In 2020, media consumption increased by nearly an hour, and in 2021, those gains are holding steady, with an increase of an additional 10 minutes. But not all content is created the same - and the biggest gains are in the digital content sector, which is a sign that content dependency is here to stay. Both brands and consumers are increasingly spending time on online shopping platforms, and in 2020 e-commerce grew at a rate 30x higher than the online market ad space. 

What does that mean for you as a content leader? It means that in order to succeed, you’re going to have to hone some crucial skills that may not have already been in your wheelhouse previously. Skills like knowing your audience and striving for human connection feel obvious, but since the pandemic began we’ve had to kick those skills and new ones into high gear in order to stand out and fulfill new needs for customers. Read on to discover what skills you’ll need for your content to go from “nice to have” to a necessity. 

1. Be Adaptable

This may be a skill you think you already have locked in, but the key to flexibility is being flexible with the times. You may have seen yourself as a flexible content leader pre-pandemic, but there's no denying the way we consume content, and the way we generate it have both evolved significantly in the last two years. 

Being adaptable to how the landscape will change in unexpected ways (not to mention accepting that the landscape will, inevitably, change) is key. Openness and flexibility can oftentimes lead to innovation that wasn’t necessarily top of mind in the past. For example, when the pandemic hit, many retailers weren’t using online retail as an option for their products. But as soon as in-person shopping was no longer available, brick-and-mortars had to make some decisions fast. By using a “purchase online, pick up in person” model, you’re able to meet customers where they are online, and then connect with them a second time in person. This model wasn’t something many retailers considered until they had to, and it helped many of them survive the harshest months of the pandemic. 

2. Be User-Oriented

Being consistent in your brand voice is no longer enough. Consumers want convenience from your brand as well. They also want content served to them on the device of their choosing, at the time of their choosing, and they’re going to judge you on your ability to deliver. Which means they are the boss, and you should be taking your cues from them. 

79% of companies say that the pandemic has forced them to invest more in their digital transformation towards integrating digital tools into all areas of their business. Organizations that did digitally transform their business have created more highly engaged customers who are 6x more likely to try a new product from them, and 4x as likely to refer their brand to friends and family. 

By staying current with the trends, doing your research, and acting on feedback from your customers, you’ll be in a position to discover what exactly they want and when. It’s time to invest in the areas where your customers are, not where your company hopes they might be. 

3. Be Relatable 

With people spending more time at home, there's a higher need for entertainment - one which goes beyond television and movies. Social media is the place that's filling this void, and brands are noticing. In 2020, 44% of marketers increased their investment in Tik Tok. By creating truthful and sincere content, you make it easier for your customer base to relate to you - not only as a brand but as real people who are creating this content. Speaking of, behind-the-scenes footage, can be an effective way of humanizing your brand and letting your consumers in on your process, in turn, helping them understand what it takes to get a product to the market. 

While it may feel like a departure from how you’ve created content in the past, the main reason so many people connect with a method like this is because it's authentic and relatable. 

4. Be Socially-Conscious

Speaking of authenticity, consumers gravitate towards brands that stand for something. But they also want those promises to effect real change. According to 5WPR’s 2020 Consumer Culture Report, audiences in the millennial demographic expect brands to demonstrate that they align on social issues. For these young consumers, 83% want companies to align with their values and 76% want CEOs to speak out on issues they care about. You might worry that taking a stance on one side of the aisle might hurt the business from the other side. But the reality is brands that try to be neutral or please everyone rarely get noticed while the ones that take stances tend to attract customers best suited for them. 

Identifying what causes you need to endorse can start with your customer base too. Patagonia has long been a leader in this effort. By prioritizing environmental efforts, including donating 100% of Black Friday sales to environmental grassroots organizations, Patagonia has attracted loyal customers who value climate justice. Finding and focusing on what your customers care about is key to discovering the social causes you want to support as a brand. 

In a world where consumers have unlimited choices, your organization’s survival hangs in your ability to evolve. Being a leader in today's content landscape means embracing all the things that make your brand unique, and letting go of those that don’t. Knotch can help you stand out as a content leader by helping you track customer journeys, gain content-driven insights, and measure the performance of your content strategy.

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