The coronavirus pandemic changed life as we know it. From uncertainty, loneliness, altered plans and worse, it goes without saying that it was an extremely difficult year for many folks.
One of the biggest adjustments for most people happened at their jobs. Perhaps you were forced to work from home for the first time and learn how to still be professional on Zoom despite your kids or pets occasionally photobombing your virtual meeting.
In some industries, the very nature of the work changed in some pretty startling ways.
Take content marketing.
Copywriters, editors and content marketers across all industries suddenly had to adjust their strategies to adapt to the changing world around them, as a topic or plan that seemed brilliant in February 2020 was suddenly eclipsed and irrelevant a month later.
Now that we’ve had a year to look back, make changes and learn lessons, we were interested in asking:
Is our understanding of content marketing any different now than it was a year ago?
It’s safe to say that the fundamentals of content marketing are still intact, but perhaps our understanding of them is deeper than it was in March 2020. Here are just a few content marketing lessons that we took away from the past year:
Lesson #1: The show must go on
Many of us who’ve spent decades working in the digital marketing, content and SEO industry have long promoted the idea that content marketing must be consistent in order to be effective. This principle was proven time and time again in the pandemic in many (unfortunate) ways.
For example, some businesses found themselves cash-strapped and saw content marketing as the low-hanging fruit for budget cuts, especially during that long summer of 2020. But now that we’re starting to come out on the other side, many of these businesses are finding that they are lagging behind compared to their competitors who continued producing content all along.
Ultimately, the cost of regaining their previous position will be more than if they had continued to press on with content creation and promotion. Of course, when a business has to decide between paying a valued employee and maintaining their blog, it’s understandable why the content marketing budget gets the chop.
But as the saying goes, “the show must go on.”
The same is true in content marketing. And if you’re playing catch-up, it’s important to double down and be smart in your content marketing strategies moving forward.
Lesson #2: Deep thinking is required
Just because the show goes on doesn’t mean we should start doing the exact same thing we were doing before, as though the world hasn’t changed. Now is the time to reconsider how your user’s behavior and desires have changed in the last 12 months and what you need to do to adapt. This requires some deep thinking.
Fortunately, you don’t have to lock yourself away in a monastery in the mountains to accomplish deep thinking since most of us have had our fill of isolation lately (though the mountain monastery would be an improvement). You also don’t need an MIT degree.
Deep thinking means stepping back and really putting yourself in the shoes of your users and target audience. Envision yourself living their (changed) life and ask yourself:
What kind of content would you want to read, share and engage with?
Over a year into the pandemic, we are now starting to get some actual data and hard numbers about how the pandemic has changed general user behavior and engagement. For example, compared to a year ago, most folks consume more content related to entertainment and news. They also have become more comfortable with making purchases online.
As more data comes in about internet users in a post-pandemic world, you’ll need to constantly adjust your strategy and tone to better connect with your changed audience.
Lesson #3: Trust matters more than ever
For many of us, the pandemic exposed how uncertainty and unpredictability can disrupt many aspects of our lives—from putting food on the table to buying a roll of toilet paper. As a result, it’s more important than ever that your audience feels like they can trust you and your business based on what they see and read online.
So what does this mean?
For starters, it’s not the time to bombard people with aggressive marketing slogans and campaigns pushing them to buy or sign up for something. In normal times, people might have just ignored these messages and moved on. But in the midst of a national or global crisis (or in the immediate aftermath), you risk sending the wrong message and looking crass.
Ultimately though, whether or not there is a pandemic, we believe that the best content marketing advice will always be this:
Create high-quality, informative and valuable content, share it with the world, and let the rewards grow naturally and organically. People trust businesses that focus on creating value and investing in their community.
It all starts with creating and promoting good content. Don’t stress if you don’t get a ton of conversions from a Facebook ad promoting a blog post on your company website. Just ask if it’s valuable to your target audience. If it is, trust that the traffic and conversions will come in time.
But build trust first.
Lesson #4: Balance matters too
In the last year, we noticed that there was a tendency for businesses to rush out content related to the COVID-19 pandemic. For some businesses, this was necessary. For example, as stores and restaurants closed and began to reopen, their customers needed to know about their new protocols and hours of operations.
However, there was also a lot of unnecessary content marketing from businesses filling people’s social media feeds with a message that essentially boiled down to “Stay safe.”
When a major event is happening on a global scale, people know that you’re aware of it and they presume you want them to be okay.
Sure, sharing a link to CDC guidelines can be helpful and show that you are invested in the safety of your community. What’s not beneficial (or a worthy use of your time) though is devoting your entire blog to the latest updates and news that your readers are likely already getting elsewhere.
What many folks are looking for in a crisis balance.
What your business can do is find the intersection of the ongoing crisis and the service or product that your business provides, then produce high-quality content on that topic.
Turning lessons into lemonade
In life, it’s often during difficult times when we learn the most. So it is in content marketing.
Writing content that breaks through the pandemic noise isn’t easy, and we’re all bound to make mistakes along the way. But hopefully, the lessons you learned—along with the ones we’ve shared—will help you weather the next storm.
If you need help developing a robust content marketing strategy for your business, we invite you to reach out to our SEO & content specialists today.
What content marketing lessons did you learn during the pandemic?
Let us know in the comments below, or via Facebook.