Here’s how coronavirus is affecting social media and its implications for Management Students

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a virus first detected in Wuhan, China, as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness. It is bringing the world to its knees. The first confirmed case of Coronavirus in India was reported in Kerala on 30th January 2020, which slowly started spreading all across India. India reported a surge in the number of cases in COVID-19 that has ultimately led to 21 days lockdown as announced by PM Narendra Modi. Schools, colleges, temples, malls, shops, corporate offices and much more has been shut. Various conferences, cultural events and sports events such as IPL, Olympics 2020 have been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The pandemic has become one of the most talked-about issues on the internet. For the people who are quarantined or stuck in impacted areas, social media has become a medium to communicate with friends, relatives, colleagues etc., to pass their time sitting at home, accessing social media sites to gather information regarding COVID-19 and so on. In other words, the spread of the novel coronavirus has dominated the conversation on social media platforms. The traffic on social media has increased significantly as lockdown and quarantine has led people to use various social media platforms sitting at home to indulge themselves into activities like people are posting number of videos on You Tube showcasing their talent of cooking, singing, poetry etc. People are also viewing various recipes on the You Tube to try cakes, coffee etc. at home to pass their time during quarantine and post it on social media as their Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp stories. Post a pic of yours as status or story (Traditional wear or without makeup, with mother etc.) challenge on Whatsapp has increased the use of social media. Playing online games like Ludo king by creating virtual rooms during quarantine time has increased. The concept of giving online classes to school and college students has gained importance now. People are turning to twitter more for news and updates as compared to other platforms. PM Modi also engaged himself with the citizens on twitter to discuss about the steps to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Social media industry is working extra hard right now to deliver up-to-date information to the large group of followers and stakeholders. Even much of the fake information or myths regarding the coronavirus are being floated through social media platforms like Whatsapp, Facebook, Instagram and You Tube. As an impact of coronavirus, Global social media usage rates have grown by about 50% since 2014, when the Ebola epidemic happened worldwide. Also, coronavirus is the first global pandemic that has unfolded on social media with unprecedented volumes of conversation, said Grad Conn, chief experience and marketing officer, Sprinklr.

On the other hand, a group of seven biggest technology companies, namely, Google, You tube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Reddit and Twitter said that they are closely working together on COVID-19 response efforts and helping millions of people to stay connected while jointly combating coronavirus-related fraud and misinformation.

Google said that You Tube and other business divisions are temporarily relying more on artificial intelligence and automated tools in order to reduce the need for people to come into offices, however, such software is not always as accurate as humans. Facebook also said that the decision to rely more on automated tools has certain limitations. Twitter said it too that it would step up the use of similar automation but would not ban users solely based on automated enforcement, because of accuracy concerns.

 

The management students should take a learning lesson on how the government is planning, organising, directing, and controlling the various activities in the presence of this external factor- coronavirus. Managers or leaders have to be proactive in the case of uncertainties as the environment is dynamic in nature. Also, management students should take insights on how various companies are taking initiatives to combat coronavirus and taking care of their employees. If the demand for a product suddenly rises, like for sanitizer or mask, particularly in this case then how the funds and other resources or functions should be organized so that the supply could meet the demand. Management students should also have a look on how this lockdown will affect the gross domestic product, national income, poverty, standard of living of people etc. Taking a right decision at right time can help in reducing the adverse impact and worsening of the situation, thus decision making is essential. International business students will have to be more knowledgeable regarding the working relations or export-import policies in the future. Finance students should analyze on how the government is managing and utilising the funds and allocating the required resources to the people as and when required i.e. this can be taken as an inspiring example for financial planning and financial management. The ways the companies are delivering and making availability of essential products to the people in this lockdown period is a good example of marketing and logistics management. Thus, it can be concluded that this pandemic has lots of lessons for management students specifically related to concepts such as teamwork, leadership, management planning, organising, decision making and controlling.

 

Rashika
Research Scholar, Jagan Institute of Management Studies