Marketing is a contest for people’s attention. Not me, Seth Godin said this and it’s 200% true. With more are more businesses joining social media it’s never been so hard to get traction on social media.
We live in a visual world. Science says that humans respond to visual data better than any other type of data and 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual. Ok, wait! Why are you saying this?
Just to point out that it’s very hard to get traction on social media without an eye-catching design!
We now have an ocean of ads & too much promotional content on social media and the only way to make the users stop scrolling is by a pattern interruption. It can be done with a better copy, creativity, and better graphics.
While I’ve already talked about how to design social media posts via the 6 step framework here, I thought that it’s time to talk about a framework to make those graphics better. So, I’ve got 8 powerful design tips for you to make your images & graphics grab more eyeballs on social media. If you are a business owner or marketer or designer then these tips will definitely help you a lot.
The topics I’m gonna cover in this article include:
- How and what kind of images you need to choose for maximum engagement.
- How to brand your content on social media.
- Things you need to consider before designing.
- How to choose fonts and colors in your designs.
- How to use less text and more visuals on social media to grab attention
- What design principles you need to consider while designing
- How to design simple but still attractive and eye-catching social media content
- How to build a recognizable brand on social media with visual branding
1. Choose The Perfect Size
While square-size posts can fit “Ok” on any social platform, it’s always recommended to resize the content for the particular social platforms that you are looking to build a social media presence, before posting.
For example, you can post 1080px*1080px size posts (Instagram post size) on Pinterest, but portrait size always works better than the square ones on Pinterest. A simple google search will tell you what size you need to use before designing for that particular social platform.
And here is a social media size guide from Hubspot where you can even find the resolutions you need to use for profile pics, cover photos, pins, posts, etc.
2. Choose Images Wisely
Let’s start with stock photography. Extensive use of stock photography might (or will) dehumanize your brand. But there is a right and wrong way to use them. If you are placing the design elements in the right way people won’t care much about the stock photo.
In the above post, although the saloon business used a stock image, the thing that mattered much is the design and content (Inviting customers & 20% Off), and the stock image(beauty and makeup related) only added more context to the content. So that’s a good way to leverage stock photos. Now look at this one:
This is just obvious that they have used a stock image and placed text on it (which is not visible clearly). This kind of post will definitely not stop the scroll in the feed.
Important: If you are using a stock image, the image shouldn’t be the main focus in the post.
Stock photos will save a lot of time and money. But, you know what? If you can use real images that would be way better.
People who are following your business on social media would love to see and know more about your business. And you don’t need to hire a photographer (well, hire one if you can) to take your own business and product images.
Just use your smartphone and take some nice snaps of products, people, customers, etc. For social media, original images will work way better than any other stock photo on the internet, especially if it’s an eCommerce or any other physical product-related business.
3. Choose Fonts & Colors Wisely – Visual Branding
Colors and texts play a big role in how well your content is presented to your audience. That’s the reason why it’s very much necessary to experiment with fonts and colors in the beginning, till you develop a perfect aesthetic for your brand.
Never use more than two different fonts in a design. Try using the same font with different weights (regular, medium, bold, italic, etc) if you can. And for colors, try using your brand colors wherever and whenever you can
You need to make sure that all the content pieces that you post on a particular social media need to have something in common that makes you stand out. And also you need to ensure all your social profiles have a “common thing” that people will recognize as your brand. To achieve this, you need to ensure you are using the same color palettes, typeface, and logo avatars.
I like the way how this restaurant business in Bali is consistent with its colors and typography.
Every image that they post also has a greenish filter. Although many big brands and businesses don’t necessarily follow this, it’s still a best practice to gain traction in the long term. If done perfectly, people will recognize your brand without looking at the logo and your profile handle.
4. Overlay Text On The Images Perfectly
Almost everything that we post on social media will have some sort of text. Whether it’s an offer post or announcement post or any other kind of content type, it doesn’t matter. It’ll have text. And here are 5 design tips for perfectly overlay text on images.
