Just as we’ve all got used to this version of normal, then along comes a newer version. There’s really not much going on at the moment that’s business as usual. So what are you supposed to do when it comes to content?
I’ve got three things it’s not okay to do, and three things it’s absolutely okay to do. Because, when it comes to content, smaller businesses have one big advantage over big business.
You’re agile. Or you should be.
So, let’s talk about what it’s not okay to do.
It’s not okay to hear, see or say nothing
Don’t pretend this is not happening. Don’t just carry on with everything you did before. As smaller businesses, you can flex and change. Leave it to the big brands to act tone-deaf to all of this. Gilette still appear to be running the same ads as before, still pushing over-priced razors.
It’s just faceless, corporate nonsense. Contrast that with these outdoor posters from Emily.
It’s appropriate, it has contextual humour, and it can only be for right now. But it tells you something about them as a brand. They used it as a starting point for creating other content. It’s memorable and got people talking. It would have been too easy to pull the campaign or go with no doubt the original idea. But I think this is brilliant and will have people talking for quite some time to come.
It’s not okay just to be about selling
It might sound obvious, but there are many businesses continuing to pursue either the same promotions and content they had before lockdown, or just have nothing but sales content going out there. It doesn’t mean you can’t be selling, but think about the way you’re doing it.
I love this example from Bird’s Eye for a subtle approach, that’s more about supporting and helping than just pushing fish fingers.
Over on their website, you’ll find resources for life hacks, games to play at home, recipes, and a reminder to shop responsibly.
Yes, this is a big brand example but there’s no reason you can’t do something on the appropriate scale for your business. Be helpful, share resources. Yes, not doing it right will be remembered for the wrong reasons but that’s not a reason to say nothing.
If you act as a human, then you’re more likely to get it right. If in doubt, ask your kids what they think of a piece of content. Or your mum. If they think it’s okay, it’s probably passed the human test.
It’s not okay to ghost your customers
If you only remember one not OK, make it this one. Don’t stop your regular activity. You should still talk to people in the ways you’ve always done it but appropriate to the situation we find ourselves in.
This is not the time to be thinking about conversion, but it is about contribution.
Also if you ghost them now, then they might just think that you’re not around any more, and move on. As we stare down the barrel of recession, then some businesses may not make it through. At least if you keep talking to people, they know that you’re still here.
It’s okay not to be okay
The best content and conversations at the moment are the most authentic and human ones. It’s okay to say when you’re not okay. Let the big brands continue to put out faceless messages from corporate machines, you can only be your authentic self.
It doesn’t have to be polished or perfect in the current circumstances, it just has to be you. And we’re all having some days that are better than others. And that’s ok. It’s ok if you need to go quiet (especially if you tell people that you’re going to, and why). It’s okay to say what you miss, and what you need. No one knows how to get through this without some down days.
It’s okay to be okay
Just as there are down days, there are things happening that people are enjoying about the situation. There’s good news stories. There’s businesses coming together. There’s innovation at a pace it’s hard to recall. Those of you pivoting what you do and how you do it.
It’s ok to celebrate that and tell people that. Be careful about not tipping over into the self-congratulatory, it’s more about showing people that you care, and what you’re doing to try and help. There are so many fantastic examples of businesses going from wholesale to direct to the end consumer, and the many distilleries producing hand sanitiser to WHO standards for front line workers and available to buy. The list goes on.
Get out there and share and engage with each others content. Celebrate the achievements of others. One thing hasn’t changed: the algorithms still love engagement and links.
It’s okay for it not to be about you, or business
We’re all getting through this together, even if at a distance. So it’s great to share stories about your community heroes, or even your national and global heroes.
And it’s ok to share the fun stuff too, or even take part in it. I’ve loved the recreation of fine art with everyday household objects. And if you haven’t heard Andrew Cotter commentating on his dogs eating their dinner, then you’ve missed a treat.
Now’s a good time to take a chance to do something a bit different, have a bit of fun.
While this is an unusual situation, it brings opportunity with it. According to Johnny Hornby of The&Partnership, in 2008, brands that were strong going into the recession and stayed strong during it, recovered 9 times faster than competitors in the years that followed.
So, being okay now just might help you be okay for tomorrow as well.
What are you okay with at the moment?