Updated in May 2022
Beauty is not only in the eye of the beholder, it’s a fundamental part of a business’s successful social media design. In this blog, we look at the reasons marketers – and consumers – love eye-catching visuals. We also explore best practices to transform your social platforms from fifty shades of blah (no offence) to a fabulous storytelling platform.
Good visuals and good design are related, but they are not the same – think cousins rather than twins
Before we dive into the deep end of social media design, it’s important for our readers to understand there is a difference between great visuals and well-executed design. Think of the latter as the overarching strategy and intention behind your social platforms. Rather than that one-off photo, which perfectly captures your team’s pizzazz, design will define how your visuals are used to create specific experiences for your online users.
Great visuals are the clothing, but the design is the entire outfit and the fierce statement it was put together to make.
Your brain wants to be wowed, and visuals are the way to do it
We advocate for the importance of effective social media design. People are at the heart of everything we do, and the strategic use of visuals gets the people (and their brains) going.
Research suggests the vast majority of the information that makes its way into our heads is visual (90%). Not only that, but people understand the messaging behind visual media much faster than heavy-handed copy. The importance of visual impact can be seen through the voracious consumption of content across all social platforms. Cue the latest TikTok anthem ringing in our ears.
But, don’t mistake the trendiness of online platforms as an indication that social media design is just about the here and now. Great design is timeless. It’s do or die for many businesses with nearly half of online consumers saying the look and feel of a website determines whether they perceive it to be legit or not.
What are the best practices for generating a truly exceptional design experience?
- Before you put your digital pen to on-screen paper, come up with a strategy that will shape your social media design moving forward
- Decide what you want people to know and, equally as important, how you want them to feel
- Your strategy should be well-informed by thorough audience research: don’t guess what your online users are looking for, ask them and deliver accordingly
- Know where to reach your audiences and which types of media they find the most motivational
- Make sure your content plans and subsequent grids support your design strategy
- Incorporate your brand throughout all that you do
Now for the nitty-gritty how-to of superior social media design:
1. Turn up the heat on your brand colours with some aesthetic sugar & spice
We all judge books by their covers, and we evaluate online platforms based on their colours. Choosing your palette is not about throwing pretty shades at the digital wall and saying yes to whichever ones tickle your fancy. You need to be strategic as much as aesthetically appealing.
Without neglecting your brand colours, stretch beyond them to give “umph” to the elements you most want your audiences to focus on. By putting a powerful palette (complementary and contrasting) in your design arsenal, you will enhance the cohesiveness of your branding collateral and increase the likelihood that when people see your stuff, they know it’s yours. This is what we like to refer to as a case of unmistaken identity.
2. Don’t front on the importance of fonts
Gone are the days when Times New Roman reigned supreme. Social content designers now have access to hundreds of creative fonts that can work with your imagery to amplify your brand messaging. Like your colour palette, fonts also create opportunities for contrast, which makes the stuff that matters stand out.
So, be bold with your fonts, but also be prudent – like the Bob Ross of online marketing, but hopefully with better hair.
Start by loading up your font bank with these four must-have font styles:
- The bold-thin font with various weights and applications
- The impactful font: spicy, sexy, standout lettering
- The classic: easy-to-read, easy-to-use – like the little black dress of wording
- The stylish: script fonts will help you highlight details, but don’t overuse this one
It’s ok to put the fun in font, but don’t get carried away. Here are some ways to play with your digital calligraphy, without going overboard:
- Use spacing wisely: we’re all used to giving each other more than enough space nowadays, so don’t forget to apply the principle of the appropriate distance between your lines and characters to enhance readability
- More is not more: two fonts are the max you should be mixing, at one time, or your work may look like a jumbled mess (a third font might work, in some cases, especially to highlight a specific word)
- All weights should be celebrated: not just on the runaway, but within your design – use different font weights for emphasis and interest
3. Storytelling & social media: a match made in design heaven
Warm fuzzy or sad and sappy, even when it comes to the most technical aspects of their lives (think insurance and office supplies), people make decisions based on emotions. Whatever differentiating statements your business aims to make, your social media design should marry its visual and copy elements to create a more cohesive and persuasive narrative.
Always stay true to your brand story and amplify it with a well-planned-out social media grid. That way, you can keep track of what is up and coming and plan ahead of time to take advantage of all the opportunities inherent in proactive, thoughtful marketing.
2022 Design Trends in Social Media Marketing
The importance of adhering to your unique brand messaging leads us to our next (and almost final) topic, which is TRENDS.
Trends can be fun. More importantly, they can be effective, so we’ve provided a brief list below of the latest design tactics we like to use. However, we want to caution our readers not to get carried away in the tidal wave of trendiness. Try out one trend, measure how it works and adapt/adopt accordingly.
Make use of trends that reinforce your messaging, not muddy it:
- Text interacting with images
- Graphics to highlight movement and power in photos
- Use mockups for a slick product photo look
- Sequence stacked text to give power to a message
- Quick and easy animations
- Using relatable graphics like emojis and IPhone reminders can reinforce your message
Nowadays, various online tools are available to marketers to help them create magical-looking social media posts, Buffer listed 23 here.
We’ve talked a lot about social media design, why it’s important, how to do it well and also what to avoid.
If this blog has made you feel like maybe you are missing the visual content mark, don’t worry lots of people have. The first step is accepting there is room to strategically bloom. Be it questions about brand colours, social strategy or performance-focused design, reach out to us and we can help your digital marketing platforms go from hot mess to hot topic with the audiences who matter to you.
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