Unless you've been hiding under a rock over the past few months, you'll have noticed the influx of COVID-19 related content in your social media news feeds, email inbox and on traditional media platforms such as television and radio as well.
Everyone was quick to pivot and respond, adjusting their communication strategies and sending out email newsletters and social posts covering their response to the global pandemic.
As we enter month two of Alert Level 1 in New Zealand, Kiwi businesses are now faced with a new challenge:
Dancing the fine line between creating COVID-19 related, time-sensitive content while simultaneously moving away from coronavirus content, finding normality and cutting through the noise with.
While there's no official formula for how to break through the COVID-comms online, there are a few things you can do (or in some cases avoid) to make sure your brand is being noticed, heard and tactful on the channels you're across.
If you have any strategies you're finding work well, let us know in the comments.
1. Keep it real and stay as authentic as possible
This actually rings true on social media outside of COVID-19 as people tend to connect best with brands who have a real 'personality' behind their name and interact with customers authentically - but even more so now.
The first question to ask yourself before sending a newsletter out or scheduling a social post is 'why am I doing this?'. If you don't have a genuine reason behind why you're sending communications out, then you'll only be adding to the noise rather than cutting through it.
People are good at detecting authenticity these days, and they'll know if you're sending something out for the sake of it or if it's something useful that really needs to be said. For example, if you're providing useful information to your database around your updated COVID-19 company policies - brilliant, that makes sense. However if you're sharing COVID articles on your social channels with no correlation to your brand, you're just adding to the noise and your audience will know it.
Keep everything you send out as genuine and relevant to your brand as you can, and try to keep things personal. Your followers and customers will appreciate it.
2. Don't be afraid to share your opinion
This can be a tough one to get into the swing of at first, but over time it becomes easier and easier as you get a feel for your true brand voice and what your followers respond well to. Especially in the current climate, a lot of brands are playing it safe and shying away from adding value to social posts and content by not sharing a clear opinion.
It's understandable too - no one wants to lose any followers or hit send on a newsletter and watch their database unsubscribe. However, now more than ever it's really important to have a strong voice and be clear in your messaging, or risk being a part of the noise and not standing out at all.
Plus, you don't have to be controversial or polarising to have a clear voice and stand out. Just make sure you're adding your own spin and messaging to everything you're sharing!
3. Try to genuinely help your audience
This one is particularly important. When your audience makes the call to follow your social media or subscribe to your newsletters, they're doing so because they feel in some way they'll gain added value by being a part of your created community. Your job as a business is to find innovative ways to add value to your audience.
A lot of businesses immediately feel a bit wary when they hear that, assuming that it'll cost them a lot of money to really add value through discounts, competitions and promotions. Truthfully, there are a bunch of ways you can add value to your customers that don't come with a hefty price tag attached.
Begin by brainstorming the different challenges and problems that your customers (based on what you know of who follows your brand) might be facing. Once you have an understanding of the problems they might be experiencing you'll be able to create content that's truly useful and valuable to your database.
That could mean:
- Sharing infographics with valuable data around your industry or your customers' industries
- Showcasing the ways that your company is helping their customers throughout the pandemic
- Writing blogs or downloadable PDFs with useful tips and tricks that your customers can use
- Offering an option to get in touch with your team for help with any of the problems you've identified in your brainstorm
All of these things will genuinely help your customers, but don't require any buy-in from your business - and that's exactly how you'll stand out from everyone else. The idea is that your customers will see that you're doing everything you can to help them without asking for anything in return, build that trust over time and hopefully they will come to you in future when they're ready to buy.
4. Make every word in your communications count
Once you've decided how you're going to add value to your audience (whether you went with infographic or a blog post), it's important to go that next step further and make sure that every word you're writing, post you're designing or email your sending counts. Right now, your audience is saturated with information, offers and online based content, so if you're going to offer them something make sure every word counts.
How? There are three simple ways to make sure you're nailing this.
- Create content that educates
You're telling your audience something they don't know, with the intention of helping them to solve their problems through insights they can't get elsewhere.
- Create content that entertains
Laughter is a key way of coping in a stressful time, so don't feel everything you create has to be in depth and insightful if the goal is simply to entertain. If you're adding positivity or bringing a smile to your customers - that's valuable in itself.
- Create content that inspires
Inspirational content doesn't just tell your customers useful information like educational content does, it inspires people to take the next step themselves. Usually this is done through emotional storytelling and motivational narrative, like a case study showing someone overcoming adversity and beating the problems that your customers are facing.
With that said, if you're not adding value through educational, entertaining or inspirational content, it's worth referring back to step one and checking that you're being authentic and asking the 'why' before sending out your content.
5. Follow up and deliver what you promised
Last but not least, make sure you're following up with your engaged customers and fulfilling their expectations. A lot of brands make the mistake of sending out content and leaving it at that. Make sure to reply to every inbound email you receive, answer the phone calls of those who clicked your 'get in touch' call to action and reply to any comments on social media.
Simply by engaging with your audience, you'll be leaps and bounds ahead of all of the other brands making noise in marketing spaces and stand out to your customers.
Want to stay leaps and bounds ahead in-store too?
As a result of COVID-19, customers expectations haven't simply changed for your marketing, but your in-store processes as well. Contactless payments are becoming more and more a 'must have'. You can find out all the up to date data by downloading our free guide below.