COVID-19 has been a challenging time for all, and businesses are no exception. Businesses of all shapes and sizes have been impacted massively, both for better and for worse, even creating new global organisations from next to nothing and making even the largest blush from embarrassment. It all comes hand in hand with the power of content marketing.
The content pushed out by brands has a huge amount to say about what they have to offer. The very essence of what makes a brand a brand is their branding after all; how they position themselves in the eyes of the public, and what they do to make that or happen. Or, what they do to try and make that happen when it doesn’t always pan out.
As we’ve seen from COVID so far, that’s not always the case.
There is a multitude of brands out there that have really thought about what they want to say to the world during this time, and what they have to offer us, the people, by thinking about what we need to see, what we want to see, and ultimately, what is going to actually help make an impact. Others, however, are simply bandwagoning, sharing messages they feel appropriate and ensuring their voices are heard in petty bids for publicity.
As a result, we’ve seen some businesses boom and others laughed or even sighed at in their attempts, and now it’s time to take a step back to think about the role content marketing had in it all.
By providing content across social media as well as in all other forms of media too, communication providers were able to flourish and use what they provide to demonstrate the benefits to others. We’re talking of course here, about Zoom.
Zoom took the entire world by storm over international lockdowns and meant that people had a great and trending way to stay in touch, especially in the world of work. Working from home was a new concept to the vast majority of the world, and as a result, even though Zoom is relatively late to the technological communications party, it was able to provide great content to people using practically entirely user-generated materials and demonstrate the power that the technology had.
Utilising all of this content in fact actually led Zoom to produce blog content too, talking about the applications Zoom has had in life, popular case studies, and even feature updates accompanied by classes on how to use them in the Zoom Academy.
Looking at content marketing examples like those above, it’s not hard to tell why Zoom is definitely a brand that has been made with alongside the pandemic even alongside other more heavily advertised brands like Microsoft Temas who had a poor attempt at minimal content marketing during the initial UK lockdown.
The multilayered approach to written content, video content and genuine knowledge-based research and teaching provided value in every way to their consumer base, both by making entertainment form a globally trending concept and teaching them how to use it at the same time.
Teams, however, was massively under-marketed aside from repetitive video advertisements in paid media, becoming the voice of annoyance for many and in the wrong places too.
This was received by minute engagement from the 13+ million followers and little to no communication pushing teams in content, Instead, Microsoft ran a television-based campaign and did not see the same extent of results (even when combined with skype of the same scale).
Another titan of lockdown in particular that came from content marketing during COVID had a huge advantage over other businesses in other industries, and that is TikTok. The Chinese founded video content platform it literally made up of content by its very nature and means that it is filled to the brim with sharable content to use as marketing tools.
Although the company was relatively late to get on board with what could have exploded much sooner when the brand did start curating and sharing their content on other social media outlets around mid-May.
This still led to a huge spike in user activity and engagement across practically all social media platforms, however, and actually kickstarted new standardised formats of video content used again across the board still today, comparable to the Vine format that was so popular and set the bar years before until uploading was halted in late 2016.
It does need to be remembered that TikTok also increased their brand presence using television advertising too, as well as other online communication means in a bid to capitalise on the mass of boredom and influx of creativity in the British and global public.
Moving to an industry that has a much harder job of tying together a completely online service with a physical real-life presence, and with a global pandemic, that sounds like a challenge as it is. Add an array of other businesses operating in exactly the same way however due to a massive surge of demand and supply with both businesses battling to remain open as well as customers having free time and income in many cases, and difficult battle that Just Eat had to face.
Unlike other brands on the market, however, Just Eat was one of the only brands on the market to utilise content marketing in their approach to branding. Since sales were booming for most marketing leading businesses regardless at this point, Just Eat’s approach to entirely dedicated customer centred content marketing made sure their status was safe and helped them serve in more ways than ever.
This springboarded their social media branding campaign #gooddeedfeed, where an array of content about good deeds, community support and NHS promotion occurred alongside the usual branded promotions to create a well all rounded branding position. A refreshing touch.
This isn’t to say that other businesses didn’t dip their toes into the content marketing waters either, however. Even giants of the food industry such as McDonald’s in the US made content to try and create branded statements in the midst of the crisis such as the post below, however it was quickly met by backlash due to the lack of sick pay the company provided. This is just one of so many different attempts at content marketing without real meaning or support behind it, and as always it soon became transparent and had adverse responses showing even the strongest brands are not immune.
Ultimately, COVID-19 has dropped us into a time of uncertainty, and for many businesses, that goes for marketing resources as well. Understanding what people want in times of unparalleled unfamiliarity is always going to be a difficult task, but learning from the mistakes of others doesn’t have to be.
It’s clear to see that the brands who have adapted their content marketing efforts effectively to help make them stronger than ever are simply those brands who put customers at the heart of their business. By simply showcasing your service in ways your audience can enjoy, utilise or learn from, brands provide value in more ways than ever before.
While simple messages of hope and unity can be emotive and pleasant, when the entire country is more exposed to marketing than ever, overexposure is not a friendly concept. Hearing the same things day in day out that offer nothing but kind words and ideas quickly tires, and it’s easy to see through branding.