COVID-19 has had a profound impact around the world. The use of digital technology to facilitate effective communication has intensified and cutting-edge tech is booming.
The operating landscape that is our current reality.
Much of the global population is currently locked down to stop the spread of COVID-19. This new reality has accelerated the need for regular, real-time and authentic communication that is accurate, relatable and cognizant of the emotional toll that this displacement has on people. The days of working with and meeting colleagues face-to-face in the same space may be long gone.
How do organizations and companies share meaningful content without sounding opportunistic?
Digital transformation is not a new concept; this is 2020, after all. Digitalization of engagement, outreach and advocacy building are surging and evolving constantly. This pandemic has amplified digital platforms, mediums and methods by hundredfold. Today, they are essentially the only options for engaging with others.
We rely on the innovation and agility of technology in our daily lives. Brands and organizations that were reluctant to reinvent themselves have been adversely impacted and are set to struggle for years to come without drastic changes. Being perceived as being slow to adapt to the dynamic changes sweeping the world could have long-term reputational impact. To stay on top of consumers’ minds, brands need to share content that is relevant to the human experience, with the core objective of improving the everyday lives of their audiences. They can change that, but it will require adapting during a time where sensitivities are high and people are inundated with information, so will require creativity and nimble action.
The pandemic has altered the expectations audiences have from brands and organizations. Brands need to listen to their stakeholders with empathy to make them feel they are an integral part of the decision-making process. This compels organizations to present a more human face in building a level of trust with their audience and is an opportunity to create a relationship with the audience that extends beyond a sales funnel.
So, how has COVID-19 changed the way organizations communicate?
People are keen to enjoy non-COVID-centered content and expect the professional world to engage them with things outside the health crisis with a degree of sensitivity. Companies are increasingly sharing video messages of their executives explaining how their business has been impacted, what they are doing for their employees and new safety precautions, among other topics. As a part of an industry hard hit by the pandemic, a prominent hotel chain shared a video of its CEO highlighting, in a transparent manner, the business impact that would ultimately influence decisions. The video struck a chord as it had clearly been filmed personally—not by a professional team—due to the social distancing measures in place. More organizations are deploying this rapid and responsive approach to content creation as a necessity. The World Health Organization’s collaboration with TikTok to provide users of the video platform with accurate information and uplifting content on COVID-19 is yet another case in point.
Across the world, people are having more meaningful conversations online and offline. The pandemic has shaped a spirit of commonality and instilled a sense of connectedness where there was once a divide. The strong need for a human connection has made people open up and become more willing to share who they really are.
What we’re seeing.
Throughout history, the world has gone through periods of unrest, and out of necessity, humanity has consistently and successfully adapted to the forces of change. While the conversations around humanizing brands and adopting a consumer-focused approach are not new, it wasn’t until the pandemic threatened countless brands’ survival that they started to take action and speak directly to their target audience—remaining authentic, engaged and alert is their best bet to thrive in a post-COVID-19 world.
The pandemic will forever transform our lives and the way we receive information. The scenario brings to mind Darwin’s Origin of Species theory. The companies that survive in the next phase won’t necessarily be the largest or the wealthiest, but rather the ones that manage to best adapt to the change.