Content in the time of COVID-19: How Colleen Sokolik and an agile team at MetLife developed and launched a content hub to support their customers

We needed to work very closely with legal, because everything COVID-19-related is under high scrutiny. Colleen Sokolik
In late March, as COVID-19 was growing across the country and impacting their customers and employees, MetLife US Director of Social Strategy and Digital Marketing Colleen Sokolik and a small cross-functional team jumped into action to provide their customers with timely, relevant content that could help support them.

They put together an agile working team with representatives from marketing, communications, the financial wellness business group, and legal to quickly develop a financial wellness content hub on their website. Then, Colleen got to work on the content that would populate the new hub and a social media strategy to promote it.

The first thing Colleen did was take an inventory of all existing, consumer-facing content to decide what would make sense to include in the content hub.

“I took inventory of hundreds of pieces of content to see what could be relevant and useful and what would require refreshes,” she said. “Then, we also started developing new content to help our customers navigate this difficult time.”

Colleen said that financial wellness was always top of mind as the topic they wanted to develop their strategy towards. But, for the full content strategy, they settled on four pillars: financial wellness, health and wellness, work and family, and community support.

“We tried to have an even distribution of the content from our four pillars before we launched the website,” said Colleen.

Within two weeks, Colleen and her team launched the site with 10 articles.

I took inventory of hundreds of pieces of content to see what could be relevant and useful and what would require refreshes. Colleen Sokolik
“Every week since the launch we've been rolling out two additional pieces,” she said. “At this point we have well over 20 pieces of content.”

According to Colleen, taking this site live was a huge cross-functional team effort — which required collaboration with not only their financial wellness business team, but their legal partners as well. “We needed to work very closely with legal, because everything COVID-19-related is under high scrutiny,” she said.

As they were preparing to launch the site, Colleen and her team also had to be thinking about a social strategy.

We also found the budget to do A/B testing and boost organic posts to drive optimal traffic to the website. Colleen Sokolik
“We developed a social strategy for this content from the ground up,” she said. “The timing was actually perfect because we were in the process of rethinking everything we had previously planned for April and May — so this helped us fill our calendar with very timely, useful content.”

Colleen said this initiative was a great opportunity for them to test new social creative.

“We were able to secure funding from our business partners to create social-first assets for all of the articles,” she said. “Then, we also found the budget to do A/B testing and boost organic posts to drive optimal traffic to the website.”

As she developed this social media strategy, Colleen wanted to make sure everything they were sharing was timely and relevant.

“We weren't trying to push any MetLife products, we were just curating information for our followers to help them during this difficult time,” she said. “We wanted to be seen as their partner. We were hyperaware of the imagery we selected for the website and social — everything needed to make sense with the exact time we're in right now — meaning no images of people working in an office, people in large groups, etc.”

Colleen relied on their pre-existing channel strategies on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter — which engage with their audiences in different ways — to execute this social media strategy.

We weren't trying to push any MetLife products, we were just curating information for our followers to help them during this difficult time. Colleen Sokolik
“For instance, we see Facebook and Twitter as the places we reach a more general consumer audience, while LinkedIn is a bit more BtoB,” she said. “Our copy on LinkedIn tends to be more employee focused as well.”

According to Colleen, those channel strategies heavily influence which content hub articles they promote where.

“On LinkedIn, maybe it doesn't make sense for us to be promoting a piece on meditation, but on Twitter and Facebook it does,” she said. “Those nuances came into play for what content we would put onto which channels and developing unique copy for each channel.”

So far, the content Colleen and her team have been pushing out around the new content hub has been outperforming all their social benchmarks.

We see Facebook and Twitter as the places we reach a more general consumer audience, while LinkedIn is a bit more BtoB. Colleen Sokolik
For the first few weeks of April, she said their average engagement rate for the social content was 44 percent above MetLife benchmarks, and the average click-through rate was 40 percent above benchmark.

“We have also been pleased to see that when we put money behind this content on social by boosting or performing A/B tests, it's performing 300 percent above MetLife paid benchmarks for engagement rate and 87 percent above click-through rate.”

To pull this project off, Colleen and her teammate (who joined MetLife only shortly before the crisis hit) had to be very scrappy.

“We had to refresh all this content and develop the social posts just the two of us on very little budget,” she said. “But, fortunately, we've been able to really prove the value of sharing this timely, relevant content.”

And, while they prioritized this project, Colleen emphasized that none of their other work stopped. “We still needed to help other areas of the business and keep our social channels running while we were developing all this new content,” she said.

Colleen said this project proved that putting money behind social-first assets and targeting the right audiences pays off.

It's performing 300 percent above MetLife paid benchmarks for engagement rate and 87 percent above click-through rate. Colleen Sokolik
“When you make those efforts, your content is going to perform far better than if you're just posting organically,” she said. “It was a big proof point for our business partners. We're thrilled to see that the engagement rates and the click-through rates are performing above MetLife benchmarks.”

To find success through an initiative like this, Colleen advised going through the process of organizing your content as soon as possible.

“One of the biggest struggles and hurdles with this was taking inventory and trying to organize all of the content we had on our website,” she said. “Have your content organized in a good way so that when you're pulled into a project like this, you have solid resources to utilize, and you don't have to try to figure out where everything lives by hand.”

She suggested building a content inventory to figure out what existing content you could possibly re-promote on social or slightly refresh to make it new again. “By doing this, I was able to uncover articles that I never even knew existed,” said Colleen.

Colleen Sokolik has been a member of SocialMedia.org since 2017. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.