As marketers, it’s our job to be responsive.
What this coronavirus epidemic has reminded us that is that we are a living, evolving species who are called to make changes in times of threat.
This is a relatively new concept in the world of digital marketing. We are used to adapting to new tools and Facebook rollouts, but in terms of real change, it’s only ever seemed like a time of peace for most of us.
We’re used to accommodating the needs of clients and bosses, we’re eternally innovating our strategy and practices to get the edge over the competition, but nothing on this scale.
You may well have had your content calendar prepped for the next six months, with the exact wording you’re going to use. You’ve got monthly themes for your videos and blog posts. You’ve got Facebook ads running all the time with your ongoing offer as well as a few seasonal ones in the pipeline. You know all the calendar events for the whole year and have designed graphics for each one of them. You regularly promote your ongoing services and can put your feet up and focus on creating that PDF lead magnet you’ve been so much looking forward to producing.
Sadly, this isn’t the full reality for content marketing and social media. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could “set it and forget it”? While a lot of content is and should be evergreen, always applicable whatever the time or season, real-life can often throw a curveball. Not always on the scale of coronavirus, but curveballs none-the-less.
While it’s important to maintain a semblance of “business as usual” on the social media front, we have to do what comedians call “reading the room”. We have to consider the mindset our audience is in most of the time. Designing our funnels to deliver content for our different audience personas at each stage of awareness is part of our day job.
Therefore, it shouldn’t be too difficult to understand that most people’s thoughts are likely to be:
- Will there be food in the shops for me when I finish work?
- What do I do if I run out of hand sanitiser?
- That person in the shopping aisle needs to get out of my face.
- Is my mum going to be okay on her own?
- My nose is itchy – Could it be coronavirus?
- How can I stop myself getting bored at home?
- How long will this go on for?
- When will I see my loved ones again?
- How am I meant to work while home-schooling my kids?
These are a lot of specific problems that, right now, are universal. You’re in the advantageous position of knowing what’s on the hearts and minds of your customers, so what is the solution?
While your expertly curated social media schedule is wonderful, it’s probably not 100% relevant any more, and now’s the chance to dovetail in some more focussed content around these emerging problems. Don’t abandon your content efforts entirely – Perhaps only 25% of it needs to change. Keep in mind, however, that your working practices may have to evolve.
Relying on scheduled posts is not enough
Check what’s in your social scheduler to make sure the post is still going to be relevant. Start filling up your content calendar with other ideas based on the new campaigns that will inevitably emerge from your company HQ.
Switch your mindset from a social media content creator to a social PR person
You absolutely need to pre-empt the government advice and plan in some campaigns to address the unique problems that are going to be faced by the general public. But you also need to react. A PR person delivers and responds to the news on a daily basis – This cannot be planned. If you tend to set and forget your social media posts, you have to spend more time live on your channels addressing concerns, being responsive and keeping social channels fresher than ever with engaging and relevant content.
Always be sensitive to the mood – And it can be hard to judge how your posts are going to be perceived, so do ask others. No one is expecting you to make decisions unilaterally – These are unprecedented times in our living memory and we should be checking in with each other to decide what course of action is best.
Finally, it may be tempting to think your job is unimportant at this time. It’s not – You’re a key person for relaying messages to your customers. To forget them would be a dereliction of duty. Every job is important. You don’t know whose lives you might be touching by simply being online.