Coronavirus has affected us all in one way or another, whether that be due to unfortunate deaths, being sick in bed for weeks on end or frustrating you due to lockdown restrictions keeping you locked in your house for weeks on end.
It’s no real surprise to see that the way we used the internet changed during lockdown, some of the key changes include:
- Social media usage increasing by as much as 25%
- Online shopping hitting the biggest boom it has ever seen
- Entertainment websites such as YouTube & Netflix booming
- Online meeting platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft teams booming
- Digital marketing actives such as SEO increasing + Google making key changes
The impact of social distancing and social media
When social distancing measures hit the UK on March 23rd, the usage of social media unsurprisingly increased.
With UK residents asked to stay at home and travel only when necessary, avoiding seeing family and friends, it made sense that social media platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp went through the roof.
Video calls became the new normal as we looked to connect with family through the lockdown, which included key bank holiday dates along with Mother’s Day, leaving the elderly mothers in isolation on Mother’s Day for the good of their own health.
Video calling appears to of been the big winner, if there can be a winner during these times, as we looked to connect not just via pictures and words but to get as much real time interaction as possible.
It’s reported that platforms such as WhatsApp and Facebook saw their website usage increase by as much as 25% in the USA alone.
What we also saw gain in popularity is the streaming platform TikTok, as people looked to entertain and create some joy during the pandemic, TikTok began to lead the way. Everyone was in on the act from singers, to magicians and even former boxing world heavyweight champion Joseph Parker getting in on the viral act (albeit across a different streaming platform.)
Along with social media websites, what also boomed was online gaming, as people looked to not only connect with each other but take a break from the craziness of the world – Online gaming platforms boomed as we saw friends take to the battlegrounds on games such as Call of duty to pass sometime and enjoy their selves whilst in isolation.
The great benefit of this came when internet service providers such as Virgin Media gave customers boosts in their internet speeds for free – This helped with the demand on social networks, online streaming and for those working at home during the pandemic.
Online shopping went through the roof!
Amazon was clearly the big winner from online shopping with the demand for delivery drivers sky rocketing followed by the amazon share price and net worth of billionaire owner Jeff Bezos.
This could be considered a turning point when we look back at key points in the online ecommerce boom.
What we saw first-hand as a web design agency was the number of B2B companies who had their supply chain cut who wanted to pivot from going wholesale to selling direct to customer, either under an existing brand or a new brand.
This is interesting as it showed that no matter how big or small manufacturers are, they were adjusting with what resources and staff they had available to keep generating income no matter the state of the economy.
Making sure their products could be brought by their customers from the comfort of their own home across any device became absolutely key to business looking to adapt and ride out the coronavirus downturn.
With Amazon dominating and the demand for delivery drivers higher than ever, we also saw supermarkets online sales boom with customers encouraged to book delivery slots online and shop from the comfort and safety of their own home.
It’s likely also that the multi-hour-long queues outside supermarkets due to the social distancing rules discouraged people from queueing outside stores and rove them online for convenience.
What’s shocking is just how full the shopping slots were, at one point they were booked up 6 weeks in advance with demand massively outstripping supply and causing shortages of some products such as home cleaning products, personal hygiene products and toilet roll.
Despite being in the middle of one of the worst pandemics we have seen during our lifetime, Entertainment boomed.
Netflix was a big winner here as people flocked to the platform to binge o both the new and classic boxsets, they have available.
One “superstar” who emerged from Netflix during the pandemic was Tiger King Joe Exotic who shot to becoming a household name and internet meme overnight due to his crazy antics and shocking behaviour.
A Statisa survey concluded that around 64% of people said they would consume more YouTube content during lockdown.
ChannelFactory conducted a survey asking YouTube users what content they had been digesting during a two week period on YouTube, with entertainment, DIY and health/fitness content leading the way.
Image from: http://channelfactory.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Content-Consumption-Consumer-Sentiment-Amid-COVID-US-Report-compressed.pdf Copyright Channelfactory
Business and meetings changed, and likely will across the short to medium term.
Zoom and Microsoft teams were big winners when it came to working from home during lockdown.
For those who could, working from home became essential in order to save their job, businesses and income.
We saw a massive shift in usage to Microsoft teams and Zoom which became essential during lockdown.
The verge report that Zoom daily usage is up to around 300 million people per day!
Microsoft teams was right behind, hitting 44 million daily active users during the first week of lockdown.
This has changed a lot in the way we work and use the internet, now meetings that were deemed essential before, the hours of travel and commuting was cut down to the length of a meeting with people saving far more time and being able to use that time to be more productive in other areas of their lives and business lives.
Search engine usage went bonkers!
Google took some steps when Covid-19 hit to provide the most relevant, factual and highest quality search results.
One of the first steps Google took was to allow businesses to post important Covid-19 updates in the search results to keep customers up to date with what’s happening with their business, whether that be a change to opening times or social distancing measures in place at their place of work.
We saw a huge Google update during May 2020 which saw a shake up in search results and affected many businesses, this though helped Google provide better results and whilst not Covid specific, is still an algorithm update that Google carry out multiple times a year.
Over the last 12-18 months, the E-A-T, Expertise, Authority & trustworthiness algorithm has become even more important to Google as it aims to deliver factual information for those researching Coronavirus during lockdown.
Google also did more to help, more than a lot of people realise.
Google ads put a restriction on those looking for a quick profit selling PPE equipment, face masks or hand sanitiser incredibly difficult to do.
We also saw Google provide a “Covid grant” for those who use the Google Ads platform. During June 2020 Google announced a Covid grant and automatically applied credit to those Google Ads account that qualify.
Being ever helpful, Google also rolled out some special Covid schema. Schema.org rolled out special announcement and event schema that allowed creators of events to place specially marked schema on their website to allow people to learn more about social distanced, postponed or cancelled events that a business was operating.
This helped communicating with masses of customers far easier during these already turbulent times.
Searches on Google continued to change with Covid becoming one of the top searches along with Coronavirus vaccine and Coronavirus deaths as people looked to find out more about the virus and unfortunate daily death toll.
There are also some surprising search trends, Ahrefs conducted some research to detail the top 10 Google searches of 2020 so far which came out with the usual suspects.
Whilst the internet has played a pivotal role during lockdown across the globe, there were some clear winners such as Amazon, Microsoft, Zoom and supermarkets who all had to adapt their platforms to cope with the huge spike in demand.
It’s likely some of the key points such as online shopping and Zoom meetings will remain and change our behaviour.
People are happier working from home and not spending 2 hours a day commuting, that time can be used better else where and whilst Zoom tries it’s best to replicate being face to face there are still subtleties people can’t pick up on as they would inf ace to face but it’s likely that Zoom will lead the way when it comes to business meetings in the future.