How To

Top seven things to consider when designing social media graphics

by Katie Brewin |

When it comes to producing graphic design for social media there are some important things to consider to ensure you attract the right audience.

It probably doesn’t comes as a surprise to you that marketing needs change from platform to platform and it’s important to bear this change in mind when it comes to developing content. Not only does your audience consume social media content in a different way to offline marketing materials – mobile phones present a whole new world of challenges – but your target audience itself may even change online.

With that in mind, here are the seven most important things to consider when you’re designing social media graphics.

Understand your social strategy

It’s important to bear in mind that social media assets usually need to fulfil different goals than design for print or for use on websites, so it’s worth having a clear understanding of your social strategy. As well as following brand guidelines and looking good, it’s especially important to consider:

  • The target audience you’re aiming to reach out to.
  • Which social networking channels the audience is using regularly?
  • The device your audience is using.
  • What key messages you’re trying to convey.
  • What emotions you want to invoke.
  • What call-to-action the graphic should have.

We recently created social media graphics for HiLife promoting their new packaging. The balance of illustration to words is perfect: they have a clear message and are instantly recognisable as HiLife social content, while making effective use of cute illustrations to capture the attention of cat and dogs lovers!

HiLife Cats graphic

Create graphics with contrast

The balance between colour, light and dark is really important. You have a really small window to catch your audience’s attention on social media, so using your brand colours effectively and striking the right balance will help you to do this.

TOP TIP: Choosing colours opposite each other on the colour wheel will help pack a punch and add contrast to the image.

The social graphics we produced for Mitchells and Butlers effectively showcase contrasts within their brand’s colour pallet, with a clear message to showcase the creativity and passion Rafiq has for his job.

Keep social media graphics simple

This can often be the most effective design decision, and is one often favoured by us here in the spottydog studio. But it’s a hard balance to strike. Being consistent and clear on the key message you are promoting is really important, as social media graphics are small and you only have a limited amount of space to play with.

Golden rules:

  • Stick to a 1-3 font limit (Header / body copy / graphic font)
  • Large and eye-catching key messages contrasted with one large graphic/illustration
  • Use of white space to contrast with the bold and colourful part of the design will balance it and prevent an over-crowded feel.
  • The cliches: a picture says 1,000 words / less is more – this often means a designed post will be more memorable. Graphics are very powerful.

A good example of this is a social graphic we designed for Heritage Bathrooms. It makes use of the stunning photography grabbing the audience’s attention straight away, includes one clear message and is designed with the photo creatively, instantly impacting the audience.

Heritage Tina Robinson quote

Focus on what’s important

The text or typography on your graphic can be overwhelming if too much is used. Your audience can be left not knowing where to look first, so it’s important to make sure there is clear hierarchy. One focused key message means your graphic will have more impact and deliver the message effectively.

A post on social media needs to stop your audience from scrolling. If your message is confusing or if there is too much text that outweighs strong graphics or imagery, your post won’t stop people from skipping to the next post.

Joe, our motion graphics genius, recently created a great GIF to promote our nominations for three PRCA Dare awards. We picked out the key message, created a hierarchy for the most important words and used contrasting colours to quickly convey our message in a fun and effective way.

Consider graphic dimensions

Designing with up-to-date platform dimensions in mind is very important. If your audience has to click into a graphic to see it in full, the likelihood is that they won’t. Making sure it’s the correct size and instantly visible will have more impact.

  • Facebook shared image: 1200px x 630
  • Instagram: 1080px x 1080
  • Instagram stories: 1080px x 1920
  • Twitter In-stream image: 440px x 220
  • Pinterest pin size width. 236 px
  • LinkedIn banner image (min) 646px x 220

As of June 2019, the above image sizes are correct, but these can change regularly so it’s important to always be up to date and platform ready!

Scale

Using scale contrast of your graphic elements are a great way to create impact within your design and attract attention. For example, when using a head-and-shoulder photo in the graphic, scale up for the face fills. A fantastic Instagram account who use scale really well is the Telegraph. They use colour and scale really effectively.

Consistency

For each social media graphic you produce, your branding should be consistent – specifically looking at the fonts, colours and type of imagery that’s used. This will create a recognisable look and feel across all of your social media channels, which should be carried through from your website. Coca-Cola’s Instagram is one of my favourite accounts to follow – their colour pallet is spot on with their branding, and therefore ties all of the creative treatments and illustration together.