As the global pandemic continues, it’s fascinating to watch as certain industries transform and grow as a result of unique demands caused by COVID-19.
The pandemic has had a significant impact on the way we fundamentally function as a society. As incredibly social beings, the effects of long term isolation, loss of community events, constant fear and tragedy have led millions to search for new forms of connection. Ones that did not require face to face interaction, in-person events or large gatherings. This sparked a dramatic increase in the use of social media and the demand for social media and content marketing skyrocketed.
Many turned to the digital world in order to stay connected with loved ones. Online shopping, online orders, streaming, social media and gaming services all experienced tremendous growth during this pandemic and it doesn’t stop there.
As there is no immediate return to ‘normalcy’ insight, this shift in buying habits and online usage is only going to continue growing and developing. As a result of this shift, there has been increased demand for all forms of digital media. Brands are looking for digital content such as ebooks, online magazines, blog posts and videos to share online with their rapidly increased following on social media and subscribers.
With all of that in mind let’s explore the changing landscape of social media and content marketing through the lens of the global pandemic.
1. A Shift To Digital Storytelling
2020 has sparked a unique opportunity for digital creators. In past times of financial crisis, marketing was the first line item to be cut from the budgets of businesses both big and small. But there is something very different about the pandemic. With internet use up over 70% and a massive increase in online buying, digital marketers are in a position to thrive. Quality digital content has a chance to shine, capture new audiences, and connect with followers in a new way as a result.
Leading brands are actively listening to their audience and adapting content to meet these new digital demands. People are looking for information and support, so serviceable, timely stories and reflective first-person posts have proven successful. Live-streaming and lighter content - that serves as a form of escapism have also done well.
A recent article by Forbes titled “ How Covid-19 Will Have A Lasting Impact On Marketing” illustrates: “Marketing strategies — now and after the pandemic — should center on using content to create powerful online connections. By humanizing your brand and speaking to consumers’ concerns. Support isn’t always tied to revenue; the quarantine has taught us that online conversations can be just as meaningful as face-to-face interactions, and marketers should take note.”
Indeed, a key factor in buyer decision making is trust, and digital storytelling is an excellent way to establish this ‘face-to-face’ feeling of connection and trust, remotely. Content marketers have the opportunity to digitize company stories and connect with clients online.
2. Online Community, Concerts and Events
One novel result of the pandemic is a rise in digital events such as concerts, celebrity Instagram Live sessions and even remote versions of live TV. Coming into the pandemic most people were unsure about Instagram Live - because it's raw and unedited, anything can happen during a live event. But brands have been forced to pivot to meet the new needs of their audiences within the restrictions of quarantine.
This concept of raw, unedited, ‘home-made’ footage has bled into the TV industry. One of the most interesting examples of this is Jimmy Fallon’s “The Tonight Show” running live episodes shot and filmed at home by Fallon and his guests. The program, which usually features a live audience and celebrity guests successfully kept running during the pandemic with some quick thinking. Saturday Night Live, The Voice and countless other entertainers were quick to follow.
Instagram live usage was up 70% from March to April - Brands are using the platform in incredibly unique ways. Some are trying to build programming schedules, to replicate a media version of a traditional TV schedule. For example, companies like Refinery29 have been making digital book clubs and live videos with beauty editors and staff members, all filmed by staff remotely.
Likewise, Delish, a popular cooking channel, embraced remote video content creation as they had their Senior Food Editor film a self-shot, budget-friendly cooking series from home in the midst of the pandemic. The topic focused on making budget-friendly meals, in isolation, in New York, one of the most expensive and heavy hit locations. Delish knew their audience and jumped on creating content around the key things that would appeal to them during this time.
You can try this on your own social media accounts by inviting users to tune in to a community event. The challenge is to stay true to your brand's tone while adapting content. Try new forms of content and new delivery formats, which can support your audience and remain aligned with your existing narrative. Be okay with imperfection, especially when experimenting.
3. Social Media and Content Marketing Through A New Light
Social media has existed in some capacity since the late ’90s, but these platforms were still considered relatively novel by businesses, even when companies such as Facebook allowed ads in 2007.
Often small to medium-sized business owners put these platforms on the backburner as it was difficult to see the value in things like brand awareness and digital community when walk-in customers were the real source of revenue.
The older generation was also slow to adopt social platforms and they made up a large proportion of buyers who preferred to shop ‘the old fashioned way.’
With the sudden shift to digital platforms, it’s interesting to look at the audience-shift on social media and the digital market as well. The older generation is ordering things remotely and using Zoom, and for a lot of people, it’s a real experience of broadening their horizons and discovering new possibilities. For business, this means there’s a massive opportunity to connect with a broad audience and extend your message to a larger viewer base.
The quick, easy-to-digest nature of social media platforms also resonates with users during this time and this could partly be attributed to its rise in users. Viewers often browse social media when they are looking for a break in their day - it’s a time to relax and laugh at a fun video or photo. Now, many people will gravitate towards content that isn’t so reflective of the current situation. We like to laugh and think about the future.
Recently, many brands have been portraying a more joyful tone, with lighter content. Viewers are looking for connection and positivity. A perfect example of this is the rise in Tik Tok users. This lighthearted platform offers a means of sharing funny, quick content that is easily digested by the viewer. It offers a laugh, a means of connection and a distraction from the current situation.
You can apply this knowledge to your own business as well. Determine what channels are doing well for you and shift your focus to those spheres. The rise of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and even Tik Tok, reflects a deep need for self-expression, people look to media and content for stories and connections as well as information. It is vital to keep those channels moving. With every disruption, something new comes out, like Tik Tok, and the power is in the hands of the creators using these platforms.
Content and social media marketing cover a wide range of sectors - photography, blogging, videos, ebooks, case studies, infographics and much more. The content is all carefully constructed to increase brand awareness, share a company's story and connect on a personal level with interested clients in order to ultimately build trust drive conversions.
Media and content are extremely in demand and readership is up across all channels during COVID-19 - this exemplifies the importance of companies creating and promoting their content long term. Brands that have existing content on hand are able to quickly repurpose it into Instagram live videos, Tik Tok content, email campaigns and new blog posts. It’s essential to have a long-term content strategy in place.
The pandemic is changing the way viewers expect to see content and it’s vital to keep up with their needs. Looking further into 2020 and beyond, there are some interesting concepts that may stick in the world of content creation, even after COVID-19. What do you think will resonate with viewers in the future? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Contact ElementIQ for Content Marketing Services
Our team has helped several clients pivot and stay up-to-date in this changing digital landscape. If you’re feeling lost or overwhelmed by the rapid change going on in the digital sphere, or if you are looking for content ideas, content creation or some guidance on the next steps for your business, contact us today. We have a team of qualified content specialists, graphic designers and SEO experts that can help you stand out online in a time where it is more essential than ever to share fresh new content and establish your company's digital presence.