As you’ve likely heard before, humans are “visual creatures.” When someone browses social media, the difference between stopping to look at your content and scrolling right on by often comes down to whether or not you’ve created eye-catching images that stand out.
Though creativity is always at the top of the list in terms of what can be classified as great design, there are some less ambiguous guidelines to follow as well. Optimizing your imagery to accomplish a goal means that sometimes it’s better to do things by the book than rely on artistic instincts.
In this article I’ll explain the optimizations to keep in mind when designing imagery to be used on social media.
1. One Size Does Not Fit All
I mean that both literally and figuratively. When posting any type of imagery, you should be aware of the preferred specs which varies from platform to platform. Additionally, you should recognize that what works on Facebook or Twitter might not be the same as what works on Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.
If you’re running multiple campaigns with different target audiences, try adjusting your visual component to fit with the specific demographic you’re going after. It’s been proven time and again that individuals are more apt to take notice of ads that look like they were built with them in mind.
(Here’s a guide that goes through everything you’d ever need to know in terms of social media graphic sizing in 2021.)
2. Keep Text to a Minimum
Your social media images should be eye-catching, attention-grabbing, and ultimately, fun! A paragraph of text laid on top of an image is the exact opposite of that. If you have information that you need to pass on to your audience, put it where it belongs: in the post copy.
In all likelihood there will be times when it’s necessary to include things like dates, locations, times, etc. on a social media graphic. If you do, just remind yourself to use the least amount of text possible to convey your message.
Not only are text-heavy graphics ineffective in capturing an audience’s attention, they’re also frowned upon by the algorithms utilized on several social media platforms. Facebook may have removed it’s 20% text restriction, but make no mistake about it – when it comes to the wording on your graphic, less is more.
3. Consistency is Key
Frequently changing the fonts, colors, and logos on your imagery will make your brand seem a bit unprofessional. Though the messaging may change from image to image, it’s crucial to keep the core elements of your brand’s visual representation consistent.
Over time, your audience will become familiar with your brand through repeated exposure to your social media graphics. Make sure you’re giving off the appearance of a company that prioritizes professionalism not just in your work, but in your marketing as well.
4. Eye Movement
As much a human beings like to think we’re unique, we show a remarkably consistent pattern when it comes to the way we consume visual content. Keep the words “path” and “flow” in mind when laying out your design, and you’ll make a much bigger impact on your audience.
Web design research has studied the patterns of the human eye when looking at various ads and websites and determined that most people read in one of (or all of) three different “paths”: an “F’ pattern, an “E” pattern, and a “Z” pattern (although this one was observed less frequently).
When you’re looking at where to place the most important elements of a graphic, keep these letters in mind. Your audience will appreciate it even if they’re not entirely sure why.
5. Negative is Positive
If you’re new to the term “negative space” – it simply refers to the white space that exists within the frame of an image. Design professionals have long been a proponent of utilizing it to create a sense of drama and focus in both art, clothing design, and of course, marketing.
The reason negative space is so effective is because it forces viewers to focus their attention on the most important elements of an image. Without any distractions taking place on the periphery, there’s no doubt that you’ll get your point across.
6. Use Templates When Applicable
The idea of a template, in this case meaning a sort of “frame” that can be used to encapsulate different images, can seem like design laziness. However, data has shown that audiences value familiarity and don’t necessarily want new surprises on a regular basis.
For example, having the same layout for all products in a particular category helps your customers sort out the new information. Not to mention, it makes life much easier for you when you can simply swap out one aspect of an image instead of starting from scratch each time.
7. Utilize UGC
Those in the digital marketing – especially social media marketing – industry know how valuable UGC (user-generated content) can be to a brand’s strategy. Even today, a positive review from a satisfied customer is as good as it gets.
In a perfect world, users would constantly be posting content featuring images of them utilizing your products or services. The reality for most brands, however, isn’t quite that easy. It can be extremely beneficial to ask your followers to provide this content by giving them specific hashtags to use when they post about your brand. Additionally, providing some type of incentive can also help motivate people to post. For example, a photo contest or sweepstakes with a prize for the winner(s) has been proven to be an effective method of generating user content.
Regardless of how compelling your social media content might be, if you aren’t producing high-quality imagery to accompany your messaging, your intended audience might not take notice. Remember, your goal is to stop the scroll.
If your business needs assistance with creating graphics that stand out from your competitors, get in touch with us today.