"Content is King” is a phrase that we have heard repeatedly since 1996, when Bill Gates published the article that made it famous. In the current scenario, in which Covid-19 is frankly revolutionising traditional marketing, is this concept still true? And what will be the impact of the pandemic on content marketing in the future?
Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, companies have been faced with the need to adjust their marketing strategies and programmes to deal with a crisis that is having drastic economic and social impacts.
In this revolution of traditional marketing methodologies and strategies, the impacts of Covid-19 on content creation and distribution cannot be overlooked: how is content marketing changing and how will it change in the future? Will content still play a leading role as ‘King’?
Long before the coronavirus pandemic struck, the crisis of traditional media was pretty clear. Companies were less and less inclined to invest in traditional advertising and were gradually abandoning the direct advertising approach governed by 'push' logic.
The advent of Covid-19 and the forced digitalisation that followed have accelerated this process. Companies are increasingly moving towards indirect approaches – where the customer seeks the brand and not vice versa. Ergo, marketing is no longer driven by advertisements whose sole purpose is to convince and sell, but by real value that is created around the company through the informative nature of its high-quality content.
Let us consider the current situation, characterised by restrictions that force users into social distancing and isolation: what tool can company brands use to communicate in this context if not with their content?
With the pandemic keeping more people indoors than ever before, internet usage has increased from 50% to 70% and by 12% for streaming services. The circumstances imposed by the pandemic coupled with the greater amount of time available are facilitating the success of content marketing, making it one of the key means companies have to maintain a connection with their audience. Let's take a look at the concrete advantages that a strategy based on content creation can bring:
Increase of brand loyalty and enhancement of brand reputation with content that speaks to the needs of the audience
By harnessing the potential of content, companies can spread messages that increase the loyalty of contacts and strengthen their reputation. A good example is Ford, who structured the contents of its campaign to convey a message of help to customers in difficulty during the pandemic. The American company decided to extend an existing service to assist customers affected by emergencies and disasters. By suspending standard advertisements and creating content focused on promoting the service, the company showed that it was close to users and, above all, ready to meet their needs, with excellent results in terms of brand loyalty and reputation.
Nike focused its campaign on the message: "If you've ever dreamed of playing for people around the world, now's your chance. Play within, play for the world". In addition to this post, the company gave free access to the Nike Training Club app, and created an ad hoc page to share its commitments to dealing with the crisis, displaying its strong sense of social responsibility. With these initiatives and this type of content, the company wanted to focus on a strategy capable of increasing its reputation and credibility, to further strengthen the relationship with its public.
Content creates and maintains audience engagement
The current restrictions are forcing users to spend much more time at home and to deal with moments of boredom and emptiness. Many companies have rushed to fill that gap with their content. In order to cope with the impossibility of selling their normal services and products, many companies had to reinvent themselves, exploiting the creative potential of content marketing to preserve the engagement rates of their audience with innovative and engaging content.
Netflix launched on Instagram the series "Wanna talk about it" focused on how to take care of yourself during a pandemic
National Geographic launched the 'Natgeo @ Home' campaign, a series of educational content and resources (quizzes, online lessons, videos, science experiments, etc.) that can be accessed free of charge from the comfort of your own home.
Powerful content can not only entertain and engage users, but also create value around the brand, greatly enhancing its reputation.
An effective content marketing strategy does not require a large budget
The pandemic has certainly caused economic difficulties for many companies who have found themselves having to deal with budget cuts. Creating an effective content marketing strategy does not necessarily require high costs. On the contrary, a very smart choice could be to exploit user generated content, guest posts and collaborations with influencers to further optimise costs and keep the effectiveness of your campaigns high. Leveraging user-generated content not only saves you time, resources and money, but also increases your brand's sense of solidarity and closeness with your audience.
The current Covid-19 crisis, despite its negative impacts, does not seem to be threatening the importance and effectiveness of content marketing as a communication tool for companies. On the contrary, content is showing its full potential, proving to be a valuable ally in bridging gaps, creating engagement, protecting the reputation of companies and creating effective strategies with increasingly limited budgets.