Digital app innovations in times of Corona

December 24, 2020


Amber Meijer | Consultant Consumer

December 24, 2020


Because we have mostly been at home since corona, we see colleagues, friends and family less often. To stay connected, and sometimes simply to combat boredom, many new features were launched in various apps in 2020. Some are obvious, others are efficient or useful. In this mini-blog, I will take you through a selection of interesting innovations from the past six months in the field of apps and (new) online platforms. In other words: digital trends during corona.

Innovations in existing apps

Existing apps that cannot be ignored in our daily life, such as Instagram, WhatsApp and LinkedIn, have come with new features. Think of Instagram Co-watching, WhatsApp video calling with a maximum of 8 people and LinkedIn’s rollout of LinkedIn Stories.

What can you actually do with it? The new Instagram Co-watching feature lets you browse your Instagram account (feed, liked photos, etc.) with your friends via video chat, connecting users in a new way. This function can be used for both private and business purposes. Or how about LinkedIn Stories? Get in touch with your followers and show your professional side in a more human way. For example, create a creative LinkedIn story in which you show that you are looking for a job, or share a vacancy in an original format. In addition, the stories function can be a fun and informal way to show your daily (work) activities.

More entertainment
Platforms such as Netflix and Spotify are looking to satisfy the need for connection and offer users ways to watch things together. Think of Netflix party, a new way to watch Netflix online with your friends. You can even chat with each other via a group chat. And then there’s Spotify party which allows you to operate the exact same playlist together with your friends and get the party started. This can also be interesting when you host an online event: let your viewers determine what you play as background music by means of the party function. Finally, the app Houseparty (which had a huge boost when corona started) allows video calling and playing online games together at the same time. Sounds like fun right?

We can certainly conclude that the use of the TikTok app has increased enormously during this time of corona. The platform started with 680 million active users at the beginning of 2020. Now, it is at 800 million active users, of which 4.5 million are Dutch. Although TikTok is becoming increasingly popular, the target audience of 18 – 24 year olds (35%) is the largest group represented. This is followed by the target audience of 13 – 17 year olds (28%) and finally the target audience of 25 – 34 year olds (22%).

Why is this app so popular right now? Young people (young adults) in particular crave micro-entertainment and various forms of distraction, especially in this day and age. This is one of the main benefits of TikTok. A TikTok campaign can be interesting when you have a brand with a younger target audience, so that you can generate awareness or sell products. The videos are fun, short and trendy and therefore very fun to create and watch.

Gaming was already popular, but is and remains trending upwards. Perhaps that is why the platform Twitch is so incredibly popular with 140 million monthly users and 15 million unique daily viewers worldwide. Twitch is a live streaming video platform that allows gamers to stream their games for others to watch while they play. If you want to bring a new game to the market, it is not a bad idea to have it tested on this platform by a well-known gamer. This way you have a brand ambassador and awareness for your new game, and viewers can immediately see how it works. Recently (April 2020) Facebook launched the new Facebook Gaming app to compete with Twitch. Facebook Gaming already existed, but only as part of the Facebook app. Now it is a standalone app where users can play games, follow game streamers and even broadcast live. A while ago, Facebook launched spin-offs from apps, such as Facebook Camera and Facebook Paper, but these didn’t really take off. The chat app Facebook Messenger, on the other hand, is a success.

Online shopping on social (through apps)

A trend to keep an eye on is e-commerce, meaning online shopping. You would think it is pretty straight forward, but that could not be further from the truth. Online shopping is getting bigger and bigger, meaning that e-commerce is here to stay. Small web shops can now easily be set up with apps such as Shopify, an e-commerce platform for online shops and with collection point systems. Shopify recently launched an app in collaboration with Pinterest (not yet available in the Netherlands), which ensures that Shopify users can easily and quickly post their offer on Pinterest. These products being sold this way gain an extra potential reach with 335 million.

Additionally, shoppable links on Instagram (Instagram Checkout), Facebook catalog, Pinterest ads and soon ads on WhatsApp can no longer be ignored and are only getting bigger. Think of the Instagram posts with shoppable links to the products that can be seen in the photo. This ensures that Instagrammers can buy products directly from the platform. Gamification will also play a role in this. Through gaming, we want to receive information and even shop for things! Take the company Snap, for example, that merged gamification and shopping for Adidas for example … how cool!

It’s not there yet, but it’s coming: WhatsApp ads and Facebook Pay. They are also part of making shopping through social media (apps) even easier.

Finally – other (new) apps

Although voice recordings are not yet widely used, podcasts are very popular. The Anchor app makes it easy to create podcasts yourself. In this way, it is more accessible and easy to get started for small companies and for yourself. For example, create a podcast with someone who inspires you or create a podcast for internal purposes in which you interview a colleague or give tips every month.

Prefer to be in the clouds? The Headspace app has grown immensely during corona. That is not surprising since we have had to adjust our lives (sometimes drastically). If you are not familiar with the app, it is a platform with hundreds of guided meditations, from stress reduction to focus and relationships. Ideal to relax in these noisy times and to schedule important me-time moments.

Also important during this time: think of each other! With the Spotmate app you can put someone else in the spotlight. It is actually similar to Instagram, only you do not post content of yourself, but of others. Since Spotmate only works with friends, you need to use it together. Get a group of friends together and start taking and posting fun photos of each other! You can of course also do this with colleagues. Create a group on Spotmate and put your colleagues in the spotlight. The future can only tell whether it will really be successful, but it is an interesting innovation in the social field, as it is a field in which we typically only show ourselves and not others.

Are you curious about the above apps or do you have other cool innovations that you want to share with us? Or do you want to know how we use these innovations for our customers? Feel free to contact us.

Photo by Gerd Altmann via Pixabay.