Social Media and COVID-19 study launches today

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Released by Pollfish, Wunderman Thompson, and University of Melbourne, in collaboration with the World Health Organisation

Pollfish is extremely proud to be part of this partnership that is researching such a key dimension of the pandemic that has gripped our world.

Pollfish, Wunderman Thompson, and the University of Melbourne collaborated with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to conduct and launch Social Media & COVID-19: A Global Study of Digital Crisis Interaction among Gen Z and Millennials.

The international study surveyed 23,500 citizens in 24 countries (aged 18 to 40) between Oct 24 2020, and Jan 7 2021, and investigates where Gen Z and Millennials in pandemic hotspots are getting their COVID-19 information, who they trust as sources, what are their concerns as a result of the pandemic and their awareness of false news. It also looks at the size of their social media networks, how likely they are to share unverified information and how they build their own crisis narratives.

Insights from this study will be relevant to governments, health organizations, educators, media and businesses to help sharpen their health communications.

Based on initial findings, 6 key insights were developed and are shown below. And an in-depth report will be available at the end of April, 2021.

Key Insight 1: Mainstream media is still tops, although Gen Z and Millennials rely on multiple sources for their COVID-19 information. Friends and family ranked lower in terms of sources of information.

Top sources of information include:
43.6% national news media
36.2% search platforms
35.2% international news media
34.2% social media content from traditional media

Key Insight 2: Science content is seen as shareworthy

What Gen Z and Millennials are most likely to share on social media:
43.9% scientific content
36.7% information relevant to themselves
28.5% information that is concerning.

Key Insight 3: Awareness of false news is high, but so is apathy
59.1% of respondents were very aware that COVID-19 information on social media and messaging platforms could be false
35.% of respondents ignore content that they find out to be false

Key Insight 4: Gen Z and Millennials have multiple worries beyond getting sick

Top concerns included:
55.5% risk of friends and family contracting COVID-19
53.8% economy crashing
39.8% employment uncertainty
Crashing economy is the top concern of respondents in half of 24 countries surveyed.

Key Insight 5: Interest in vaccines is soaring
55.0% are interested in information regarding a COVID-19 vaccine
41.9% state that social media content by the WHO would be their first source of vaccine information

Key Insight 6: So much information, yet not the full picture
58.3% are overwhelmed by information
52.0% have stopped paying attention to COVID-19 news
59.3% feel the media is not telling them everything
57.1% feel that their government is not giving the full picture on the pandemic

The research was conducted and led by Wunderman Thompson’s APAC Chief Data Officer Thomas Brauch, APAC Intelligence Director Chen May Yee and the University of Melbourne’s Professor of Digital Communication and Globalization (Faculty of Arts), Ingrid Volkmer.

The 24-country survey was conducted by Pollfish.

Commenting on the partnership, methodology and insights generated, are quotes from project leads. See below:

Sarah Hess, Technical Officer, Health Emergencies Programme, World Health Organization
“Young people today are globally connected – sharing, co-creating and interacting with information on digital platforms daily. They have had to navigate the proliferation of misinformation that has accompanied the pandemic – misinformation that causes confusion, damages trust and threatens the public health response to COVID-19. This groundbreaking research provides insights on young people’s concerns during the pandemic and how they are interacting with their digital world to seek COVID-19 information. These outcomes are key to ensuring WHO’s communication strategies are relevant, responsive and reach young people, so everyone can have timely access to accurate information in order to make health protective decisions. WHO would like to acknowledge the fantastic collaboration with Wunderman Thomspon, University of Melbourne and Pollfish in conducting this critical research as the world responds to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Justin Peyton, Chief Strategy & Transformation Officer APAC, Wunderman Thompson
“With COVID vaccine’s now being made available in different regions, it feels more important than ever that people get information that is both true and trusted. The research here has given us great insight into how trust can be impacted depending on who is delivering the message as well as other factors. I believe and I hope that the significance and scale of this research helps us to find the best ways to connect as the world continues to need trusted voices from partners like the WHO.”

