COVID-19, also known as coronavirus, has changed everything about the way small businesses operate.
If not for good, at least for the time being.
It’s also had a huge impact on the amount of content people are consuming.
That’s made content even more important for your brand and business.
With social distancing creating a rift among people and a likelihood that future interactions will be more distanced, a need for connection is huge.
People want to feel connected to others, including the brands they follow online.
As a content marketer and creator, I’ve seen the difference in people’s content consumption firsthand.
But I think it’s important to realize that this is not an opportunity to take advantage of people.
This is an opportunity to form real connections with your audience.
Content marketing is more important than it’s ever been, and I want to talk about how that should impact your strategy.
Success Of Small Business In The COVID-19 Environment Correlates With The Value You Offer
Some of the content statements I’m going to make today are nothing you haven’t heard before.
COVID-19 hasn’t altered any of the basic principals of content marketing for small businesses.
It has, however, amplified their significance, creating farther-reaching effects than ever.
If you expect to build great connections with your audience, you need to focus more on giving them value than you typically do.
You’ve got to provide them with something substantial, but also very real.
It’s time to step further away from sales-oriented content and truly focus on something people can relate to.You need to create a sense of normalcy through your content for your audience. Click To Tweet
For your small business to succeed in this era – and possibly beyond – you have to be something that your audience can rely on.
As a brand, you have to help people feel like the world is still normal.
Through connections, people begin to feel like they have a friend in your brand.
Without guaranteeing that it will lead to increased sales, that kind of affection can’t be bad for your brand.
But if you’re not offering the value, you can’t create that.
COVID-19 Makes Content Marketing More Important For Small Business Than Ever
Right now, everything feels incredibly normal but incredibly different.
For many entrepreneurs, business still goes on, and many still go into their businesses daily.
However, many people don’t leave the house, and many entrepreneurs are stuck wondering how their business will survive.
People are forced into disconnection at a level they don’t usually face.
And they’re turning to social media in greater number and frequency than usual.
The need for connection and certainty is driving that usage.
There’s a need for the content social media provides, and you’ve got to figure out how you’re going to help fill that need.You should avoid looking at this pandemic as something to exploit to make money. Click To Tweet
But first things first: you’ve got to understand that this isn’t about short-term profits and making sales.
Helping people feel normal is about contributing to something greater than yourself.
Take, for example, the implications behind the Instagram hashtag #wereinthistogether.
What you’ll find is brands, influencers, and regular people doing what they can to support each other.
You’ll also, unfortunately, find those who want to use it to sell.
Showing your audience and community how your brand is in this for the greater good will matter when this is all over.
No matter what normal looks like once the pandemic has passed, people will remember the way you helped bring them a feeling of safety.
So, how do you do that?
I’ve got a list of some things you can do to connect with your audience better during this lockdown and beyond.
One of the most obvious forms of content to stay connected with during the COVID-19 lockdowns is the live stream.
Small businesses have been using live streams to connect with their audiences since Periscope went live in 2015.
However, amid COVID-19, small business needs to use live streaming a little differently.
Again, you need to help people feel safe in this stressful environment.
With that in mind, think of the ways you can create a community around a live stream.
Invite your audience to spend time with you talking about whatever they want to know.
Try to stay within your expertise, but don’t hesitate to discuss the issues going on right now from your perspective.
The idea is to get your brand’s community around the proverbial campfire that social media represents right now and talk.
In doing so, two things happen.
First, you build a stronger community and connection with your audience.
A connection, as I said previously, that will transcend this crisis and transform into loyalty that’s bigger than anything you have right now.
Second, you’ll earn a unique perspective about both your business and your audience that will improve your content in the long run.
Any time you have the chance to learn what value you need to be adding to your content you need to use it to its fullest.
After all, the more value you can bring, the better you can serve your audience and clients.
Video content is a great choice for any platform that supports it.
And it has huge benefits for small businesses.
However, during this COVID-19 lockdown, raw and unedited video formats will go further for you.
Sharing videos on different content platforms that are minimally edited (typically for time and clarity) is something that’s been on the rise with creators lately.
Fewer filters and more raw elements have helped to deliver a sense of authenticity in content.
They’ve helped audiences connect better to the brands that share them.
By taking advantage of that authenticity you can connect to your audience better.
Not every video you produce should be a live stream.
Sometimes you just want to share information with your audience.
In those instances, a prerecorded and minimally edited video is a better choice.
