Graphics are essential for social media success. With the rise of professional graphic use in social media marketing (74% of social media marketers report using custom visuals in every post), graphics are a must. But they can’t just be any graphics — you have to make them great. Not everyone has a graphic design team on standby, but that’s okay. Graphic excellence can be achieved with Canva.com or Adobe InDesign, whether you went to art school or not. Just follow my my seven guidelines for amazing graphics for your social media empire, and you’ll be fine.
Here’s a graphic I made recently for a Wednesday evening program at a spiritual center. It looks cool, right? You have all the info you need. (Additional details can always be added via link in the posting text.) I’d want to go hang out with those folks and have a conversation, wouldn’t you? Let’s break down the reasons this graphic works so well.
Maybe it’s because they fit the Instagram and Facebook formats so beautifully. Maybe it’s because they evoke a minimal 1940’s design aesthetic. Maybe it’s just because they look cool. Whatever the reason, square graphics look fresh and relevant. Switching from landscape to 800×800 square formats automatically ups the hip-factor of your graphic, with no effort at all.
HIGH QUALITY PHOTOS
If you’re using photography in your graphics (and you should be), please please please please please use high quality photography. You can buy beautiful stock photos for a pittance from iStock, or you can take the time to get serious with your own photography skills. (Seriously, you can take amazing pictures on a smart phone if you know what you’re doing. Check out this Hubspot phone photography blog: http://tinyurl.com/mle2f9c) Use high resolution. Clean them up in Photoshop or a similar program. Everything rests on the quality of the image.
Keep it clean, folks. One image is best. Skip the frames and borders. Skips the layers of images. Skips the tiny corner add-ons. As a general rule, less is more. This isn’t a flyer or a poster. It’s one graphic image. It should stand alone as a strong visual. Resist the urge to fancy it up. On a phone, all those details will just look muddy. Clean, clean, clean.
Raise your right hand and repeat after me: I will only use a maximum of two fonts per graphic! This graphic actually only uses one font. If you feel the need for additional variation, try using all caps in some elements, or all lower case. (Note the all lowercase website at the bottom.) You can even vary the size of your text to keep things lively. But here’s the God’s honest truth: if your graphic needs more than two fonts to be interesting, you need to make a more interesting graphic.
Write what you absolutely need and not one word more. This graphic has what, where, when and how to find out more. That’s all you need. Any additional detail would be lost. As I mentioned earlier, you can always add a link to an informational flyer in the post text. Every detail does not need to be on the graphic. Fewer words means bigger (i.e. readable) text.
I’m a big fan of using one big photo as the basis of a graphic, which doesn’t always loan itself easily to text placement. This is why I love a translucent overlay panel. You can still see the image underneath, but the text really pops. This is the simplest thing in the world, but it will revolutionize your graphics if you use it well.
USE YOUR SPACE WISELY
This event had a long name, and I had a tiny space for text. What’s a girl to do? I rotated the title portion of the text and used the extra vertical space. It allowed me to use a nice large font size. It’s super readable, looks great and adds to the hip factor. I also played with the justification. When text extends from the left side of the image, I like to try a left justification. I’ll usually also try centering, just to see how it looks. Look at all the options before you decide, but in the end trust your gut.
And there you have it, folks: seven guidelines for amazing social media graphics. You deserve to have graphics that are as awesome as you are!
Lezli Goodwin is Creative Director for Mad Science Consulting. She finds extreme joy in helping clients find their footing in the nebulous areas of social media, blogging and small business marketing. Follow her on Twitter @madscienceinc www.madscienceconsulting.com