Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the way people are consuming media has changed – and we’ve been spending more time than ever online. According to the Global Web Index, 80% of us Brits are consuming more content than ever since lockdown began.

There’s been a surge in the usage of streaming services, online shopping sites and tuning into live TV – providing ample opportunity for brands to reach consumers through these mediums.

However, audiences also expect to see a certain change in dialogue from brands, which reflects the unprecedented situation we are all in – and continue to find ourselves in – for a while longer yet, it would seem.

As well as adapting to the ‘new norm’ in our personal lives, how we work and how the companies we work for operate have significantly changed too – from how we do our day-to-day and stay in touch, to how we execute our communications strategy.

It’s understandable for any organisation to be cautious about the content they put out in the public domain at this time – you can read some of our recommendations of what to do, and not do, here – whether it’s website blogs and articles or on social media channels. As long as the message is right, relevant and value-adding to the situation we’re in, businesses should continue to post and keep their hard-earned relationships going with their audiences.

SPENDING MORE TIME ONLINE

With a huge percentage of the population still working from home or furloughed, people have much more free time than they’re used to. This means that target audiences have more time to scroll through social channels, to actively search for information and advice and, ultimately, engage with content.

We’re experiencing it ourselves with the posts we create for our clients here at Souter PR. What would have performed well prior to the pandemic is attracting many more views, as well as a huge amount of impressions and engagements – generating an extremely low cost per view. And, on the whole, they’re encouraging many more positive social media comments as well.

EXPECTATIONS OF DIGITAL CONTENT ARE CHANGING

The type of content we expect to see has also changed. An example of this is how we’ve quickly become used to seeing news reports and even documentaries featuring interviewees speaking via Facetime or Zoom – and many businesses are being praised for doing so.

Whilst previously businesses usually prefer to upload slicker, more polished and professional-looking videos, releasing lower quality content has become normal. Social distancing measures mean that we can’t send our videography partners to a location for a shoot as we did previously.

Well known celebrities from TV shows and group are reuniting on Zoom and recording it for fans to watch as well as jumping on trends posting on their social feeds and subsequently hitting the headlines.

Think Friends’ recent 90-minute reunion and The Office’s recreation of Jim and Pam’s wedding circa 2009.  We’re even tuning in to watch celebrities’ nights in and virtual parties – with the likes of Amanda Holden and Liz Hurley – as they’re forced to stay inside during coronavirus crisis. We’ve even seen Prince Harry take to the platform to chat with families with seriously ill children – raising awareness of their difficulties obtaining PPE.

Many of our professional services clients are adopting this approach by posting video updates their team members are recording at home. We’re also currently working on a TV and YouTube ad campaign with another client calling for the upload of user generated content to its social media channels – all supported by a robust media and influencer outreach programme.

We recently joined a Skype meeting hosted by our client Leonard Curtis, which was attended by some of the region’s most influential business leaders and advisors as well as the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham. Subsequent supporting content that we produced has performed strongly.

WHAT DO CONSUMERS WANT TO SEE FROM BRANDS?

Twitter recently conducted a survey to determine what users expect to see from a brand’s online presence during the pandemic.

64% of respondents said brands should, if they’re still operating, continue to advertise as normal, with 55% agreeing that seeing ads on social media gives them a sense of normality. However, only 7% said brands should continue to use their normal tone of voice.

While it’s important to try to operate your business as normal as possible, it’s also crucial to adapt your communications strategy to what is a new, very different social climate. Altering your tone of voice – and potentially the nature of your communications – will help ensure your brand isn’t being seen as insensitive or ignorant in these unprecedented times, which is a big no-no.

The survey also found that 70% of respondents said brands should boost positivity and share positive stories, while 89% said they should provide reliable and accurate information. 80% also said brands should show how they are supporting their employees.

The survey also asked how those questioned want to see how brands are supporting others, be it vulnerable individuals (86%), frontline staff (82%), their own employees (80%), and their local communities (77%).

We really like this ad campaign from The Halifax, showcase the hard work and dedication of its key worker colleagues. Filmed by staff whilst the strictest Government restrictions were in place, it shows them working in branches, call centres and at home, as they play their role in helping customers to navigate the financial uncertainty caused by the global pandemic.

Clearly, it’s important for audiences to see positivity from businesses during an uncertain and scary time for many, as well as providing accurate information and expert advice in their field. We have assisted many of our business clients in creating and posting a range of content – organic and promoted – with crucial and helpful information in relation to the coronavirus pandemic, which have seen lots of of shares and engagements on social media.

CHANGES TO SEARCH BEHAVIOURS

Google has recently published information on how search behaviours have changed during the pandemic. Breaking them down into five categories, there have been spikes in searches for the following:

  • Assembling critical information – such as home deliveries and mortgage holidays
  • Discovering new connections and relationships – such as ‘with me’ videos, which are a hot trend on YouTube at the moment. Daily views of videoswith “#withme” in the title have increased by over 600% compared to pre-Covid-19 times
  • Adjusting to changes in routine, such as DIY and exercise equipment
  • Praising everyday heroes
  • Taking care of selves and others – with virtual activities to ease boredom, anxiety and uncertainty. Check out this round up of apps to up your skills whilst you can

We’re using this information to help create new content for our clients that will be relevant and interesting to their at-home audiences – not only to help relieve boredom, but to keep them up-to-date and engaged with their brand.

At Souter PR, our team and partners are highly experienced in creating the most relevant and engaging content. We can help businesses with content ideas, editorial opportunities and social media strategies as well as crisis comms. Get in touch if you’d like to talk.