What Worked on Social Media in a Month of Coronavirus

MILAN — With social distancing and home isolation suddenly becoming a reality in many parts of the world, social media has strengthened its grip on people’s daily way of communicating and being informed.

According to DMR Group, which focuses on monitoring, tracking and analyzing data communication activities and public relations strategies for leading brands worldwide, in the period from March 2 to 29, more than 1.4 million posts were released by accounts relevant for the fashion, luxury, beauty and lifestyle industries across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The study, which monitored a panel of more than 25,000 social accounts, showed that the amount of content particularly spiked in the second week of March — up 7.9 percent — when Italy announced a lockdown, France shut down nonessential commerce and the U.S. declared a state of emergency

In general, Twitter registered the highest number of posts, totaling 608,400 compared with the 436,300 posts on Facebook and 380,300 on Instagram, which remained the most engaging platform.

The “Media and Journalists” accounts were the most active — with around a million posts — with an average increase of 5.8 percent, while celebrities and influencers’ social activity grew only 0.5 percent. As lockdowns corresponded to production and retailing activities closing in many countries, posts by brands and stores consequentially decreased 10.8 percent on average.

Engagement — which in this study comprises the activity of liking and sharing posts, but not commenting on them — mirrored this performance, as media and journalists’ accounts were the only ones registering an increase of 5.9 percent, while celebrities and influencers’ and brands and stores’ engagements were down 1.5 percent and 15.7 percent, respectively. Nevertheless, social personalities engaged 7 billion users versus 814.7 million people interacting with media accounts and 215.3 million ones engaging with brands and retailers.

Out of the whole social activity, the surveyed accounts released almost 243,000 posts with hashtags or keywords strictly related to the COVID-19 emergency, representing about 17 percent of the total content.

In particular, brands and stores dedicated 6 percent of their content to the emergency, corresponding to 2,800 posts that reached 980 million people and engaged with 15.7 million users, mainly on Instagram.

Most of the brand content hinged on fund-raising campaigns and invitations to stay safe at home but in some cases labels pivoted their communication strategies from commercial purposes to a more entertaining approach without even using specific key words linked to the health emergency.

According to DMR, one of the most successful campaigns on social media was Nike’s inspirational message to “Play inside, play for the world,” launched on March 21. The communication further resonated worldwide when many of the celebrity athletes associated with the brand used the dedicated hashtags on their personal accounts. These included LeBron James, Serena Williams and soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo, whose Nike-related posts reached 4.3 million users, 2.7 million users and 112.8 million users, respectively. Therefore, the ambassadors contributed to the success of the campaign, that overall reached more than 248 million users and engaged more than 12 million people.

With brands reducing their influencer marketing campaigns and canceling events, celebrities and influencers used their social voices to support charity programs and entertain followers during the quarantine with live chats, workout sessions and beauty and cooking tutorials.

According to DMR, they dedicated 11 percent of their posts to the COVID-19 emergency, engaging 784.2 million users. Instagram was the preferential platform, as it accounted for 76 percent of the total content, followed by Twitter.

In this category, Italian digital entrepreneur Chiara Ferragni and her husband, musician Fedez, led by example as they were among the first social personalities to talk about the crisis and be proactive in fighting the COVID-19 spread. The couple, also known by the moniker “The Ferragnez” and counting a combined following of over 29.5 million users on Instagram, not only posted content to alert and educate their fans about the emergency but were the first to launch a fund-raising campaign to help Milan’s San Raffaele hospital that collected over four million euros in just few days.

With additional at-home DJ sets and private-life videos provided to entertain followers, in March the couple reached 373 million users and engaged 32.8 million people on social media.

Obviously, among all categories, media and journalists’ accounts were the ones dedicating the highest percentage of their posts to the COVID-19 crisis, which represented 19 percent of the total and reached a potential audience of 6.5 billion users. Contrary to the others, Twitter was their prime platform, accounting for 65 percent of the almost 200,000 posts dedicated to the topic.

As well as to inform, these accounts were also involved in special projects to entertain followers and to help local hospitals and organizations in the fight against the virus.

For instance, Vanity Fair Italia was among the first to address the theme, dedicating a cover to 64 Milanese personalities distinguishing themselves during the health crisis with their work and dedication. The issue, which was distributed for free in the Lombardy region, also launched the hashtag #IosonoMilano — or “I am Milan,” in English — that resonated internationally as worldwide personalities posted their portraits with the same lettering on social media. Along with the following issue paying tribute to Italian health-care workers, the magazine’s campaign reached 43 million users and engaged almost two million people.

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