Content marketing is the use of relevant and valuable content (such as blogs, eBooks, website copy, podcasts, social media posts and more) to generate and nurture leads, create opportunities and delight existing clients.
Always a popular technique, it’s seen immense growth since the first global lockdown.
Over the past year and a half, content has evolved in three major stages. These phases have each left marketers with key takeaways.
The first stage
This is when the world went digital. We made the initial and sometimes jarring transition to working from home.
New lines of communication were being implemented across businesses. New forms of etiquette were created for video conferencing and virtual catch-ups. Virtual events began replacing existing events and conferences.
The first few months of adjusting were especially tricky, and everyone needed information, answers and reassurance. This was the ideal time for businesses to begin producing valuable content to help their audience navigate changes.
Between creating helpful how-to style content and maximising the new-found comfort with video calling, businesses were able to use content to keep themselves afloat, comfort clients and lay groundwork for how the firm would run during ‘unprecedented times’.
Key takeaway: Using content can add value and reassure clients, even during particularly unsettled and turbulent times. This can position content-driven businesses as supportive and knowledgeable.
The second stage of how lockdown changed content came about as we all became more comfortable with a digital-first life. Consumer expectations shifted. Since every business became part of a digital marketplace, the need for elevated client experiences and a consistent presence meant that content of all varieties was being produced, optimised and shared.
By this time, most brands had had some time to adapt and were already creating highly relevant content. Those who hadn’t made that change at first were still transitioning towards it. At this point, the podcast boom struck. Not only was there an incredible influx of businesses creating a podcast, but there was also an exceptional number of new podcast listeners.
According to Spotify’s Culture Next Report 2021, people ranging from ages 15-40 flocked to podcasts for authenticity and authority. Many of them favoured podcasts as a source of information as they came across as more truthful or honest than traditional news. This was a great opportunity for businesses to establish themselves.
Key takeaway: Consistent content output is an important part of content marketing and podcasts are an excellent way to establish your business as a trustworthy authority in your sector.
Stage three: the drive for community. During this time, the prolonged absences from loved ones and in-person contact led to people seeking out digital communities. This is when things like Clubhouse took off. People joined digital communities to explore particular interests and make connections through remote means.
Content adapted to reflect the need for interaction. Through social media, podcasting, video and regular blog content, conversations moved from engagement to community building. This focus made space for more genuine connection and interaction.
Creating a community is an opportunity to build something even bigger than your business while increasing brand loyalty. It also enables more user-generated content and can boost things like search engine optimisation.
Key takeaway: Community is a human need and creating one that works in a digital and remote environment can fulfil that desire and provide value to both its members and your business.
Overall, the key takeaways of this time have been: content needs to be timely and relevant, podcasts are a great way to build trust, and building a community is incredibly valuable. These changes don’t just represent reactions to the pandemic. They are trends that come from digitisation and are likely to significantly impact the world of content in the future.
As the world gets smaller and smaller, embracing the human responses to the digitisation of interaction is going to be more and more crucial. Accepting and utilising these advancements in what content means, and can be, is vital.