#1 Add a color overlay on the image and then add text. So, it should look like: Text > Color Overlay > Image in terms of the layer stack(Oh yeah, I am a photoshop guy).
#2 Blur the image and then add text.
#3 Add visual assets (colored rectangles, other shapes; borders) behind and around the text.
#4 Add a shadow to the text. This makes the text feel as if it is popping out. This is the reason why “To all out Road-Queens”, is still readable despite huge brightness(because of the sun in the image).
#5 Add visual assets (colored rectangles, other shapes; borders) behind and around the image in the post so that you’ll have enough space to write text.
For an in-depth explanation of these 5 tips, go here.
Basically, the goal is to make the text stand out. Especially the headline should pop up. So in that way, if a user is interested in the headline (50% off on electronics, 5 tips to lose weight), then he/she will be more likely to spend time on your content.
5. Create Templates
Templates are true time savers. I’m talking about saving tons of time in designing social media content.
Create templates for the content type that you post regularly. Mad Over Marketing posts something similar(in terms of design) quite often. I’m pretty sure they don’t design this every time from the scratch. And just imagine how much time they would have saved till now by designing the content every time from a template.
If you can keep some design elements common and change some design elements then that would bring a lot of variety to the table. That’s what Preview App is very good at.
They keep the fonts and some visual elements common but change the colors, text (obvious! they can’t post the same content every time), emoji icons, etc.
Final Tip: Create templates for content types that you post on your social media regularly: Testimonials, announcements, etc.
6. Convert Words Into Visuals
Our brain only needs 1/10 of a second to understand an image. and that’s not the same with textual content. That’s one of the main reasons why content marketing is getting more and more visual. So, simply what I am saying is don’t put too many words. Even if you put it, make it interesting.
In the example below, the “increase” in % is replaced by an upward arrow.
- Use icons to illustrate concepts.
- Turn numbers and words into illustrations and graphs.
- Follow the textual hierarchy and decide what the user has to read first if you are putting a lot of content.
Pinterest is full of amazing graphics like these and can be a good source of inspiration for you if you are looking for ways to replace words with visuals.
7. Master Alignment, Distribution, And White Space
When the design elements are aligned perfectly and distributed equally, the creative will look professional. Look at this post by Neustar Inc.
The photos are distributed equally in the creative and the text is aligned to left perfectly (From heading – “Unified Identity” to the text below the images, every piece of written content is aligned to the left side).
And as you might have noticed in the above creative, there is a lot of empty space (plain black) on the right side. That’s called White Space. So white space(also called Negative Space) is the area of the creative that isn’t filled with any design elements like text, images, shapes, etc. It’s the area that won’t attract the attention of the user. Keep these principles in mind every time you are creating a new post.
8. Keep It Simple
“Simplicity boils down to two steps: Identify the essential. Eliminate the rest.”
– Leo Babauta
Don’t overload the posts with too many graphical elements and more text. It’s ok to decorate your content with shapes, borders, patterns, etc but don’t do anything too crazy!
Remember that the goal is always to convey the message in the easiest possible way. So despite your creative freedom, always focus on creating clean designs.
There are a lot of terms I could’ve used like Kerning, Asymmetrical Balance, Organic Shapes, Proximity, etc in this article to explain the design process. But I didn’t (well, technically I did use those terms now, but you know what I mean). I didn’t use them because I don’t want to overcomplicate things. I just gave you some basic but very powerful tips.
And I just want you to do the same. Don’t add too many design elements just for the sake of adding. Just because you are a designer doesn’t mean you have to do all those stuff. And a good design is not one that is filled with more stuff.
Just focus on creating the design that’ll be easier for your audience to grasp.
The content has to be more than attractive. It should provide value in some form(educate, entertain, inspire). If you can create helpful content (CONTENT IS THE KING) and can present it in an attractive way (DESIGN MATTERS TOO) to your audience then you’ve won the social media game.
If you have any graphic design tips for social media, please mention them in the comments! That would help me and my blog visitors, too. Thanks for reading!