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Finding purpose in the post-Covid attention economy

Finding purpose in the post-Covid attention economy

08 Jul 2020
Marcus Foley
Attention has been stretched, saturated and exhausted in the last few months. The Covid-19 crisis has created huge surges in content consumption and the use of social media.

Now, as many countries ease lockdown plans for a slow and tentative return to work, greater freedom to travel and socialise, some sort of normal life, will the rules we created about how brands fight for attention in the social channels still apply?

Mind the gap

There’s been an understandable rush to adopt new crisis relevant messages. How can our organisation be more empathetic, a bigger part of the fabric of lockdown life? How can we communicate the values that we want to be known for during a crisis and maybe remembered for after? The problem is, what comes next?

There’s going to be an interesting chasm for brands to cross they get to the other side of this - how do you get from Covid-comms to back-to-business elegantly. You can’t hop from ‘Save the NHS’ to ‘Broadband Bundles’ in a simple step. It’s going to take some serious thinking - something social content so often doesn’t get.

Start with, ‘they just don’t care about you’.

This is something we so often say in articles and keynotes. When you’re going to pop up in someone’s feed, your start point should be that the audience simply doesn’t care about you. You must deserve their attention and you have to be brutally honest about if you really do.

When the same audience have been blasted, bombarded and bewildered with crisis content for so long, what attention do they have left in the tank for your branded content? My guess is, less than before, unless you can follow a few simple rules.

Content with purpose

This is not about higher purpose, CSR, values, or lofty promises – it’s much simpler than that. It’s about each post having a clear purpose for the audience.

There might be plenty of stuff you want to say, but without each post having a purpose for the viewer, what’s the point? If you can’t work out what purpose it serves for them, not you, then it probably shouldn’t be posted. Easy right?

Is it functional? It clearly tells the audience something they want or need to know about your product or service. It’s no nonsense, easy to understand and has focus.

Is it emotional? It is designed to support them, make them smile, make them think or It purely exists to entertain – to give an emotional escape or lift.

It is inherently social? It is designed to help them connect with others, or show their own world to their friends, family and peers.

At Tommy, we often talk about being conversational, contextual and cultural and that is all still true. Right now, though, we need content to be more than that, it has an extra step. We need each and every post to have purpose - purpose for the exhausted viewer at the other end, ready to scroll away and check the next news headline, or not.

Human pillars, not brand pillars

I implore you to use this opportunity to flip around your thinking. Forget the brand pillars, forget the BAU and forget the filler posts.

Design your content around the purpose for the viewer, their moods, their needs, their actions as they come into the light, dusting off their pre-Covid lives.

Think about them, not about you and you have a chance of surviving attention deficit in the post Covid transition.

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