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Opinion

Role of Social Media in a Pandemic and Confinement by Jason Bholanauth

Woman using smartphone

Today, social media is an integral part of our life. Most importantly, it has become a vehicle of information with a purpose to reach the maximum people out-there. Channels like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and even Tik Tok, experienced an increase in use over the past years and COVID-19 pandemic is one of the reasons for this. In fact, the widespread of the pandemic over the world, underlined the importance of digital media as a way to inform, educate, and entertain the whole world, including Mauritius.

What is the role of social media for brands and individuals during the confinement?

To better understand the role of social media, we need to acknowledge that it has broken the control of information. Everyone can create and spread a piece of content in different formats. This has drastically changed the fundamental definition of knowledge representation and brand purpose, among other communications concepts.

So, in this new paradigm, firstly how are brands using social media?

  • Adopt a commercial approach by seizing the opportunity to transform the product and services to meet new customers requirements. As such, some brands are using social media data to make informed decisions and forter product as well as service innovation. While doing so, brands are also focusing adopting a customer centric approach.
  • Use the channels to build communities to nurture conversations and provide some kind of moral support. For example, we’ve seen agencies and organisations doing Facebook Live sessions to support small businesses, educate their audience, and help build collaborative support systems.

And now, how are individuals using social media during the confinement?

While brands found an opportunity to remind their customers that they are here, customers and individuals on the other side are actively participating in the spread of information as well as in the creation of content.

The fact that content creation in itself doesn’t require much technical or logistics has fastened their posting on social media. For example, it takes less than 1 minute for individuals to go live and share their thoughts on Facebook.

In these unprecedented times, channels such as Facebook are enabling community communications through technology. For example, platforms such as Messenger and Instagram enabled multiple individuals to communicate over a call. Though this in itself appears to be very mundane, it is helping individuals stay positive when isolation is affecting their mindset. After all, we are homo socialis; social animals with a need to be in community, to share, and to communicate.

Social media as a powerful communication tool during the confinement

In its recent Digital Report, Hootsuite outlined the following figures regarding connectivity and the use of social media in Mauritius.

  • Internet users as a percentage of the population: 64%
  • Social Media users as a percentage of the population: 73.1% (+8.1% annual growth)
  • Potential reach through Facebook Ads: 830,000 individuals
  • Potential reach through Instagram Ads: 310,000 individuals
  • Potential reach through LinkedIn Ads: 320,000 individuals

These insights are a clear indication that social media can be a powerful driver of communication for local brands and stakeholders. Besides, social media allows brands as well as individuals to share content in different formats. For instance, over the past few years, video content appears to drive more reactions on the different social media platforms.

The huge potential of social media represents an opportunity for brands and individuals to reach a big audience within seconds. While brands have some kind of protocols and policies while communicating, these barriers are often blurry for an individual.

Hence in a more and more narcissist society, we are driven by the need to please and to be accepted by our likes. In doing so, we tend to create content that we will then define “good” or “bad” by the number of reactions we get.

However, with great powers, comes great responsibility…

Lately, we’ve seen an increase in fake news; information which is not proven or contains false information leading to disinformation. Most of the time, fake news comes with a purpose to create buzz on social media and drive traffic to an unsafe website.

For example, that particular website could be collecting a huge amount of information about its visitors or simply is being used as a platform to constantly bombard the visitors with ads, even after he/she left the fake website.

It is important for social media users, particularly during confinement, to pay close attention to what they are reading and sharing. A simple article with unfounded elements can go viral and cause mayhem in the society.

Jason Bholanauth

Jason Bholanauth
Senior Digital Marketer & Founder of Digital Marketing Mauritius