This year, digital became the catalyst for shaping how we experienced the pandemic. For our 2020 recap edition, we wanted to focus on the positives that digital brought to communities around the world. While we couldn’t include every milestone and “talked about” trend, below we highlighted a few areas that made an impact. Thank you to all our readers for following along with us. See you in 2021!
Combatting Misinformation on Social
This year, social platforms were faced with addressing and managing, in real time, the spread of COVID-19 and U.S. election misinformation and conspiracy theories. Their responses ranged from light-touch (driving users to reliable information) to more pointed (tagging posts and freezing ads).
- WHO, meet TikTok: TikTok partnered with WHO to create a COVID-19 information program.
- The “Stay Home” sticker was just the beginning: Instagram created tools to help people access accurate information, stay safe and stay connected.
- Ice, Ice, Baby: Facebook froze out political ads leading up to and after the U.S. election.
- Just in time for the rollout, Facebook vowed to remove false claims about COVID-19 vaccines.
- Building the plane while flying it: Advertisers, including Google, Twitter, Snapchat and Facebook, created, implemented and evolved COVID-19 ad policies on the fly.
- In a step to prevent the spread of deliberate misinformation, Twitter expanded its warning labels.
And the Winner Is…How Social Media Took on Voting in 2020
What was social media’s role in the 2020 U.S. presidential election? Though many would point to it being a vehicle for the spread of misinformation, there is also something to be said for the way social platforms, brands and individuals tried to make voting more accessible.
- Your social ballot box info desk: Facebook and Instagram launched a ‘Voting Information Center’ to give people in the U.S. voting tools and information.
- Vote or miss out: Snapchat helped register over 1M young people to vote (half of whom were first time voters, and more than 80% of whom were younger than 30!).
- The U.S. “Elections Guide” we never knew we needed: Despite its younger demographic, TikTok provided users with accurate, timely voting information.
- Why just vote when you can vote and tweet about it: Social media contributed to record voter turnout in the 2020 U.S. presidential election.
- Regardless of who you voted for, we can all agree that the real winners were the brands that encouraged all eligible voters to make their voices heard.
How Social Media Supported Social Good
As racial injustice protests and hard conversations about race swept the United States and reverberated around the world, social media was at the center – aiding organizers, driving conversation, educating and broadcasting real-time events. These difficult discussions also drove meaningful change. Brands and platforms responded and adapted in record speed.
- YouTube may not be releasing a Rewind video for 2020, but it did share a top trending videos list: Dave Chappelle’s “8:46” is at the top.
- While TikTok didn’t handle this topic perfectly, 75% percent of GenZers reported the platform helped them learn more about social justice, politics and activism.
- LinkedIn reinforced its commitment to fostering inclusivity by adding an audio recording option for users to share the correct pronunciation of their name on their profile.
- PowerPoint activism was everywhere on Instagram: Social justice slideshows took over.
- Major advertisers on Facebook reduced their spending by millions of dollars in July, but did it work? Facebook responded with some updates to its practices, but many were not convinced and instead pledged to direct more media dollars to minority-owned businesses.
- Healthcare wasn’t exempt from racial injustices: EmpowHER and The Bloc won Gold from MM&M for their work in portraying the way actresses with a “black name or voice” were treated differently than those designated as white.
The World Evolved, and So Did Those Influencing It
Many questioned how the influencer industry would fare amid economic insecurity and stay-at-home orders. But influencers across industries adapted, connecting with audiences in creative ways, like sharing ideas for keeping kids occupied at home, hosting Live workouts or concerts and encouraging healthy habits.
- At the start of the outbreak, brands cut influencer ad budgets and deals began to fade – but they’ve slowly come back.
- Celebrities, athletes, models and TikTokers alike tapped into their influential powers to reach potential new voters online.
- Perhaps the most intriguing outcome was the overnight influx of doctors as social media influencers; even the most successful say being a positive influence was no easy feat.
- Not your average healthcare influencer campaign: A look into the importance of leveraging influencers for vaccine education and encouragement of COVID-19 vaccinations.
Massive Growth in Familiar Digital Tactics
For many, 2020 brought radical change to daily routines and greater insight into the world we live in, but within the digital media industry, the year only accelerated predicted trends. The popularity of streaming video and connected TVs exploded while we were at home, forcing advertisers to double down on the flexibility of programmatic advertising and targeted B2B marketing.
- We can all agree this was the year of streaming video: High profile launches of new services such as HBO Max and Peacock accelerated growth of existing platforms following the spring stay-at-home order.
- Pass the remote: Connected TV devices saw a boom in ad spend, and competition from streaming platforms will boost publishers’ ad revenue in 2021.
- Zero-inbox became a thing of the past: How the COVID-related spike in volumes and engagement has changed email marketing permanently.
- The doctor will email you now: DMD, a healthcare marketing data company, saw a lift in engagement and open rates by HCPs in 2020 compared to previous years.
- Programmatic media grew by 8% in 2020 and is projected to surpass $240B in spending by 2024 as advertisers put greater emphasis on cost efficiencies and buying flexibility after the unevenness of this year.
10 Months Later: Staying Together While We’re Still Apart
None of us anticipated that we’d still be practicing social distancing and varying levels of shelter-in-place after all this time. Despite this lack of physical closeness, consumers and brands have found a new way to stay connected through the adoption of live online activations, the joys of shared interests and meaningful brand partnerships.
- A LOT of people live-streamed on Twitch. The gaming platform had a 100%+ year-over-year increase in hours watched, up to 1.645B (yes, billion) hours per month.
- Facebook Gaming also saw massive usage, citing 72% growth between March and April and 238% year-over-year.
- With LinkedIn’s introduction of Live, videos received 7x more reactions and 24x more comments than native video produced by the same broadcaster.
- YouTube also became a place for togetherness, with the platform reporting a 600% increase in searches that used “with me,” such as “cook with me” and “work out with me.”
- TikTok reminded us that we could find togetherness through quick moments of joy and inspiration.
- A rare pandemic silver lining: Using teletherapy, metrics and matching algorithms, entrepreneurs focused on addressing aspects of the mental healthcare system that they viewed as broken.
- Tech giants put aside their differences for the greater good when Apple and Google partnered on COVID-19 contact tracing technology.
- And in the ultimate spirit of togetherness, pharma companies took part in a joint pledge on vaccine safety, reassuring the public that they would not seek a premature approval for their COVID-19 vaccines.
W2O’s The Scoop is brought to you by an editorial collective, featuring industry updates and insights from subject matter experts across social media, digital and influencer activation teams.
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