Let’s face it, social media is visual media. With the growing popularity of Instagram and Pinterest, visual assets are becoming a more and more critical component of social media content. And this is with good reason, as Dr. John Medina mentions in his book, Brain Rules:
“If the information is presented orally, people remember about 10 percent, tested 72 hours after exposure. That figure goes up to 65 percent if you add a picture.”
Even platforms like Facebook and Twitter, which rely less on premium visuals, report an increase in engagement when a post is paired with an image. According to a study by Buzzsumo and OkDork.com, posts with at least 1 image tripled engagement on Facebook and nearly doubled engagement on Twitter.
The trouble is, marketers often get stuck trying to find the right photograph for all of these visual needs. And while photos (either stock or branded) are great content to have in your toolbox, so are social graphics.
The most successful social graphics are branded consistently but designed to fit within the environment of the platform you’re sharing on. Instagram, for example, should have graphics that are square and include some text– a quote or a phrase that the audience can relate to. The great thing about social graphics is that they are relatively easy to create, offer a way to break up the feed and when done well are highly shareable.
You also don’t need to be or have a designer on your team to make them. To get started creating your branded social graphics, follow these best practices:
Think about the goal of your graphics
The first step in designing an asset for your brand is to think about why you need it and what it will need to accomplish. You will likely have several goals in mind, but we encourage you to dig deep and think through the question: how will this graphic add value to my audience?
Social graphics are often a source of entertainment or information for audiences, so it will be important that your final design achieves this goal. Other brands aim to surprise and delight their audience through creative animations or unexpected treatments. Whatever your goal, make sure to document it before starting the design phase.
This will be helpful in communicating art direction to a designer, or in keeping you focused on your ultimate WHY if you are DIYing it.
Pick your brand elements
If these graphics are for an established brand, you likely have assets that you can work with. However, you won’t necessarily want to include them all. Social graphics are a delicate balance of brand consistency and creating content that is truly ‘social’– it has to fit the environment of the platform. (For example, we hardly ever use text overlay on Instagram opting for a clean, simple visual; and on Pinterest, we’ll create graphics that are very vertical rather than square).
In order to determine which elements to keep and which to skip, we recommend pulling all of your current branding together (either on a physical board or digitally) and asking a few questions to facilitate the editing process
- Which of these elements are a must have? (Believe it or not, it might NOT be your logo)
- Which of these elements don’t fit the social environment?
- Which of these elements are easily translatable to social media?
- What three-five words do I want to make sure get captured in my design?
Everlane is a clothing brand that does a great job of maintaining consistency across all of their channels, while still keeping in line with the feeling of Instagram.
In developing their social graphic template, they kept their signature typefaces, but decided to omit their logo in favor of a hashtag. The color palette is soft and muted and the use of white text is present across all channels. Finally, they avoided using text overlay, a common feature on their website, in their social graphics.
Maintain both Consistency & Creativity
It can take anywhere from five to seven impressions for people to begin to recognize your brand. And if you take into account that most of your audience is not seeing everything you post, that means consistency is important long after you are ready for a change.
But consistency doesn’t necessarily mean that each graphic should be the same. There is still room for creativity. Popsugar Fitness uses a variety of colors and fonts across their social graphics, but they post them on a regular schedule to achieve a cohesive look. The graphics always feel fun, motivating and humorous and they are posted every other day. The result is a happy and colorful grid that relies less on photos and more on graphics.
It’s also important to note two social practices Popsugar uses:
- Their handle is in the bottom corner of every graphic. While it’s barely noticeable this ensures that if the graphic is reposted by a fan, their name with be out there.
- They incorporate the use of emojis and social speak (OMG, IRL). This makes the audience feel like they are seeing a post from a friend instead of a brand, making the content even more engaging.
Templates, Templates, Templates!
Both those new to designing and expert designers can benefit from using templates. Not only does it take the guesswork out of consistency and branding, but it can also help to save a lot of time. You can either create your own template or have a designer create one for you in a program where you can easily make updates.
Here are a couple considerations & tools when designing your template:
- A few of our favorite tools for this are Canva and Adobe Spark. They have some beautiful inspiration and design that you can use, but always remember that you want your graphic to fit your brand. Resist the temptation to use a ‘premade design’.
- Reference the always up to date social image guide from Sprout Social. Social platforms make changes all the time and sharing the incorrect size can result in pixelation and bad cropping.
- Focal point + white space is a good formula for your social template. Adding more elements than is necessary often creates clutter and confusion.
- Keep it mind that most of your viewers are going to be looking at your graphic on their mobile phone. Test how it looks on a small screen and make sure everything is still readable!
Once you’ve designed your template, save it wherever it’s easiest for you to access and update. Batch your graphic creation so that you are creating several graphics at once. Then load them all into your scheduling tool, post and share!
We encourage the use of social graphics because they can be easy to make, are engaging for most audiences, and because they help to break up the monotony of photographs within a profile feed. Follow these steps and give creating graphics a try on your own!