Travel is stunted. Cities are empty. Stores are closing their doors. As COVID-19 continues its sweep, citizens are forced to stay home, leaving companies wondering – “How will my business survive?”

Though first and foremost a human tragedy, the pandemic has, without a doubt, caused much economic damage. Various businesses have been forced to temporarily shut down, or find alternative ways of tending to customers while maintaining social distance.

And with the latter option comes hope. Using the vast range of online tools and platforms available, companies can continue to thrive. With the right digital know-how and attitude, you may just keep the light on and maintain worker morale.

But what medium would resonate best with online audiences best? 

Video, you bet!

Stuck at home 

In an effort to “flatten the curve”, governments have encouraged their citizens to self-quarantine. Companies have been pressed to implement work-from-home practices, with classes suspended until further notice, or shifted to online delivery.

As a result, more people are staying at home, causing a massive spike in internet and online streaming consumption. So much so, in fact – that the NBN had to increase its capacity by 40% to meet increased demands on their system. Two of Australia’s largest internet service providers, Telstra and Optus, have also made the effort to provide additional broadband and mobile internet access – and free of charge, at that. 

This all bodes well for those staving off boredom, who are now turning to exclusively-digital sources for entertainment and education. Netflix is expecting to add another seven million subscribers in its first quarter, and netizens are engaging in “social media challenges”, online clubs, and Spotify podcasts to connect with others and keep themselves occupied.

Online education is expected to boom, with Australian universities now leveraging video-conferencing technologies and online learning management systems to keep their students engaged.

So, what can you do?

Take time to identify aspects of your company that can be leveraged for entertainment or education.

Crisis or not, video marketing has been known to be massively effective among consumers. In fact, 52% feel more confident in buying a product after watching a video, and 72% of businesses believe it boosts their ROI and conversion rates

 Perhaps you’re a rising new business catering to the young and trendy? Video content with an “edgy” (or quirky) humour often resonates best. 

Some examples

DollarShaveClub does this well with their blunt, parodic, and comedy-driven ad in 2012, highlighting the functional and stylish excellence of their razor blades. 

In the same year, Metro Trains Melbourne published the comedically dark video, “Dumb Ways to Die”, creating both an informative and morbidly cute PSA. 

PooPourri, a brand that sells bathroom sprays, makes use of much “toilet humour” in their video marketing strategy

Other companies may choose to tug at the heartstrings, such as Always and their empowering “#LikeaGirl” campaign, GoPro with their uplifting video of firemen saving a helpless kitten, and Google Earth’s mini-documentary on Australian businessman, Saroo Brierley – who, with the help of Google technology, was able to trace down his family after years of separation. 

Online shopping is growing (again!)

To keep stockpiled on essentials, and as an effective replacement for in-store browsing, online shoppinghas also experienced an upward trend.

Consumers are increasingly turning to “click and collect”options, and Australian grocery sales have increased by 45% in just the past few weeks. Retailers have also stood to benefit, even “struggling to keep up with demand” as logistical pressures are now placed on home delivery networks.

So, what can you do?

With your audience constantly logged on and digitally window-shopping, there’s no better time to leverage valuable, informative video content. Video-centric platforms such as YouTube, Instagram and Facebook are perfect channels for demonstrating your products and services.

Explainer videos are also very useful for companies with relatively difficult-to-use or complicated products. With now more time on their hands, consumers can finally it back and learn how to use your products.

Some examples

The key to successful explainer videos – other than creativity – is the ability to clearly highlight benefits that aren’t immediately visible in your product. 

Amazon did this well when promoting their new store chain, Amazon Go; with a step-by-step tutorial video of its services, proving its ease of use while showing off its cutting-edge technology. 

Mint dida great job of giving new users a complete overview of their app, with a short-and-sweet video that covers all the bases of signing up, managing your details, and the features that set them apart from other, similar apps.

Events are cancelled. Now what?

Though more of a challenge, it’s also highly possible to shift large gatherings and public events to the online sphere. 

In an effort to minimise crowds and human contacts, large global occasions have been temporarily suspended or cancelled entirely. These include musical festivals such as SXSW, international concert tours, and public gatherings such as Facebook’s global developer’s conference.

The good news is – these same events have found substantial ways to push through with online video. 

So, what can you do?

With tools such as Facebook Live, YouTube Live, and popular video-conferencing tools such as Zoom and Google Hangouts – you’ve got more than enough to go digital. Turn that conference into live webinars, that meeting into a video group call, and that meet-and-greet into an Instagram livestream. 

Launching a new product or exhibit? Take advantage of 360-video content to create a virtual showroom or online exhibition, instead. Mercedes Benz has already used this to promote the interior of its GLB SUV, and the New York’s Morrison Hotel Gallery – in tribute to Elton John – is set to launch their first-ever virtual exhibition, “SIR: A Retrospective of Rock Royalty”, on April 2. 

Some examples

SXSW, for example, are currently “exploring options” to provide eager guests with a virtual, online experience. As of now, their 2020 Live Streaming Schedule has yet to be announced. 

Given that plenty of concerts have already made the move online – these including Metallica, Fall Out Boy, and Josh Ritter – it’s a more than feasible alternative. Celebrities such as Miley Cyrus and Orville Peck have also taken to online platforms to simply connect and engage with fans through Q&As and conversations. 

Final notes   

In these trying times, it’s crucial to stay lean and pivot your business when the need arises. 

“Be as digital as possible,” says Shuey Shujab, the CEO of Whitehat Agency. “Especially those retailers who don’t yet have an e-commerce strategy for their business – they will be gone soon if they don’t adapt to the rapidly changing business landscape.”

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I write about video marketing and how it can help your business.