It's no longer news. With COVID-19 on a worldwide rampage, hundreds of millions of people have been forced to stay at home. But this is both a crisis and an opportunity.
With the majority of people now stuck at home, they are hungry for fresh content – to learn, be entertained or just simply be distracted. Business content marketers have a great opening to reach people, yet to be effective they have to be creative in how they approach this crisis.
The silver lining is that there is little news coming out of sports, hospitality, culture and other traditional content producers. This means that the time is ripe for businesses to create compelling and timely content to inform current audiences and attract new business.
And true, going through these tumultuous times, it might be difficult to focus and get creative. However, for the businesses that can deliver, it can be worth the effort. Here are several key ways to keep your content fresh through these difficult times in a scalable and ROI-friendly way.
How to approach COVID-19 in your messaging
These are uncharted waters for all of us. COVID-19 has changed everything and while it’s tempting to focus your entire content strategy on covering it, consumers crave other content.
For much of the past month, news about the coronavirus has dominated the landscape. Unique articles mentioning coronavirus or COVID-19 numbered in the billions per week. But this bump seems to have flattened, peaking at 1.67 billion articles the week of March 23 and slowly falling to 980 million through the 13th of April. While it's still important for brands that customers get important updates regarding COVID-19, it's also the perfect time to begin diversifying your content.
- Tone matters: Most of your customers will still be stuck in quarantine for the foreseeable future. The best way to approach messaging is through a human-centric, empathetic tone. This is not the time to come out with an aggressive sales pitch, no matter how badly your particular business is feeling.
- Smart and empathetic businesses are winning: Take a look at Hyundai’s recent pledge to cover six months of payments for new car purchasers who get laid off. Messaging that understands and sympathizes with its customer bases are much more likely to resonate with an audience that has equally been devastated by COVID-19. After all, we're all in this together, so ditch the crass approach and promote solidarity instead.
- Stay positive: Another way to sympathize with your target audience during this crisis is to always remain optimistic. Writing about content surrounding best practices for staying healthy, promoting mental health, and anything that will keep busy are good ways to engage with your audience at a personal level.
- Get creative: Sure, times are rough for everyone. But this is the perfect opportunity to try out new content strategies. Be bold and extend your content using completely new approaches.
For example, imagine you are a catering company that is struggling to find work at the present moment. As an offline business, you need to get online. Use this time to post recipes on your blog or even host a cooking show through YouTube. Showing your audience that you're at home with them can go a long way.
Using quizzes as evergreen interactive content to engage your audience
Speaking of testing out new content strategies, interactive quizzes are a great way to engage with audiences in a fun and interactive way. Online quizzes have long been proven to be some of the most engaging pieces of content out there.
Many companies are already using quizzes to engage with their audience. The New York Times, for example, is using quizzes as a means to inform students about the effects of the coronavirus. Popular video chat application House Party is also taking advantage of the quarantine, allowing users to play games and take quizzes together over a video call. Deprived of their weekly trivia nights, many pubs are hosting virtual pub quizzes around the world. Even through this unprecedented situation, one thing hasn't changed: People still love testing their knowledge in the form of quizzes.
Clearly, there is an opportunity for brands as well. Quizzes are an easy means to convey information and interact with audiences of all types. And better yet, quizzes are highly viral in nature, with a high likelihood of being shared across various social mediums.
For businesses, an easy win is to leverage this virality and create fun quizzes that will be shared again and again. Better yet, quizzes are a form of evergreen content and are an easy way to show your unique brand messaging and reach a potentially endless audience.
When it comes to creating quizzes, there are certain best practices that should be followed – not every quiz created is something that's likely to be shared.
- Short quizzes win: First, you need to keep your quiz relatively short – five to 10 questions works best. People might have more free time during this crisis, but the point of a quiz is to get users to the results as quickly as possible. Follow the three-minute rule, and keep quizzes short and punchy to prevent your audience from losing interest.
- Results matter: Compelling questions are important, but spend equal time focusing on each of the quiz outcomes: Don't just tell them their score. For maximum virality, each result should be something that the quiz taker will want to share with other people. Making people laugh or sound smart are both effective means of getting them to share their results with their friends or followers.
- Try different formats: Don't just stick to the garden variety quiz. Take advantage of different formats. Most quiz makers offer a wide range of options, from personality tests to polls and surveys. You just never know what will work best for your unique audience. Luckily, there are many different types of quizzes to test out, from personality tests to trivia games. Take advantage of these uncertain times to try something new.
Tweaking your social media strategy
Even in regular times, social media is an effective tool to engage with audiences. Now, with hordes of people flocking to social media while under stay-at-home at policies, it's even more important to use these channels to engage with your clients and potential customers.
To take advantage of the uptick in social media use, it all starts with crafting an effective campaign. But it's not as simple as cutting and pasting your pre-pandemic plans; times are different. In many cases, you'll have to rethink the metrics you use to gauge consumer interaction.
For example, many companies typically equate social media success with a boost in ROI. But now you have to shift the way you judge them by looking at different metrics. Things such as likes, shares or comments are more indicative of success to see how people are engaging with your posts. With people less likely to make purchases at this time, these will be a better barometer of your overall long-term success, and you can capitalize on them post-pandemic.
For most businesses, COVID-19 has wreaked havoc, forcing many to rethink how and why they produce content. But by following these steps – being creative, empathetic and trying new things – you can engage your audience, and keep your business healthy and ready to thrive after the pandemic.