July 14, 2020

Content in Lockdown

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By David Levin, Co-founder & Creative Director at That Lot

Hello Figaro readers. I’m Dave, one of the creative directors at a social agency called That Lot. In a bid to make you watch my Figaro talk about content in lockdown, here’s an article about content in lockdown. A teaser, if you will. If it leaves you feeling sufficiently teased, please watch my talk. Did I mention I’m doing a talk? I’ll stop.

That introduction is a great example of how not to write in lockdown – which is the first area I’d like to talk to you about. In normal times, brevity is important if you want people not to ignore you on social media, particularly if you’re a brand. In lockdown it’s essential. Internet usage has never been higher, but likewise neither has competition. People are drowning in pandemic-related information and lockdown-related relief, so to cut through the noise you need to grab attention quickly, and more often than not, that requires short punchy copy. If your copy is also relatable, uplifting, and a sharp piece of writing, then you’re really onto a winner. Like this.

The content winning in lockdown is the stuff that makes us feel we’re in this together, we’re not in this forever, and we’re still bloody clever.

The next matter of importance, if you’re aiming to break the internet during a lockdown, is originality. Good content has never been more in demand, but it needs to be unique enough to stop people scrolling. That originality might come in the form of an idea, such as this scathing timeline of The Conservative Party’s response to coronavirus (projected double-scathingly onto Barnard Castle) or it could be an actual product, such as the creation of the most topical beer of all time by Brewdog.

If you can find an ownable topical format, ideally a brilliantly platform-specific one, your KPIs are likely to soar like toilet roll sales in Lidl. Like these guys who taught everyone about the true distance of social distancing in a non-scientific way, or my favourite person on TikTok who re-enacted one of President Trump’s speeches as a drunk in a nightclub. So many brands in lockdown have tried as hard as they can to sound like every other brand. That, as my Irish mum-in-law might say, is a road to no town. To cut through the noise, you need to be bold, you need to be smart, and you need to make people smile for a few seconds before they go back to their full-time job of trying to get an online shopping order.

I’d also like to talk to you about live production. Partly because it’s something my agency excels at and offers at remarkably affordable prices (I’ll stop), but also because it’s something that so many brands and broadcasters have attempted to do over the past 742 weeks we’ve been confined to our front rooms. Getting live lockdown production right requires a new way of thinking, the right kit and, ideally, a bunch of fabulous drag queens.

To quote your mum, size matters. Sorry about that joke, it was crass and I instantly regret it. But at least it got your attention quickly. In social video, size (or length) is of course key, and there seems to be two varieties of video content that are flying during lockdown. Firstly, the super short “snackable” output that gets to the point brilliantly within a few seconds. And secondly – at the other end of the spectrum – long-form social content. By “long-form” in social, I’m talking about video that’s five to 10 minutes. In our world, that’s a Coen Brothers movie. And during lockdown, we’ve seen the appetite for long social video increase, mainly for our broadcaster clients (who people associate with good long content) and particularly when it’s creative lockdown storytelling such as this. The trend seems to be flourishing on IGTV too which seems to have seen a meteoric rise during lockdown.

And finally, jokes. In times of crisis, we need laughter. In the darkest of situations, people make jokes. There’s no greater communal healing than a LOL. So jokes have never been in higher demand. You can put “crisis comedy” into three categories. Satire runs at the problem hitting it over the head, such as the jokes we write every day for Have I Got News For You’s feeds. Observational comedy, meanwhile, is a little gentler. It points out the ridiculousness of the situation and does it in a way we can all relate to reminding us that we’re not going through this alone, such as this. Then you’ve got total escapism which takes the oddness of our situation and diffuses it with comedy, such as this family interruption-based gold by Ivor Baddiel.

In summary, we need to keep making each other smile, keep inspiring each other, and keep bringing everyone together with great content. And soon, friends, life will return to something-like-normal. (Unless you decided to run for President like Kanye West.)

And on that note, I shall bid you farewell.

Stay safe.


P.S. Please watch my talk. (I’ll stop.)

David will be speaking at our  Social & Video Marketing Spotlight webinar on Thursday. Register here or email Paul Nichols for more information.

Written by

David Levin,
Co-founder & Creative Director at That Lot