Sharing content with your audience in this format still allows the sense of closeness that a live video provides.
But it also gives you an uninterrupted opportunity to deliver the message you’re trying to get across.
Your willingness to connect authentically to your audience matters, especially among millennials.
Along with the sense of normalcy and safety you should be providing, you’ll also build more trust.
The audience you’ve cared for will know you’ve got their backs when this is all over.
TikTok is a relatively new platform for most people.
Formerly known as Music.ly, it’s a video platform that focuses on music-based content.
Before COVID-19 it was nearly exclusive to young people in their teens.
However, with people looking for things to do while they spend time at home, TikTok has found recent success with the older crowd.
The single largest trend on TikTok right now, however, is using humor to alleviate anxieties people feel about the outbreak.
It’s in this arena where TikTok provides small businesses an opportunity to connect with their audience on a deeper level.
Sharing videos on the platform that provide entertainment for your audience along with showing off your less-serious side allows your audience to feel connected to you like a friend.
Not sure where to start?
Try a TikTok challenge like this.
Honestly, it doesn’t matter what you record to share.
What’s important is the amount of fun you’re willing to have while doing it.
Your audience is looking for entertainment, and if that’s something you can provide, it’s a win for both parties.
Having fun with your audience is a great way to develop a sense of friendship that will last.
Fun like this also dulls fears and lessens anxieties.
Doing that for your audience is something they’ll appreciate and remember when we come out on the other side of this.
Increasing And Improving Your Podcast
People are binging on content right now.
From streaming videos to audio content to video games, services across the board are seeing remarkable login rates.
That shouldn’t be a surprise, as COVID-19 has everyone – even many small business owners – stuck at home.
However, music streaming has dropped, which is a real surprise.
It’s likely because people aren’t looking to simply create white noise in the background or enjoy something while they focus on other things.
Behavior like that is reserved for driving, which there are significantly fewer people doing now.
With our brains, eyes, and hands-free to engage, people want to learn something with their time.
Perhaps it’s a new skill, perhaps it’s to hone an old one.
And, while video offers a great ability to do that, podcasts offer freed hands and eyes.
Essentially, listeners can do while they learn.
Added value like that is something people notice.
If you’re not already podcasting, now is a great time to get started.
Because a podcast can easily be recorded from a home office, it’s easy to make content when you can’t leave the house.
For those who are already podcasting, now might be the right time to reach out for guests (recorded remotely, of course) and find other ways to add value to your content.
We’re in a situation where more people will be listening, and by providing them the content they crave your brand does something they’re not likely to forget.
Send Personal Emails
Email is a huge factor for personal connection.
With all the COVID-19 emails going out, the response to them is almost meme-worthy for many people.
Now is a great time to break from that trend and write a personal email.
Yes, this can still be a bulk email that your CRM fills the details in on.
However, it should be a more personal message.
Your audience’s inbox is a great place to check in with them and keep them in the loop about what’s going on with your brand.
But rather than talk about the ways you’re working to keep everyone safe during the pandemic, talk about the ways you’re focused on connecting.
Communicate to your audience the struggles your team is facing and the uplifting stories of how you’re banding together to keep everyone’s morale up.
Make the email you send sound as human as possible.
By breaking the standard “we’re being extra clean” trend and talking about the ways you’re playing games at lunch via webcam, you create a much more human link with your audience.
Most importantly, you show your audience that you understand how they may feel during this crisis.
Small businesses tend to forget that something like CORVID-19 creates emotions for their audiences.
Those emotions need to be recognized and made relatable.
When you have humanity in the face of emergency your audience remembers.
Personal Connection Through Content Marketing Can Help Your Small Business Survive COVID-19
These are crazy times, and online content is providing a sanctuary for many people.
If you can shift your focus from your standard forms of content marketing to content that helps form those personal connections, you’ve got a real opportunity to get through this.
Sometimes business takes on a larger purpose than making sales, and COVID-19 is it for many small businesses.
But it’s all up to how well you can adapt to a world that needs the connection.
Handle this successfully and your business could change dramatically when we get out of this.
Do it poorly, however, and focus on making money, your brand is going to get forgotten and left behind.
The world needs connection, comfort, and certainty.
Those are all things you can provide with your content.
It will require you to look at the world of online media in a different way than you may have before.
You may even need to take up new formats you haven’t explored before.
However, those personal connections and the loyalty that comes with them can never be replaced, and you’ll likely never have another time like this to earn them.
Take care of your audience and yourself.