The unfortunate truth is that a lot of us really suck at graphic design, especially when it comes to creating engaging social media images.
Here’s one I came across recently on Twitter:
It’s not horrible, right? But it’s not great.
- See the header? It says “Seeking Inspiration?” in white font. Well because the background image is made up of white mountains, the text is actually very difficult to see clearly.
- The branding looks unprofessional. It’s just a URL. It suggests that the site doesn’t even have a logo, and if there is no logo, chances are there is no real effort being put into building brand awareness.
- The image quality is really terrible. It looks like a screenshot of a screenshot.
- The actual title of the post doesn’t even make any sense. What does “121 posts tagged Content Curation” mean? Talk about bad copywriting.
So what do you do to avoid looking like that?
You need to follow these 4 graphic design tips:
The first graphic design tip to keep in mind is to use contrasting colors. This will avoid the issue that the image above presents, and help you to really make your message pop.
Here is an example of a blog header that very clearly contrasts the text from the background:
Notice how a white block is placed on top of the green background so that the black text can be seen vividly. The image is relatively simple, but because of its simplicity, it’s easy to read and it gets the message across. Recreate this template click here.
Emphasize The Message
Often, the main message of a post is lost because of how vague the selected stock photo might be. Just because you Googled the term “Marketing Automation” for instance, doesn’t mean that the stock photo of a dog with a laptop will help me better understand what you are saying.
Instead, use text sparingly and overlay your image with the main message you need to get across.
You can do this by using textual hierarchy. Here’s an example:
See how the word “Color” is at least three times the size of the surrounding subheaders? Even if someone didn’t read the entire title, the main idea is still emphasized. Plus, the colors are contrasting and you can see the text clearly! You can create this exact template by clicking here.
Highlight Your Brand
Another issue with many social media images is that people don’t brand their photos, especially on Instagram. Here is an example by Foundr Magazine’s Instagram account.
Every single one of their original images is clearly branded with the Foundr logo. Why? So if someone decides that they really like the image you’ve posted, and they choose to repost it on their own social media accounts, then all their followers will know that the image was originally found on your site. Seems pretty common sense, right?
Use the Right Image Dimensions
Lastly, to make sure that your social media images really stand out, you want to ensure that you are using the right image dimensions for all of your designs.
If you don’t, your graphics might come out looking really pixelated and low-quality. The recommended image dimensions for each platform are as follows:
Common image styles used on Facebook are the profile picture, the cover photo, the landscape photo, the square and portrait photos. Also note that with Facebook if you choose to run any of these images as an ad, you are limited to 20% of your image including text. So try to restrict the copy to a small portion of your graphic.
For Twitter, the common images used are for the cover photo, the profile picture, the expanded view, the square and the landscape view.
Since Pinterest is a treasure trove of visuals, the image dimensions vary. The recommended dimensions are as follows for your profile, pinned post and expanded pinned post view.
The most common image you will see on LinkedIn is the banner image. This is typically what appears when you share a post. Other options for a visual to appear are the background image, the profile picture, the logo, and the cover photo.
It’s only recently that Instagram expanded the range of image sizes that could be used on the platform. Aside from the profile picture, you can now post images that are a square share, or choose from vertical or horizontal layouts.
When it comes to designing graphics for social media, please do not be the person to post this image:
Instead, take time to familiarize yourself with some basic graphic design strategies so that the visuals you create on social actually generate valuable clicks and retweets. If you’re going to spend time working on designing something, you might as well make it good.