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Socialbakers Q1 Trends Report Highlights the COVID-19 Impact on Social Media Users and Brands

Brands have a cost-efficient opportunity to expand their online reach and engage
with a larger online audience, according to new Q1 2020 Social Media Trends Report

New York, May 5, 2020 Socialbakers, the leading social media marketing platform, today released a comprehensive report on Social Media Trends for Q1 2020. The report details the impact of COVID-19 on marketing trends and key changes in paid advertising around the world. Leading insights from the Q1 report include a decline in advertising cost-per-click (CPC) in regions affected by COVID-19 and a significant increase in the amount of time people are spending online during the global pandemic. The report also shows an increase in audience engagement with influencers who post content that reflects a relatable human touch, as opposed to aspirational or overly-curated content. These trends offer brands an opportunity to expand their reach among audiences who are spending more time online, with a potentially lower cost for sponsored content. 

Audiences spend more time online

With the practice of social distancing amid the global pandemic, people are spending more time online, according to Socialbakers data. For example, fans of Facebook Brand pages in Europe spent more time online in March every day of the week and every waking hour compared to previous months. The peak time for online activity was 8 p.m. and the difference was most striking on weekend nights, when people would usually be out of the house. Comparing February to March, the peak usage time increased 13.2% on Friday nights and 14.8% on Saturday nights. 

Opportunity for brands to gain greater reach with sponsored content

Of the six regions measured by Socialbakers, five saw a decline in CPC during March, as the pandemic really hit. This decline in ad costs ranged from 22.1% in Southeast Asia to 42.4% in Southern Europe. While the overall reach for brand pages on Facebook went down starting in mid-March, brands that promoted their posts, taking advantage of the lower ad costs, saw a 28.6% increase in page reach from March 13-April 13.

Ad spend and Cost per Click rise in East Asia

Looking at six regions globally, all showed the expected annual decrease in ad spend around the holidays. However, after some increases in the new year, most decreased back down to the holiday level in Q1 or even lower because of the pandemic. One exception is East Asia, where business is resuming. In that region, ad spend increased by 12.7% since the beginning of March. East Asia also saw CPC increase by 30.7% during the last month, returning to fall 2019 levels. This suggests that as other regions get the coronavirus under control, their ad spend will also bounce back.

“During the pandemic we have seen just how important social media is as the go-to place for consumers to discover content. People have been spending more time on social media consuming content and at the same time brands have been forced to hold their budgets in response to the economic uncertainty. These behaviours have opened a unique window of opportunity for savvy brands to stay close to their customers, while increasing their reach and engagement at a lower cost.”

Yuval Ben-Itzhak, CEO, Socialbakers

Influencer marketing sees a transition as ‘real-world’ content engagement increases

In a shift that is most likely tied to the worldwide pandemic, the number of influencers using #ad and other sponsored hashtags declined significantly in 2020. In March, 11,341 Instagram influencers associated with Brands used #ad, which was the lowest number since August 2019. 

Another shift is the absence of celebrities among the list of top influencers. In Q1 2020, top influencers were more likely to be authentic, natural types who posted more relatable content that emphasized real-world human situations over aspirational and manicured posts. The data indicates that users are currently engaging with more authentic, relatable content, perhaps because it offers a feeling of ‘we are all in this together.’

Instagram’s audience, engagement continue to grow

One trend that carries on despite the pandemic is the continuing rise of Instagram. Instagram’s total audience size is now 28% larger than the audience for the top 50 biggest brand profiles on Facebook. Instagram is also stronger in engagement, with total interactions more than 16x higher than on Facebook. However, Brands still posted more content on Facebook. Looking at both platforms, almost 60% of all Brand posts from the 50 biggest profiles were published on Facebook

The Socialbakers’ Social Media Trends Report Q1 2020 is now available for download.

About Socialbakers

Socialbakers is the trusted social media management partner to thousands of enterprise brands and SMBs. Leveraging the largest social media data-set in the industry, Socialbakers’ AI-powered social media marketing suite helps brands large and small ensure their investment in social media is delivering measurable business outcomes.

With over 2,500 clients across 100 countries, Socialbakers is the leading social media management platform, tracking 10 million social profiles across all major social platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+, and Socialbakers has been a Facebook Marketing Partner since 2011, a Pinterest Marketing Partner since 2017 and a LinkedIn Marketing Partner since 2017.

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