Blog Post

The Impact of Coronavirus on Social Media [Part 3] – Snapchat & Twitter

05/06/2020 - Sierra Ducey

I distinctly remember in 2018 when Snapchat launched a major app redesign that had users vowing to “never use the app again.” Although many people attribute this change to the shift in the popularity of Instagram stories, people didn’t abandon Snapchat altogether – I’m sure most people don’t even remember what changed now. In fact, just two short years later, in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, more users are turning. to Snapchat to stay in touch with family and friends. The app is seeing increased engagement across nearly all its features, some of which have reached their highest point in history.

Twitter is facing a similar situation. An app that was once well known for its financial ups and downs (which in the last two years seems to have stabilized), people were taken by surprise when the company announced that they would ban all political related advertisements on their platform. In an election cycle where contenders were projected to spend an unprecedented $1 billion on digital advertisements, politicians were pushed to spend advertising dollars on competitor platform, Facebook (it’s estimated that 59% of this money was spent there). However, the lack of advertising revenue didn’t seem to greatly affect the platform. And, with the recent stay-at-home orders, the platforms user base has steadily increased and grown more active, giving non-political advertisers an opportunity to reach a larger audience base.



  • Monthly active users: 229 million
  • 53% of users in the US are ages 18-24
  • 70% of Snapchat users are female
  • The average user opens the app 19 times per day
  • 3.5 billion
  • 14 billion videos are watched on the app every day
  • Snapchat’s first series Endless Summer had 28 million viewers over the first season
  • Snapchat is the second most important platform among teenagers (Instagram is first)
  • 55% of users state that they follow the one or more brands on the platform

Response to Coronavirus

Come Christmas Day, Thanksgiving, Mother’s Day, and other major holidays, I’m always prepared to receive the quick celebratory video from Team Snapchat. However, as the coronavirus outbreak spread, I noticed non-holiday messages coming from the team regarding updates to the platforms and special new additions. These were released either in an effort to keep users connected with friends and family or provide timely, fact-checked information in regard to coronavirus.

Discover, Snapchat’s content platform requires that all information shared is fact-checked and credible. This is essential as 68 million Snapchatters have viewed COVID-19 related content on Snapchat, especially among younger generations as over 40% of Gen Z has turned to this content for information. Snapchat also took the following measures to help

  • Accelerated launch of Here for You. When Snapchat users search for certain topics related to mental health and anxiety, they are shown resources from expert localizes partners are
  • Launched a set of creative tools that allows Snapchat users to share expert-approved best practices
  • Snap Lab (the team that makes Spectacles) has started to produce medical face shields that will be donated to hospitals in need.

What does this mean for advertisers?

In a blog post published at the beginning of April, Snapchat stated that “we’ve seen increased engagement across our platform, much of it coming from communication between close friends.” They also noted six different increases in app features that illustrate why they’ve seen an overall increase in overall app use.

  • Snaps between friends had reached an all-time high (suppressing the traditional peaks of Christmas and major holidays)
  • Time spent calling has increased by 50%
  • Group chat engagement also reached an all-time high
  • Snap Games has seen its highest figures since launch for overall time spent, player count and usage
  • Time spent playing with lenses is up 25%
  • Time spent watching Snapchat shows is higher than ever

With all the statistics regarding increased app use and engagement, it’s no wonder advertisers are interested and pivoting their advertising dollars towards Snapchat. TikTok, Twitch, Chiptole, and the Army are a few of the major players that have upped their Snapchat advertising during the last few months. With Snapchat’s swipe up feature that allows users to go directly from an ad to ordering food, subscribing to a service, learning more or, making a purchase, “actionable” advertising on Snapchat is very powerful.

If your target audience falls within the primary Snapchat user demographic, it’s a great tool to in addition to or in place of Instagram and Facebook whose user base skews a little older (25-34 years old and 40-years-old, respectively).



  • Monthly active users: 330 million
  • 22% of adults in the US use Twitter (44% of those ages 18-24)
  • 80% of tweets in the US come from 10% of the users
  • 66% of Twitter users are male
  • Twitter users spend 3.39 minutes on the platform per session
  • 12% of Americans gets their news from Twitter
  • 500 million tweets are sent each day
  • 40% of Twitter users reported purchasing a product after seeing it on Twitter

Response to Coronavirus

During the first month after the coronavirus first emerged, over 15 million tweets were sent mentioning coronavirus. This set Twitter up for a huge undertaking in terms of mitigating the spread of false information. However, they were quick to make sure users searcing for information were presented factual and reliable information from sources such as the World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control.  In addition, they increased the use of artificial intelligence to detect false information and flag it for removal, such as posts that:

  • Deny health authority recommendations
  • Describe treatments that are harmful or ineffective
  • Claim falsehood that incites people to action
  • Claim that specific groups of people or nationalities are more or less susceptible
  • Contain false information on how to differentiate between COVID-19 and other diseases

What does this mean for Advertisers?

As mentioned above, towards the end of 2019, Twitter announced that it would not allow political advertisements for the upcoming election. In a similar fashion, as the coronavirus spread across the world, Twitter quickly banned advertisements related to coronavirus. However,  in early April as the platform realized that companies couldn’t ignore the coronavirus in ads, they shifted their policy to allow the advertisements – with restrictions on who was allowed to speak on it and what they were allowed to say.  Head of Twitter Client Solutions, Sarah Personette, said: “It’s a shift that we’re making from an ads policy perspective because we believe that the messaging that brands and businesses can provide to the world and provide to consumers are going to be positively received.”

This thoughtful change in policy allows advertisers to reach the platforms increased user base (keeping in mind sympathetic messaging). And, advertisers are finding success. In recent reports, advertisers are reaching 14% more people on Twitter through advertisements in comparison to January of this year. Twitter is also a strategic choice for brands trying to reach a male audience as 66% of this audience is male, an anomaly for social media, as most user bases lean female.


Both Snapchat and Twitter have implemented tactics to keep their user bases informed with fact-checked, valid information during this time. Users have taken to these platforms both to consume this content and to keep in touch with family and friends, posing a great opportunity for advertisers. As consumers spend more time on these platforms, advertisers increase views and other important KPI metrics. However, as mentioned before, as advertisers work to reach these engaged audiences, make sure to keep messages timely, thoughtful, and informative – consumers will be very turned off if they feel as though you are trying to use the current situation for profit.

Interested in learning more about how social media platforms have been affected by and in turn, adapted to the changes brought on by the coronavirus? Read about Pinterest and Reddit platform updates in Part 2 of our social series here.

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