Video calls have replaced meetings; pyjamas are now work attire and hand sanitiser is a staple.
COVID-19 has changed our behaviour in a way that has never before been seen.
But how many of these COVID-inspired changes are here for good and what else do we need to rethink?
In a new podcast from Think with Google, former head of podcasts at Mamamia and The Project regular Rachel Corbett explores what behaviours we’ll keep and how brands can adapt in the ‘new normal’.
It is the first in a 7-part investigative journey into the biggest issues facing marketers, where Corbett joins forces with some of the most interesting and innovative minds to Rethink marketing challenges – with a little help from Google.
To discuss the question of what behaviours we’ll keep in episode one, Corbett is joined by Google’s head of culture and trends for the Asia Pacific region at YouTube Ash Chang.
Chang explained that above all, COVID-19 has accelerated a change in what content means to consumers.
“During this period, what people found was that content could serve other purposes,” Chang said.
“We would typically think of content consumption as a way to be entertained. But I think for a lot of people during isolation, we actually use content as a form of utility.”
There is no content style that serves a greater utility role than ‘With Me’ videos.
‘With Me’ videos emerged around 2010, when beauty influencers started inviting their audience to watch them get dressed up with ‘Get Ready With Me’ videos.
During COVID-19, other ‘With Me’-style video including cooking, exercise and even studying have grown in popularity.
Chang reflected on the rise of this type of content during COVID-19.
“It comes back to the hidden utility video to me,” Chang said.
“That our desire to mirror the behaviour of others, our desire for social connectedness – all of that can make something as seemingly crazy as watching someone study actually have a real impact in your real-world behaviour.”
And while With Me content might be a key takeaway from COVID-19, according to former Masterchef contestant and YouTube content creator Marion Grasby, YouTube has always been about this interaction with your audience.
“For me, YouTube has always been about With Me,” Grasby told Corbett during the podcast.
“People watch YouTube for that company. Someone cooking a recipe of mine has me in their kitchen, on their phone or on their laptop – we’re literally cooking together.”
Rethinking branded content
With this type of video content seeing a noticeable uptick during COVID-19, brands will inevitably endeavour to create branded content to meet this growing demand.
Chang had some simple advice.
“My advice to any brand is don’t try to make brand videos, try to make useful videos, find out the way that you can legitimately turn up for your audience and provide utility to them,” Chang said.
Also joining Corbett on the first episode of the podcast is Emotive founder Simon Joyce, who explained how brands can adjust their content to keep customers engaged.
“The faster we can land a dramatic narrative tension, the more likely we’re going to get the audience to hang around,” Joyce said.
“Narrative tension will trump talent, it’ll trump cinematography, it’ll trump music. So a dramatic narrative tension can absolutely unlock a bit of view time.”
And building out this emotion can also serve as a way for brands to show their customers they have a deep understanding of how they’re feeling.
COVID-19 has reminded us that brands just how important emotion is in marketing.
Right now, that means showing consumers they understand that they are feeling different emotions and showing up in ways they need the most, Joyce explained.
“Our job at Emotive is to try and build emotional connections on behalf of brands with their target audience,” he said.
“We must understand now more than ever, how they’re feeling. It’s a different world right now. We all know that. So, can we spend more time tapping into where they’re at, the cultural forces that are at play and what that means in terms of how we communicate.”
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