3 Brands Using Content To Build Connections & Communities During COVID-19

  • April 23, 2020 at 12:30 PM EDT
  • By Alicia Esposito
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We’re all trying to navigate a new normal…as people and as professionals. I know I’m personally spending more time on social media, mindlessly scrolling through content in order to feel a sense of normalcy. To feel connected. To feel inspired.

I know I’m not alone. According to research from App Annie, daily time spent in apps saw a 20% year-over-year increase in Q1 2020 — the period when social distancing ordinances largely went into effect — and the top five apps were social networking apps. So it’s fair to say that content is our connection to the outside world, whether it’s to our friends and family, influencers and even brands. That’s why I was thrilled that my friend and colleague Dave Bruno of Aptos asked me to join him for a discussion around how brands can foster their digital communities while we’re all stuck at home. (Shameless plug: You can watch the on-demand session here.)

Sure, some brands we spoke about are, arguably, no-brainers. Glossier was built from a strong content foundation, with founder Emily Weiss’ blog Into the Gloss serving as the jumping-off point for the DTC business. Lego also has been a shining example of content marketing prowess, and has tapped its highly engaged community to share their creations — and even new ideas for collections. But the coronavirus crisis has forced brands to pivot and reimagine the way they engage with their communities. In some cases, slight refinements expressed empathy, compassion and strategic response. In other cases, entirely new content offerings and possible business models were uncovered.

Here are a few of my favorite examples:

1. One Kings Lane

Like Glossier, One Kings Lane has a strong heritage in content. But like many (well, hopefully all) brands, the furniture and home interiors retailer knew it had to somehow acknowledge the severity of COVID-19, and be helpful and relevant to its audience. So they started simple by asking: What do you want to see from us?

Scrolling through the comments, it was clear that the brand should keep offering inspirational content and stay true to its roots. One Kings Lane continued to do what it did best, offering beautiful interior designs and vignettes that inspired consumers to spruce up their living spaces. When appropriate, social captions refer to spending more time at home or working from home, which is simply good marketing. The content was still true to the heritage of the brand and was merely tweaked to speak to consumer context.

2. Buy Buy Baby

I have a Buy Buy Baby about five minutes from my house, and we rely on the retailer for many items for our two-year-old son. It was definitely reassuring to know that the retailer was creating content that helped me feel in the loop. For instance, they are using social to promote new curbside offerings, and are helping customers like me connect to local associates and product experts online.

The best part, though, is that they’re using content to connect customers to each other — parents who are trying to raise their children, homeschool them, work at home and, frankly, stay sane. It has been inspiring to see how the company combines user-generated content and simple questions to spark conversations. Followers are inspired to share ideas, release their frustrations and give each other props. It makes us all feel less alone.

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3. Lululemon

We all know that the folks at Lululemon are customer experience rock stars. They aren’t driven by a lifestyle; they drive the lifestyle by turning their stores and social accounts into active communities of like-minded individuals. These are folks who don’t just love to work out; they live to work out. But as social distancing and stay-at-home orders expanded, the brand had an opportunity to not just bolster those existing relationships, but also to reach new people who want to pick up a healthy habit or maintain an active lifestyle while stuck at home.

Lululemon now offers weekly classes to help nourish followers’ minds and bodies. The classes are published on Instagram TV and they support an already-rich menu of content on the brand’s account, including funny videos, branded ads and even some mindfulness exercises. They all ladder up to what Lululemon is all about: being active.

Dave and I share more lessons from these and other brands in the webinar, so I hope you check it out. While consumers are relying on social media and e-Commerce because that’s all they have right now, I truly believe there will be a slow and steady shift back to stores. After shops reopen, consumers will venture back at their own pace. In some cases, consumers may feel like they get everything they need online. That’s why it’s more important than ever for you to focus on creating great content that brings your community together.

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