Agility is not an attribute commonly associated with financial services firms and their content strategy, but given the velocity of today’s digital changes, marketers need to focus on it.

The ability to pivot, reimagine content strategy and change the conversation is imperative, given world events.  

It is unlikely that any wealth management firm or bank had COVID-19 on the content calendar, but the topic has consumed the mindshare of their audiences to a degree not seen before. 

During the financial crisis of 2008, social media was still in an embryonic state. Nothing we saw in social media in 2008 can compare to what we’re seeing with respect to COVID-19 and 2020. 

Today, marketers can know so much more about how their social media content is performing. “Big data can now provide an analysis that informs content strategy down to the level of keywords. 

The metrics and analytics we have available today can help financial services firms align with the content their audiences want to consume,” says Mike Orr, Co-Founder at Grapevine6, a Toronto-based content engagement platform company (and partner of The Rudin Group.) 

In other words, marketers no longer have to guess about what might resonate with their audiences.

COVID-19 Conversations

A recent analysis by Grapevine6 revealed that 90% of articles shared most by its users over the past 10 weeks have been COVID-19-related. That’s a staggering number. 

While the virus was a driver of conversation in just 3% of conversations from Jan. 20-Feb. 2, that number spiked to 90% from March 16 to March 29, just two weeks later. 

Human beings have had to adjust to new ways of living and working just as quickly. Not equipped to work from home? Figure it out. Not ready to work from home? Think again. It’s amazing what we humans can do when we have no choice. 

Digital selling and social media content marketing are no longer nice-to-haves. They are pivotal to business survival. 

Must-Ask Questions

With respect to your firm’s content strategy, it’s important to ask yourself these three questions:

1. What are your clients talking about on social media, and if they are talking about your brand, what are they saying?

2. How has the current crisis impacted the time your clients spend online, and have you looked at that closely without making assumptions?

3. When will people begin to share and read content unrelated to COVID-19, and when that moment arrives, will your content strategy be ready? 

The Grapevine6 analysis tells us it’s OK to be sharing 90% coronavirus-related content right now, because audiences are so highly engaged with it. 

When this changes, financial services companies must be ready, willing and agile enough to change up their content strategies. 

Metrics and analytics can help marketers zero in on the right moment for change. The right analysis can help us to identify the “peak” for COVID-19 content and exactly when conversation is pivoting to something else. 

5 Next Steps to Take

Here are some practical ways to think ahead to the next evolution of your content strategy:

1. Perform a stress test. Your clients have encountered intense pressure as a result of the current crisis and they likely have turned to your financial services organization for insight.

What kind of cracks or gaps has COVID-19 created for your clients or your organization? Don’t assume you know. Ask your key internal stakeholders what the new pain points are and what is being done to alleviate them. Use a variety of channels to communicate those concrete actions, including social media. 

2. Find the untold stories. Many of your clients may be experiencing cash flow problems due to loss of income or unforeseen business interruptions. What have they done to overcome these challenges and how has your organization supported them? Tell those stories.

3. Don’t wait for the rebound. There is plenty of speculation out there about when, if and how the current crisis will end. No one knows for sure.

Think about the possibilities for your organization and game out a few scenarios. Envision how those potential future states would impact your content strategy. 

4. Measure audience appetite. What will your audiences expect when the crisis abates? Will they have a greater appetite for content? If so, what kind? When the tolerance level for COVID-19 drops from 90 percent to 15 percent, where do you direct that 75 percent of mindshare? 

5. Take the lessons forward. What has your organization learned from the crisis? Has it formed new partnerships or created new ideas? How does that evolution show up in your post-crisis content strategy? 

Bottom Line

When you go through something like COVID-19, it changes you. Financial services brands can’t be the same as they were before and still be authentic. 

Investors will be looking for smart, relatable and relevant content that aligns with their values and interests. Laggard and tone-deaf content will not engage them. 

Be precise and don’t guess about how and when your brand shows up when we’re all out in the world again. 

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Brooke Worden is President of The Rudin Group, a global boutique marketing firm operating at the intersection of wealth management, next-gen and fintech. She can be reached at brooke@therudingroup.com.