Content Consistency and COVID-19
Wednesday, June 17, 2020
Last year upended the association world, for obvious reasons. Events, which are the lifeblood of many organizations, were postponed, canceled, or transitioned to new virtual formats. Entire industry sectors contracted, deeply affecting the professional lives of many association members, along with the associations themselves. Businesses, professions, and associations face the challenges of dealing with operational and cultural upheaval.
By necessity, association content strategies also shifted. When the COVID-19 pandemic started, associations had to determine what information was—and was not—appropriate to dispatch to members and industries. For many, it no longer seemed appropriate to provide how-to or best practices content as a professional service. Businesses and industries found themselves in survival mode, and the optimal role for many associations was to provide advice about how to survive.
One of the first and best moves many associations made in the content area was to establish COVID-19 resource departments on their websites. There, associations fulfilled what for many is precisely their mission: They provided their members with timely, relevant information on how the global health pandemic was impacting their industry and their professions. For many associations, this new resource quickly became the most-read section of their websites.
There are important content lessons to be learned from the pandemic, as unfortunate, unsettling and uncertain as it is. And the words are right there in the previous paragraph: timely and relevant. As simple as it may seem, an association’s content strategy should be about delivering the most relevant content to its audience in the most timely manner. That strategy requires constant, ongoing assessment of what is most relevant and what the audience considers appropriate and acceptable timing, but it also helps ensure maximum levels of engagement.
For it to be useful (relevant), association content requires a consistent cadence (timely). The events of the past several months helped shine a light on the type of content that is most relevant right now, and the most appropriate cadence for delivering it to audiences. Now, associations can extrapolate from that knowledge and create content strategies that leverage it.
The content that is most relevant to an association’s audience will change on a regular basis, but the importance of receiving it will not. Use this unfortunate, unique opportunity to study the needs and behaviors of your audience to help your organization understand what kind of content people most need, and how frequently they need it. That knowledge can become a guiding factor in implementing an effective, sustainable content strategy that survives and thrives well beyond the pandemic.
Jason Meyers is senior director of content strategy at SmithBucklin
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