Have you been open for business during the Covid-19 lockdown?

My local pub has turned into a farm shop. Its shiny tables are stacked with eggs, vegetables and gourmet snacks. A little fridge buzzes by the till, full of cheese, sliced meats and homemade apple crumble. Racks of summer bedding plants stand outside, where the smokers’ bench and table used to be.

Giving people what they want

As people self-isolate, they’re turning to social media for news, information and simple, social contact. This is a great opportunity for businesses to empathise and reconnect with their audiences. Potentially in a completely different way.

I’ve been looking for examples of good content marketing. It’s not surprising many of us have been unimaginative or stuck for new ideas lately. But some businesses have risen to the challenge. The best are those that, like my local pub, re-purpose what they already have to give their community exactly what it wants – and needs – in a time of crisis.

Here are 5 of my favourites.

1. Lockdown Larder

Food writer and chef Jack Monroe kicked off this daily Twitter chat as soon as national lockdown was announced. She won support from fellow foodies like Nigella Lawson. And received praise from across the media for providing an essential service. The 5pm chat works well to build and reinforce Monroe’s existing community. Twitter users love it – they join in by adding their own comments and ideas to any queries.

2. PE With Joe

Like Jack Monroe, fitness coach Joe Wicks didn’t wait a nano-second before launching his own lockdown offering. He’d been due to start a tour of UK schools on 23 March. Instead he decided to livestream daily workouts for kids on YouTube, using the mailing list from his previous tour to seed influence and spread the word. #PEWithJoe is perfect for Wicks’ audience: mixing practical exercises with fun (fancy dress Fridays!) and cheery accessibility.

3. Alone Together

Youth culture magazine Dazed launched its new campaign on 16 March, when it was clear that many young people were starting to self-isolate. #AloneTogether ran across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and invited celebrities, artists and subscribers from around the world to share artwork and ideas for staying creative alone at home. The campaign helped to bring the magazine’s international community together at a time when concerns around mental health, and the future, were rising.

4. We Remember

This short video from Durham social media agency, The Social Co, provided a welcome dose of positivity as people came to terms with lockdown. #WeRemember was posted on YouTube on 28 March and has been viewed millions of times across social media. The video, made almost entirely of library and home-shot footage, is a good example of perfect pitch – they got the tone of voice just right. #WeRemember has been a lovely gift to The Social Co’s business community – building brand awareness and generating goodwill.

5. Stock up Small

Panic buying in supermarkets was rife in March. Snack makers Real Handful wanted to help independent food producers. So they teamed up with vegan chain Biff’s Kitchen to create Stock up Small, a website and hashtag campaign. Stock up Small is simple but genius – it’s like an Etsy for food producers. At a time when independent food makers could have been competing, Stock up Small has given them a shared purpose. Wattmuff & Beckett are one of many niche producers to join the campaign.

What can we learn?

These examples of good content marketing are positive and inspirational. They contain useful tips, practical advice or simply something to make us smile. They’re honest and original. They reflect the values of the business behind them.

All these businesses are giving something back to their followers. They’re not about hard sell or even getting people to hand over email addresses or other personal data. They’re about sensitivity and tuning into what the community needs right now.

We’re living in uncertain times. It’s hard to know when, if ever, things will go back to “normal”. Almost every organisation needs to re-think its business and/ or operating model.

Everyone feels unsure and anxious.

Everything is in flux.

That’s why it’s a good time not to worry unduly about the future. If you can possibly afford it, try to focus on the now – experiment, share and be generous.

Photo: The Thatched House pub

Liked this post? See Doug Kessler’s examples of good content marketing.