Posts tagged with "demographics"

Digital Divide illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Digitally Disconnected

DIGITALLY DISCONNECTED

13 TIPS FOR HELPING BRIDGE THE DIGITAL DIVIDE FOR CHILDREN DURING COVID-19

While social, racial, and economic disparities have always existed within the educational system, the COVID-19 pandemic is exasperating these inequities and widening gaps between students at a drastic rate. For families who can’t afford home computers, laptops, or high-speed internet access, remote learning is nearly impossible, and for students who already found themselves struggling before the pandemic, the prospect of more than a year of lost classroom time is a devastating blow. However, there are steps parents can take to shrink this digital divide, and there are resources available via schools, non-profits, and government initiatives that can help children access the technological tools they need to succeed. Indeed, Dr. Pamela Hurst-Della Pietra, President and Founder of Children and Screens, notes that “the inclusion of 17.2 billion dollars for closing the ‘homework gap’ in the recently passed American Rescue Plan is a watershed moment for digital equity.”   
 
Several of the leading figures in the fields of public health, education, psychology, and parenting have weighed in with their suggestions on the best ways to combat the digital divide, and many will participate in an interdisciplinary conversation and Q&A hosted by Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development on Wednesday, March 24, at 12pm ET via Zoom. Moderated by the Director of Internet and Technology Research at the Pew Research Center Lee Rainie, the panel will engage in an in-depth discussion about the digital divide and actionable steps we can all take to bridge the gap. RSVP here.
 
1. DON’T WAIT, ADVOCATE 

While schools across the country are doing everything they can to make sure that children have access to the technology and connectivity they need for remote learning, the unfortunate reality is that many families still lack adequate resources. If your family is among them, says author and MIT Assistant Professor of Digital Media Justin Reich, know that you’re not alone and that there are steps you can take to advocate for what your children need. “Start with your school staff,” Reich recommends. “They’re often overwhelmed during this challenging time but be polite and persistent. If you run into a dead-end with your school system, consider reaching out to school libraries and youth organizations like The Boys and Girls Club or the YMCA to see what kind of support they might be able to offer.”
 
2. SCALE DOWN 

The University of North Carolina at Greensboro Professor Dr. Wayne Journell agrees, pointing out that sometimes, despite their best efforts, teachers and administrators may not always know which students are struggling with connectivity issues. “Let teachers know if you have slow internet at home,” says Journell. “Sometimes detailed graphics and animations that look cute but have little relevance to the actual lessons being delivered can cause problems for students with unreliable internet. If teachers are aware, then they can scale down the ‘frilly’ stuff and still get the important content across.”
 
3. STAND UP FOR YOURSELF  

While it’s important for parents to speak up on behalf of their children, RAND Senior Policy Researcher Julia Kaufman, Ph.D., highlights the importance of encouraging children to express their needs, as well. “If your child does not have access to technology at home and is falling behind, make sure your child’s teacher knows the obstacles they’re facing and ask what accommodations will make it easier for your child to do assignments offline,” says Rand. “At the same time, help your child feel comfortable expressing any technology concerns or confusion to their teachers, including cases where they have the technology but cannot use it well.”
 
4. CHECK YOUR ASSUMPTIONS 

One critical step that educators and policymakers can take in addressing the digital divide is to check their assumptions. They cannot – and should not – assume that students do or do not have access based solely on demographics such as family income level. “In addition, they cannot assume that providing access alone creates equity,” adds Dr. Beth Holland, a Partner at The Learning Accelerator (TLA) and Digital Equity Advisor to the Consortium of School Networking (CoSN). “This is a complex and nuanced challenge that needs both a technical and a human solution to ensure that students not only have access to sufficient high-speed internet and devices but also accessible systems and structures to support their learning.”

5. SURVEY AND MODIFY  

For teachers who are on the ground and in the classroom, checking your assumptions can be as simple as asking a few basic questions at the start of the term. “Survey students to determine the percentage of your population that doesn’t have home Internet access,” recommends former AAP President Dr. Colleen A. Kraft, MD, MBA, FAAP. “Once you know the divide, you can address it,” adding, “When planning 1:1 projects and choosing devices, for example, you can consider a device’s capacity for offline use. For those without Wi-Fi, a public library in the child’s neighborhood can also be an excellent resource.”

