Creating Content During COVID-19 Your Audience Actually Wants to Read

The COVID-19 pandemic has not only thrust the world into crisis, but it has also forced us into introspection. Many Americans report that months of social isolation made them rethink their lives before the crisis began. Some report, for example, they want to fill their schedules with fewer commitments, continue healthy habits such as exercise, spend time in nature, and support ethical causes. As humans, we tend to divert to reflection during times of crisis.

Your business should be no different. As consumer tastes evolve, so should your marketing. Now is the perfect time to ask yourself, “What does our target customer really want to read?”

Here are a few things your reader probably does NOT want to read, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect every aspect of our lives:

  • “Now, more than ever…”
  • “In these unprecedented times…”
  • “In these trying times…”
  • “As we navigate the ‘new normal’…”
  • “In this time of social distancing…”

What do all of these phrases have in common? For one, they are all redundant, tired, and overused. Secondly, they are on the list of most hated pandemic phrases, according to a recent Dictionary.com poll.

From a marketing perspective, we know that it is better to listen than it is to tell people how they feel. These phrases are more than redundant or preachy; readers may also construe them as attempting to capitalize on the crisis.

How can we create content that people want to read? How can we develop content that stands out from the crowd, conveys meaning, presents helpful information, and doesn’t want to make readers roll their eyes? The answer is social listening.

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What Is Social Listening?

Social listening is what it sounds like, plus a little more. A technical definition involves continuous monitoring of your social media channels for customer feedback, brand mentions, or any other conversations regarding relevant topics or competitors. Social listening also consists of an analysis that generates insights and identifies opportunities to act.

Social listening is more than just social monitoring because it involves analysis and the generation of actionable insights. The latter is essential to meeting the needs of your customers and prospects. In other words, social listening seeks to find the cause behind conversations and developing strategies that persist over the long term.

If your business engages in social listening, you will be better poised to create content that your followers want, generate ideas based on trends, and improve your customer experience.

Why Is Social Listening Important?

At its core, social listening promotes a customer-centric ethos. Rather than making assumptions about what your customers want—or worse, telling them what they want—you take the time to listen to what they are saying. Your customers like publicly sharing their opinions, and all you have to do is be willing to lend an ear. Social listening:

  • Makes your customers feel heard. A survey from Sprout Social found that 83% of respondents enjoy it when companies respond to questions, and over two-thirds (68%) like it when brands contribute to conversations themselves. Listening to your customers allows you to respond with thoughtfulness and value, which can promote brand loyalty.
  • Allows you to track brand growth. All businesses stumble from time to time, whether it’s a botched response to a negative comment or another faux pas. Social listening allows you to track adverse incidents over time and see if they had rippling effects such as decreased sales or followers, which would enable you to make a more informed decision-making and mitigation process.
  • Unveils new opportunities. If you are hard up for ideas, let your customers do the work for you. When your customers are consistently rooting for the same idea (or complaining about the same issue), it’s time for you to take note. For example, if your business is a brick and mortar retail store and your customers still do not have the risk tolerance for in-store shopping once you re-open, perhaps you could arrange virtual tours of your store and place orders for curbside pickup.
  • Allows you to acquire new customers. Not all of the people who follow or interact with your brand are customers—some enjoy your content or are still in the contemplation stage. We all know that excellent content is essential for engaging prospects without bombarding them with ads. By using social listening, you can nurture prospects further by discovering their other content likes, shares, and mentions. Using these insights, you can create tailored, relevant content that will make them more likely to take the plunge.

How Can I Get Started with Social Listening?

Social listening is one of the most important ways to create content that your readers will want to read. Thankfully, there are several tools available that can make social listening easier. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Sprout Social. With the Sprout Platform, you can access analytics that inform your decision-making process, scale your social media efforts, and identify trends through social listening that help you make long-term strategy changes. For example, its Twitter Listener dashboard analyzes your presence and identifies influencers.
  • HubSpot. This popular platform allows you to monitor all social interactions, create monitoring campaigns based on keywords, and generate email alerts when you get prospect brand mentions. Compare performance across all your social media channels, including visits and leads.
  • Hootsuite. As a social listening platform, Hootsuite’s dashboard allows you to identify and grow relationships with your followers on social media. All in one dashboard, view your comments, brand mentions, and messages across all your platforms. Identify influencers and leads, segmenting into lists for further action.

COVID-19 has forced us to rethink how we work, conduct business, go to school, and spend our time. Marketers, too, should be rethinking how they produce and develop content. Social listening is one of the most valuable tools that a marketer has. By listening to your customers and responding in time, you can acquire new customers, promote brand loyalty, and convey helpful information. A host of tools can help you track social mentions across multiple channels, streamlining the process.