By Megan Herndon
COVID-19 has led many businesses and organizations to connect with their communities and customers in entirely different ways: Five-star restaurants are becoming drive-thrus. Beer festivals are going virtual. And everyone from grocery stores to car dealerships have developed innovative delivery systems.
We’re also finding new ways to build community from a distance — from virtual game nights to Zoom social hours.
When we can’t connect in person, organizations need to leverage their virtual channels to engage with their community. Sharing your organization’s wisdom and stories online is a concrete way to do that. Consider these easy content ideas (even when you have no budget) to connect with your audience during COVID-19.
Getting started: Ask some basic questions:
Before you start creating content, it’s important to think about why you’re doing so and what you’re trying to achieve. Start with a few questions:
- What’s your goal?
- Who is your audience? Does your organization want to reach new customers or engage current audiences?
- Why does your audience engage with your content? What do they hope to learn or gain by coming to your blog, website or social media channels?
- What resources do you have to create content?
Answering these questions help form the baseline of a strategy, and help you determine what types of content to create. To learn more about content strategy, checkout the course reading for the Communication Leadership Program’s Content Marketing class: The Content Strategy Toolkit by Meghan Casey and The Digital Crown by Ahava Leibtag.
Easy content ideas with no budget
Once you have an idea of what type of content your audience is looking for and what your capacity to create content is, consider these easy content marketing ideas:
How-to blogs and articles
What does your org uniquely know how to do? Start there. Have your team share something that they are great at. This could be anything. Then detail how to do that thing, step-by-step. Be sure to use simple language that people who may not be familiar with your organization or line of work understand. Consider a few examples:
- A nonprofit that runs farmer’s markets writing a post about how to grow tomatoes in a small space
- A home inspector writing a blog about how to mitigate mold in your home
- A craft store detailing easy crafts for kids
- A wine store writing a about how to pair their wines with delicious recipes
Q&A blogs and articles
Q&A’s are another easy place to start — all you need are a set of questions and an expert (you and your team) to answer them. Examples include:
- A Q&A with your organization’s leadership about how you’ve pivoted to continue operating during COVID-19
- Stories about how your organization is finding new ways to meet your community’s needs
- Asking a specialist in your organization for an insider’s look at what they do. This could range from “5 questions with a scientist who’s studying COVID-19” to “10 questions with a mental health expert about how to stay resilient while staying at home.”
- Ask your community what they’d like to learn from you on social media. Take their questions back to your team and answer them in a blog post.
Infographics are a visual tool that make data or information easier to understand. If your organization works with a lot of numbers or complex concepts that are difficult to explain, an infographic may be your best solution. Try the following low-cost and free tools for making infographics, even if you have no experience with graphic design:
Storytelling is a highly effective way to engage with your audience, whether or not you’re dealing with a pandemic. Some easy ways to share what’s going on with your organization right now include:
- Stories about how your team is pushing forward and working toward your mission, even in the face of a pandemic
- Stories about how your organization is finding new ways to meet the needs of their community
- Profiles of team members and how they’re staying resilient during difficult times
- Features about consumers or community members and how they’re coping with COVID
Learn more about storytelling for organizations: Read Winning the Story Wars by Jonah Sachs, course reading for UW Communication Leadership’s Principles of Storytelling class.
Making the most of your content
Once you’ve created your content, be sure to make the most of it by promoting it in multiple channels. This may include:
- Linking it to your newsletter
- Sharing it on social media
- Sharing with anyone you featured and ask them to share with their network
- Sharing it with relevant partner organizations
- Linking between blog posts and in other places on your site
If you are a non-profit, UW department, or small business seeking help with your communication needs, UW Communication Leadership’s COVID Consultancy is here to help. Learn more and contact us.
Image by courtesy of Pixabay.com.
About the Author
Megan Herndon leads content creation, editing and strategy for UW Communication Leadership’s COVID Communication Consultancy. She also consults with clients about storytelling and content marketing. She’s a part-time student in the Master of Communication in Digital Media program and works as an editor for Message Lab, a healthcare communication and content marketing agency. She is passionate about storytelling and all things outdoors.