It’s hard to say that there are any winners in a pandemic. But if there is one, it’s Zoom.
Zoom is a simple and easy-to-use video conferencing platform. The free version allows you to video conference with up to 100 people at a time. As people across the world are confined to their homes and starving for any kind of human interaction, millions have been flocking to Zoom over other platforms like Skype, Google Hangouts, and even FaceTime.
It’s because of this that we should be officially declaring Zoom the social network of the social distancing era. Sure – platforms like Facebook have been reporting a massive surge in usage. That should be obvious. People are home all day. We’re doing almost nothing but scrolling through our feeds and sharing updates about what’s going on. It remains incredibly valuable for advertisers.
But Zoom is where people are going to make real connections with their real friends in real time. And it might be here to stay. Here are three points to back up that claim.
The numbers are astounding.
The New York Times reported that, last Sunday alone, over 600,000 people downloaded the Zoom app.
Furthermore, app-analytics firm Sensor Tower reported that Zoom is the world’s 2nd most downloaded mobile app across the last week – behind only TikTok. That equals close to 20 million new mobile users over that time. First-time downloads are up 728% compared to the week of March 2nd.
Zoom shares are soaring and the company is now worth nearly $30 billion. Not bad.
People are using it for pretty much everything – not just work.
If you’re like me, you probably initially looked at Zoom solely as a tool for conducting virtual work meetings. We’d both be wrong.
In a time when we can’t leave our houses, Zoom has proven to be the best tool for resuming our otherwise offline social lives. Here are just a few of the ways that people have been using it:
Virtual Happy Hours: By now, you’ve seen the pictures all over social media of people on Zoom conferences with their best friends and their wine glasses. Because is it really a social event if you don’t post about it? If you haven’t seen this, simply search Twitter for “virtual happy hour” and you’ll find plenty.
Update for all the extroverts not keen on quarantining: can't recommend virtual happy hour enough! pic.twitter.com/UTznGNKVod
— Alexis Walters (@Alexis_NWalters) March 18, 2020
After a hectic week trying to stay on top of the biggest news story in the world while working from home, @AP just held its first-ever virtual happy hour. More than 160 staffers from all over the globe logged into Zoom to raise a glass or a can and toast one another. pic.twitter.com/zEv3kELGFc
— Michael Biesecker (@mbieseck) March 20, 2020
— Natalie West (@NatWestMD) March 20, 2020
Full-Blown Parties: At least one of the happy hours above qualifies here. Last week, the New York Times wrote about a college student in Washington D.C. who hosted a Zoom party in which “twenty-one of her friends popped in throughout the four-hour event.” Mashable is offering tips on how to do it best. And again, if you search Twitter for “Zoom party,” you’ll find plenty.
TWO PEOPLE IN THE LAST 5 MINUTES JUST LEFT ME TO GO TO A ZOOM PARTY WITH THEIR FRIENDS.
WHAT IS ZOOM????
— Jesse D Lifson (@DoYouEvenLif) March 22, 2020
If you ever wondered what a Zoom party of the world's most powerful political leaders looked like, this is it: pic.twitter.com/kubHlK4HWV
— Adam Taylor (@mradamtaylor) March 26, 2020
Blind Dates: Yes, people are using Zoom to search for their soulmates. A group of Ivy League college students set up a website called OK Zoomer for people interested in meeting new people via Zoom while stuck at home. Brilliant! Check out these FAQs about how it works.
tinder is dead. OKZOOMER is now in charge pic.twitter.com/3MZdud0ekW
— UCSC Squirrel (@SquirrelUcsc) March 19, 2020
Book Clubs & Watch Parties: Want to get together to discuss your favorite books and movies with likeminded people? You can use Zoom for that, too!
Comedy Shows: The live entertainment industry has pretty much come to a halt as people are unable to gather in public spaces. Comedians have gotten creative with how they’re honing their craft in front of virtual crowds.
As I said, I miss writing and telling topical jokes onstage. Since I am still writing jokes, I figured I’d try them on my mom over Zoom. My mom has always been supportive of my comedy, but if she doesn’t like a premise, she will let me know. And I like her takes. pic.twitter.com/egqA48m9ww
— Sam Morril (@sammorril) March 25, 2020
If you're starting to get bored in the evenings, join me Monday at 7pm for a virtual open mic night!
— Stephanie Steinberg (@Steph_Steinberg) March 26, 2020
Church: No mass? No problem. Faith takes no breaks and now, thanks to Zoom, faith-based gatherings don’t have to either. Churches across the world are using Zoom to spread the word to their followers. Zoom’s own website even offers Practical Resources for Churches.
【Join Us Live to Sing to the Lord via Zoom】
We would like to host a time of singing and a short word in 10 minutes or less. Every morning on weekdays at 9am EST we will be singing via Zoom and you are all welcome to join us!
– via christiansoncampusatvcu#churchnews #church pic.twitter.com/Trbp2jADnO
— One Body (@__OneBody__) March 24, 2020
And most notably, universities and high schools across the country have turned to Zoom to continue classes virtually as campuses have shut down. Which brings us to our next point…
Gen-Z is all in.
The last few weeks have brought new meaning to the term “Zoomers.”
For Gen-Z, it started with classes switching over to the platform. And once they got on, it stuck. A majority of the innovative uses of the platform in the previous section have been led by this generation as they cope with what is essentially forced social isolation in the most socially formative years of their lives.
Between that and Facebook groups like Zoom Memes for Self Quaranteens (which is fast approaching half a million members), they appear to be taking it all in stride. The aforementioned New York Times article quoted one Zoomer, saying: “If someone can figure out how to invent a party atmosphere in this socially distant format, I think it will be a mainstay… Twitch is to TikTok as Zoom can be to YouTube.”
An interesting outlook.
Zoom could very well be here for the long haul as a regularly used social network – even beyond this pandemic. Only time will tell.