Thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic, seismic shifts are happening in our worlds and the worlds of our audiences. Comfort zones have been ripped from under our feet, and – whether it happens gradually without us even noticing, or it happens in front of our eyes in an instant – our perception of many things we considered as the norm’, have changed, and are changing.
The pandemic has brought a new kind of norm’ to town, at least for the foreseeable future. And this is why you need to spend some time looking at the content your putting out into the world in the name of your company, and consider – does it resonate in the new norm’ and does it benefit my audience in their new worlds?
Whether it’s for a social channel, a blog, a magazine, a podcast – whatever – here are the ingredients that you can throw into your content strategy, and in the content you put out there, to ensure it resonates with your audience:
1. Be Vunerable
Our mantra, even before this Coronavirus craziness, is that all businesses should be human in their content. That sounds cute, but what does it mean? Be vulnerable. Bring your company’s voice and the discussion it’s having with its content down to the eye level of its audience and have a real conversation with them. This doesn’t mean telling them you’re there for them. You’re not. You’re a company. How the hell are you going to be there for them? A company’s only motivation as an entity is opportunistic in nature – to make money, to grow and to sell. If I hear one more hollow-sounding slogan put out there by a company about how, ‘we’re in this together and that ‘we’ll get through this together,’ I’m going to bombard that company with emails, hundreds of them if that’s what it takes to get a response, asking them how they’re in this with me? How are they going to help me get through this?’ So, cut the cute slogans and focus on creating content that answers these questions.
Also, don’t go slurping up and spitting out one of the catchphrases circulating online eg. ‘#staythefuckhome,’ or ‘#washyourhands.’ Don’t go telling people to wash their hands unless you’re a soap company, and don’t got telling people to #stayathome unless you’re a company offering a delivery service that makes it easier for people to actually stay at home. All quality content should land on your audience’s eyes and ears original & fresh. The pandemic doesn’t give you a ticket to make exceptions to this rule. Actually, you should be pushing originality more than ever during this time.
This is not some trend to ride like a rodeo bull, and take advantage of. People are dying in this pandemic, so don’t go sitting around some video roundtable chat and brainstorming how you can make the most out of this moment in history. Just don’t. Instead, be real with your audience. Speak from the position of a human about how you’re coping with the challenges this pandemic presents. Ask them how they’re dealing with it with Instagram Story shoutouts and live Q&As.
This brings me to the next point…
2. Practise empathy & sensitivity
You’re not going to go into a funeral and ask – ‘Hey, have you seen our new product line of vegan cheese?’ I’m sorry – I know your company might be hurting and may now, more than ever, need to push the awesome stuff you’re doing, but now is not the time. Really. Keep your vegan cheese sales pitch on the down low for now. But when should you put it out there? Well, now. And of course, raise awareness with content talking about it, but spend more time listening to your audience and catering to what they now need in terms of content at this point . Maybe they do need a big chunk of vegan cheese while watching their comfort binge series – than think about that and how you can produce your content with this story built into it. But, as always, be sure to ask yourself – what benefit does this content bring my audience?
Which leads me to my next point…
3. This is a time to give
By giving, I mean similar to what I’ve touched on in the last point – pay attention to what your audience is needing at the moment, content-wise, and focus your resources on giving it to them. This could possibly earn your brand the love of the audience you’re looking to speak to.
It cannot be underestimated how people connect with brands during times of crisis, or disconnect with them.
The best thing some brands are giving to their audiences at the moment is a smile, or a reason to laugh, or feel inspired. Attempting to give these emotions to an audience is an art, so use that analogy above of the funeral again when working out if a piece of content is going to hit the sweet spot to inspire such – Would this content make somebody smile, laugh, or feel that warm and fuzzy feeling of inspiration at a funeral?
Which leads me to my next point…(ok, it doesn’t, but for the sake of consistency)
4. Be radically creative, be unpredictable, and be nimble
Sh** just got really confusing for everybody, real quick. Meaning, what is ahead of us, in every respect, is hard to predict. So build your content strategy based on this reality. One approach I advise is to lay out a content strategy and brainstorm content ideas based on 3 different scenarios:
The worst case scenario eg. home isolation restrictions are extended, or reimposed later in the year, and the economy continues to take a dive.
The hopeful scenario eg. that social distancing measures remain, businesses can slowly open up, and most people are therefore able to return to work.
The ‘What the?!…’ scenario – this is the scenario that nobody can even imagine yet, so good luck planning content for this one! This is why I recommend preparing to be super creative and nimble to shift and pivot with your content plan and strategy according to how this all plays out.
Oh, and unpredictable times, call for unpredictable content. Create content that surprises your audience. This involves you looking in the completely opposite direction to which everybody else is looking when coming up with your content ideas.
Plus, as the majority of your audience’s attention will be buried in the subject of the virus, it’s effect on the world and their own personal circumstances, you’re going to have to get radically creative to produce content that inspires them to emerge and pay attention to whatever content you’re aiming to stop them scrolling with.