6. VOTE FOR CHANGE 

That parents and teachers need to worry about the digital divide at all is a failure on the part of our elected leaders, says Bates College Associate Professor of Education Mara Casey Tieken. “Contact your elected officials—local, state, and federal—and complain,” she suggests. “Write letters, call their offices, attend their legislative sessions, and make your voice heard. Join with other families whose children are impacted by this divide to amplify your message and use your vote to support lawmakers who understand the impacts of this divide, have a clear plan to address it and are willing to take action.”
 
7. MAKE BROADBAND A UTILITY  

Reich agrees, reminding those families who already have their needs met that they share in the responsibility to advocate for the less fortunate. “It’s our job as citizens to demand that we as a society give families and children the tools and resources that they need for remote learning now and in the future,” says Reich. “We need to advocate for a society where broadband is treated as a utility rather than a luxury good, and young people enrolled in schools and educational programs have access to computers for learning.”

8. CONCRETE INITIATIVES  

Angela Siefer, Executive Director of the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, advocates four concrete initiatives. “Establish a permanent broadband benefit, increase access to affordable computers, digital literacy and technical support, improve broadband mapping (including residential cost data), and support local and state digital inclusion planning.” By implementing these changes, Siefer says, policymakers can start to mitigate the digital divide. 

9. USE TECH FOR GOOD 

There are many reasons to consider equitable solutions along a “digital continuum” rather than the “digital divide;” a binary description leaves less room for nuanced and customized interventions. It may be imperative to fortify existing institutions, implement new governance structures and promulgate policies to confront disparities regarding working families. Antwuan Wallace, Managing Director at National Innovation Service, suggests that legislators consider a Safety and Thriving framework to increase family efficacy to support children with protective factors against the “homework gap” by utilizing technology to train critical skills for executive functioning, including planning, working memory, and prioritization. 
 
10. LEVEL THE FIELD 

Emma Garcia of the Economic Policy Institute emphasizes that guided technology education will be of great value after the pandemic. She says, “it will need be instituted as part of a very broad agenda that uses well-designed diagnostic tests to know where children are and what they need (in terms of knowledge, socioemotional development, and wellbeing), ensures the right number of highly credentialed professionals to teach and support students, and offers an array of targeted investments that will address the adverse impacts of COVID-19 on children’s learning and development, especially for those who were most hit by the pandemic.”
 
11. APPLY FOR LIFELINE 

Research also shows that the digital divide disproportionately affects Latino, Black, and Native American students, with the expensive price of internet access serving as one of the main obstacles to families in these communities. “Eligible parents can apply for the Lifeline Program, which is a federal program that can reduce their monthly phone and internet cost,” suggests Greenlining Institute fellow Gissela Moya. “Parents can also ask their child’s school to support them by providing hotspots and computer devices to ensure their child has the tools they need to succeed.”
 
12. GET INVOLVED 

Learning remotely can be difficult for kids, even if they have access to all the technological tools they need. Research shows that parental encouragement is also an important aspect of learning for children, notes London School of Economics professor and author Sonia Livingstone. “Perhaps sit with them, and gently explain what’s required or work it out together.” She adds that working together is a great way that parents with fewer economic or digital resources can support their children. “And if you don’t know much about computers, your child can probably teach you something too!”
 
13. NO ONE SIZE FITS ALL 

When it comes to encouraging your children, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. “Reflect on the more nuanced ways your children learn and leverage accessible resources (digital and non-digital) to inspire their continued curiosity,” says University of Redlands Assistant Professor Nicol Howard. Leaning into your child’s strengths and interests will help them make the most of this challenging time.
 
While the move to remote learning may seem like an insurmountable obstacle for families that can’t afford reliable internet or dedicated devices for their kids, there are a variety of ways that parents can help connect their children with the tools they need. For those privileged enough to already have access to the necessary physical resources, it’s important to remember that emotional support is also an essential piece of the puzzle when it comes to children’s educational success, especially during days as challenging as these. Lastly, it falls on all of us to use our time, energy, and voices to work towards a more just world where the educational playing field is level and all children have the same opportunity to thrive and succeed, regardless of their social, racial, or financial background.
 
