Covid Chronicles: The New Life Online

Jun 26, 2020

Covid-19 quarantine measures have sparked a massive migration online and for many people it's a vast and unfamiliar world. According to the Pew Research Center, researchers are concerned about issues from digital democracy to online dating. In Hawai'i, online issues and activity are keeping pace with the nation.

Online marketing consultant Gwen Woltz says video and live-streaming attract audiences online. Livestreaming unvarnished glimpses of offline life are like insider scoops, especially for polished brands. This custom sign at Nuimono on King Street hints at the handmade products inside.
Credit Noe Tanigawa / Hawai’i Public Radio

  It's probably not surprising that a NY TImes analysis shows as the novel corona virus advanced, Americans retreated to our devices for work, play, learning, and connecting. People all over Hawai'i have joined in too, says Gwen Woltz, co-founder and CEO of Wahine Media, a ten year old marketing and social media agency now with clients around the U.S.

"Five, six, seven, eight years ago," she says,"I would have said the Hawai'i market is a little bit different from the mainland, and I don't really see much of a difference any more. Hawai'i is very much a trendsetter and right on point with the rest of the mainland."  

Woltz says the way Hawai'i does marketing sets trends on social media. According to Woltz, the Hawai'i Tourism Authority, Island Chapters, and the Hawai'i Visitor and Convention Bureau have created a destination to be reckoned with in the digital realm. Woltz says travel industry partners here invested early in video and streaming from gorgeous locations She says they've reaped benefits from that, and while there's minimal travel now, there is more of an audience than ever online.

According to Woltz, video is a strong trend, especially live streaming. She says site with robust video, or creative video content have better performing ads and posts. Woltz maintains that brands and individuals that offer a real-time, insider scoop, or an unvarnished look into someone's life are putting the "social" back in social media. 

New on the scene, Woltz recommends island entrepreneurs use geo-tagging capabilities on Facebook for example, to target ads specifically to people as they are traveling in their area. She says  new "shopable" tags introduced in March allow customers to purchase with a click when they see items on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest. They can pay without going to a separate website.

Another strong trend, says Woltz, is content creators collaborating with online influencers to develop attractive material. 

 

And it's not just about marketing. Social media surfaced recently as a factor influencing attendance at President Trump's political rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. K-pop fans were reported to have secured thousands of tickets online, that they never planned to use.   

CedarBough Saeji is a visiting assistant professor of East Asian languages and cultures at Indiana University in Bloomington.  She began studying K-pop when she moved to Korea in the mid-1990's.    

"American K-pop fans are primarily female people of color, younger, 20's mostly," says Saeji. "We're talking about a lot of African Americans, a lot of Latinx. This is a very, very, diverse fandom. If you go to LA, it's just Latinx. It's almost consumed like people of color media." 

Saeji says these fans are extremely social media savvy.

"The fans are responsible for making campaigns to elevate the artist into the eyes of the public. The entire K-pop industry is formulated on a model that the fans make or break the artist."  

K-pop fans have mounted many different kinds of campaigns. Just one day after K-pop stars BTS donated $1 million dollars to Black Lives Matter, fans in the BTS Army matched it.   

Elsewhere online, established media sites are popular, the NYTimes and Washington Post websites report traffic up more than 50%. Appetite for local news has also grown, but according to the NY Times,  the news site with the greatest increase in traffic is the homepage of the Centers for Disease Control.

In this shifting online environment, people have been moving off mobile devices as they stream from home. Established media sites are popular, the NY Times and Washington Post websites report traffic up over 50%. Appetite for local news has grown.

 

According to the New York Times, the Centers for Disease Control homepage is by far, the US news site with the greatest increase in traffic.