As a designer in the digital landscape, there are many considerations that need to be taken when working on graphics for social media. While social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are great places to grab the attention of your audience, that attention can also be difficult to keep. That’s why it’s important to get your message across quickly and concisely. Here are a few design rules for making sure your social graphics are neatly organized and functional.
Rule #1: Size matters.
It seems that almost every platform you’ll come across will have a different display size for your image on a news feed. Because of this, it’s important to have a separate version of each image that fits the specs for a particular platform. If you don’t have images sized for the correct platform, you risk having your image and/or text cropped in unflattering ways that can disrupt the experience or interfere with the information in your post.
Although making the same image in so many sizes can seem daunting, it’s actually fairly simple, and often requires only a little bit of adjustment. One helpful tool is the “Always Up-To-Date Social Media Sizes Cheat Sheet” produced by Sprout Social. This Google doc puts all the details you need about image specs into one place, so you don’t have to go digging around the internet only to find outdated versions of spec sizes.
Here’s an example of how one graphic can be repurposed for several different social platforms.
Rule #2: Always include your logo.
Nothing reinforces your brand and its identity more than your logo. Although it shouldn’t be the main component in your imagery, it should always be present (most often in a corner) to reinforce your brand identity. Additionally, without your logo, the image can be shared without anyone crediting your organization. Talk about a wasted opportunity to expand your audience!
Using your logo means that whenever your image is shared, you’re exposing yourself to a wider audience.
Rule #3: With text, less is more.
If you’re using text in your posts, be aware of how you’re laying it out. Text should stand out from the background to be easily read, and it shouldn’t be too chaotic. It’s typically a best practice to have less than three fonts on any given graphic. The more fonts you add, the more disorganized your graphic looks. All font changes should come with a purpose, such as to draw emphasis to a person’s name at the end of a quote.
It’s important to convey your message, but keep in mind that too much text will be illegible at smaller display sizes, which may not be enticing to your audience. Try to limit your word count as much as possible when posting to social media. Leave the long-form content for other platforms, and instead use pull quotes or excerpts to promote the full content. After all, isn’t drawing people to your organization what this is all about?
Keeping text neat and legible helps get the message across in a straightforward manner.
Rule #4: Keep it simple, stupid!
Coco Chanel once advised, “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.” This sentiment goes far beyond clothing and accessories and is one of the principles I follow with almost all of my designs. Keep it simple and avoid any unnecessary content. By learning to give the important things the space they need, free from clutter, your message is streamlined and your work comes out looking even more sleek.
Rule #5: Have fun!
Social media isn’t supposed to be a rigid environment. It’s a place for people to interact, learn and enjoy themselves. If you treat your content like it was pulled straight from a presentation, it’s not going to be any more interesting. Post photos, share holiday graphics, try a hashtag campaign—and most of all, don’t be afraid to try something new!