About Children and Screens
Since its inception in 2013, Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development, has become one of the nation’s leading non-profit organizations dedicated to advancing and supporting interdisciplinary scientific research, enhancing human capital in the field, informing and educating the public, and advocating for sound public policy for child health and wellness. For more information, visit Children and Screens website or contact by email here.
 
The views and opinions that are expressed in this article belong to the experts to whom they are attributed, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development, or its staff. 

Pandemic Real Estate Trends

5 Massive Real Estate Trends Created by the Pandemic

By: Polina Ryshakov, Director of Valuation at Sundae

Coronavirus has had a huge impact on a number of demographic and home buying and selling trends. Here are 5 of the most noteworthy shifts. The coronavirus pandemic upended daily American life in countless unpredictable ways. Real estate was no exception. Some of the ways in which the pandemic affected housing reshape how we think about homeownership and hint at larger economic shifts down the line.

First-time buyer demographics prior to 2020

The median age of first-time homebuyers was around 33 before the pandemic started. This is the oldest age recorded since 1981 when the median age of first-time homebuyers was 29.  As homeownership is commonly considered a gateway to wealth creation and a key piece of the American dream, an older average first-time buyer age could reflect a lack of economic opportunity for young people. Over the past few decades, there were several factors behind the extra four years it takes on average to buy a first home.

Contributing factors include:

  • A skyrocketing increase in college tuition
  • Delay in household formations (i.e., having children later)
  • Rapid home appreciation causing a lack of affordability
  • Other key demographic trends predating the pandemic

The median age of repeat buyers increased even more rapidly between 1981 and 2020, going from 36 to 55. As with first-time home buyers, multiple interesting factors drove this trend. For example, some studies claim that baby boomers prefer to age in place, identifying 3.6 million unoccupied rooms owned by baby boomers, thus contributing to the housing shortage.

But it’s not that simple.

Since 1980, wage growth hasn’t kept up with inflation for over 50% of American workers. Meanwhile, the dot.com bust and the Great Recession dropped S&P levels 43% and 48%, respectively, which also reduced home equity at a similar level. These essentially trapped boomers because they owed more on their homes than they could get for them, while at the same time suffering hits to their overall wealth. The Great Recession also created an opportunity for older Gen Xers and boomers with cash to purchase investment properties. As home prices dipped following the bubble bust, Americans seized their chance to buy properties for passive income, and with more distressed properties for fix and flip opportunities, real estate became a more popular way for people above-median home-buying age to create wealth, thus contributing to the increased repeat buyer age. The biggest jolt in demand is yet to come

The largest age bracket among millennials, which adds up to nearly 10 million people, has been turning 30 over the last two years. This is the milestone age of starting a family and buying a home; their home-buying appetites are already starting to show. According to the NAHB Trends Report, between the fourth quarter of 2019 and that of 2020, the number of millennials and Gen Xers actively searching for a home increased dramatically, from 46% to 65% and 43% to 57%, respectively.  The relative numbers of Gen Zers and boomers remained essentially flat, with 42% and 32% looking for a home, respectively. With this demographic backdrop, and the continuing economic and social fallout from the coronavirus, what are we likely to see over the remainder of 2021 and beyond?

Trend #1: Median age of first-time homebuyers will decline

Millennials’ desire to own a home has been long debated. A number of long-term trends put millennial homeownership on the backburner:

Interestingly, the COVID-19 pandemic created an attractive new opportunity for this demographic cohort. Several things came together: immediate demand for more space with the need to work from home, record low-interest rates that translate to lower monthly mortgage payments, and the last piece of the puzzle, increased savings. While staying home, there is no need to buy new clothes or daily Starbucks. There is no going out after work or on weekends, and a lot less travel, for work or pleasure. In fact, the virus even put a pause on paying off college debt, since it became a COVID-19 Relief option. The bottom line is that more people will have the ability and interest to buy a house, sooner than they were before.

Trend #2: Median age of repeat home buyers will decline

The median age of repeat home buyers is likely to decline immediately post-pandemic but will revert to the pre-pandemic increasing trend quickly.  The average tenure of homeownership continued to increase and was over 8 years at the end of 2020, up from 4 years in 2007, before the Great Recession. Assuming the median age of the typical “move up,” or second-time home buyer is roughly 40 years old (given the simple math of 33 + 8), a median repeat buyer age around 55 means that a lot more people in their 50s, 60s, and 70s are acquiring third, fourth, or even fifth properties. One of the factors behind the dramatic age increase in repeat buyers since 1981 is the growing popularity of real estate as an investment. During the Great Recession, mom and pop investors who had cash and solid credit were able to build their rental income portfolios by capitalizing on depressed home prices and strong rental demand from distressed homeowners.

