NOW IS THE TIME TO ENGAGE - Content Marketing From Home
It’s been over a month. How are we doing? Worried, scared, fearing for how your business is going to weather this crisis? It’s a crazy time and fear and worry are acceptable.
So how do you survive? How do you weather this unprecedented moment in history? There’s no easy answer to that question, though I’m sure you’ve received a ton of email from people trying to sell you on their ‘system’ for survival. That’s not what this is.
I want to talk about things you can and should be doing during this time. It’s not the end all be all or a magic pill, but, it will help strengthen your customer relationships and possibly gain you new business once we get back to ‘normal’, whatever that is.
Now’s the time to engage with your audience.
Content marketing focuses on building a relationship with your customers. Not so much selling them a product, but making them confident that your company is who they want to do business with. They’re not a number, they’re a part of your community.
And if you haven’t been focusing on this aspect and creating an experience for your customers, now is the time.
It may seem impossible to do this at home and without your team nearby, but it’s not. And in reality, it’s the perfect time to get started or expand your efforts. Do you remember when YouTube first began? Bad audio and lighting, cats everywhere, and no one knew what they were doing? Well, it’s that time now, but with more platforms, better technology and a bigger reach than we had in 2005/6.
If you’ve ever wanted to try something new or create a new way of engaging, now is the time. People are hungry for content and the audience is captive. Now is the time to experiment with video, podcasting, user engagement, Tik Tok, or whatever has been in the back of your mind. If you have a creative team and they’ve been pushing to try some different platforms, now’s the time. Expectations and barriers to entry are low. Get it wrong, fail hard, laugh about it and figure it out along the way. And if it works, you have a new way to engage with your audience when this is all over.
If it fails, blame the pandemic and move on.
Podcasting is an easy answer here. There are many platforms and services available to help you get your podcast up and running in no time. Anchor.fm, which was recently bought out by Spotify, is the easiest by far and the cheapest. Creating a podcast with Anchor will automatically have it populate in Spotify to help you find an audience. They also have a new feature, Record with Friends, that will allow you to interview people remotely without them needing to do much heavy lifting. Other options are Clearcast.io and Ringr, both have a small fee, but offer some enhanced options.
Within the Anchor interface, you can also distribute to other podcasting platforms. And if you already have a podcast, just download the audio and upload it to your normal service.
If you’re looking to edit, there are plenty of knowledgeable creatives in need of work, so you’ll be able to get help there. If you know how or want to learn Audacity is a freeware that while clunky works just as well as many of the pro options.
Your podcast doesn’t have to be an hour-long introspective either. It can be short bits, about your business during this time, tips and tricks for your customers, positive community activity, interviews with local leaders, etc. Be creative and try something new or completely unrelated to your business. The goal is content and engagement.
Another audio avenue is creating a skill for Amazon or Google. In today’s voice rich environment, a daily or weekly message from your company could go far in making an impact on your audience.
The options are limitless. You’re walking around with a portable TV station in your pocket. You can record videos for YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Tik Tok…you get the picture. You can live stream to your existing followers while on your daily walk or whatever you’re doing to remain grounded during this time.
If going live isn’t your thing, you can also record content with your phone. Today’s mobile apps give you the ability to shoot and edit from your phone and upload to your platform of choice. Adobe Rush and Premiere on mobile are free and fairly simple to use; iMovie has always been available for iPhone users. If editing on your phone isn’t ideal, DaVinci Resolve is a powerful free desktop editing suite that includes video, color grading, audio mixing, and compression. The main difference between the free and paid version ($300) is 4K exports and some effects.
You can also use your computer to live interviews on Zoom, Google Hangouts, Go To Meeting, or whatever conferencing software you like. Using OBS, live streaming freeware, you can send the interview out live from your desktop or any other video content, with more control than just using your phone.
Video can be a bit tricky and labor-intensive, reach out to local creatives for help with editing or getting your stream/webinar/video class up and running.
Photo and Graphic Content
Your phone shines again here. Most cell phones have a decent camera and given the current situation, decent will do. Do some research on basic shot composition and you’ll find that you can take and frame some decent photos. Your workstation, projects around the house, creating art from everyday objects, your neighborhood or the dog park all make great subjects and ways to engage with your audience. Photoshop has a free phone app for photo editing. There’s also SnapSeed and Pixlr. You can use Canva to create some cool designs with your images to make your post stand out. I’ll add, here again, there are tons of creatives looking for work. So if the editing and design aspect seems too much, reach out and I’m certain you can find help.
Writing or creating a blog is the first choice here but not everyone is a writer. Other forms of written content can be a weekly “Top 5/10” list. Things of interest you’ve found online, things about your industry, mindfulness tips, reviews, etc.
Using your email list and Facebook following is a great way to engage followers with long-form content that can also further educate them. Using links, charts and graphs, and other research to help them understand new topics.
Putting It All Together
We’ve looked at the tech side, the how-to of creating content at home. But now, what do you create? An old phrase is ‘Content is King’ and now, more than ever, it’s ringing true. You need content to help keep you engaged and we’ve got some ideas for you.
- Use video to tell different stories. Introduce us to your employees by interviewing them and letting your audience get to know them and their stories. If you have an older, storied business, tell its history. This could be a great podcast as well.
- Do you have current customers that would be willing to do a testimonial? Have them record them on their phones or a zoom call. Then edit it together. Ask them what they miss about being able to visit your business or what it means to the community.
- Organize a Google Hangout or Zoom panel discussion on local topics. It could have nothing to do with your business, but be beneficial to your community. Start a talk show with members of your community.
- Create an online video course with webinar software or teach others about aspects of your industry with companies like LessonAlive. And don’t feel bad charging. If your business is public speaking, speak to the public, remotely.
- Create trivia nights with CrownPurr and encourage online engagement. It could be a fundraiser for local non-profits or just a fun thing for your community of followers.
- Create how-to videos related to your industry. If you’re a restaurant, do cooking demonstrations and give up some of your secrets. Remember, most people patronize companies out of convenience. They could probably figure out how to do what you offer or make what you sell if they really wanted to, but they don’t. So when this is over, they will still come to your business. Explain QuickBooks if you’re an accountant. Show how to clear a drain if you’re a plumber. How to cut your bangs if you’re a hairdresser. They will come back to you but appreciate the help now.
- If you’ve done content marketing in the past or already have a podcast or some sort of media you already put out, repurpose it. Make a 2020 or pandemic version of that 10 ten list from 2016. Use Headliner to chunk up old podcasts and create Instagram and Facebook content out of it.
- If you’re still open and offer curbside service, take photos of all of your products. You can even hire a photographer, being mindful of social distancing, to help. Use them to beef up your website and facebook post as well how ever your customers are ordering from you.
- If you need supplemental help in the process – images for your post, music for your videos or podcasts, writers for your posts, reach out to your local creatives. They need the money and would love the work. In the end, you’ll have a new relationship with local talent and your end product will be more authentic.
This list isn’t complete, not even close. It is some of the questions that have come across our inbox and calls we’ve received. There are plenty of other ways to engage your audience and help you get through these trying times. Think of it as a product test. Have fun and test out new platforms and ways of connecting and engaging. Hopefully something will stick and when things get back to normal, you’ll have learned something that can help your business.
Whatever you choose to do, do something. Now is most certainly the time. It won’t be easy and it won’t be pretty, but nothing is in the beginning. If the tech side has you worried, reach out. Again, there are people and companies (like us!) who do this as our business. Figuring out how to get your content out there isn’t difficult with the right team or consultants helping out. But you need the content first.
Go get creating.