• Joanna Wells

Content after COVID

Updated: Mar 24

Content trends emerging from a year living in a pandemic

It’s exactly a year since we went into our first lockdown. A lot has happened. We’ve lost loved one, jobs, been furloughed and had zero contact with friends and family. As part of our first SQRD Field Report focusing on what comms leaders have learned from working through the pandemic, I looked at the influence lockdown has had on future content trends. Here is an extract from that report.

Four online weddings …

We are officially in the future we all imagined growing up - the one where our whole lives are managed via video calls and online group chat. I’ve seen the doctor, met my kids' teachers, had therapy and been told what products I need to dye my hair - all through my computer or phone screen. Schooling, counselling, dating, medical diagnosis, weddings and even funerals have all been live streamed and this trend is set to continue. Even as live events start again, we will have the choice to experience them in person or online, which will potentially make culture and the arts more inclusive and accessible. As we emerge from our homes, having become increasingly screen reliant, what content trends will continue throughout 2021?

Content fuelling the customer journey

As we have been forced to live our lives increasingly online, we’ve become more discerning. Customers want connective content and they want it in easily digestible formats. Now is the time to focus on your customers’ journeys, recognise any pain points and fix them quickly. How consumers interact with content is now equally important as the content itself. And this means that simplicity is key. If a potential customer clicks on something and it’s full of ads and banners, the layout is cluttered and confusing, the chances are their journey will end at that stage.

The continued rise of social responsibility

Inclusivity and sustainability continue to influence which brands we as consumers interact with. As we strive to build a better planet, brands need to be in touch with what consumers want and expect. Brands that are inclusive or have a view on the environment will see a positive impact in 2021, particularly with the UK focus on COP26. Listed companies are likely to see increased overlap between their ESG reporting and socially responsible consumer content. Those brands that are inclusive, diverse and environmentally driven will reap the benefits of deeper connections with their communities.

Building communities

As brands play their part in connecting and creating virtual communities there will be an increased reliance on User Generated Content (UGC) and Employee Generated Content (EGC) across social media. UGC can be seen as more trustworthy by users. it shows that you have a product worth talking about and is a major influence on purchasing decisions. For evidence, just look at the proliferation of Instagram shops in your feed. Many brands have turned to this as a key content pillar over the last year and this trend will continue as social media users watch along, participate in and create more content, fuelled by platforms like TikTok.

Hello. Can you hear me?

2021 is the year of audio. 2020 saw more of us communicate with our tech verbally whilst trapped home alone craving human interaction and voice search has increased with 1 in 5 in the UK now having a smart speaker at home. Audio content will continue to proliferate in 2021 and beyond fuelled by our continuing appetite for podcasts and new platforms such as Clubhouse. But companies need to ensure that their content is accessible.

Hello. Is it me you’re looking for?

Visual search has also grown in popularity in recent years. E-commerce retail will see a big increase in revenue for brands that create and design their pages accordingly and to specification. Visual search will become more important in determining overall SEO rankings by Google. This increases the importance of the image alt tag descriptor – which also has the benefit of making content more inclusive and accessible. As we emerge from our homes and start to begin to adjust to life After Covid (AC) – our onscreen dependency, which grew in lockdown will fuel a need for bands to develop integrated, accessible, multi-platform strategies with engaging socially responsible digital content at their heart.

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