Houseparty, the app. Picture: SUPPLIED
Houseparty, the app. Picture: SUPPLIED

The world order has shifted rapidly over the past three months as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Lockdowns and stay-at-home orders have affected how we live and work, resulting in increased use of digital technologies that allow for people to work from home and stay connected to friends and family. What remains to be seen is how much of this growth will be sustained post lockdown – and whether some of the changes to the way we communicate are here to stay.

Research from market research company and data provider Global Web Index (GWI) explored consumers’ digital media consumption and communication habits during the coronavirus outbreak, while market data provider and research company App Annie released market data and insights focused on the surge in the use of video-conferencing apps.

Combined, these bodies of research have revealed some interesting insights around how the global lockdowns have influenced the way we communicate. Perhaps the most significant change is the rise and demand for video-conferencing apps such as Zoom, Google Hangouts Meet, Microsoft Teams and Houseparty as a result of social distancing measures and work-from-home policies during lockdown. According to GWI, these business apps are being used more among men and higher-income earners.

App Annie’s data revealed that these apps had 62-million downloads across iOS and Android during the week of March 14 to 21 2020 worldwide. This was up 45% from the week before — the highest growth among any category across the app stores combined that week — and up 90% from the weekly average of business app downloads in 2019.

The rise of Houseparty, a video-conferencing app popular among especially Gen Z, is particularly interesting. Users are able to see who is chatting and can “join” the video chat or “room”. The app uses a split screen to make video chatting easy between multiple users, adding in a feature that allows for secret chats among participants.

Houseparty has seen phenomenal growth, with downloads increasing by 735 times over the last week of March. Social networking apps tend to benefit greatly from the network effect, where the value for a user increases as more of their friends and family use the app.

But what does this trend mean for marketers and how can we benefit from it? With infectious disease and vaccine experts around the world forecasting a period of a year to 18 months to develop a vaccine for Covid-19, the likelihood of the continuation of social distancing for another year or so is quite high. This means we are likely to see continued demand for these apps.

While these apps don’t sell ad placements yet, there are ways marketers can leverage off this trend.

Gamification Marketing

The Houseparty app includes a “gamified video networking” feature, which means it has in-app games that can be played by participants while they are on a video call with friends. Marketers can use this opportunity to collaborate with Houseparty and integrate creative, quick and fun brand-focused games to increase brand or product awareness, while driving engagement among the Gen Z crowd.

Webinar Marketing & Integrations

As people become familiar with the apps and they gain in popularity, webinars will be a great way for marketers and their creative teams to find exciting ways to engage and educate interested customers on their client’s service or product. Zoom offers webinar integrations with social media platforms such as Facebook (tracking pixel and Facebook Live). Marketers can add a Facebook tracking pixel to a Zoom “registration successful” page for an upcoming webinar. This allows marketers to track how many users visit the registration page and how many complete the registration form. The pixel can also be used for remarketing.

For a new feature or product tutorial webinar to promote a new product and its features, a Zoom webinar can be streamed live on Facebook to the brand’s Facebook page. This allows the participants to join via Zoom or viewers to watch and comment on Facebook Live. If you’re a sharp marketer, you’ll see how this can play together with influencer marketing, depending on the target audience, of course.

Global lockdowns have provided businesses the opportunity to trial remote working as an alternative for employees, and it will be interesting to watch whether this trend continues after the lockdowns have ended.

  • Teboho Rasoaisi is a digital marketing specialist and consultant.


The big take-out:

Marketers can leverage off digital apps that are helping people to remain connected during the lockdown.

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