Creating online content in some way related to the COVID-19 pandemic is both expected and normal. After all, the pandemic is affecting nearly every facet of life. Still, there are acceptable and unacceptable ways to create content. There are also good and bad messages content can convey. Online marketers have an obligation to take the high road during this time.
Taking the high road means creating socially responsible COVID-19 content. The cynical among us would say that social responsibility and content marketing cannot coexist in the same plane. We say otherwise. It is not only possible to create socially responsible content; it is being done every day.
Stick with the Facts
More than ever before, people need facts rather than opinions and misinformation. The amount of misinformation now floating around about COVID-19 is so vast and overwhelming that the well-known fact checking website Snopes has had to cut back on the work it does. The organization’s staff just cannot keep up.
Do not be among those content creators spreading false information. Stick with the facts. If you are going to quote statistics, get your numbers from reputable organizations like the CDC. If you’re going to talk about the health aspects of COVID-19, source your information from organizations like John Hopkins University, the Mayo Clinic, etc.
Seek to Unify
There is a time and place for publishing controversial content that encourages people to have discussions about things they would normally not speak of. Now is not that time. During crisis events, we need unity more than ever. Thus, we need content that informs and unifies. Content that divides only makes the crisis more serious.
Choose Words Carefully
Even when sticking with the facts and seeking to unify, content can do more harm than good if its author’s words are not chosen carefully. Remember that words mean things. Moreover, people read certain words and phrases and automatically make assumptions. Content creators have to be extremely careful.
For example, calling the current pandemic “unprecedented” is a poor choice of words. First and foremost, it is not unprecedented. Every year the world faces a global flu pandemic. In recent history we have seen the H1N1, SARS, and AIDs virus pandemics. In the more distant past, the world has faced everything from the bubonic plague to cholera epidemics and the Spanish flu.
Calling the COVID-19 pandemic unprecedented leads people to believe that all hope is lost because we are dealing with something we have never dealt with before. That is not the case.
Be Careful with Titles
Online marketers and SEO experts are very aware of how important content titles are. Not only do titles have to play well with search engine algorithms, they also have to be attention-getting. Now is not the time for sensational titles. Take a break from sensationalism for a few months and focus on accurate information.
Stop the Click Bait
Some of us in the marketing industry are averse to click bait regardless of circumstance. However, we understand that it is part of the online game. Could we at least just stop the click bait for the time being? Let’s stop producing meaningless content designed only to increase click through rates to boost ad revenues. There are more important things to worry about now.
There will come a day when we look back on all of this and attempt to learn from it. Until that day comes, we all must do our part to get through it. Those of us in the marketing and SEO sectors can contribute by making a concerted effort to create socially responsible content for the foreseeable future.