Social Media Under Lockdown

Abby Tomlinson

With everyone stuck inside for the foreseeable future, what else is there to do in your free time other than scroll endlessly through social media? Almost all social media platforms have reported a lockdown engagement boost. For individuals, social media is not only a way to pass the time but now the main way to stay in touch with friends and family – video calling & games app Houseparty has reported 50 million sign ups in the past month. TikTok has become even more popular, as users, with more time to both create and view content, flock to try the many fitness or dance challenges circulating around the app.

For social media platforms like Facebook of Nextdoor, there is a feeling that a real sense of community has blossomed. A quick look at the Facebook page for my village in the North West shows people leaving free bags of fruit and veg from their garden outside for collection, and teachers at my old school making visors for local care homes. The Nextdoor page for my estate in East London is flooded with people offering help to those in need – each time someone posts asking for support, there’ll be at least 20 people responding to offer whatever they need immediately. It’s not perfect, but social media has proved itself to be a force for good and a vital tool in keeping communities together at a time when everyone must be apart.

For businesses, social media during lockdown may prove a trickier challenge. Users aren’t expecting business as usual – posting without reference to the current situation can appear ignorant and insensitive but posting about lockdown for the sake of it can give the impression of jumping on a bandwagon without contributing anything meaningful. So, is there a balance?

The brands that have got their social media tone right tend to be the ones who have used the crisis to do something good, so their posting directly references the current situation, but for a clear reason. Leon’s campaign to provide meals for the NHS has reached its £1 million target, and the #FeedTheNHS initiative has attracted support from restaurant chains across the UK. There are no set rules of course, but a good rule of thumb for social media in lockdown is to consider these three questions before posting:

  1. Is it relevant to your business?
  2. Is it mindful of the current situation?
  3. Is it helpful to your users or the general public?

And if you ever need to feel better about the world, just take a look at your local community pages.

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