Post-Pandemic Content Strategies
by Phil Britt
With vaccinations starting to have some success in tamping down the COVID-19 pandemic, people working on content creation in or with the information industry are looking at what they see as their best monetization strategies for the changing economy. Here are some of their plans and advice for other industry stakeholders.
ENSURE THE AUDIENCE FEELS CONNECTED
“There’s already plenty of information out in the world—both analog and digital. In fact, there’s too much information. Consumers need ways to filter out the noise and focus in on the content that will make a difference for them,” says Ali Cudby, managing director at Alignmint Growth Strategies and author of Keep Your Customers: How to Stop Customer Turnover, Improve Retention and Get Lucrative, Long-Term Loyalty . “You become a go-to destination for content when you provide the information consumers need in the delivery vehicle they want.”
People have missed feeling connected since the start of the pandemic, Cudby says. Sure, people can engage with content virtually, but there’s a fundamental hunger for customer- centric connections. As interaction becomes safer, the winning content strategists will focus on cultivating connection. “The connection begins by making your audience feel seen, heard, and valued. Content becomes customer-centric when it delivers an experience that resonates with your unique audience,” she states. “Best-practice content will find ways to marry content with safe opportunities for in-person engagement.”
Cudby provides this example: “I’m currently working with an organization offering a virtual global conference in 2021. To maximize opportunities for connection, they’re organizing local in-person watch parties and events in locations with high attendee density. It’s still not clear exactly where these watch parties will be feasible, but since they’re smaller and local, they’re faster to pop up (or cancel, if needed). In the meantime, conference organizers can continue to plan, knowing the conference will deliver top-tier content and connected engagement.”
RECOGNIZE TIME CONSTRAINTS
“People won’t have a lot of free time; many jobs are getting busier, [and] changes will be occurring that’ll be imposing new burdens on people’s time,” said Erdin Beshimov, a senior director of Bootcampus at MIT Open Learning, a division of MIT that publishes educational content, specializing in open online courses. Therefore, publishers need to create content that resonates and uplifts hearts—and does so in continuous chunks that are easily digestible and fit into people’s new routines, Beshimov says. “Providing content that is emotionally uplifting does not mean to say ‘yes’ at every opportunity. It means honest recognition of the rigors of life” and guidance that eschews shortcuts. “It needs to be real. Providing content that is educationally sound is difficult, of course, because of the inherent research costs.”
Beshimov admits that this strategy will be hard for many organizations to follow, but those that succeed will create new content empires. Their readers and viewers would feel something different—something difficult to identify and to put a finger on at first—but at the same time, they would be powerfully drawn to it and would be telling others.
OFFER FREQUENT, FRESH CONTENT
“To attract the right target audiences, readers, subscribers, and customers or clients online, publishers should create content that is at least 1,500 words long [and] optimized with the right keywords and keyword phrases, which is published on a blog or some type of magazine at least once a week,” says Kristin Marquet Chester, CEO of Marquet Media, LLC. “The fresh content will help publishers rank higher on Google and other search engines. Keyword research should be completed via Google Keyword Planner. Each piece of content should have one main keyword phrase and one secondary keyword phrase with a 1%–2% density. The content should also be valuable and provide an in-depth instruction on a certain topic. We develop content that is usually over 2,000 words; we publish at least once a week.”
Chester adds that publishers can repurpose existing content from their website, blog, newsletter, or magazine and use it for social media promotion. For instance, quotes—the most valuable nugget of the content—or individual tips can be posted on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. With this strategy, there’s no reason to create new content constantly. Using existing content from your blog or newsletter is the easiest way to produce a consistent line of content for social media portals.
SHIFT TO VIDEO
Despite Chester’s call for frequent, fresh content, John Ross, president of Test Prep Insight, counters that the pandemic has saturated people with written content. “Between the free time associated with lockdowns and [the] anxiety people are feeling, they have been consuming written content like crazy over the past 10 months or so,” Ross says. “There are some wild statistics floating around the internet regarding screen time and content consumption, including some studies suggesting that written content consumption was up over 60% between 2019 and 2020. As such, we feel that users are starting to become overloaded with written content, and we are planning to incorporate much more video into our process. We are trying to incorporate internally produced video content into 50% of the articles we post.”
Even if it’s just a quick 2-minute video of average production quality that regurgitates the same content within the post, people are eager for more video and less written content, Ross adds. Focusing on video content is not a novel idea, but Ross thinks that it will become even stronger in 2021, and he plans to invest significantly in this.