Covid-19 crisis: Humour drives WhatsApp traffic through the roof

Leads other social media Apps…

Picture: Alice Smith/Creative Gangsters on Unsplash

We all know that social media platforms have gone into overdrive in the past few weeks as Covid-19 emerged as a major threat to SA society.

We’ve seen things progress from vague fear to confirmation of SA’s first case, first cases in the various provinces, to hundreds of new cases a day and, on Friday, confirmation of the first death due to the virus.

How have South Africans responded? We’ve been glued to media and, generally, many people have listened and adhered to the advice and instructions of government and medical experts.


Social media is where all the talk has been happening during these “self-isolation” times and, other than passing on important news, it’s been the adoption of humour to help navigate our way through the crisis that has been the most striking element and pushed digital traffic through the roof.

From memes to video clips, public announcements, self-produced workouts, book readings, inspirational posts, online lessons, sharing of recipes, gardening tips, the list is endless… social media has been going berserk.

We’ve seen winners, losers, favourites, covidiots, but mostly, a whole lot of humour that’s kept the nation going.

It seems the biggest winner in all of this is WhatsApp, as its traffic has broken new ceilings.

A study by Kantar came up with clear data. By analysing users’ behaviour and preferences during various quarantine scenarios, it was able to see which services grew the most.

The WhatsApp messaging service had, during the various phases of the pandemic, a growth that was between 27% (early stage) and 41% (mid phase).

But in countries where the Covid-19 pandemic phases were already more evolved, wrote Techlapse, these growth figures were boosted by 51% and beyond. Spain, one of the worst-hit countries, experienced a 76% increase in time spent on WhatsApp.

Overall Facebook usage has increased 37%. China experienced a considerable increase in usage of local social media apps, including Wechat and Weibo.

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Increased usage across all messaging platforms has been biggest in the 18 to 34 age group.

“WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram have all experienced a 40%+ increase in usage from under-35-year-olds,” wrote Kantar.

Deeper into the pandemic

“As countries move deeper into the pandemic, so media consumption increases across all in-home channels. In later stages of the pandemic, web browsing increases by 70%, followed by (traditional) TV viewing increasing by 63% and social media engagement increasing by 61% over normal usage rates.”

South Africans love social media and are never shy of an opinion. On Sunday afternoon on Twitter, #lockDownSouthAfrica was topping the trends, while #Day3 was also up there with well over 17 000 tweets.

More interesting facts from Kantar

Now read: Water access fears amid Covid crisis


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