Research conducted by eMarketers indicates a sharp increase in social media usage, particularly TikTok and Facebook, states Stephanie Mashigo, Eclipse Communications’ Social Media Manager.

While this spike is expected to drop once lockdown measures continue to be lifted, features such as live streaming, video chat and gaming will undoubtedly be around for significantly longer. The decline in print media has resulted in a sharp rise in digital media, both online and social, as platforms of mass consumption. We look at how brands can adapt their communications strategies to take advantage of the power of social media.

More time online

GlobalWebIndex says there has been an increase in social media usage across all age groups:

  • 16-24-year-olds: 58% increase.
  • 25-34-year-olds: 50% increase.  
  • 35-44-year-olds: 42% increase.
  • 45-54-year-olds: 34% increase.
  • 55-64-year-olds: 32% increase.

Social media usage has surged by 50% in South Africa. Advertisement engagement has increased over the last few months. Currently, in South Africa, a user clicks on an advert on Facebook an average of eight times in a month1.

Important platforms


With many businesses being compelled to close brick-and-mortar shops, Facebook launched its Shops feature, enabling businesses to display and sell products on the platform. The feature allows them to create digital storefronts at no charge, enabling customers to buy directly from Facebook, Instagram, or the retailer’s website. In contrast to Facebook’s Marketplace, which predominantly focuses on the sale of personal belongings, Shops is aimed directly at businesses.

With over 90-million small businesses on Facebook, the platform has also launched the Business Resource Hub to support businesses. Apart from providing information on topics such as preventing business disruptions, the platform provides several free templates to help businesses communicate to their audiences, including the likes of ‘yes, we’re still taking orders’, and ‘we wouldn’t be here without you.’


Facebook-owned Instagram is emphasising its support of local businesses, releasing a new feature to help them make sales. It comes in the form of gift card, food order and fundraising stickers, which businesses can share on their profiles or stories. This allows customers to support them remotely.


The online video-sharing platform launched its Video Builder Tool, which allows small businesses to create video content for free. While YouTube adverts usually require video editing skills and a large budget, the new tool has been integrated to help enterprises in their communication and content strategies in light of the current pandemic. The tool is essentially a free beta tool that animates static assets such as images, text and logos, and integrates music from YouTube’s music library.


TikTok, although relatively new, has seen a rise in popularity, with countless brands making use of the platform to communicate with the public. It offers the opportunity for brands to be brave and think outside the box. It is highly popular with the youth, providing an opportunity for brands to future-proof themselves.

One example is the World Health Organisation, which is using TikTok to educate the public during the Covid-19 pandemic. Its TikTok account already has 2.4-million followers.

Your social strategy

  1. Conduct a fact check: make sure that business bios on social media platforms are updated to reflect any changes in operations should they be directly impacted by lockdown conditions.
  2. Post with purpose: now, more than ever, is the time to build trust with your audience. Humanise your brand authentically.
  3. Personalisation is key: personalisation begins with analysing your consumers’ behaviour/ interactions with your brand online and tailoring content to meet their interests.
  4. Expand influencer marketing: we’re living in uncertain times and people are turning to those they trust (like influencers) for information. Partnering with the right influencer, who shares the same vision as your brand, will ultimately help drive sales.
  5. Explore new content and platforms: brands need to be brave in the changing landscape and experiment with new forms of content, such as videos, and where they communicate their messages.
  6. Engage with your audience: calling for user-generated content or making use of polls will boost customer interaction on your platforms and increase your organic reach.
  7. Make sure your visuals are in context: social distancing has changed our perceptions (and reality) about many things. It’s easy to reach into your archive of brand imagery for social media, but in doing so you may unwittingly be sending a message that’s not entirely appropriate.
  8. Re-evaluate paid media strategies: data from SocialBakers show that cost per click and CPM for social ads is falling, as more advertisers stop their campaigns. As a result of this, organic post reach has increased by 0.5% over the past three months (data from Hootsuite), with the trend expected to continue. Organic strategies can pay off handsomely.
  9. Get leadership involved: executives are ramping-up their social media presence and giving their brands a trustworthy face.

From using social listening tools to gauge consumer sentiment to using this data to make informed communication and messaging decisions, now is the time for brands to take full advantage of social media’s power.

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