Digital Marketing Consultant | Passionate Writer | Cat Enthusiast
Thanks to the novel coronavirus, the main way for most of us to hang out with friends and family this year has been online. Online multiplayer gaming and online watch parties became 2020’s big social occasions, as the only ways you can get together without risk of infection. Individuals sheltering in place, especially younger people who are more likely to live alone, are searching online for a new sense of community.
As a result, social media use has spiked. People who are desperate to connect and find fun distractions have engaged on every channel available. Some 42% of all US adults say they spent significantly more time on social media in April than they did in March, but they made significant changes in their choice of social media content as well as consuming more of it.
During the Covid-19 lockdown, people want relatability, light-hearted distraction and positivity, and a sense of community and togetherness. Savvy brands and social media creators know how to make the most of these types of trends.
“Since I gave in to TikTok I have never laughed so hard in my entire life. That’s the beauty of it, it’s a platform that’s just fun,” fashion and beauty influencer Kate Sands, who has 256,000 followers on Instagram as @honestlykate, recently told We Are Social.
“I used to only post things with a purpose or a message, but now i’m realizing that our audiences need the silliness as a distraction during these uncertain times.”
Social media has emerged as the primary way that consumers interact with brands, especially when many organizations were forced to shut down other customer support channels, such as chat, email, and phone, as they became overwhelmed. Easyjet is just one major company that canceled their onsite support chat function due to the flood of inquiries.
Indeed, social media engagement has spiked across all industries, although a deep dive shows that some, such as healthcare, consumer goods and entertainment, have seen huge surges in engagement while other verticals, like sports, legal, and retail, have sustained engagement dips, according to Sprout Social’s data.
Posts with visuals outperform those without on every social media platform, and the hottest social channels today are all oriented around visuals. TikTok, Instagram and Facebook Stories are where it’s at, and you need the ability to catch people’s eyes with whimsical, amusing and striking creative if you’re going to stop them from thumbing through their feeds.
These trends add up to a golden opportunity for creators and brand marketers during Covid-19. Here are some tips for creating visual content that satisfies what audiences want this summer.
People stuck at home are tapping into their own creativity, creating their own content, experimenting with styles and formats, and sharing the results. In March and April 2020, Americans spent over 90% more time on creator and editing apps.
Professional creative artists are encouraging theatrical creativity with virtual experiences like DisDance parties, hosted by DJs and choreographers, which invite everyone to share their dance videos, and improvisational zoom-hosted plays called Bake-Offs, instigated by playwright Paula Vogel.
Combined with the boredom factor of lockdown, this means that consumers have raised their standards for view-worthy visual content. They want you to bump up your creativity level to match their own.
One option is to apply edgy, innovative new effects, optical illusions, and eye-catching filters to your images. Audience members are already used to the “typical” color filters and other effects they can use on Instagram and Snapchat, so they aren’t easily impressed. You need to push the envelope further.
The good news is that if you’re feeling stuck or not very creative, there are tools that can help. Lightricks just launched Quickart, an app with loads of advanced filters and features that go way beyond the standard. You can then post straight from the app to Instagram or Facebook. The aim is to make it easy for anyone, marketers included, to play around with visual effects without any knowledge of advanced photo-editing tools.
No one, but no one, has time for stock photos. Cheesy images of a boy and a girl holding hands are old news. Staging your own photo shoots for original content is the best tactic, but lockdowns, travel restrictions, and the risk of infection makes them difficult, and sometimes impossible, today.
Fortunately, you can draw on alternative, free stock image repositories like Gratisography and StockSnap. The range is large enough that you can find photos that haven’t already appeared a million times in your audience’s feeds. Perhaps the best of the bunch, though, is Pexels, simply because the library here is especially large – and growing with fresh new images all the time, thanks to an active community of photographers who contribute consistently.
Unlike stock photos of yore, these archives now offer bright, elegant and light-hearted images that can make consumers smile or laugh. Funny images attract engagement and boost brand affinity.
Everyone appreciates a chance to smile and a brand that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and that’s more true now than ever before.
Use color schemes to tap into the social media zeitgeist. You could develop color themes that are positive, cheerful, and upbeat, to raise people’s spirits no matter what your content is. Or it could be time to put together warm, nurturing, comforting color schemes that make your target audience feel cared for and supported.
As part of the drive towards greater creativity and experimentation, consumers are also open to seeing non-traditional color schemes and unique color pairings. Tools like Coolors help you develop new color themes that go together perfectly and match the vibe you’re looking for.
Coolors allows you to browse thousands of color palettes shared by platform staff, to generate palettes automatically from images you upload, or to create your own from scratch. Palettes can be relegated to solid shades or to incorporate gradients.
Visuals are always important for driving engagement on social media, and with social media use rising due to the novel coronavirus, marketers need to ramp their visual marketing skills up a notch.
Boosting your creativity, choosing appealing, entertaining, and original images, and curating appropriate color schemes are all tactics that help your social media posts attract attention.
Disclosure: The author does not have any vested interest in the projects mentioned.
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