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  • Mark Kalkwarf

Creating Your Own Visual Content for Social Media During COVID-19

With the current health crisis, businesses are taking a hit and need all the help they can get when it comes to connecting with their customers, prospects, partners, and team members.

During past adversities such as Hurricane Katrina, the USA turned toward digital content and the same seems to be happening now. According to, people are consuming more and more digital content, in fact, just one week after quarantine was implemented, web traffic grew an astounding 20%. Much of this online content consumption is taking place via social media. According to a report by Facebook revealed that messaging across the platforms services had increased 50% in countries affected by the virus.

We’ve seen it time and time again, and the COVID pandemic is only serving to drive the point home even further. If you want to stay top of mind and connected with your consumers, you have to have a social media presence.

At ATYPICAL, we’re seeing an influx of content as businesses start to take advantage of the increase in social media users and time spent on social platforms. However, what this means is that there is a lot of noise out there and if you truly want to stand out and get noticed, you have to be a little different from the rest.

We know that one way to make sure that your posts stand out from the rest and communicate effectively is through visual content. However, coronavirus has changed just about everything, including the way we need to conduct ourselves on social media. So where to start if you are a small business without a marketing team or if this is an area that you have previously delegated or outsourced.

Visual elements are important for your content marketing and social media strategy. They have timeline stopping power and communicate more than a text only post.

According to HubSpot, people following directions with text and visual content do 323% better than people following directions without graphics.

Here’s the challenge

If you are not a designer or if you don’t think you are creative, it can be a daunting task to make decisions about how these should look. Fear not. We’ve put together some great ways for you to make choices about how to create eye catching images that drive engagement and shares while considering peoples changed online behaviors.

What is your why?

First, ­­you need to think about the purpose that your image is looking to achieve. Ask yourself WHY you are creating this image. All design choices need to reflect and support this goal. Is it to entertain, motivate, educate, solve a problem, or inspire action?

Sales have been disrupted, industries have shifted, and spending patterns have changed. The purpose of our communication and messaging needs to align with these shifts. Hard selling needs to be reconsidered in a time when economies and incomes have been shaken. Social freedom and healthcare can no longer be taken for granted. Take this into account when deciding on the purpose of the message you wish to communicate. Focus on how your brand can encourage positivity and motivation. Content that focuses on helping rather than selling can increase sentiment around your brand and gain better returns in the future.

Humans are driven by feelings. So, if you want the consumer to remember your product or brand, they must be engaged and impassioned by the interaction with your company. Many industries may experience a boom as consumers are still planning for the future and this ‘top of mind’ approach will lead to better conversions post Covid.

Where are you posting it?

Now that you have established the purpose of your visual, you need to ensure it is the correct size for your social platform.

How should it look?

An image that stands out and effectively communicates your brand message has stopping power. Whatever the purpose of the message it will be lost if it doesn’t pause people scrolling in their timelines. You can use your own graphics or stock images as long as you have legal rights to use them. Online image banks such as Unsplash and Freepik provide a vast collection of high quality images and graphics for you to download free of charge.

Choose visuals that will evoke the specific emotion you want your audience to feel and that reinforce your message and your connection with them. Aiming to create positivity, hope and comfort in a shared human experience will foster positive brand sentiment and drive engagement. No matter what story your social media graphic design is trying to tell, keep the information straightforward and easy to process with highly visual content and minimal text to capture attention and tell the story as quickly as possible.

The current social climate needs to be taken into account when making these choices. Coming up with clever ideas and keeping messages appropriate and constructive will foster positive sentiment for your brand.

Serramonte Shopping Center uses bright colours and simplified vector visual elements to attract attention to their recent social media campaigns which have been developed as interactive ways to reach their audience in their own homes.

Their Mother’s Day download-at-home activities and Virtual Easter scavenger hunt enabled shoppers to interact with the brand in a fun and valuable way fun while still keeping social distance.

A great example of how brands can source their own visual content in imaginative ways can be seen in Open Box’s social media content. They have used imagery of their employees showing off their home office spaces and engaging in digital workout sessions, connecting the team, despite not physically being in the same space. Their content is authentic and not only encourages fitness and health for their employees but also gives clients comfort that they are “business-as usual” while working from home.

Many people are experiencing anxiety around finances and the fact is that many businesses are struggling. Kimco has done a great job of promoting their communities and giving their followers up-to-date information on store openings and trading hours.

Many brands have taken this opportunity to show gratitude to their communities by incorporating 'Thank You' posts into their timelines. This kind of visual content creates positive brand sentiment and establishes real emotional connection with the viewer.

Create and Share

So, you have established your goal, decided on the size of image you want to create, and chosen a graphic. Now it's time to put it together. If you don’t have access to a designer to do this, you can use a visual content creation tool such as Canva, Design Pickle, or Spark. These have ready-made templates for you to customize with your own graphics and text. When deciding what copy should go into your image, the rule of thumb is always less is more. Keep headings to the point and call-to-actions clear.

If you are going to be boosting your image on Facebook, make sure the text takes up less than 20% of the image or your reach will be compromised. Upload your graphic into the Facebook Overlay tool to make sure your image complies.

Whilst creating your visual, you will need to keep consistency with your existing brand identity. This is made up of your logo and graphic variations, fonts and color schemes. This may be mapped out in a Brand Guide document. If your brand doesn’t have one, reference the look and feel of your website and current social media pages. By using consistent imagery and design elements, your audience will immediately recognize your brand and know what to expect from it.

As always, through every step of the process, be mindful that every design element you choose reflects the message you are trying to tell.

Congratulations, you can now create your very own social media visuals while adding value relevant to the current situation. In some ways, it may be harder than ever to be responsible for social media in your company or organization. But it may also never be a more vital job. You can continue to communicate, inspire, educate and assist your audiences by creating social media graphics that your audience is sure to click even while in lockdown.


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