Social media is visual. Scratch that. The world is visual.
A BuzzSumo study revealed that posts with visuals receive 2.3x more engagement.
But what if you don’t have a graphic design background to create those stunning visuals? Even with the rise of affordable graphic design solutions, not everyone has the budget to hire resources or outsource designing.
So, what happens to those social media feeds? Does that mean they have to end up looking like this?
Let’s face it — stock photos are done to death and if you want to drive engagement on social media, they’re certainly not the answer.
The good news is that you don’t have to be a designer to master social media graphics. Thanks to easy-to-use online tools, infographic makers, and graphic design software, you can create engaging content consistently.
What’s important is having the appropriate design knowledge that helps you produce visuals that communicate your message effectively while compelling users to stop scrolling and view your content.
So, here are nine key tips to help non-designers master social media graphics, and give their social media marketing plan a boost.
1. Create original icons and illustrations
Originality always wins because users gravitate towards newness. With so much content out there, there is bound to be repetition and overlaps.
What can help you stand out from the crowd is creating unique social media content. Interestingly, as per Venngage’s visual content marketing study, 40% marketers claimed that original graphics helped them reach their marketing goals in 2019.
So, create your own visuals in the form of icons, illustrations, infographics, graphs, memes, charts and videos that best convey your message and trigger emotions.
You can also use them to breathe life into quotes and mundane imagery.
2. Use stock photos wisely
Let’s say you have to showcase lifestyle imagery but don’t have the budget to do a full-fledged shoot. What option are you left with? Stock photos.
The key to making stock photos work is to be tactful. You can’t choose a photo that’s been used for the umpteenth time and expect it to strike a chord with your audience.
The first step is to steer clear of images that look too orchestrated. Go for realistic photos that your audience can relate to.
Secondly, before using the photo as is, why not repurpose it to make it your own? Here are some quick tips to customize stock photos and make them seem more relevant:
- Insert text to add context
- Crop a certain section of the image to emphasize on the communication
- Change the colors to match your brand guidelines
- Use filters or add contrast to change the mood
- Add icons and illustrations to personalize the image further
3. Identify the central focal point
Identifying the focal point is key to design success. This becomes all the more important when you’re creating visuals for social media because you’re expected to make the most of the limited space.
So, start with identifying the main point you want to communicate through the graphic. While you might be tempted to say a lot, it’s advisable to keep your communication focussed to avoid overwhelming users.
Once you know what you want to convey, it’s about identifying a focal point and designing your graphic around it. Doing this attracts attention (to the right places) and helps you convey your message more clearly.
Here’s an example of crystal clear communication and the visual just accentuates it.
4. Combine contrasting colors
Choosing the right colors for your social media graphics can get tricky. Colors impact mood, perceptions and emotions, making it important for marketers to choose colors wisely.
For instance, a dull brown won’t evoke the same response in you the way a bright yellow would.
While designing for social media, you need to select colors that make your visual pop. Regardless of whether you use vivid or muted colors, what’s important is using the right combination of contrasting colors that match your brand’s personality and aid storytelling.
Don’t use more than 2-3 colors as that would end up confusing the viewer. It’s also a good idea to experiment with gradients and add depth to your graphics.
5. Pair the right fonts
Just the way every color has a personality, the same holds true for fonts.
There are two factors you need to consider while choosing fonts:
- Brand personality
You can’t be using a gorgeous font that makes it hard for your followers to read or worse, picking a font that’s poles apart from your brand persona.
For instance, imagine a healthcare company using the below font. Terrible, isn’t it?
So, keep the typography simple by pairing fonts that complement each other and your brand. Use one font for the main communication and pair it up with another from the same family in case you’re adding a sub-text.
You should also play with the font styles and sizes to capture attention and emphasize on certain aspects of your visual.
6. Create a visual hierarchy
Not many non-designers realize the importance of creating a visual hierarchy while designing graphics.
What is a visual hierarchy? It’s the arrangement of various design elements in a manner that draws attention to the most important message first. It’s like guiding the viewer on what to read.
Most people will be viewing your social media content on their smartphones which means the absence of visual hierarchy is likely to confuse the user or worse still, scroll past your post.
You can create visual hierarchy by sizing the elements, using contrast, colors, and typefaces to give your design some structure and imply importance.
7. Incorporate brand elements
With so much information doing the rounds on social media, it’s essential to incorporate brand elements in your graphics and establish a strong brand identity to enhance memorability and recognition.
Add your logo, key icons, integrate brand colors or incorporate your brand mascot to create a lasting impression.
However, this does not mean you plaster visuals with your brand elements and have them overpower the communication. The key is to integrate branding elements subtly such that people know it’s your brand without being told.
Here’s an example of Mailchimp — notice how they use their brand color, yellow in almost every graphic of theirs.
You can also use a poster maker online to create a branded template and customize it for different posts, saving time in the process.
8. Achieve balance
Achieving the right balance will help you create the perfect visuals that are clean, easy on the eye and clear.
Balance can be symmetrical and asymmetrical. Symmetrical is when you have the same design elements on either side of the central point. Asymmetrical is the opposite — when the elements are not the same but they are distributed in a manner that balances the entire visual.
You can achieve balance by adjusting the font, colors, contrast and other design elements such that the visual appears aesthetically pleasing.
9. Be consistent
Look at your social media feed — does it look like an amalgamation of disconnected posts or does it look like it belongs to one brand?
If you’re tilting towards the former, it’s time to do things differently.
Maintaining consistency is critical to develop a powerful visual identity on social media. Think of any iconic brand — the fact that you can relate them to a specific color or font proves the importance of brand identity.
Create a branding guideline for your brand and include elements such as the colors, typefaces, templates, theme, post formats and editing style. This needs to be your go-to document for all things branding.
Make sure every post you create is consistent in terms of design and appears cohesive. Adhering to this practice will help you improve brand recognition and differentiate yourself from your competitors.
So, the next time you host an Instagram giveaway or make a product announcement, don’t start from scratch. Look back at your brand guidelines and stick to the plan.
Here’s a look at HubSpot’s posts — consistent and unified.
Social media is filled with brands vying for attention. You can either be just one of the brands or take your graphics to the next level to grab attention, and amplify your content.
That’s not all, apart from driving engagement, well-designed social media graphics also have the power to boost your SEO marketing strategy and attract relevant website traffic.
So, follow these nine design tips to master social media graphics and don’t let your lack of design experience stop you from creating stunning visuals.