The way we value modern and established media is changing online. Whilst social media provides less validation and more human connection, established news sources are proving the value of trusted content.
No doubt you're spending more time consuming news content online – in fact, total audience numbers for all traditional media have exploded and are now the largest in the Australian industry’s history. You’re likely spending more time using social apps, too. But have you taken up any new behaviours – have you participated in a Zoom hangout or joined new Facebook Groups?
These various shifts highlight that people are clearly seeking support, reassurance, and connection amid the pandemic, and they are turning to online communities for this purpose.
Unable to connect with community via, say, a church group, local café or sporting club, people around the globe are turning to online communities. Of course, Facebook is perfectly poised to capitalise on this trend. The social media giant began pushing online groups in earnest last year as a place to have more meaningful conversations. Since the pandemic, the popularity of groups has surged, with The Guardian reporting that in the UK alone, Facebook has facilitated the formation of an estimated 300 local Coronavirus support groups, with a combined membership of more than a million people. Facebook says private groups are its future, and COVID-19 is helping people realise its promise. This could make groups an even more relevant consideration for users and businesses in future, as people become more accustomed to, and more reliant on, online communities for an increasing range of their social needs.
The search for updates on the virus has pushed up readership for local and established online news sites. Audience demand for trusted local news and lifestyle content has never been greater and publishing companies are using this to convert new readers into new subscribers. At the same time, this week the Australia government said it will adopt a mandatory code to require Google and Facebook to pay local media for reusing their content. This move is a win for the transparency of digital platforms and highlights how trusted information is becoming a harder to come by, not least during COVID- 19. Should the thirst for trusted content continue post COVID- 19, it could be a boon for University’s and Government Agencies that prove able to generate relevant and engaging content. Some, such as Johns Hopkins University in the US with its Coronavirus Resource Centre, have proved the potential for attracting eyeballs.
These are only two examples of online behavioural shifts – we have explored in The Current what other online behaviours have changed since the pandemic took hold. Video chat services like Zoom are attracting millions, TikTok’s popularity has positively exploded and videos games have been gaining while traditional sports are losing out.
The interesting consideration stemming from all this will be how such interactions extend after the virus and how businesses respond in turn. You would expect that the longer the crisis goes on, the more reliant people will become on groups, media outlets and video games. Peak internet awaits.