Another factor is the baby boomer generation born between 1940 and 1964 has been downsizing. According to the latest Census data, many baby boomers will be single in retirement. Almost a third of men and over half of women are unmarried at 65 or older. With the onset of the pandemic, city dwellers who could work remotely and whose kids started going to school virtually began looking for bigger houses and open spaces in rural areas. With interest rates at historic lows, amid the pandemic, it became a strangely perfect time to buy a dream vacation home away from major Metropolitan Areas.  The annual rise in second-home mortgage applications is more than double the increase in mortgage applications for primary homes, with demand-driven primarily by families with kids.  Aside from vacation homes, working, learning, dining, working out, and self-entertaining at home created the need for more space and put a larger value on the fourth bedroom or larger back yard.

Trend #3: Length of the home search process increased and will keep increasing

Lack of supply sets the trend for buyers to view fewer homes while the home purchase process itself is increasing. Tight inventory results in fewer homes on the market and buyers must search longer for the right home. With fewer homes available, there are fewer homes that fit the buyers’ requirements coming on the market. On top of that, in the Housing Trends Survey the number one reason 40% of home searchers cited, is being outbid by other offers as opposed to not being able to find an affordably priced home, which is a big difference from 19% of home searchers a year ago.

Trend #4: Fewer sacrifices will be made to purchase a home

Financial experts recommend having three to six months’ worth of expenses saved up in an emergency account. But at the end of 2019, according to GoBankingRates survey, 69% of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings. The personal savings rate or amount people are saving as a percentage of their disposable income, soared to 33% in April of 2020. That was the highest savings rate recorded since BEA started tracking it in 1959. People realized the importance of having emergency funds and at the same time, stimulus payments and tax refunds have been distributed to help build up a reserve. Per Generational Trend Report from NAR, in order to save for a down payment, homebuyers had to cut spending on non-essential items, entertainment, clothes, vacations, get a second job or sell a car. But with severe limitations on how money can be spent, savings built up on their own.

Trend #5: Fewer repeat buyers will compromise on the top four reasons 

With so few homes for sale, the additional risks of holding an open house to sell their own, and having crowds doing walkthroughs, move-up buyers are likely to stay put unless a property that meets most of their needs is identified and won in a bidding war. Not only have public health concerns necessitated virtual tours, but homebuyers are getting savvier with online tools. Even before the pandemic, 93% of homebuyers used the internet as a resource in their home search, according to the NAR. Sellers are having to keep up with the trends, too.

Further Reading: Real Estate Shifts to Accommodate Customers in a Virtual Age

What will be the big theme for 2021?

To start, a massive fear of missing out.

The headlines of every major media outlet are screaming about continuous home price appreciation. The thought of home prices reaching the point of being out of reach while interest rates have nowhere to go but up will be the end of the last opportunity to buy that first, or second, or even an investment property.

With a tight, low-inventory market dipping under 2 months of supply, the strongest contract activity in a decade, and historically low-interest rates, buyers’ fear is well-founded and likely to only get worse.

But don’t take our word for it.

Kaelen Felix Illustrates a Healthcare Article for 360 MAGAZINE

Authenticx x Healthcare Companies

Healthcare companies are at the center of so many debates right now, and their involvement in the pandemic is one of the biggest.

Having to answer customer questions while COVID-19 impacts the nation in a manner unprecedented in our lifetime can be a challenge, but Authenticx is offering advice to companies attempting to provide answers.

Authenticx CEO Amy Brown said the upcoming flu season will bring about more questions, and we can use the past several months to prepare.

“Americans are tuned into what healthcare experts are saying like never before. We’re urging healthcare providers to seize this opportunity to listen to the concerns of the public and use their resources to provide clear guidelines and straightforward advice so healthcare consumers can make the best decisions to protect themselves and others,” Brown said.

