For many brands, business as usual on social media is just not possible right now. With the world going into lockdown, we can’t set up full-team photo shoots to create new visual content and existing campaign content may no longer be appropriate. So, what resources are available for brands while they are possibly operating remotely? How can you create fresh imagery without a full professional team?

Texas based digital marketing company, Bazaarvoice, operates a platform that connects brands with their shoppers. Offering a service that allows brands to curate and audit content from their customers. In March 2020 they saw a 25% increase in page views compared to March 2019. Brands are looking for ways to represent their products and connect with their customers.

Now’s the time for brands to start thinking creatively in order to produce relevant and appropriate content. Things will be tougher since the public is focused on a global event, but most people will still be in need of goods and services. So, how can brands create meaningful and appropriate content during this period of uncertainty.

Reach out to your customers

User generated content (UGC) can be one of the most authentic and trustworthy tools to showcase a brand. This type of content is deemed genuine by audiences because it’s produced by real customers and shares their authentic experiences. At a time when it’s impossible to set up photoshoots, brands can reach out to their customers and encourage them to share imagery of products being used in situ.

Candian lingerie company Revol Girl creates inclusive period-proof underwear. The brand is working hard to address the increased product demand thanks to the pandemic and they’re also transparent about needing new ways to create content. So they’ve turned to their loyal customers, asking them to share selfies with an incentive of $5 off their next order for contributing.

Similarly, UK retailer Go Outdoors has redesigned its logo to read ‘Go Indoors’. The temporary switch is designed to encourage users to make the most of staying inside and share their photos by tagging the brand and using #GOIndoors. They’ve also offered a £50 voucher for one contributor each week. As a result, their social feeds are now being filled with photos of customers camping in their living rooms or back gardens. This content is helping the brand showcase their products, share it’s personality, and offer a little humour and comfort to its audience.

Well known UK brand, Virgin Media, has launched a TV advert that focuses on keeping their customers connected at home. The campaign is being used to demonstrate how the internet has kept people connected and communicating throughout the UK lockdown. The campaign is not intended to drive sales, they are using their resources to encourage users to stay home and build brand trust.

Before you start offering discounts for customer content you’re going to want to ensure it fits within your content strategy by asking yourself a few questions:

  • What is the objective of this activity?
  • How can you reach your audience?
  • What are you going to be asking for?
  • Do you have an incentive you can offer your customers?
  • How can you gain permission from your audience to use their content?
  • Once you’ve collected this content how can you utilise it?
  • How can you measure success?

Utilise your employees

Not all brands can ask for UGC though. So instead, companies can look to utilise their employees in bringing a human element to a campaign during this sensitive time.

Barclays has created a series of videos that showcases their employees sharing a message with customers from their own homes. This video has been used across a variety of platforms - including a TV spot - to promote the use of their website and app to help customers manage their money. Content like this provides customers with the reassurance that they will still be looked after and their valuable resources are safe.

One of our own clients, the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust, has created a campaign called #GoWildatHome which aims to help teach children about wildlife in their own back garden. Employees have been using the resources they have at home to film simple-to-follow craft tutorials.

This content is then supplied to our team so it can be edited for a variety of channels. With just a tripod and a phone, the charity has created a way to provide valuable and relevant content to their audience. The charity is able to share this content directly with schools as well as on their own social media channels.

Similarly to collecting content from customers, brands need to ask themselves a few questions to ensure the content fits with their overall strategy:

  • What is the objective of this activity?
  • What content would be needed to achieve this?
  • Once collected, how can this content be used?
  • How is success measured?

Repurpose existing content

It may be possible for brands to repurpose existing content, with updated messaging, to help support their customers now. This can be done by taking stock of the content available (perhaps already on the website) and how it can be applied to social channels.

When it comes to created content for social, remember…

What can you teach your audience?

Repurpose the basic content that can help educate your customers in your product or service. For example, an electricity supplier can help teach tenants how to log their meter reading on the app or website. Customers are spending more time at home and potentially facing financial worries. By logging their meter reading they can ensure their bills are accurate and paying for only what they use.

How can you help your audience?

This is the perfect opportunity to listen to your audience and understand their feelings. Once you are able to identify their pain points, you can ensure you’re posting content that is both useful and appropriate.

Your customer service department should be able to identify any trends in the type of queries they are receiving. You can then tailor content to help support your customers, giving them the answers to queries without them having to dig through your website or contact your team. This kind of content can show customers that the brand is putting them first and trying to take care of their needs, while protecting the valuable resource of your customer service team.

Stick to the rules

Whenever you’re selecting content to use across your channels it’s important to be wary of how the content could reflect on your brand. However, at a time like this, it’s important to be sensitive about the various guidelines. Whether it’s stock imagery, existing content or UGC there are few things to keep in mind.

Social distancing - Are those featured in the content adhering to the guidelines provided for social distancing? Even if you’re using old or stock imagery you want to avoid making it appear as though you are encouraging others to ignore the current guidance.

Lockdown rules - Could your content potentially encourage users to leave their homes unnecessarily or flaunt any other guidance? For example, showing people gathering in outdoor spaces or traveling further than necessary.

Most importantly

Be honest and authentic with your audience. If you can identify what your audience needs and how your business can help, your content can help bridge the gap between the two. This isn’t a time for brands to be controversial or start a big drive for sales, we’re currently in a world where everyone wants to feel looked after.

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