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Introduction to Visuals & Graphics for Social Media

When you are a “solopreneur" or a small business owner you are doing it all. Perhaps you can’t yet afford to invest in professional design, but you also can’t afford to waste time creating social media posts that do not work to build your brand and grow your business. There are LOADS of tools out there to help you create images and you don’t need to be an expert to get started. While you may eventually want to hire a designer, to create basic and effective graphics, you just need to know where and how to focus your efforts. We’ve summarized why images matter in general and for your brand, as well as the 3 most important design principles to get you started and maximize the impact of your Social Media graphics.

Why Images Matter

It takes 5-7 impressions for a person to begin to recognize your brand. If you are not consistent with the look and feel of your posts, they have no cumulative effect and it is as though you are starting over from scratch with each potential client every time you post. By applying these simple design principles and showing up on social media with a consistent design strategy, viewers will instead build recognition which leads to knowing, liking and trusting your brand.

Where to Start

Before you even begin learning about how to physically create engaging graphics for your social media content, let’s make sure you have the key BRAND ingredients you will need in order to get started.

BRAND & IDENTITY Every company or organization should have a clearly defined BRAND (often compared to a “personality”) that sums up its values, goals and guidelines. With your company’s mission, vision, ideal client avatar, and key descriptive words clearly mapped out, you can then build your brand’s IDENTITY. Many people hire a designer at this stage (or even before) to take the foundational elements of your brand and translate them into visuals that align with and reflect your business.

Emotional connections are formed with customers when a brand has clear and connected visuals. Maintaining a detailed design strategy on social media channels will expand that connection and deepen it with each interaction.

Before creating graphics for social media, you should have these four

  • KEY BRAND INGREDIENTS: 1. Logo 2. Colors 3. Typography 4. Imagery & Composition Style

If you are not sure what any of these components are for your brand, pause here until you have them sorted. Once you have your ingredients, you can use them in creating consistent and recognizable visuals to maximize the impact of your social media graphics.

3 Basic Design Principles for Social Media Graphics

There are many principles of design and if you are new to creating graphics, trying to learn it all at once while also trying to run your business can be overwhelming. We’ve summed up the three principles that are most important to remember as related to Social Media graphics.

1. Legibility

LARGE FONT-SIZE: Social media content is most often consumed on a small screen, be it a phone or a tablet, so keeping your font size on the larger side will help ensure your message can be read.

HIGH CONTRAST: When colors are complimentary and equal in saturation and light , they create an illusion of movement along the edges making it diffi cult to read, ESPECIALLY when scrolling. You want to keep the contrast high so your images are easy to read and understand.

WHITE SPACE: Too much text, graphic elements, or image clutter repels the eye. It’s challenging to see and understand quickly, so we move on. An impactful image serves to stop the scroll. You do this when your text and images have breathing room. Once you have the viewer’s attention, you can add more information in your caption or post, but less is most often more when it comes to elements within an image. If you are layering text over an image, make sure there is open space enough for the text to be legible and use a contrasting color.

SIMPLE TYPOGRAPHY: There are so many fonts to choose from and there are times when a scrolling font with lots of curls is appropriate, but for social media you want to prioritize legibility. If your text can’t be understood in less than a second, your audience has already scrolled on to the next post. Besides being easily readable, your font should refl ect your brand identity AND convey the mood and tone of your post. The way you select and pair fonts gives as much information about your brand as the words you are typing or the image you are using. There are many articles to read on the tone and feel of different typeface and how to utilize them to achieve different designs but generally, and particularly for social media, stick to 1 or 2 fonts in your posts.

2. Hierarchy

SIZE, COLOR & POSITION are all factors in how your audience will interpret what is most important. This, too, determines which images they stop to look at and which they scroll on past. Most people look at thing that are biggest and boldest fi rst and (in most cultures) from left to right. Direct the eye where you want it to go by being mindful of this hierarchy.

3. Color

CONSISTENCY IS KING when it comes to utilizing color in your social media graphics. When paired with certain fonts on a consistent basis, it’s like each post has your company fingerprint. It distinguishes you from other brands and builds a clear connection with your audience. Color stirs emotions and holds meanings that impact your message. When you understand what colors best convey your brand and use them consistently over and over again it results in a cumulative branding effect. See how vary different images can be presented in a cohesive pallet in order to connect them.

Why Visual Elements Are Important on Social Media

You want to be sure that people will recognize your brand each time you post so you can build on your relationship with them. Though they say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, most of us do when it comes to feeling affinity toward a particular brand. And in a world where there are so many posts to choose from, using these principles as guidelines will help you create graphics that stop the scroll, help you stand out, get your message across, and build a following of people who know, like & trust you! Written and Illustrated by Michelle Sertz Scully, for Content Ideas Hub

Created by Michelle Sertz Scully, for

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