Based on 45,000 data points pulled from customer conversations, Authenticx was able to determine three main concerns regarding coverage. The three concerns are as follows:

1. Contraction Risk: Patients have divided themselves into different demographics trying to determine the possibility of contracting COVID-19, and the flu will only make it more difficult to determine. Customers called their healthcare providers to ask questions like:

  1. Should I get my flu shot this year or does that lower my immune system?
  2. Is there anything I should know about flu shots relative to my specific treatment plan?
  3. Should I quarantine if I think I have the flu?
  4. How do I know if I have the flu or COVID-19? What should I do about that?

2. Flexible Payment Options: Unstable employment and loss of insurance have been devastating results of COVID-19, but customers are still trying to remain safe. Customers reportedly asked how to proceed forward with healthcare given limited financial flexibility. Those concerns are not likely to curtail in the very near future.

3. Supply Chain & Access to Medications: With COVID-19 taking priority in national health, many patients expressed concern about getting medication they required prior to the pandemic. Issues with the mail system could also cause consumers to panic if their medication sees shipping delays or problems. Between flu shots and COVID vaccines, drug manufacturers are being kept busy. Some worry they’re too busy to handle normal mandatory medication.

Brown said healthcare companies can implement a listening system for customers with these questions by doing the following:

1. Listen at Scale: It will be nearly impossible to give full attention to each and every customer. The goal should be to prioritize the most important questions and select customer interactions to monitor. Determine a specific sample size suited to the customer base and use that sample to select questions and customers to address specifically.

2. Be Strategic: Listening can provide insight when choosing a strategy for engaging with customers. The customers will tell companies what they are hoping for in terms of service, and that information can be used to change for the better. Once a strategy is solidified, deploy resources to give the customers what they hope to receive from the company.

3. Move Fast: Begin moving on customer questions right away. As news regarding healthcare develops, so do the needs of the customers. Concerns not handled right away could get lost in the shuffle in an ever-developing news cycle, and customers want their problems solved in real time.

To see a full step-by-step guide on how to properly serve healthcare customers right now, you can click right here.

Covid and health illustration

Environmental Effects × COVID-19

MIT Sloan School of Management study shows potential long-term environment effects from COVID-19 and the findings show a decrease in clean energy investment could exacerbate health crisis

While the COVID-19 pandemic has reduced air pollution in the U.S., the longer-term impact on the environment is unclear. In a recent study, MIT Sloan School of Management Prof. Christopher Knittel and Prof. Jing Li analyzed the short- and long-term effects, finding that the actual impact will depend on the policy response to the pandemic. Their study suggests that pushing back investments in renewable electricity generation by one year could outweigh the emission reductions and deaths avoided from March through June 2020.

“The pandemic raises two important questions related to the environment. First, what is the short-run impact on fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions? Second – and more important but harder to answer – what are the longer-term implications from the pandemic on those same variables? The health impacts from the pandemic could stretch out for decades if not centuries depending on the policy response,” says Knittel.

In their study, the researchers analyzed the short-term impact of the pandemic on CO2 emissions in the U.S. from late March to June 7, 2020. They found a 50% reduction in the use of jet fuel and a 30% reduction in the use of gasoline. The use of natural gas in residential and commercial buildings declined by almost 20% and overall electricity demand declined by less than 10%. However, the professors point out that the shutdown also halted most investment in the transition to low-carbon energy. In addition, clean energy jobs decreased by almost 600,000 by the end of April.

“The short-term impact of the pandemic is clear, but the long-term impact is highly uncertain,” says Li. “It will depend on how long it takes to bring the pandemic under control and how long any economic recession lasts.”

The best-case scenario, according to the researchers, is a swift and low-cost strategy to control the virus, allowing the economy to reopen by the end of 2020. In this scenario, investment trends prior to the pandemic will continue.

“Unfortunately, we view a second scenario as more likely,” notes Knittel. “In this scenario, the consequences of the pandemic will be greater, with many more deaths and deeper disruptions to supply chains, and a persistent global recession. The need to backpedal on the reopening of the economy due to flare-ups could destroy rather than defer the demand for goods and services.”

In this scenario, the delays in investments in renewables and vehicle fuel economy could lead to an additional 2,500 MMT of CO2 from 2020-2035, which could cause 40 deaths per month on average or 7,500 deaths during that time.

“Our findings suggest that even just pushing back all renewable electricity generation investments by one year would outweigh the emissions reductions and avoided deaths from March to June of 2020. However, the energy policy response to COVID-19 is the wild card that can change everything,” they wrote in an article for Joule.

