Welcome to the third installment of our weekly COVID-19 owned content analysis. Each week we analyze the COVID-19 content published by leading brands in their owned content hubs to help marketers better determine how to approach their COVID-19 content strategy.

The data set we’ve built upon over the past three weeks now includes over 2,200 pieces of COVID-19 content published by 189 enterprise brands. Here’s what we’re seeing overall, as well as major week-to-week changes.

COVID-19 Content Fatigue Appears to Be a Real Thing

covid analysis

Across the major industries surveyed, most brands decreased their COVID-19 content production relative to the previous week. Brands in the automotive, energy, HR/payroll services, and telecommunications sectors were the only areas that saw an increase in COVID-19 content production by brand week-over-week. 

This lends credence to the idea that readers are experiencing “COVID fatigue.” In a recent Knotch survey of marketing pros, 48% said they expected their COVID-19 content production to decrease in May, while only 29% said it would increase.

So, how do you create engaging content for your readers that’s not directly related to the crisis?

One approach brands are taking is writing “future-state” content. This is content about what life might look like once the COVID-19 pandemic passes. With future-state content, brands tap into their expertise to provide a take on how COVID-19 will shape the future in some way. This is the type of non-transactional content that we’ve seen work well for brands throughout this crisis.

Brands producing excellent future-state content include Deloitte, McKinsey, Morgan Stanley, Bain & Company, IBM, and Southwest Airlines.

Additionally, it may be time to start thinking about what your content strategy was before the outbreak of COVID-19. Does any part of that strategy still make sense today? It’s time you find out. 

COVID-19 Content Around Operational Impact Increased

covid analysis

As a reminder, the theme definitions are as follows:

  • News & Updates: Crisis news related to the activities of the business.
  • Crisis Management: The steps the business is taking to manage the crisis internally and externally.
  • Community / Collaboration: Information on how the business and individuals can work together to overcome the crisis.
  • Impact Assessment: Assessing the impact the crisis has had on the industry the business operates in.
  • Philanthropy / Support: What the business is doing to aid in relief efforts.
  • Informational / Educational: Educational content about the crisis.
  • Operational Impact: How the crisis has impacted day-to-day operations.
  • Public Health and Safety: Information on how to protect your health and what the organization is doing to protect their customers’ health.
  • Employee Relations: Content directed at employees to help them navigate and understand how the organization is responding to the crisis.
  • Leadership: Guidance on how to lead during a time of crisis.

As owned COVID-19 content production decreases overall, so do the themes focused on in each piece of content, as illustrated by the above line graph.

The one noticeable exception is Operational Impact content, in which brands explain how COVID-19 is directly impacting their business operations. This content has actually increased week-over-week. What’s the reason?

We’d speculate that, as we enter a new phase of the crisis and governments are talking about “reopening” the economy, businesses are trying to communicate to their customers what they’re doing to get ready. 

Here’s an example from carmaker Audi on how they’re planning to restart production in Europe. If recent developments have affected your business’s timeline for resuming operations, now is the time to let your customers know about it.

Content focused on recent News and Updates also saw a slight uptick, and has overall remained steady over the past few weeks. Informational/Educational content and Crisis Management content saw sharp declines, but still remain the two most popular COVID-19 content themes. Here’s the full breakdown of COVID-19 content themes over the past three weeks. Of all the major themes, you’ll see that operational impact still has the lowest content volume overall.

covid analysis

Brands Are Sharing Philanthropy Content on Social

covid analysis
covid analysis
covid analysis

Brands have opted to share roughly 37% of their COVID-19 content on social media. Over the past two weeks, a majority of that content can be categorized as Informational/Educational, Crisis Management, or Community/Collaboration content.

In the past week, we’ve seen more brands promote Philanthropy/Support content on social. This isn’t much of a surprise, as it makes sense that brands would want to draw attention to their benevolent efforts during the crisis. This is also the type of light, shareable content that caters to a social media audience.

The Most Common Keywords Used in Titles Continued to Track With the Major Themes of the Crisis

covid analysis

Obviously, “COVID” is still the most popular keyword used in COVID-19 content. The term “coronavirus” has had a bit of a dropoff week-over-week (last week 12.7% of COVID-19 content used “coronavirus” in the title). 

Terms that have started appearing in more COVID-19 content titles include “help” and “business.” No real surprises here, as the keywords used in the titles of COVID-19 content track pretty similarly with major topics around the crisis.

Key Takeaways

The past three weeks of data provide us with an even clearer picture of how brands are approaching their COVID-19 content strategies as we move towards a reopening of the economy. Here are our key takeaways:

  • There’s a limit to how much COVID-19 content the market can take, and it appears brands are beginning to bump up against that limit. We’re seeing a week-over-week decrease in COVID-19 content production, and we expect that to continue into May. This means it’s time to start thinking about other content formats that are appropriate for the current moment.
  • Operational Impact content is the only form of COVID-19 content that is increasing in production, as businesses begin to talk about how they plan on resuming operations as stay-at-home orders are being lifted.
  • Philanthropic content is tracking well with social media audiences. Overall, the most popular content themes are still the ones most frequently shared on social.

Click here to access the full report.