COVID-19’s Impact on Social Media Usage

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) has significantly changed life as we know it. Globally, we have seen it change in how we interact with others. Almost overnight, schools were closed, companies told employees to work remotely and people are being told not to go outside.

One-fifth increase of community growth in March

One of the largest common denominators for those looking to connect with the outside world is through social media.

Recently, FunCorp a global entertainment and social media meme application developer took a closer look at its user data. The data itself reveals that social distancing equates to a social pandemic because are looking for other outlets to reconnect. There was a higher uplift in usage from January 2020 to March 2020. However, it’s not totally unheard to see spikes in social media app usage especially when there are external factors like seasons, current affairs and holidays.

Anyone who develops products with a daily audience of millions of users knows that there are different sorts of seasonal influences on user activity and this should be taken seriously. For example, in Brazil, the audience falls during Carnival, and vice versa it grows when there are major sporting events such as the 2018 World Cup. In the US the audience decreases on Christmas Day, mainly because people spend time with their families, and it also grows right after the start of school and college holidays. In other regions such as Eastern European countries, they don’t celebrate Christmas, but they do partake in the New Year celebrations and usage falls by 10–20%. However, it quickly reсovers after the holidays.

Besides seasonality, there are also events that create very powerful memes that have become viral and showcase a high growth of increased engagement amongst online users. For example, in the United States, Bernie Sanders’s meme was incredibly popular and ranked №1 in the US for downloads, but along with that it was 100% ignored by meme lovers in Europe and Brazil.

For FunCorp on our social platform iFunny, the users vary. In the US, our main audience is Generation Z with an average age of 18–20 years, in Brazil it is the audience aged 25–35, then in Eastern Europe, it is the audience aged 40+ (based on data that users provide in their profiles).

In different locations and among different audiences there are different reasons for the impact on user activity, they usually occur at different times and for different reasons. What we see now as with the current situation of the Coronavirus is a unique case when quarantine has become a global theme for all audiences and equally affects all our products, and most likely all UGC products in the world.

In the US we compared the figures for January and March 2020. January is usually a high month because people have holidays and vacations, so activity increases. Spring is usually a stable time without any spikes, but since the beginning of it we observe an abnormal audience activity which consists in:

  • Growth of the daily audience. Over the past 1.5–2 years, our daily audience growth was about 1% per month, but March started with a weekly growth of 2% and we expect the growth of a daily audience around 8–10% in March alone. In fact, it was about 15 percent in 2 weeks of march.

  • Increase in the number of content views per user. If in January an average number of views by android users was 220–230, now it is 265–270. And for iOS users, the numbers rose from 180 in January to 205 in March.

  • Noticeable increase in the average number of sessions per user. For iOS, in January there were 5.10 sessions and now 5.50, and on Android 5.30 in January and now 6.20.

  • 15% increase in the number of content creators from daily audiences.

  • Growth of the active community (these are users who communicate with other users) by about 20%.

In general, there is an increase in almost all product metrics which is unusual for the current season. Moreover, there is the same trend in Brazil and in Europe, although there are completely different audiences, and this is the first case over nine years of our work in this business when users from different countries and of different ages behave the same way.

The COVID-19 epidemic affects absolutely every person anywhere in the world by changing the way people look to connect and express themselves online.