Content Marketing to Stay Connected During COVID-19

Written by Erica Famojure

People around the world are collectively pressing the pause button on life as we know it. These are unprecedented times. We’re all adjusting to the new normal.

It’s impossible to move forward with business as usual. Many brands have contingency plans for unforeseen events. Knowing how to quickly pivot and adjust is necessary in the best of circumstances. But how should businesses modify content strategies during a global pandemic?

Postpone events indefinitely? Avoid posting content altogether?

Despite the current uncertainty during the COVID-19 pandemic, this is not the time to go radio silent.

We’re all looking for ways to band together while we’re physically apart. To continue giving top-level service and value, finding different ways to connect and engage with your audience is key for your content marketing strategy.

This is all new. There’s no rule book to navigate a situation like this. Here is how we’re thinking about redirecting your content marketing strategy to provide the most value right now.

Be Present and Active on Social Media

Social distancing and “shelter-in-place” orders require many of us to stay home and away from the people we’d normally interact with daily. In efforts to stay informed, connected, and entertained, people are turning to social media more frequently. WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram usage is up 40+% now compared to the beginning of the pandemic.

As consumer behavior shifts, many brands must also shift focus and connect with their audiences where they are most active.

Ramping up your brand’s presence and being more consistent on social media shows you’re committed to sticking with your audience through this crisis.

Show empathy through your content

While you may want to maintain some semblance of normalcy and continue with routine business, it’s important to empathize with your community. This may mean revising the content you have scheduled on your social media calendar.

A humourous post that may have worked pre-pandemic could now be perceived as insensitive. A post promoting a brand new product or a new paid membership tier without mentioning these rough circumstances may not go over well when so many people are facing financial challenges. Influencer marketing agency Fohr reminds their audience how important it is to be empathic and mindful through “cognizant posting.”

Re-evaluate your social media marketing campaigns and make sure your posts acknowledge that things are different and difficult for many. Before getting back to scheduled product marketing or sales promos, publish a post that explains how you’re supporting your customers right now.

The team at social media marketing scheduler Later updated their Instagram followers about their plans to move forward with their video series.

View this post on Instagram

Our latest episode of Screen Time with Later is here! This week’s episode looked a little different — @taylor.loren filmed this on her own, in her city apartment, now turned video studio. While the world around us shifts and adapts, we can’t help but notice how social distancing is affecting how we are using social media, and we think it’s important to keep the show rolling weekly and have a conversation about the changes that we’re seeing. ⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ This week we’re covering: ⁠⠀ 👉 Instagram Live’s sudden resurgence ⁠⠀ 👉 New Instagram features that put the social in the distancing⁠⠀ 👉 A zoom hack to keep things interesting⁠⠀ 👉 Why you should quit snoozin’ on TikTok⁠⠀ 👉 Some wise words from @schwarzenegger ⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ See a trend and want our take? Curious about a social rumor you’ve heard? Have a little known social media fact? Comment on our weekly video 💬 and we may just cover it next week! Share, save and watch with friends! 📳⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ Want to learn more?⁠⠀ ⤴ Link in bio: Read the latest social media strategy, tips, tools & more on our blog ⤴⁣ ⁣⁠⠀ or if you’re watching on IGTV, tap right through: https://lat.gr/LaterBlogST 👈⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ #socialmediatrends #tiktoktrends #socialmedianews #instagramnews #laterscreentime

A post shared by Later: Social Media Scheduler (@latermedia) on

The post above acknowledges that this is a weird time, the video series is being produced remotely, and prompts followers to give feedback and ask questions.

Communicate to your audience that while this is a weird time, you are listening.

Engage in real-time

For many, time is ticking by slowly because no one knows how long this crisis will last. Memes suggesting that our concept of time is blurred are going viral on social media.

blursday

Image credit: @matthewzarembadd

In the best of times, over 40% of consumers expect a business to reply to their direct message on social media within an hour. In current times, it benefits businesses to meet or beat that deadline.

This isn’t the time to post and sign off.

Set aside about an hour or so after publishing social media content to engage with your followers in direct messages and comments. Answer all questions you can, direct users to credible sources for those you can’t, reply to comments with emojis (when appropriate!) and encourage users to keep the conversation going.