Thomas Brauch, Chief Data Officer APAC, Wunderman Thompson
“We continue to learn more about the prevalence and negative impact of misinformation on communities and citizens to effectively address global challenges like COVID. This research, covering 24 countries, adds to our understanding of how average people think about misinformation, ways they try to avoid or counter the effect, and provides guidance on addressing and overcoming a growing sense of scepticism people have in finding truthful and reliable sources.”

Ingrid Volkmer, Professor of Digital Communication and Globalization, University of Melbourne
“As today’s Gen Z and Millenials are not only digital natives but also globalized natives as they naturally communicate with peers anywhere in the world through social media platforms, transnational research is needed to assess these spheres of borderless digital interaction. Our study produces not only insight into these digital practices in 24 countries on all continents but our research was conducted at the height of a health crisis in these regions. In this sense, our data set constitutes a unique snapshot of these crisis interactions of 18-24 year olds in countries across the world.”

John Papadakis, CEO, Pollfish
“Pollfish is extremely proud to be part of this partnership that is researching such a key dimension of the pandemic that has gripped our world. Our organic research methodology and easy-to-use platform meant that the partnership was able to get global data at unparalleled speed and quality. Our partners were able to easily and quickly reach Gen Z and millennials around the world on Pollfish, even though these audiences can be challenging to connect with, because of our unique methodology and platform.”

More information about the key insights and an interactive dashboard is available on the Social Media & COVID-19 microsite:

For Media Enquiries please contact:

Ellie Brocklehurst - Head of Marketing & PR APAC, Wunderman Thompson
Claudia Hooper - Media Advisor, University of Melbourne
Kyle Kim-Hays - Head of Marketing, Pollfish

Full Credits

World Health Organization
Sarah Hess, Technical Officer, Health Emergencies Programme
Katherine Sheridan, Technical Officer - COVID-19 Response
Elena Altieri, Lead - Behavioural Insights

Wunderman Thompson APAC
Justin Peyton, Chief Transformation and Strategy Officer
Thomas Brauch, Chief Data Officer
Chen May Yee, APAC Intelligence Director
Ellie Brocklehurst, Head of Marketing & PR
Tiak Hui Pang, Marketing Manager

Wunderman Thompson Philippines
Reynaldo Dilla, Data Lead
Krissel Sibayan, Power BI Developer/Analyst
Wunderman Thompson Singapore
Samantha Branson, Senior Art Director
Hasheer Aslam, Art Director
Sandeep Bhardwaj, Lead Creative Technologist
Sathiyamoorthi Loganathan, Senior Developer

University of Melbourne
Ingrid Volkmer, Professor of Digital Communication and Globalization (Faculty of Arts)
Taylor Henderson, Digital Policy Analyst and Manager (International Digital Policy Lab)

John Papadakis, Founder & CEO
Michael Martocci, Sr. Market Research Account Manager
Kyle Kim-Hays, Head of Marketing

About Wunderman Thompson 
At Wunderman Thompson we exist to inspire growth for ambitious brands. Part creative agency, part consultancy and part technology company, our experts provide end-to-end capabilities at a global scale to deliver inspiration across the entire brand and customer experience. We are 20,000 strong in 90 markets around the world, and offer deep expertise across the entire customer journey, including communications, commerce, consultancy, CRM, CX, data, production and technology.

In 2020 Wunderman Thompson launched Inspire, a global study that explores what makes brands inspiring, how inspiration drives tangible brand growth, and reveals an annual list of the Top 100 Most Inspiring Brands in the World.

For more information, please visit us at and follow Wunderman Thompson on our social channels via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram. 

About Pollfish
Pollfish is reinventing market research for a new era, with a market research platform and organic research methodology that delivers agile data, relentless quality, and global service. Founded in 2013, our “mobile first” emphasis has enabled us to build a network that spans over 140 countries and hundreds of millions of respondents. Even professionals without market research subject matter expertise can create broadly or narrowly targeted surveys that get results faster, and with better data quality, than competitive solutions.

For more information, please visit us at and follow Pollfish on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter.

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