The internet is on fire. If it was a plane it wouldn’t be able to lift itself off the ground from the weight of all the people in, well, in this case, on it. The internet is the place to be right now if you want to be noticed, the only place left really.

At any other time, this would be a golden opportunity, and all social media managers and content writers would all have a golden ticket to get into Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. But right now that golden ticket doesn’t shine so brightly and all the sweets inside the factory seem more like broccoli. The sweetness of a great marketing opportunity turns sour in difficult times when the global front is faced with a predator that sees no boundaries, is colourblind and who shows no mercy. When the whole world is talking about a virus when nothing else is on the news and fear is the king of the year, how can we create content that does not seem to take away from the weight of this situation and doesn’t make us seem unfeeling?

Last year it was easy to think ahead when preparing social media posts for business. You had national holidays and international days dedicated to certain things that were standard and you wrote around the meaning and traditions linked these special days. You looked to the news, to the trends out there and you intertwined it with your brand to make it work for you. You came up with a clever idea, a smart slogan, a video that told a story that people would be impressed with, remember and share. You had a strategy and you stuck to it.

All that is now out the window. All those special days you may have already written about in preparation for the year ahead, probably has little value now. Think about Easter that is just around the corner, if you have written about celebrating it with your family or going out, then this makes no sense anymore. Clever has no real place now, the news is playing the same track all the time and a variety of stories may be very difficult to come by.

But then I go back to something from my Marketing courses in college, a saying that has stayed with me all these years. Two marketers go to a country to sell shoes only to find that no one wears shoes there. One leaves because no one wears shoes and the other stays because no one wears shoes. Which one should we strive to be? Hands down, the one who realises an opening in the market and a need. The one who sees value in his product. So let’s understand where our product stands now in this unsettling, global climate and become one of the companies and brands that will stand up to the challenge and fight for our presence on a raft that everyone is hanging onto.

We need more content, we need to show solidarity, we need to show that we are not stagnant, we need to move with the times while making things relevant. How do we do that? That is the question. You might find some of the answers here.

We are all in this together — it might be a given, but a brand that shows its human side goes a long way. Don’t shy away from the real issue, show that your company and employees have also been affected by the spread of the virus.

The human story — sharing is caring. Give your followers the opportunity to share with you. Ask what they are doing at home. Show some of the people behind your product at home. Use what they are doing at home to drive your marketing further. If a follower, for example, is painting the house, ask them to send you a photo and share it, then get others to comment on it by asking them to maybe suggest what else could be done in the house. Give them a platform. In this instance we do not need to push our product all the time, we could rather push our human side. Where is the value in that you could ask? There is much value in being a brand that doesn’t just let everything fall apart because the market is looking very bleak at the moment. Such a brand shows that there is value in people and such a brand will remain in people’s minds long after all this has blown over.

Humour — it is hard to be funny in such dire times but then a bit of humour may take our minds off things. It all depends on the product. If you sell toilet paper right now humour may come easier to you, but if you are a pharmaceutical company, there isn’t much funny in that. Use humour where humour fits in and make sure not to go overboard.

Videos — families are creating their own parodies of famous musicals, people are creating cooking shows and others are proud to show how the world they are spending their time, and it is all being recorded and shared. With all these videos going around, a video to promote a product doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. Authors, for example, have the biggest audience they could ask for right now. All they have to do is make a video of them reading their writing and their book gets lots of attention — sure, they have to have the followers too. But an author reading can be entertainment. Does a brand want to promote entertainment at a time like this? Again, it probably depends on the product. If you are selling tents you know that no one will be buying them right now to go out into the wilderness. But they might buy them to set up in their living rooms and have their very own adventure. There is surely a video in that. Entertainment derived from self-made adventure, with a product that makes you feel like you can go anywhere.

Trends — what trends are out there right now. Videos are one of them, cleaning the house, redecorating, decorating, cooking and baking are others. This is what people are doing right now to pass the time as time is being spent at home. So perhaps concentrating on things that are done in the home could make people associate your brand with the way they are living their lives right now. You don’t have to be selling flour to take advantage of the fact that people are baking right now, you just have to see it as a new trend and weave it into your content. How about a company selling cameras or mobile phones. You could design a picture, or even create an animated video — as actors are hard to come by now — of a family trying to bake and the dough not turning out very well, so they decide to use it to make handprints it. They then bake it and have a family portrait to remember how they all came together during the lockdown. While they can’t go out and buy a camera to capture memories, they can find other ways… until they can.

Copywriter, poet, content manager, journalist.