To go above and beyond use this opportunity to personalize your communication with your audience and respond to direct messages with a short voice note. Keri Roberts from VOICE Summit showed their effectiveness when they sent short voice messages to all their potential podcast guests before VOICE 2019.

Get personal & start a conversation

Some people are spending more time on social media to stay on top of the news. Others are looking for a healthy distraction. Take this chance to get to know your audience better and publish content that will strike up an engaging conversation.

Ask your followers which audiobooks they’re currently enjoying. Find out which software tools they find most useful while working from home. Most importantly, ask them how they’re doing and feeling to learn how you can be helpful.

Milwaukee gallery owner Fatima Laster is turning to social media to help patrons of the 5 Points Art Gallery connect with the artists she represents. Initially reluctant to add to the lockdown social media noise, Laster found that posting videos helps share resources between her artists, informs the public about ways they can help local artists, and keeps the community together.

Adapt Offline Content for the Digital Space

Consumer habits evolve alongside current events.

Everyone is embracing a “new normal” as the world faces the COVID-19 pandemic with large event cancellations and nonessential travel being halted everywhere.

Typically trade shows and events are 30 - 40% of a marketing budget. As marketers everywhere scramble to find 100% virtual options to replace most in-person interactions, content marketing efforts now have a bigger impact than what they had before.

Before, a tradeshow or conference brought in sufficient leads for a business. That task now falls to existing content marketing to engage subscribers. This puts your content front and center to showcase your industry knowledge and leadership.

This unique opportunity of increased importance of your thought leadership coupled with increased multi-tasking favors audio content.

Formatting your offline content and presenting it during a live podcast allows listeners and viewers to actively participate in the conversation. Since would-be conference attendees can no longer get together in break-out sessions to network or meet speakers, hosting a live podcast serves as a virtual meeting space.

Animalz, focusing on the world’s best content marketing has hosted 2 live podcasts on content marketing during a crisis. Listeners and viewers can converse with podcast hosts and get the most current company and industry updates live.

Depending on your subject matter your podcasts episodes might see a drop in downloads. Most podcasts are seeing a 10% drop. Though if you’re focusing on the health and fitness or wellbeing your podcasts may see an increase during these times.

Support your audience by making your content portable

With hard times, we’re all facing tough choices and changes.

Business owners who’ve furloughed staff members now perform multiple roles and worry about a 2020 recession. And while many of us are home, essential workers are working harder than ever, with no free time to spare.

How we worked has changed. People now juggle work, school, health, and whenever possible- news. This necessitates multi-tasking. Though this is not your usual listen to a podcast on a commute kind of multitasking. It’s the take the cat off the keyboard, make sure the kids are occupied for 30 minutes, kind of extreme multitasking.

In this new environment having portable content will give your content a chance of staying front and center and as convenient as possible.

In most cases, audio is the most portable content medium. Formatting your blog posts for audio makes consuming your content more convenient for your audience.

KevinMD, a web platform for healthcare professionals, extensively covers stories written by medical professionals on the front line of the COVID-19 crisis. Blog articles published on the platform are available as audio articles which makes valuable content easily accessible to the platform’s audience.

kevin-md

For essential workers, remote workers, and those interacting with the rest of the world remotely, audio articles make your content more portable, provide ease of access, and encourage your audience to engage with your content longer and more frequently.

Don’t be afraid to make things fun

Consider creating some content for the sole purpose of lifting your followers’ spirits. We all need a little laughter to relieve stress.

One way to do this is to go live on social media in the morning for chats with your audience over coffee, do fun icebreakers at the start of your live podcast, or share some of your team’s favorite memes.

Creating for the sake of entertainment and connection is fun for your team and your audience.

Recognizing that many people are working remotely for the first time, the team at Deel created a collaborative “Work From Home Music” playlist with songs of encouragement.

As we all face the uncertainty of the coming weeks and months, moments of hope are more than welcome.

Address your audience’s questions today and prepare them for tomorrow

Right now, amidst so much doubt, everyone is looking for solutions. Add value by candidly answering your audience’s most immediate questions, but also think about what challenges your customers will face in the near future and craft content that addresses those issues as well.

As you edit your marketing campaigns for the current climate and look for ways to best help your customers, remember content is the optimal channel to reach your audience.