Throughout 2020, we wrote articles, posted blogs and read about the coronavirus pandemic as it unfolded. We saluted key workers who – sometimes literally – laid their lives on the line for us, and watched aghast as the crisis deepened. Our conversations became infused with a new lexicon – lockdown, social distancing, support bubble.
Many businesses reduced their operations, and some ceased altogether. Others adapted to the situation by diversifying into manufacturing and supplying products now in high demand – masks, gloves, hand sanitising gel – while others innovated new products to control and fight back against the pandemic. For these businesses, social media became instrumental in spreading the word.
I’m surely not the only one who, as 2021 approached and the Covid-19 vaccination programme was announced, hoped that the new year would bring a return to relative normality. But a new, more dangerous strain of the virus has now emerged, and the UK is under its third national lockdown. Coronavirus hasn’t finished with us yet.
So, you may ask, why am I proposing we change the conversation? Well, let me first be clear that I’m not suggesting a total news blackout. We need to stay aware of the general situation and learn how to deal with it so we can protect ourselves and others. Companies actively engaged in the fight against the pandemic need to tell us about new products and medical advances. And we must never forget key workers and those of us whose lives have sadly been forever changed by the loss of a loved one.
But when I see organisations with little to no commercial involvement in Covid-related products or services still regularly posting more content about the pandemic than about their core products or services, I wonder whether we are sleepwalking into another, greater crisis.
Are We Ready for Covid-19’s Economic Aftershock?
In April 2020, the International Monetary Fund predicted that Covid-19 might cause “the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression”.
In its World Economic Outlook of the same month, the IMF also anticipated the global economy contracting sharply by 3 per cent during 2020 – worse than the 2008–09 financial crisis – but at the same time, it projected a 5.8 per cent growth in 2021 “assuming the pandemic fades in the second half of 2020”.
By June 2020, the World Bank was forecasting a global economic contraction of 5.2 per cent, rising to as much as 7 per cent in advanced economies.
Since then, there has been little economic let-up for UK businesses. Prolonged lockdown regulations and trading restrictions have impacted heavily on sectors reliant on footfall, while the decline in per capita personal income and employment uncertainty have curbed consumer spending. This is having a knock-on effect that is being felt across all sectors.
What Should We Be Talking About?
The day will come when medical science will finally have coronavirus on the run. Demand for PPE and infection control products will probably never return to pre-pandemic levels, but the need will be less.
Companies who have diversified into the manufacture and supply of these products will return to their core products. But we will also return to a market that has changed, where business customers and competitors may have ceased trading, and consumer confidence and spending power are low.
If we are to emerge from the Covid-19 crisis as strong players in a smaller and more competitive market, we need to re-examine where our social media content is moving. Businesses and consumers will start buying our products and services again, and we need to make sure that when they come searching for them, they come to us.
We need to create content that promotes our products and services in ways that reflect how customers will now be buying them; reviewing – and if needed, republishing – old content to make it more relevant; reminding customers of all the reasons they chose us over our competitors before we became collectively distracted by the events of 2020.
And while I can’t say that I will never again mention Covid-19 (I’m a content writer, so my customers decide what I write about on their behalf) I hope this will be the last time you hear from me on the subject.
You may not agree with everything I have written in this blog, but hopefully, it has given you food for thought; that’s what blogs are about. I can also write thought-provoking, engaging, inspiring content for your business that will help you re-focus your customers’ attention on your core activities and prepare you for a strong return to normal trading.