Li explains that budgets will be strained to pay for the costs of the virus, making it challenging to invest in clean energy. And if a recession persists, there may be pressure to lessen climate change mitigation goals. However, stimulus packages could focus on clean energy, increasing clean air, clean jobs, and national security.

“Just stabilizing the economy can go a long way to putting clean energy trends back on track. We need to solve the pandemic and continue to address climate change. Otherwise, it will lead to even more tragedy,” adds Knittel.

Li and Knittel are coauthors of “The short-run and long-run effects of COVID-19 on energy and the environment” with Kenneth Gillingham and Marten Ovaere of Yale University and Mar Reguant of Northwestern University. Their paper was published in a June issue of Joule.

Covid and health illustration

MIT COVID-19 Research

Why does the coronavirus kill some Americans, while leaving others relatively unscathed?

A new study by researchers at the MIT Sloan School of Management sheds light on that question. The study, by Christopher R. Knittel, the George P. Shultz Professor of Applied Economics at MIT Sloan, and Bora Ozaltun, a Graduate Research Assistant in the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research (CEEPR) lab, correlates COVID-19 death rates in the U.S. states with a variety of factors, including patients’ race, age, health and socioeconomic status, as well as their local climate, exposure to air pollution, and commuting patterns.

The findings have important implications for determining who is most at risk of dying from the virus and for how policymakers respond to the pandemic.
Using linear regression and negative binomial mixed models, the researchers analyzed daily county-level COVID-19 death rates from April 4 to May 27 of this year. Similar to prior studies, they found that African Americans and elderly people are more likely to die from the infection relative to Caucasians and people under the age of 65. Importantly, they did not find any correlation between obesity rates, ICU beds per capita, or poverty rates.

“Identifying these relationships is key to helping leaders understand both what’s causing the correlation and also how to formulate policies that address it,” says Prof. Knittel.

“Why, for instance, are African Americans more likely to die from the virus than other races? Our study controls for patients’ income, weight, diabetic status, and whether or not they’re smokers. So, whatever is causing this correlation, it’s none of those things. We must examine other possibilities, such as systemic racism that impacts African Americans’ quality of insurance, hospitals, and healthcare, or other underlying health conditions that are not in the model, and then urge policymakers to look at other ways to solve the problem.”

The study, which has been released as a Center for Energy and Environmental Policy working paper and is in the process of being released as a working paper on medRxiv, a preprint server for health sciences, contains additional insights about what does, and does not, correlate with COVID-19 death rates. For instance, the researchers did not find a correlation between exposure to air pollution. This finding contradicts earlier studies that indicated that coronavirus patients living in areas with high levels of air pollution before the pandemic were more likely to die from the infection than patients in cleaner parts of the country.

According to Prof. Knittel, the “statistical significance of air pollution and mortality from COVID-19 is likely spurious.”

The researchers did, however, find that patients who commute via public transportation are more likely to die from the disease relative to those who telecommute. They also find that a higher share of people not working, and thus not commuting, have higher death rates.

“The sheer magnitude of the correlation between public transit and mortality is huge, and at this point, we can only speculate on the reasons it increases vulnerability to experiencing the most severe COVID-19 outcomes,” says Prof. Knittel. “But at a time when many U.S. states are reopening and employees are heading back to work, thereby increasing ridership on public transportation, it is critical that public health officials zero in on the reason.”

The proportion of Americans who have died from COVID-19 varies dramatically from state to state. The statistical models that Knittel and Ozaltun created yield estimates of the relative death rates across states, after controlling for all of the factors in their model. Death rates in the Northeast are substantially higher compared to other states. Death rates are also significantly higher in Michigan, Louisiana, Iowa, Indiana, and Colorado. California’s death rate is the lowest across all states.

Curiously, the study found that patients who live in U.S. counties with higher home values, higher summer temperatures, and lower winter temperatures are more likely to die from the illness than patients in counties with lower home values, cooler summer weather, and warmer winter weather. This implies that social distancing policies will continue to be necessary in places with hotter summers and colder winters, according to the researchers.

“Some of these correlations are baffling and deserve further study, but regardless, our findings can help guide policymakers through this challenging time,” says Ozaltun. “It’s clear that there are important and statistically significant difference in death rates across states. We need to investigate what’s driving those differences and see if we can understand how we might do things differently.”

