As consumers continue to grapple with how the coronavirus is shaking up their everyday lives, many are turning to - or away from - social media to process their reactions.
According to data analyzed by Sparkloft Media, the volume of COVID-19-related conversations on social media has fallen recently, though many consumers are still expressing a high degree of fear and anxiety about the crisis.
In a previous report released by Sparkloft, the social media-focused agency found that from the period of January 1 to March 20 - during which consumers entered and exited through phases of denial, unease and panic - volume and sentiment of conversations around the coronavirus shifted in tandem with government directives and travel restrictions.
Its latest report finds that during the “quarantine” period from March 21 to April 17, in which consumers experienced major social changes due to social distancing and stay-at-home orders, coronavirus-related posts on social media totaled 541,199,800.
Of those posts, averaging 19,328,564 per day, 62% expressed a neutral sentiment, while 25% were negative and 13% were positive.
The most recent phase, “frustration,” from April 18 to April 24, thus far has seen a decrease in total posts to 70,273,971 and average posts per day to 11,712,329.
Consumer sentiment primarily remains neutral at 64%, while 24% of posts contain negative sentiments and 12% positive.
Sparkloft notes that while some consumers are turning to social media to vent or rally support, others are turning away from channels to escape the noise online.
For travel brands, “understanding the changed mindset of the consumer is critical at this stage,” the company says, and marketers need to consider how health and safety concerns will impact the planning and booking of travel.
Flexibility will be paramount in consumers’ minds, and brands that make it easy to change dates or receive refunds will win back consumer confidence fastest.
Marketers should be clear on a brand’s communications strategy – e.g., if call centers are open – to help promote trust.
“People are feeling overwhelmed and looking for someone or something to blame, turning brands into instant villains.”