COVID COMMS #17: If you’re trying to reach people with COVID-19 messages this research is absolutely essentialPosted: July 3, 2020
There’s this footage of a tsunami sweeping through a Japanese port that’s both horrifying and mundane.
It’s shot from a hill that looks down on the port. You see the wave slowly sweep in. At first what’s odd is the boats it brings with it. Great big trawlers as well as little pleasure boats crunching into seafront streets.
Then as the wave barrel;s through the town the wooden buildings begin to detach and move too swept bu the force of the slow-moving wave. What was a fixture is now moving in front of your eyes.
A similar effect is happening to the media landscape over three months of pandemic. People’s habits have changed and fluctuated.
Ofcom have published magnificent work that traces through the last three months. For public sector communicators this research is life saving in every sense of the word and I suggest you spend a bit of time with it. The most recent research dates from mid-June which makes it helpfully contemporary.
Key points from the Ofcom research
People are voracious in their consumption of COVID-19 news but how much depends on how old they are. Ofcom stats show 89 per cent access news daily. Over 55-year-olds consume the most at 94 per cent. The lowest being 16 to 24-year-olds with 84 per cent.
A big minority of people try to avoid the news. Just over 33 per cent will try and avoid the news. I’m sure some are successful but others I think rather like the episode of ‘The Likely Lads’ end up accidentally accessing it.
Traditional media is trusted most. Over 55s at 96 per cent trust traditional media brands. Aged 25 to 34-year-olds trust traditional media least at 51 per cent.
Social media is getting used for news less as the pandemic has worn on. At the start, 49 per cent used networking sites which has dropped to 38 per cent after three months.
But hang on, social media use for younger people tops any other channel. For 16 to 24-year-olds social is where they’ll go to find out COVID-19 information. In that demographic, 63 per cent will go to social media that’s three times as many as over 65s.
People are sharing fewer COVID-19 messages. At the start of the pandemic 25 per cent were sharing NHS, public health or government messages. This has halved in 12-weeks. This on the face of it is alarming to public sector communicators. But for me, this flags up the need to be more creative in your communications. The straight forward share of the Government poster feels as though its less effective. So think of ways to engage. Would the message be more effective coming directly from a nurse? The town Public health officer? A doctor?
People are getting COVID-19 information less from closed networks like Messenger and WhatsApp. This has fallen from 34 per cent at the start to 18 per cent after three months.
Misinformation is rife but falling. At the start, 46 per cent saw falsehoods but this has dropped to 30 per cent after 12-weeks.
Confusion is on the rise. As things get more complicated and there is more noise and more rules across four nations of the UK its understandable that confusion grows. At the start this was 17 per cent and this has risen to 24 per cent.
We trust the NHS even more now than we did at the start. At the beginning, 90 per cent trusted the NHS and now 91 per cent do. This is significant.
So, what does this all mean?
It means that what was working 12-weeks ago may not be working now. It also means that a one size fits all approach is doomed. We kind of know that but here is the evidence for you to argue against that.
It also means that traditional news brands such as the BBC or the local paper are places where people go for trusted information. Except if you are younger. You’ll go to social media.
Public sector communicators are really earning their money at the moment. But long hours doesn’t necessarily mean effective communications.
There is need for a constant re-boot and re-assessment of what is being done locally. These national figures should be a canary in the mine. Use them as an indicator of a broad direction of travel but test them locally too.
Try and measure how effective things are and adjust as you go. But what’s most powerful in the figures is that the point to the fact that different demographics use different channels.
Picture credit: US Government National Archives
Ofcom’s ever useful media nations report was published this week with a usual trove of useful data.
There’s been extensive coverage of the wider findings of the TV industry but for me the value is drilling into the data on how video is consumed. This is the gold that can inform how comms people look to communicate.
‘Without data,’ data scientist W. Edwards Deming wrote, ‘you’re just another person with an opinion.’
So, here’s the data.
The Ofcom report focuses on TV, radio and YouTube without looking in detail at wider social media data. There is nothing, for example, on how much time people spend watching video on Facebook, for example.
I’ll blog the radio data separately but in the meantime, here’s plenty to get on with on video.
The most popular YouTube content of 2018? Paul McCartney’s carpool karaoke with 44 million views.
Now, here’s the data…
The average UK adult watches almost five hours of video a day
Dominated by live TV, the average UK adults is burning through almost five hours of video screen time every day. That’s around 35 hours a week.
The eye-catching figure for public sector communicators is the 34-minutes a day spent watching YouTube.
Conclusion: YouTube remains an important place to put content. There is a healthy appetite for watching content on the channel.
There is a split between younger and older demographics on how they watch video
Older people tend to watch their video content as live TV while younger people gravitate to watching video as YouTube.
For 18-to-34-year-olds, YouTube is the most popular means of watching video with an hour and four minutes watching the platform every day. That’s well ahead of second-placed Netflix on 40 minutes.
Elsewhere, the data points to eight to a majority of 15-year-olds preferring YouTube to TV.
Conclusion: If you are looking to reach an older or younger audience you need to tailor your content accordingly.
The most popular YouTube channels have been created by digital natives rather than traditional audiences
YouTube as a place is dominated by people making content that probably wouldn’t have got an audience twenty years ago.
Digital natives is the catch-all expression for vloggers and non-broadcasting industry content. Lean over your child’s shoulder while they are watching a screen and the chances are its the content that they’re watching. They’ve built an audiences based on generating engaging content and slowly building trust. They may not have the same slick production values as traditional broadcasters but that’s okay.
The learning point for this is that the traditional gatekeepers of video content – TV stations – have become not the only show in town.
News at five per cent is a small part of the pie and it leads to a question as to the effort chasing the traditional opinion formers.
