Content In The Age of Coronavirus

Mar 28, 2020

Content Has Never Been More Important Than It Is Right Now 

These are extraordinary times. The effects of novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, are being felt around the globe and there’s not a single person left untouched.

With countries in lockdown and sheltering in place, ‘normal’ life is cancelled and we are all navigating a bewildering maze of health regulations, movement restrictions and online socializing. It’s a whole new world!

Disney’s version of A Whole New World was a bit more fun…

Some businesses are feeling the pinch

Times are tough and many businesses are struggling to cope. Customers have so many other things on their mind at the moment, and understandably so! Business as usual has been put on hold for many, and everyone has an opinion on how long this situation will last, how best to cope with the changes and what the long-lasting effects will be.

The US Chamber of Commerce is calling this ‘uncharted territory’, and are quoting estimates of a drop in US GDP of more than 12% in the second quarter (US Chamber of Commerce, 2020). That’s a tough trading environment!

Of course what’s true for one business is not always true for another, and not all businesses are struggling. Many businesses are seeing an increase in traffic to their websites, and this is especially true if they had a strong, pre-existing online presence already.

But what is the one thing that remains true for all businesses, whether they’re feeling the pinch or experiencing a boom?

Competition for customers is as hot as ever, if not hotter!

Customers are key

It’s never been more important to try and engage with your customers than it is right now. You need to stay in touch with them, reassure them about your services, and even offer help if it’s appropriate for you to do so.  

It might feel hard to reach them at the moment, but remember this one key fact- the one thing that people have a LOT of at the moment is time.

Lots and lots of free time, and a ton of it is being spent online. People who would normally shop locally are opting  for online delivery. People who normally go out for a coffee are scheduling Zoom calls. People are spending their days looking for entertainment, chatting to their friends, reading articles, searching for information.

What’s more, the latest stats are showing that the amount of time spent online is growing. In-home data usage in the US is up compared to the previous year for each month of 2020 so far, and people spent 18% more time on their phone in the first half of March as compared to 2019. Online traffic and page views are increasing week on week globally, and online transactions are up as well (Statista.com, 2020).

Source: Statista.com

So what does all of this mean for you and your business?

Where there is challenge, there is opportunity   

Your customers are stuck at home, and they’re spending time online.

They’re searching for things that are important to them, and you want to make sure that they find you!

Now is the time for you to put time, effort and energy into getting yourself and your message in front of them. Now is the time to build connections, add value, build a strong and authoritative presence. Now is the time to produce content that packs a punch.

Content is your best friend in the age of coronavirus

Content is not just a nice-to-have in the current climate, it’s a must-do. Well-written, fact-based articles have never been needed more than they are right now, and with the public appetite for new content at an all-time high, you want to be in on the action.

Following through on your content strategy now will mean big gains later, as well as helping your customers get through what is a pretty tricky time for everyone.

What type of content should you publish?

But hang on- you don’t want to be seen to capitalize on a crisis, right?

Right!

We’re not suggesting that you should start throwing out click-bait articles based on the latest conspiracy theory, not at all. This isn’t an opportunity to start writing about something way outside of your area of expertise, and Google punishes websites that have a high bounce rate and a low relevance score. Drawing in the wrong kind of traffic is one the quickest ways to get punished in the rankings! (Broadley, 2014)

Instead, you want to be thinking about how you and your business can help in the current situation, and write some helpful, well-researched pieces that focus on that angle.

Let’s take a look at a few things to bear in mind…

1. Solve your customer’s problems for them

Are you a food business? Can you offer recipes, home delivery or ingredient swap suggestions? Or maybe you’re a software business. Can your software help people stay connected, or save them money?

Everyone loves a problem-solver

Producing content that outlines how you can help will be a godsend for people at the moment. People are looking for things that can make the days easier and you should be looking to produce content that explains exactly how you can make that happen.

2. Use good titles and headlines to catch your readers’ attention

While it’s true that people have got a lot of time on their hands at the moment, the basic rules about human attention spans haven’t changed! Recent research has shown that the average person now loses interest and concentration after about 8 seconds (Time.com, 2015).

8 seconds??!

Your reader’s attention spans might be shorter than this guy’s!

That doesn’t leave much room for maneuver! You need to make sure that your content still obeys all the same attention-grabbing rules as usual, with strong, punchy headlines and a clear message from the start. Just because people are currently time-rich doesn’t mean they want to waste that time.

3. Use visuals to make an impact

Using charts, pictures, graphics and videos are all great ways to overcome the short-attention-span problem. If your content is engaging and visually appealing then readers are more likely to enjoy it, to linger over it and to share it with their friends.

Say it with pictures

The holy grail on the internet is content that goes viral, so go crazy. People want to be entertained as well as reassured and informed!

4. Optimize for SEO

Keywords, header 1 vs header 2, formatting…not the most interesting topics in the world, but vital to get your content found. What’s the point of writing well-researched and useful content if no-one can find it?

SEO: short term pain, long term gain

There’s huge competition for readership in the online world right now, as businesses all over the world vie to retain a connection with consumers through the crisis. Make sure that you shoot your articles to the top of the list by getting those SEO building blocks right.

5. Keep the content coming

Producing content can be an intense, tiring and time-consuming business. Believe us, we know!

It can be really hard to get to the end of a long day and then switch your brain to author mode to write an entertaining article. The problem is that the internet is a demanding beast, and ideally you would be publishing content pretty regularly, to build up your reputation as an authority in your field and to keep your readers engaged.

Producing regular content can feel like a production line

Never has this been more relevant than now. If this is a daunting prospect then drop us a line and we can help!

6. Show the human angle

One thing is clear about COVID-19- we’re all in this together. With over 100 countries introducing some kind of lockdown restrictions this is not a localized issue, but a truly global challenge.

Ironically at a time when we’re being told to keep physically apart from one another, human connection has never been more important. People respond to stories and especially at the moment, they’ll appreciate hearing about the human side to your business.

People thrive on stories and human connections

How are you coping with the situation? What have your staff done to stay well and productive? Have you got any lessons to share with the world? Take the bold step to bare your soul a bit, and not only will your customers get to know you better but you might get some therapeutic fringe benefits too!

Content in the age of coronavirus is more valuable than ever

When all is said and done, the most important aspect of your content at the moment is maintaining your connection with your customers.

Yes it’s difficult at a time when resources are stretched, and yes it’s hard to keep writing articles at the top of the to-do list.

But consider this- you want to be there for your customers now more than ever, and it’s an investment that’s really worth making.

So sketch out a few ideas, put pen to paper and let the words flow.

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