This year alone has been more testing than others for most of us. From bushfire tragedies to an unprecedented pandemic wreaking havoc on the economy and medical fields – we're living in uncertain times that has us wrapped in fog and unease. But there are always positives to focus on, and as consumers, our behaviours shift when we're looking for services and goods that fulfil these bright sparks in life.
Right now, everyone is trying to adjust to a new way of living. Months in and we’re still working out how to productively work from home or pivot our businesses to new models. This is a time of chop and change; what we know as the normal is no longer ever going to be the normal again. Welcome to a different way of permanent living – let’s embrace it.
One of the biggest trends to come out of the pandemic has been the rise of DIY. Whether we're natively creative or not, many of us are dabbling with crafts to see the time away or just to avoid the borders of insanity.
Google Trends indicates that even the term ‘DIY’ alone has seen a big enough rise in search queries:
And as for specific topics?
If you’re anything like some of us, we’ve been absorbed in Animal Crossing, taking our love for ‘in real life’ DIY into a virtual world. But there are still huge amounts of people Googling how to create their own hand sanitiser, face masks and even looking to take up sewing in general. For the culinary thumbs, making bread at home has also been a common theme.
Life is definitely not what it used to be.
There’s a formula to how people are searching
Although the trends popping up seem somewhat unpredictable, there still seems to be a dominant pattern that web users are opting for their online adventures. For example, Think With Google notes that the process looks like:
- Assembling critical information on a theme
- Looking to make new connections
- Adjusting to the new changes and routines in their lives
- Praising and commending everyday heroes (e.g. frontline health staff)
- Taking care of themselves and those around them.
So why are all of these patterns such an important part of the way we’re using the internet, and how can your brand add value?
Assembling critical information on a theme
Normality isn’t what we know it. It’s not what it used to be. Traditional brick and mortar stores are now being forced to shift online, even when they had avoided it to date. Delivery models are changing too, enforcing new regulations to ensure contactless customer service. Businesses across the globe are finding ways to deliver on the need to remain home, and this is exactly where you can add value.
Writing content on information or guidance that your audience needs right now is the ultimate way to support them. They're after answers, and you can likely provide at least some of them.
Consider the ‘how’, ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘where’ of these situations and the many ways in which you can bridge the gaps.
If your local customers are looking to have fresh fruit delivered and you’re a specialist in local produce, how can you support them by shopping online and offering regional delivery?
If you’re a personal trainer that’s used to holding sessions and classes in the club, how can you support your new and existing clients through Zoom video call sessions, email newsletters, ebooks and value-driven content?
No matter what niche or industry you come from, your audience is currently assembling critical information about your specific niche. You should be a part of this conversation and behaviour. If you’re not, you’re already losing out to your competition.
So how can you start getting involved?
- Acknowledge that this is the ‘new’ way of living and that your audience doesn’t need to feel fear or uncertainty. You are here to help: tell them why.
- Provide evidence-backed, authoritative information about how you’re operating and why. Let them know you are available to help.
- Your communications should remain completely up to date. If something changes, update your site. If your location has shifted to working from home, send out an EDM – do everything you can to make sure your audience knows where and how to contact you.
- Be as flexible as possible. You'll likely need to provide an increase in customer support during this time – e.g. refunds, cancellations and exchanges. Be willing to do this and remember everyone is doing it tough right now.
Looking to make new connections
Because we’re living in isolation for the most part (even though some regulations are now easing), this is not how humans were designed to operate. We're not built to live solo, and this kind of lifestyle doesn't gel well with our mental or physical health. It wreaks havoc on productivity and can create whole new mindsets that we never thought we'd experience.
It’s important to remember that emotions of feeling lost, uncertain, scared and stressed are completely normal during this time. Human connection is absolutely paramount here and is the biggest reason why we’re all trying to interact with those around us through alternative methods, while face-to-face is prohibited.
Typing into Google Trends “friends online” shows the rise of wanting to collaborate online or virtually with those in our lives.
More than ever before, the global population is trying to find ways to socialise using online formats. If your brand can support this need, you’re way ahead of the curve.
Consider looking for ways that your business can individually help connect customers with others in your community – be it locally or globally. Then, go one step further by looking for actions you can take to enhance their experience. Maybe you can make a social media or Facebook group that’s dedicated to likeminded people in your target audience. Perhaps you can offer a live stream video session to bring up interaction and engagement across different demographics.
The key here is to get creative with your thinking. It may just be that you hold more power to this than you ever thought.
Adjusting to the new changes and routines
None of us really know what the future will look like, so for now, we’re just winging it. But that also involves pivoting our lifestyles and routines to suit the ‘new norm’. Working from home, kids not allowed at school – this is all fresh territory for many of us. Luckily there can be madness to this mayhem, and that comes with incorporating systems and processes to combat this time of uncertainty.
People from all walks of life are currently using the internet to explore how they can be more productive, more financially stable, more focused, more relaxed, more active and more enlightened during this time. Some of these areas are hard to establish when habits like this haven’t been a big part of our lifestyles in the first place. So if your audience needs support in optimising or improving certain aspects of their lives, you may be well-positioned to help them do that.
For example, they may need to access services like yours in abnormal hours. Can you offer that? Use all of the data you have available (Iike Google Trends) to see when they’re needing you the most and use your content marketing or communications strategy to embrace this.
Most simply, offering tips and tricks on wellness, productivity, mindset, ‘lifehacks’ and other aspects will go along way in this time – no matter your industry.
NOTE: What we’re really saying here is that if you don’t have a blog up and actively running, now is the time to do so!
Praising and commending everyday heroes
Frontline workers across healthcare, hospitals and medical fields are just some of the individuals the world needs to give thanks to right now. Chances are, your business can help promote this positive behaviour from the rest of the world.
In a time that can sometimes be dark, it’s important to be the light and ‘set the trends’ for doing something that’s good for the community. IT can be as simple as posting a ‘shoutout’ to aged care workers in Australia or participating in certain viral trends that are commonly taking place on Twitter for other areas.
You can embrace this and use your voice to entice your audiences into doing the same. Maybe you can even make donations or offer volunteer support if your business is well-positioned to do so. A little good can go along way.
Taking care of ourselves
The most important part of getting through COVID-19 is obviously to do everything we can to look after our physical and mental health. At the same time, we need to be respectful of those around us and do our best to support their needs too.
All of the above points tie into this because you – as a brand – can help support these needs of those within your community by providing guidance on a number of levels. Whether you expand your services and offers or send out helpful information that they need to know regularly – any way that you can contribute to the cause for the common good, is always going to be a benefit.
Moreover, if you’re opening your doors to physical customers, you need to make sure you’re incorporating all of the right regulations and practices to stop the spread of the pandemic. Set the standards high and make sure your staff and customers adhere to all necessary steps.
Do your part so that, as a global community, we can do the same. We’re all in this together.
If you’re not sure how to get started, we recommend enlisting the help of a digital marketing agency to put you on the right path towards connecting with your audience.