There’s no doubt that at this point: you have been affected by COVID-19. From social distancing, working remotely, or sheltering in place, our lives have changed dramatically.

We likely won’t ever know the true number of people who lost their jobs or were laid off in the US last week, but Goldman Sachs has predicted that over 2.25 million Americans will have filed for unemployment during the week of March 16th. 

Currently, the US senate is in the process of negotiating a relief package to try to help people and businesses. People are waiting to find out what the bill contains (you can read more about what is potentially included here), but the level of uncertainty for the entire US has people using the internet for news, research, entertainment, local resources, and purchases at unprecedented levels.

These are truly unsettling and unpredictable times for everyone. Not just in the US, but around the world. The Mad Fish Digital marketing team is committed to learning, researching, and interpreting the trends in the market, so that we can advise our clients properly.

Having observed several major trends this week, I wanted to share what we at Mad Fish Digital have been following and advising our clients on. 

Overall Internet Usage Is Up

On Thursday, March 19, Verizon confirmed that they saw a 20% increase in overall internet usage. Gaming saw a 75% surge. Web traffic is up 20%, and video usage is up 12%.

 

Type of dataWeek over week increase
Gaming75%
VPN34%
Web traffic20%
Video12%
Social media usage0% flat

 

Source: (Yahoo Finance) How Americans are spending their time in the temporary new normal

I suspect that a large portion of the “web traffic” increase originates from users visiting Government websites. See Comscore’s Media Consumption during the Coronavirus Pandemic blog post for more details.

One thing that stands out? Verizon is reporting that social media usage is flat. This would lead us to believe that during the first week of Covid 19 when noticeable impact on the average US citizen’s daily habits was apparent (i.e. the week of March 16th 2020), people were using the internet more for entertainment, but their social media usage did not increase or decrease. 

This means that US Verizon customers have not increased their social media usage. However, they are visiting websites, streaming video, and using gaming services more frequently.

Social Distancing is Changing Our Digital Habits and Varies by Generation

During this pandemic, digital mediums are by far the most efficient means for communicating with a target audience. When the pandemic is finally over, it is hard to imagine that the digital habits that we are all currently adopting, will simply stop or fall by the wayside.

Our partner, Global Web Index, recently released a US and UK poll where they asked respondents: “In light of the coronavirus outbreak, are you doing any of the following activities more often than before while at home?”

The GWI poll gives us more insights into all media habits broken down by age demographic.

Of the respondents polled by GWI, 32% of Gen Z, 42% of Millennials, and 23% of Gen X reported using social media more often, while only 6% of Boomers reported using social media more often.

 

Changing of Digital Habits with Corona Virus
Source: Global Web Index

The big takeaway here is that 63% of Boomers (ages 57+) in this survey reported that their behavior at home has not significantly changed, while the majority of non-Boomers reported that their behaviors have changed. The social media usage numbers mean that Boomers are generally using social media in the same way that they always have. Younger folks, however, are changing their behavior at home significantly.  

What You Need to Know About COVID-19 and Online Activity

Most Gen Z, Millennial, and Gen X respondents have changed their online habits. These folks are adapting to new digital technologies, and fast. With new access points for varied demographics, there are many new places to reach customers digitally. Currently, this increase usage is centered around gathering news and more passive interactions. However, as this goes on, we will likely see additional actions and an unprecedented rise in digital activity.

These changes signal a pivot in how we all interact and use the internet and specifically social platforms. It is unlikely that after the COVID-19 pandemic is over, these age groups will go back to past consumer behaviors. The ever increasing options for digital commerce will live beyond our current state.

Even as I write this, the coffee shop down the street is limiting to just togo orders, but only accepting Venmo as a payment method. This trend can’t help but continue when social distancing ends and businesses come back online in full force. 

The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing people to accept digital mediums as a primary method of connecting and consuming.

Socializing and the way we Experience Events with Humans is Changing Too

Not only are we using digital mediums more, but the COVID-19 tragedy is also changing the way we use technology to interact with other humans.  

Don’t believe me? Check out the drastic moves that the engineers at Zoom video conferencing are taking to meet the increased user demand. They’re adding new servers and other equipment at all of their data centers. In addition, they’re adding additional centers.  By increasing the infrastructure at the data centers, they’re also increasing their overall capacity with Cloud Hosting giants Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure.

Another indicator in how our habits are changing can be seen in how musicians and entertainment artists are adapting to using digital experiences as a way to connect with fans.

Artists such as John Legend, Bono, Coldplay, P!nk, Neil Young and others have recently used social media channels such as Instagram live, to deliver virtual concerts. These experiences have allowed the artists to take song requests, and interact directly through the comments with fans.

We Will Connect in New Ways

Technology is helping us to connect in new ways, and reshape our habits.  

While live human to human interaction can never be replaced, all generations are adapting the internet into their daily lives. Now more than ever. 

Socializing with friends via Zoom, buying take out food, seeing the latest concert, or watching a movie are different now. Using a digital medium to facilitate the experience will be our new normal. It’s time to optimize for it.

Want to Read More?

Follow us on social media or subscribe to our newsletter to stay in the loop for the latest digital marketing news and industry research