Should brands communicate during a crisis?

Here’s what Twitter data tells us.

We are living in extraordinary times. And while it may not be business as usual, we’re here to help you navigate this new norm. By looking at the conversations happening on the platform and also listening to direct feedback from people on Twitter, we’ve gained a better understanding of what people expect from brands during this time. 

Here’s what the research is telling us.

People are turning to Twitter during this crisis

At a time like this, knowledge can be a grounding force. That’s why so many are logging on to Twitter to stay informed. In fact, as of March 23, 2020, quarter-to-date monetizable daily active users (mDAUs) increased by 23% year over year to 164 million.

It’s about more than information, though. People are coming to Twitter to learn the latest, but they’re also coming to find levity, take a mental break from the pandemic, and stay connected with each other during this time of isolation. 

This increase in people on Twitter has also led to higher video consumption. There’s been a steady year-over-year growth in video watch time across key categories like entertainment (85%), news (73%), creator content (34%), and sports (31%).

Infographic showing Twitter total video watch time

So what does this mean for the state of ad performance on Twitter?

Ad performance remains stable

Media Rating Council video view rates have increased by 5.5 percentage points in March 2020 compared to March 2019 in the US, so ad receptivity remains strong, as people are consuming more Promoted Video content. On top of that, the brand impact of ads remains healthy. Internal Twitter data from January-February 2020 compared to March 2020 shows that brand effect study results have remained positive. In fact, ad recall and brand awareness metrics increased modestly by 0.3 and 0.6 percentage points, respectively.1

But don’t take our word for it

People on Twitter say seeing ads gives them a sense of normalcy. In fact, only 37% of people on Twitter in the US believe it’s insensitive for brands to continue advertising as normal. What’s more, there’s particularly strong support for brands that use ads to showcase how they’re supporting their community.2

Now that we know people expect to hear from brands, what should you say?

Actions speak louder than words

Of those surveyed, people on Twitter want to specifically see how brands are supporting others, be it vulnerable individuals (86%), frontline staff (82%), their own employees (80%), and their local communities (77%).2

Infographic showing brands and their role during COVID-19

What you say matters. So does the way you say it. People on Twitter are most interested in seeing brands take on supportive (45%), informative (44%), and positive (35%) tones on social media.2

So when it comes to advertising during times of crisis, don’t steer clear. People want to feel a sense of normalcy in these trying times, and they’re coming to Twitter to find that.

For more marketing insights and inspiration during this time, visit

1. Twitter Internal
2. Twitter Insiders, US Only, March 25-30, 2020, n=826

April 21, 2020
  • Insights
  • Covid19
  • B2B
  • North America

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