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Creating Content in Times of Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic and consequent lockdown have changed how we live and of course, create (and consume) content. While people are worried about maintaining their livelihoods and staying healthy, brands are just as concerned with their survival on social media. So, how can we - the people behind the brands - create content that’s suitable for the high-stress period we’re living in right now? Here’s my take.
Nothing is more aggravating than seeing content on social media that insists on ignoring something that’s currently happening in the real world. We all hope that things will go back to normal, but right now we’re painfully aware of the changes that have had to take place in our lives and the last thing we want is for brands to act like nothing’s happening.
This can be challenging when you’ve got content calendars and plans set weeks or even months in advance, but your audience isn’t interested in this. Our content creation processes need to be flexible enough to accommodate black swan events like this one to keep our audiences engaged and earn their loyalty.
Not so fast
Before we all jump to creating content around current events, it’s essential to ask ourselves whether the brands we create content for have earned the right to be a part of specific conversations. This is precisely when you look at that part of your strategy that answers the question of what topics you can tackle on social media and which territories you might want to steer clear of.
This is not to say that brands can’t start being more conscious of issues right now; if anything, our playbooks and strategies should always be open to revision. However, this is a change that needs to be made with the utmost care and tact so that we’re not creating content that looks out of place or confusing.
Having insight into how and why audiences consume a specific brand’s content can offer direction as to whether it’d be a good idea to tackle issues around COVID-19; and if yes, how. For example, if your brand is known for offering entertaining, lighthearted content, although it’s certainly not a good idea to make light of the current crisis, it’s not advised that you start posting hard-hitting news content. Audiences look to lighthearted content for comfort and relief, and there’s no reason your brand shouldn’t offer them that. As long as it’s relevant and tasteful, it should be fine.
People are financially, emotionally and physically affected by this pandemic, so brands must show that they are aware and empathetic. We can’t deny that there is some gain to be made during this time, but no one wants to support a brand that looks like it’s profiteering off of people’s suffering in any way. We need to approach the content we create with empathy and be more concerned with how we can alleviate people’s discomfort as opposed to what we can gain.
If you’re going to create content around COVID-19, then accuracy is paramount. A huge part of being sensitive is to make sure we do the research and fact-checking required to provide content that’s valid and trustworthy. Social media has become a breeding ground for myths and half-truths, and if we want to maintain our audiences’ trust, then we should have no part of it. This means also being extremely selective when it comes to the articles and news pieces that circulate within our teams internally so that we don’t give way to any inaccurate information.
The current pandemic causes a general feeling of uncertainty for people across the globe. Although very little is in our control, we can make sure that we offer social media content that adds value to our audiences as creatives. What’s very clear is that rigid, uncaring practices are not going to get us very far - we’ve got to make the necessary changes and get in touch with what audiences need, and fast.
For more information, visit www.arcinteractive.co.
About the author
Sizakele Nene is an avid lover of books and all things language. When she’s not conjuring up plans to end injustice and poor grammar, she’s fulfilling her role as Brand Strategist and Content Lead at Arc Interactive.
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If you enjoyed this post and have a little extra time to dive deeper down the rabbit hole, why not check out the following posts on coronavirus.
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