The pandemic is affecting how people use social media and the expectations they have of the platforms. Data from Sprout Social, a provider of social media analytics, engagement and advocacy solutions for business, shows that as the pandemic continues, consumers are turning to social media for the experiences they used to get in person. Over the past six months, 62 percent of consumers have increased their use of social to connect with friends and family, and 48 percent have increased their use for entertainment purposes.

Social Sprout’s survey of more than 1,000 U.S. consumers found that social media has become a hub for both news and education as they navigate a changing landscape. Fifty-five percent of consumers report spending more time on social media to stay up to date on news and 36 percent use social media for education on timely topics.

Consumers will reward brands that share their values on social media. When brands are forthcoming about their values on social media, 58 percent of consumers are more likely to buy products or services from them if they share similar beliefs. Consumers also recognize missteps and take action accordingly. Nearly half of consumers (48 percent) say brands have recently posted irrelevant or insensitive content amid the current state of the country. And when that happens, more than one-third (36 percent) of consumers will unfollow the brand on social media.

Brands risk losing business if they fail to follow through. As the spotlight focuses on issues of social justice, 55 percent of consumers expect brands to take a stance that goes beyond corporate statements and monetary donations such as new corporate initiatives or commitments to specific goals. These expectations are significantly higher among Millennials (65 percent). If brands fail to stay true to their commitments to social issues, they face serious consequences—42 percent would start buying from alternative brands and 29 percent would boycott the brand altogether.

“People are increasingly turning to social for the things they can no longer get in person,” says Jamie Gilpin, chief marketing officer at Sprout Social. “And with consumer expectations on the rise, it’s never been more important for brands to demonstrate their values and showcase how they’re contributing to change. People are holding brands to a new standard and are asking them to be stewards of accountability. As we work to adapt to these new expectations, brands must be willing to speak out and answer the call.”