Conclusion: Channels made by digital natives are the most popular channels on YouTube.
Young people are watching YouTubers
Children are often known as a hard-to-reach audience as they don’t consume traditional media in a way that we are at home with.
The Ofcom data drills down into exactly watching on YouTube with some useful data for three to 11-year-olds and then the older 12 to 17.
YouTubers are significant. These are vloggers who are creating their own content and often speak to the camera directly. It’s rough and ready content built because its the content that best reaches an audience.
Conclusion: Young people are unlikely to be on your organisation’s YouTube channel but you could reach them by going through channels that are popular.
The Media Nations report published by Ofcom can be found here.
I help deliver video skills workshops in-house and public sessions. Drop me a note at email@example.com or see the public workshops here.
STATS 2016: A pile of things every comms person needs to know from the Ofcom communications market reportPosted: August 5, 2016
Here’s a thing. Everybody apart from maybe your Gran should know what’s in the Ofcom Communications Market Report.
Everybody who is interested in communicating as part of their jobs should know it.
Press officers, comms people, social media mavens, marketing people and internal comms too. You all should know it.
Why? Because quite simply, this is a report filled with data that you can hang your hat on and use as a reference point for what you do. Cricket has Wisden. Comms people have the Communications Market Report. It’s that good.
If you are a communicator in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland there’s also a national breakdown of your nation’s media use too. How useful is that?
So, here is a quick summary so you all go off and read all of its 266 glorious pages.
4G now reaches 97.8 per cent of the population.
86 per cent of homes have an internet connection.
66 per cent of people use their mobile phone to access the internet.
41 per cent think they spend too much time on the internet.
11 per cent check the internet 50 times a day or more.
15 per cent say they are ‘hooked’ on theiir favouriote device.
34 per cent say they have difficulty disconnecting from the internet.
51 per cent go to bed with their mobile phone within reach.
71 per cent of adults have a smartphone.
Over two hours a day on average is spent using smartphones.
59 per cent of households have a tablet.
26 per cent use video on demand sites like Netflix.
91 per cent watch live TV.
25 per cent watch online video clips
70 per cent use email.
Instant messaging is rising
43 per cent use instant messaging apps like WhatsApp
63 per cent send SMS texts.
21 per cent use photo messaging
The Digital Day
An adult will consume the media for eight hours 45 minutes a day – 27 minutes more than sleeping.
An adult will be second screening for two hours and seven minutes a day to consume extra media.
SMS text messaging and email are dropping.
Instant messaging is increasing.
The Digital Day: Activity and time spent
Live TV 2 hours 55 minutes Live TV
Live Radio 1 hour 54 minutes
Recorded TV 1 hour 12 minutes
Video games 1 hour 9 minutes
Paid on demand video 1 hour 2 minutes
Email 1 hour
Other websites or applications 55 minutes
Instant messaging 48 minutes
Social networking 45 minutes
Streamed music 44 minutes
Books (print and digital ) 44 minutes
Personal digital audio 39 minutes
DVD and Bluray 37 minutes
Newspapers print and web 31 minutes
Short online video 29 minutes
Phone calls 27 minutes
CD and vinyl 26 minutes
Sports news and updates 25 minutes
On demand radio 24 minutes
Texting 21 minutes
Video calls 16 minutes
Other online news 14 minutes
Magazines print or digital 13 minutes
Online shopping 12 minutes
Photo or video messaging 9 minutes
Other activities 1 hour 16 minutes
How much media we consume
People consume eight hours and 45 minutes media a day.
The majority of those under 65 use social media at least weekly.
50 per cent of time on social media is spent on a phone.
Those aged four and above watch three hours and 36 minutes watching TV.
Those who listen to the radio listen to three hours and three minutes a day.
19 per cent of media is consumed while multi-tasking.
40 per cent fceel ignored at least once a week by someone engrossed in a smartphone.
34 per cent say they had taken a digital detox.
16 per cent choose a holiday dfestination that has no internet.
Popular social media and instant messaging sites
In 2016 64 per cent of adults use social media
The popular sites by users
38.9 million Facebook
22.5 million Facebook Messenger
21. 8 million LinkedIn
20.9 million Twitter
16.7 million whatsapp
16.5 million Instagram
12.8 Google +
11.5 million Pinterest
7.1 million Snapchat
15 per cent said that they were most likely to keep in touch with friends through social media.
69 per cent said that if they could not access the internet their life would be boring.
49 per cent said that they have communicated with someone who was in the same room by using the internet.
60 per cent think its unacceptable to communicate using the internet with someone who is in the same lesson.
61 per cent have had a device taken off them as a punishment.
16 to 24 year-olds
99 per cent use social media weekly spending 2 hours 26 minutes.
They spend more of their time communicating (32 per cent) than watching 29 petr cent.
Instant messaging is more important than any other means of communication.
Playing video games is as important as watching live TV.
The smartphone is used five hours a day.
87 per cent said they kept up to date with current affairs or social issues
Watch 55 minutes less TV a week than they did since 2014.
Watch 43 minutes more on demand TV than they did in 2014.
25 per cent say they feel nervous or anxious without the internet.
60 per cent say they spend too much time online.
72 per cent say that they missed out on sleep to use the internet.
25 – 35-year-olds
84 per cent use social media spen ding 1 hour 1 minute
Watching live TV has dropped by 37 minutes.
35 – 44-year-olds
77 per cent use social media spending 1 hour a day.
45 – 54-year-olds
64 per cent use social media spending 1 hour a day..
Watching live TV has dropped by 37 minutes
55 – 64-year-olds
Listening to the radio has increased by 23 minutes spending on average 58 minutes.
24 per cent use social media spending 35 minutes on average.
Picture credit: US National Archives / Flickr