Five Graphic Design Tips for Social Media Professionals

August 12, 2013

All social media professionals strive to create a reaction from their viewers, and one of the most powerful ways to do this is through images. Your job is to grab the attention of your fans, and you only have a few seconds to do it. Social media design isn’t usually thought of as an essential in the job description of a online marketing professional, but if you work in social media you should have a basic understanding of it. To create images that accomplish your goal and attract your reader’s eye, check out our five social media design tips:

1. Start Off On the Right Foot: Image Color & Sizing

Viewers want immediate gratification, which means they will not have patience for images that won’t load quickly or display correctly. It’s important to understand:

  1. The proper color mode for online images is RGB (Red/Green/Blue). The other common option, CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black) is for print. RGB images display better on screens, as opposed to CMYK, which is meant for ink printing.
  2. Screen resolution. When creating an image, set your image to 72 dpi (dots per inch). This will help for faster load time, and is the standard as opposed to print’s 300 dpi requirement.
  3. Photoshop’s “Save for web.” This will help create a smaller image, perfect for web and mobile viewing. If you’re not familiar with this feature, take a look at this tutorial from Adobe.

One thing not to do… Never take a flyer that was meant for print and post it straight online: chances are the resolution is too high and it’s probably copy-heavy.

2. Less [Copy] Is More

You have about two seconds to grab a fan’s attention. Posting a visual filled with too many details on the image is surefire way for fans to disregard it because it’s too much to read. Social media design is all about showing, not telling. Post a quick headline and essential details, and then link to more information. Use a creative headline on top of a great image to attract attention, not tell the entire story.

3. Image Selection

This seems like an obvious tip, but not all companies understand the importance of imagery online. A photo of a mop is not going to motivate your viewers to do anything. Think of the story you’re trying to tell, the audience you are trying to reach and the action you want people to have. Put yourself in your fans’ shoes. Ask around the office to see what people like, and go with the one that invokes a reaction. It can be silly or serious, just have it be something other than boring!

4. The Right Tools

Adobe Photoshop, while the best tool for professional designers, can be a bit overwhelming for some. There are several other programs that can do the job without the fancy options: Photoshop Elements (a lighter and less expensive version of Photoshop) and Gimp (a free photoshop-like tool) are two that are well liked by users.

5. Rules

Nobody likes the rules, but following them can save you a lot of trouble:

  1. Facebook guidelines. Make sure you’re up-to-date on what is allowed on Facebook in terms of images. Currently, only 20% of image can be occupied by copy.
  2. Attribution. Don’t use images that you don’t own or that you don’t have permission to use. Just because you see an image in Google Image search results doesn’t mean you can use it! Read up on how to find images for use.
  3. Include your logo! Remember to always give yourself credit. Your goal with creating an image is to get people to take action, whether that means clicking to learn more or sharing your photo. Make sure your company is represented.

Great Social Media Design

Use these tips as a starting point for great social design. Utilizing a professional designer is crucial when producing something like an infographic or more involved graphic, but creating beautiful imagery with light text to tell your story is something you can accomplish on your own.

If you have questions about social media design, leave a comment!



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  • Reply Bear Files August 29, 2013 at 10:04 am

    Some great tips!

    • Reply Fandom Marketing September 6, 2013 at 4:50 pm

      A nice compliment from another designer. Glad you found them useful.

  • Reply Andy Newbom September 24, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    good tips. some good resources for making catchy images while mobile are to use the Over app. Phoster or VVSCOcam. all rock, make great photo w/text overs and are fast and free/low cost

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