Raise your right hand if you’d never heard of coronavirus until the start of the year. Now lift your left hand if it’s all you’re hearing about. The global news agenda has changed beyond all recognition in less than half a year – and with good reason – and this presents unique challenges to content creators.
Content that was fresh and engaging until very recently might not be gaining the kind of traction you’d expect, and your competitors’ share of voice could be growing as they jump on a COVID bandwagon that you thought was too tasteless to exploit. The truth is, the ‘new normal’ as it’s being called is forcing us all to rethink how we do business, whatever our industry.
Mine your assets
While the virus is just one story, it has impacted every other. Several months in, consumers are still hungry for something fresh to read, watch, or listen to, and your job as a content creator is to provide it.
The best place to start is your archive. Content that has performed well in the past still has potential – so long as you recognize that a major news story will impact your audience persona. Consumers who were once avid travellers may still long for adventure, but that desire could be tempered by fear of confined spaces, flying or unfamiliar environments. What they pack, the places they choose to visit, and the cultures they encounter when they arrive will have changed, giving you the opportunity to refresh and republish material that’s performed well in the past. It’s not nearly as risky a strategy as you might imagine. When Buffer stopped publishing new content and spent 30 days repurposing old material, visitor numbers fell by just 4%, but traffic from organic search was up.
Repurposing content can go beyond a simple rewrite. Gathering blog content into an ebook gives it added value, while working stats you already hold and newly published metrics into an infographic shows how our current obsession has changed the world and is immediately shareable.
Where is your audience?
Research has shown that consumers didn’t expect brands to stop advertising during the coronavirus outbreak, but the context within which they’ll encounter those ads – another aspect to the persona – will have changed. Lockdowns and quarantine measures may have decreased the appeal of some poster and billboard campaigns, and a switch from print to online reading will require a rethink in how ads are designed and advertising space is bought and sold.
Some free newspapers given away in cities stopped printing, and charged-for papers saw a 30% fall in sales as newsagents were forced to close. Whether your creative is an ad or an article, this presents a second opportunity for reuse: as consumers explore new channels it increases the likelihood they’ll encounter your brand and associated content for the first time. Make sure the first thing they see is relevant and up to date.
Ideate fresh content
Updating existing material is a stopgap, which can help you through the unfamiliar early days of a crisis while working on something new. Be prepared to throw away your existing content calendar.
Keyword research and trend analysis will help you identify how consumers’ interests have changed, and AI will forecast the questions they’re likely to start asking as the news becomes the new normal. Make sure that the answers you provide – should you choose to tackle them – are geared to serve your funnel, since there’s no point attracting traffic if you have nowhere to send it.
Freshness and originality are key. Facebook’s traffic has increased 50% in some markets and although much of that was on Messenger, says the company, “we’ve also seen more people using our feed and stories products to get updates from their family and friends”.
The fresh content you are creating needs to be valuable and relevant to your target audience. Concured’s new brief automation tool brief builder has enabled marketers to focus on creating the content that their audience is searching for.
In times like these, when we’re sharing more than ever with friends and family, fresh content and treatments will spread further and more quickly as social users race to share what they believe to be reliable facts, and which presents valuable information in a manner they’ve not seen before.
The new normal
These may be unfamiliar times, but that doesn’t mean the familiar rules no longer apply. When creating content, research the questions your audience will be asking tomorrow, employ natural language processing to make sure you’re using the kind of language they do themselves, and present the result in an engaging manner. Throughout, remain mindful of your goal: traffic, sales, conversions or leads.
Crises present both challenges and opportunities. What they mean to your brand and its content creation operation is entirely in your own hands.