Responding to COVID-19: How The Digital Picnic reshaped its content strategy

Smarter Writer
Smarter Team

The Smarter Team is made up of business and technology journalists who write to offer insights to small and medium businesses about technology, business know-how and emerging trends.

Smarter Writer
Smarter Team

The Smarter Team is made up of business and technology journalists who write to offer insights to small and medium businesses about technology, business know-how and emerging trends.

Melbourne-based digital agency The Digital Picnic provides its readers with engaging blog posts and consistent social media content. When COVID-19 struck, the business’s online audience altered its behaviour significantly – search habits and consumption of online content changed overnight. Find out how The Digital Picnic team turned this hurdle into an opportunity by reshaping their content strategy.

Cherie Clonan | The Digital Picnic

The Digital Picnic offers social and digital media training – on everything from Facebook ads to video marketing – for business owners and individuals. They also manage a range of digital services for clients and apply the practices they teach to their own business. As director Cherie Clonan says, “It’s important that we walk the talk.”

As a result of COVID-19, people were behaving differently online. They were seeking tips to work productively from home, to pivot a business entirely online, and to cultivate a strong digital community. They were also searching more – twice as much, in fact.

Here, we cover three fundamentals of an effective content strategy, along with Cherie’s examples of how The Digital Picnic did, indeed, walk the talk when COVID-19 disrupted business as usual.

Be relevant and timely

When you know what people are searching for, you can write content that clicks – and keeps people clicking. The Digital Picnic have always used analytics tools, which help to identify the content themes that people are searching for.

“There are free tools available to everyone, such as Google search trend reports, so you don’t need to rely on expensive software,” says Cherie.

As the effects of COVID-19 rolled in, The Digital Picnic saw the opportunity to talk to the crisis in their area of expertise: people were searching for ways to improve their online presence.

Cherie and her team crafted new topics for their content calendar that would be genuinely helpful for their audience, such as ‘The power of your online community during a crisis’ and ‘How to remain visible as a brand throughout COVID-19’.

The key takeaway: Generalist content can be easily overlooked, so The Digital Picnic spoke to its niche. Ensure you produce content that nods to a changing landscape or key moment while remaining true to your brand.  

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Be data-driven

“We noticed that engagement on our blog posts had increased by 50% since COVID-19 happened. We were thrilled that there were so many people wanting information from us,” says Cherie. With this insight, the team decided to increase the frequency of their posts.

By monitoring on-site metrics, the agency found that its articles were getting more views than ever. It was an opportunity to increase brand equity as thought leaders in the digital space. “We increased our blog’s circulation schedule by 50%, and the results have been incredible. It’s effective from an SEO perspective, but it’s also allowed us to build authority and brand awareness,” says Cherie.

“We increased our blog’s circulation schedule by 50%, and the results have been incredible. It’s effective from an SEO perspective, but it’s also allowed us to build authority and brand awareness.”

- Cherie Clonan, director of The Digital Picnic

The Digital Picnic monitors its performance consistently each month. “We look at our analytics, make sense of the data and plan accordingly,” Cherie tells us. “We make business decisions this way. Based on the data, we amplify the things that are yielding the best results for our business.”

However, Cherie cautions against over-analysing. “Many business owners fall into the trap of looking at the stats daily then making knee-jerk reactions… It takes longer than that.”

The key takeaway: Set up your analytics dashboard, whether it’s a free tool or paid software, or hire an expert if you have the resources. Monthly analysis can help you make informed decisions to increase what’s working and cull what isn’t.

Be agile

Cherie highlights the importance of remaining adaptable. “You can’t be afraid to adjust your strategy if things change,” she says.

Despite having produced months of a planned content calendar, Cherie and her team knew that the best way forward was to reroute – because their planned content would no longer hit the mark in the changing landscape.

“People will know us as the agency who wrote a great post on remaining visible online in an uncertain climate, or they saw one of our other posts that was relevant at the right time,” says Cherie.

Keeping your finger on the pulse can help your business come out even stronger after a crisis. “People will choose to shop with particular brands and use the services of particular businesses again. If we do all of the right things in this climate, we’re going to be remembered for the right reasons.”

The key takeaway: Plan ahead, but be agile enough to adjust at short notice. If the environment changes, ensure your content does too. 

“People will choose to shop with particular brands and use the services of particular businesses again. If we do all of the right things in this climate, we’re going to be remembered for the right reasons.”

- Cherie Clonan, director of The Digital Picnic
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