Social media platforms are an essential digital marketing channel for emerging and established brands alike. With the average US internet user spending just over two hours a day on social media sites, it’s easy to see that social media represents a valuable opportunity for brands to connect with new customers and deepen relationships with existing ones.
So how can brands best capitalize on this opportunity? The key is to make a great first impression—which begins with good design. Remember, every single social media post contributes to your brand image, and today’s design-savvy consumers won’t hesitate to scroll past posts that aren’t visually appealing.
It’s therefore very important to ensure that the story you’re telling through this content is both an accurate and engaging reflection of your brand and its values. Sticking to these design tips can help.
Aim for consistency.
Have you ever looked at a social media post and just known, perhaps because of the color scheme, image style, or font used, which brand was behind it? This level of brand recognition is one of the central goals of social media marketing, and the most important way to achieve it is by making sure your social media materials are consistent and cohesive. Developing and maintaining a consistent visual theme helps your audience easily recognize materials from your brand, which in turn builds trust and loyalty. Make sure that all your social media posts are based on a cohesive design concept.
Use colors that reflect your brand identity.
We’ve seen before that different colors can spark different psychological and emotional responses. What this means for social media marketing is that you’ll need to think carefully about how you want your audiences to perceive your brand, choose appropriate colors, and then keep those colors front and center in all your social media posts. For example, food and food brands are often associated with warm and lively colors such as red and yellow, so if your brand is in the food industry, you might consider showcasing these vibrant colors in your posts.
Know and follow design best practices.
Many of the tried-and-true design principles that have long governed the creation of print images—from posters to book covers—apply just as strongly to social media design. To create appealing visuals in any medium, some of the most important guidelines to follow include:
Negative space—When it comes to visual imagery, less is almost always more. This is the principle behind the use of negative space. The idea is that by leaving some areas within the frame blank or empty, the viewer’s eye is automatically drawn to the focal point of the image.
Hierarchy—When images contain many different elements, it’s vital that the viewer be able to recognize and understand which ones are the most important. Arranging these visual elements using factors such as sizing, contrast, and space helps signal to the viewer where each element “ranks” in the image overall.
Contrast—Useful for both pictures and text, contrast is all about using opposite colors, sizes, styles, or textures to make particular elements within your image stand out.
Create platform-appropriate content.
While most social media design principles and tips apply to all types of social media posts, it’s important not to forget that each social media platform has its own unique set of guidelines for sizing and content. In other words, your posts may need to be redesigned or reformatted depending on the platform they will appear on. For example, Instagram Reels works best for videos that are filmed in portrait orientation; Facebook and YouTube, on the other hand, are formatted for landscape videos.
Use social media design templates.
Social media design templates are a valuable tool if your brand doesn’t have a lot of time to devote to social media marketing, and/or if you’re looking to scale up your social strategy. A variety of platforms now offer templates that can be used for different content types, from infographics to videos. Choosing a template selection that aligns with your visual strategy helps achieve the consistency described earlier. Templates also allow different members of your team to take charge of posting without the worry that multiple posters will distort your cohesive visual scheme.
Include your profile in your design strategy.
Most of your social media design strategy will naturally focus on the content you’re posting, but don’t forget to think about your social media profile as well. “Fixed” social media elements such as your profile picture, cover photo, and other visual elements that aren’t one-off posts deserve attention to make sure they’re in keeping with the thematic choices you’ve made for your other content. For example, your cover photo should follow the same color scheme as the rest of your brand material, and your profile picture (which will ideally include your logo in some way) should be used consistently across all social platforms.