Why having a social media platform is right for your business

The one thing entrepreneurs, small business owners, large and small corporations around the globe have in common is the desire to grow and thrive in their line of business. In the last decade alone social media has significantly changed how people connect and communicate, with approximately over 2.4billion users worldwide. Keeping this in mind, growing one’s business simply boils down to building a strong brand online because that’s where the consumers are.

Let’s go through a few ways in which social media is good for business.

Allows you to adapt to shifts in consumer attention

Prior to the social media boom, businesses would communicate to their potential customers by paying to have their commercial ads on magazines, radio, and television. The non-free element of these platforms made it more difficult for startups to reach an audience and most would rely on ‘word of mouth’ to market their business. Today, online platforms are free, interactive and have an uncanny ability to reach a niche audience. As a business, you can constantly use surveys to find out if the consumers’ needs have changed or evolved and develop a marketing strategy to target your audience and meet their needs.

There is a lot of demographic data readily available on social media networks; analyzing this data can help you develop marketing tools that your audience is better likely to receive.

Social media is interactive

Social media allows you to have real-time interactions with your customers, and you can respond to comments and questions on your brand while on a grocery line or having a coffee. There are many existing online platforms which one can use to interact with consumers making it difficult for businesses to survive on all of them as this requires time. Which begs the question, how do I identify the right social media platform to use?

• Choose a platform your customers are on: A business should only exist on a platform that their audience is in to ensure value adding interactions. This allows you to ‘cull the herd’ in a manner of speaking, access and respond to your target consumer needs

• First, ensure your marketing strategy is better than your competitors and apply it on a platform that is comfortable for you. For example, if you are unable to create compelling short ads or hire someone to do it for you then twitter may not be the best platform to use; a business needs to play to its strengths. However, one cannot ignore core platforms which are essential for your business to be on such as LinkedIn and Instagram because of the attention such platforms receive.

• Choose a platform that allows you to have real-time interactions with people either through face to face marketing of group chats. This could be a strategic way to building lasting relationships and connections and leverage these connections for your business.

Interactive features like monitoring apps alert you to any bad reviews your business may be getting and allows you to respond adequately and promptly to avoid loss of sales and brand damage. It also lets you know how your competitors are doing, and this will enable you to make strategic business decisions if niches have been identified.

Offers many features

Popular social media platforms require the user to be active in order to gain a large following and subsequent likes. So, if you are unable to continually have an online presence, ‘cheat apps’ are your best bet. Let’s use the example of Instagram which is currently the most visited social network. The app offers individuals and businesses services such as Instagram likes for sale which gives the perception that your posts are popular and value adding to your audience. Instagram auto likes are a good marketing technique in the sense that it is easy to use and time-saving. A business simply has to submit an Instagram photo or URL and go about day-to-day activities while the system ensures that you receive as the number of like you requested. This feature not only brings traffic to the products and services your business offers but also gives you an edge over your competitors.

Advantages of auto like services

• It is time-saving. Once you subscribe and choose a package that works for you, the system does the rest while you can focus on other ways of growing your brand

• It is a great tool for entrepreneurs. It helps build the client base as people are more likely to take time to look and follow URLs of popular posts.

• It allows a business to increase sales while growing and promoting it’s their brand. The free auto likes will get the attention of consumer who will in turn like and sometimes share the post. This increases the likelihood of getting lifetime customers and reaching new audiences.

• It is affordable. Some packages are free allowing business to save on monetary resources while steadily growing their brand.

Allows you to partner with influencers

A social media influencer is an individual with a large online following that trusts their judgment and can easily help you improve brand visibility. These group of people often guide their followers purchasing choices by simply talking or sharing links and images about the products and services you offer. Since their opinions are trusted, your brand credibility soars, and this translates into sales.

In some instances business hit the gold mine and go viral through these partnerships. Consumers will share content they deem worthy with their friends and followers who will also do the same and before you know it your business has been exposed to millions of people online.

In conclusion

A lot has changed over the years; a business’s ability to adapt to these changes will determine whether it will succeed or fail. The use of social media to market one’s business is one such change. Social networks undoubtedly have a wide range of benefits to a company from increasing brand awareness to increased sales, and this makes it a vital component to business continuity.