. The human vulnerability which came along with the pandemic had the world in distress. This distress was exacerbated with the spreading of misinformation on popular social platforms since authorities were dealing with an unknown condition and the World Health Organization was scrambling to find a cure for this groundbreaking virus.
From the beginning to the discovery of a vaccine and treatment of the Covid-19 disease, there was constant widespread misinformation ranging from possible treatments to how the virus emerged. These falsehoods have caused harm to people. An early investigation calculated that from January through March of 2020, one rumor alone caused more than 5,800 people to be hospitalized (with 800 of them passing away). The rumor involved consuming highly concentrated alcohol-based cleaning products as a “cure” for COVID-19(8). There are positives and negatives that come along with social media, and in this case during a global event, internet trolls and negative site users enjoyed spreading false information to attack and hurt loyal users. With the way the internet works, misinformation is able to be spread instantly which in turn causes mass panic.
Don’t Believe Everything You Read on Social Media
With the ability to like, comment and share information so quickly and easily, these false or negative posts are able to trend. These instances are where you need to remember the saying that not everything you read on social media is true. It is also important to touch on how social media impacted our mental health during the pandemic. There is no doubt that social media takes a toll on our mental health as there is an abundance of studies that have proven this point. There are numerous factors that could have caused this increase in panic such as isolation from the pandemic, stress factors, and increase of social media usage. However, it is noteworthy that according to a scientific brief published today by the World Health Organization (WHO), anxiety and depression prevalence surged significantly worldwide in the first year of the COVID-19 epidemic by 25%(9). Be sure your information is from a reliable, trustworthy source before considering use. Do your homework, research the source for its level of expertise.
The Rise of Zoom
Now that we have touched on the negative impact social media had on the Covid-19 Pandemic, we will retouch on the growth of certain social media applications during the pandemic. The need for social interactions was obviously demanding as in person interactions were cut to only mandatory needs. Individuals’ desire to converse with others was clear as popular social media applications increased user engagement drastically. Another example is the popular application Zoom. In 2017, Zoom’s worth reached $1 billion. As more people turned to Zoom for employment and social interactions, the popular software surged to almost $29 billion(10).
As social media remains on the incline, it is now more pervasive than ever. The pandemic shifted our world by implementing and normalizing the existing idea of working from home. Now that it has been three years since the pandemic shifted our world as a whole, we have taken from it some advantages that will likely be a part of our society forever.
Last but not least, social media allows for business to consumer engagement. Social media easily allows customers to find you on social media, follow, like, interact, and share your posts with others. Brand engagement is so critical in this day and age because positive brand engagement can ultimately lead to brand loyalty which helps promote a positive experience. Brand engagement helps businesses have social media presence and establish themselves online and on popular social platforms. It helps allow for deeper connections with consumers which is one of the main missions of a brand. A happy consumer market allows for a happy business. If your consumers are happy and pleased with your product and service, it will be seen. Social media has allowed for drastic influence on the well-being of businesses. Social media has rapidly improved the success of businesses in the ways we discussed above. The world of social media is only improving so one can’t even imagine how it will improve business in the near future.
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