Online Consumption in the age of COVID-19 – online user behaviour has dramatically shifted, but for how long?

 

Whether you learned Tiktok dances or incessantly had to do the “you’re on mute” or “excuse the background noise” dance in Zoom meetings, you have indisputably adapted to new ways of using the internet in 2020. 

The term ‘internet’ is ambiguous at the best of times gaining momentum since its invention not too long ago. Generally used interchangeably with other new age phenomena which exists as a result of its invention social media, e-commerce, gaming and a whole host of other online communities. The result? A so-called tech savvy generation of internet users with a plethora of niche interests and never-seen-before behaviours, some of whom prefer alternate virtual worlds.

What emerged …
  • In the past few years, trends suggested the rise of the smartphone as users’ primary window to the online world. 
  • With more people spending their days at home than ever before, data seems to indicate that a lot of users have dusted off their computers, so to speak.
  • Social distancing has meant that people are seeking out new ways to connect texting is no longer good enough, which has seen video chat apps like Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger video call gain popularity, not to mention the one to rule them all, Zoom.
  • Interestingly, as people considered picking up new projects, platforms like Pinterest saw heightened engagement, particularly across categories involving home improvement and activities with children.
  • Living rooms are the new classroom and office. Arguably, this has had the most profound impact on online activity. Educators and pupils across the globe have adapted to using Google Classroom, and meetings are taking place on Zoom, Google Hangouts and Microsoft Teams. 
  • Video games have helped fill the live sports void. Several video game sites have had surges in traffic, as have sites that let you watch other people play. Other social media platforms like Tiktok have also gained whole new audiences due to lockdowns worldwide. 
  • The relentless exposure to information by the media, especially pertaining to the pandemic, has seen a decline in news consumption. Alternatively, people are relying on social media sites like Facebook as primary news sources, which have, in the past, been criticised for misinformation and information bias. 
  • Across most industries, shopping has become a heavily e-Commerce activity. Retailers have had to rethink their marketing strategies and automation process since online shopping means something completely different in 2020.

The internet has certainly provided a virtual space to get together during what will be described as trying times. It is undisputed that the internet extends beyond the physical world, and the full effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the internet over a longer period of time are yet to be determined.