Lessons from lockdown: Four content types that users really engage with
- Life in lockdown led to a huge uptake in media consumption, including a 44% worldwide increase in social media use according to Statista.
- While the COVID-19 pandemic has shell shocked the world, many industries were affected
- Many businesses not only stayed afloat but actually managed to attract new audiences through their intelligent use of content marketing.
- CEO of Go Up Ltd. shares four engaging content types that have seen businesses succeed during the lockdown.
The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown restrictions have meant businesses have needed to react quickly and adapt strategies in order to continue trading. Retailers were forced online and restaurants had to offer a takeaway-only service, with limited menus, for months. Some industries, such as pubs and the hospitality sector, ground to a complete halt.
However, many businesses not only stayed afloat but actually managed to attract new audiences through their intelligent use of content marketing. Here are four engaging types of content that have seen businesses succeed during the lockdown.
1. Community content
Once upon a time, brands — particularly small, independent businesses — relied on their existing customer base purchasing items or placing pre-orders at times when business was not able to run as usual. However, as the “new normal” set in and attention focused predominantly on COVID-19, business owners were forced to adapt as swiftly as possible to their customers’ changing priorities.
As such, existing marketing plans were shelved, making way for new coronavirus-aware content strategies that placed emphasis on empathy over commercialism. With so much financial uncertainty, customers were no longer interested in the latest products to hit the market. Instead, businesses needed to step up and show that they care about both their consumers and staff, demonstrating how they can provide value and help make a difference during the outbreak. 
Building community with your audience, adjusting to the new normal, and showing how you’re sticking together behind the scenes is impactful. Aldi, for example, shared updates on how they were investing in supporting local communities during the outbreak. While this type of content doesn’t yield a huge amount of income in the short term, it does help to build brand affinity, and ultimately sales, in the long term.
Our partner @nbrly helps us invest in our local communities. And right now, community has never been more important – so please check on your neighbours. We’re in this together. pic.twitter.com/l7EWauAAxo
A 2019 study found that content that focuses on brand purpose triggers a more positive physical and emotional reaction in consumers than those that focus on a product, with 83% of consumers more likely to be loyal to a brand that does so. 
2. Educational content
Many people have used their newfound free time during lockdown as an opportunity for continued education. Not only has this been an opportunity to develop professional skills, but it’s also been a method of remaining engaged and keeping positive mental health during the lockdown. As such, more people than ever before have been engaging with educational content online.
During the pandemic, LinkedIn has seen its highest levels of engagement, with users watching over 4 million hours of content on LinkedIn Learning soon after lockdown went into effect. LinkedIn professionals are hosting live chats where they share data-driven and real insight with their audiences. 
Other brands have provided free-to-use resources to help users upskill during this time. Moz, for example, allowed users to access their usually paid-for SEO academy courses for free. Meanwhile, recognizing that customers would be unable to go on holiday as normal, Pasta Evangelists’ Italy at Home campaign provided users with authentic recipes to try that would help to bring some Italian escapism into their homes. While these content strategies have no immediate commercial value, those that did access the training sessions or recipes during the lockdown will have a stronger affinity towards each brand and will be more likely to become a paying customer in the future.
3. Uplifting and entertaining content
Negative news stories have been hard to avoid, whether it be related to coronavirus deaths, political upheaval, or social injustices. It’s, therefore, no surprise that many consumers have sought some relief from reality, with lighthearted and entertaining becoming more popular than ever before.
According to a survey by Channel Factor, 80% of consumers head to their favorite vloggers on YouTube to improve their mood, with 69% of respondents finding that content more uplifting than those on other channels. Of the most popular videos streamed on YouTube, almost half of them were entertainment videos (48%), while 33% were comedy focused. 
Innocent Smoothies, well known for their relaxed approach to content marketing, set daily work from home challenges to keep their community entertained, while The Woodland Trust provided tips on how to keep children engaged with nature despite being forced to stay at home during the lockdown. 
1. Join a video call
2. Put your laptop at the far end of the room
3. Slowly edge backwards, about an inch a minute
4. Go further and further back
5. See how far you can get before anyone notices
Creating fun and lighthearted content with no commercial interest can work well in times of uncertainty, growing your social media audience, and building brand affinity in the process. Alternatively, brands can invest in influencer marketing and collaborate with content creators who have their own established audiences to help grow their own audience.
4. Omnichannel content
Life in lockdown led to a huge uptake in media consumption, including a 44% worldwide increase in social media use according to Statista. With more people browsing through various social media channels, it’s more important than ever for brands to be where their audience is, especially as online commerce continues to rise. 
It’s been predicted that digital experiences will be even more important following the pandemic. It’s become clear that many aspects of customer interaction will need to be digitized to abide by social distancing measures. So now more than ever, it’s crucial that brands create a seamless online experience for their audiences in order to avoid any confusion between platforms and encourage shoppers with targeting ads and posts. 
Edward Coram James is an SEO professional and the Chief Executive of Go Up Ltd, an international agency dedicated to helping its clients navigate the complexities of global SEO and the technical aspects of delivering location-specific pages to targeted audiences.
- ^ coronavirus-aware content strategies (www.goup.co.uk)
- ^ Aldi (twitter.com)
- ^ @nbrly (twitter.com)
- ^ pic.twitter.com/l7EWauAAxo (t.co)
- ^ March 21, 2020 (twitter.com)
- ^ physical and emotional reaction (www.provokemedia.com)
- ^ highest levels of engagement (www.socialmediatoday.com)
- ^ 80% of consumers (www.searchenginewatch.com)
- ^ work from home challenges (twitter.com)
- ^ #WorkingFromHomeChallenge (twitter.com)
- ^ March 23, 2020 (twitter.com)
- ^ uptake in media consumption (www.statista.com)
- ^ digital experiences (www.digitalcommerce360.com)
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