When it comes to social media, that old saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words” has never been truer. Nailing social media graphic design is imperative in capturing people’s attention. Facebook posts with images or graphics will see twice as much engagement as those without. And Tweets with images will get 150% more retweets.
Your visual cortex might be a tiny part of your brain, but it processes visual information 60,000 times faster than your brain processes words. When people scan their social media feeds, they make lightning-fast decisions about what they’ll pay attention to. Your content must catch the eye of your target audience almost instantly, or they’ll scroll right on past.
The best way to slow the scroll—and therefore encourage engagement—is to add graphic design to your social media post. A recent study found that posts with compelling images average 94% more views than posts without them.
But graphics don’t just increase audience engagement—they boost understanding and retention too. Statistics have shown that people recall information 65% more efficiently when it’s paired with a relevant image.
Top 5 social media graphic design options
When it comes to content creation, eye-catching visuals are probably the most important facet of your company’s social media marketing strategy. Check out the top 5 types of social media graphic design with tips on how to create your own below!
1. Photos with text or a graphic element
When you think about social media imagery, the first thing that probably comes to mind is photos. Visually striking photographs are particularly effective in activating associations in people’s minds. If you can evoke a mood, memory, or experience to your followers, you’ll convey meaning to them that goes well beyond words. You can reinforce your message even further by adding text or a graphic element to a photo, like this:
Chances are, someone owns the photos you find in a routine web search, and you’ll break copyright laws if you use them—or even alter them—unless the owner gives you express permission. For that reason, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
How to source photos for your social media designs:
- Pay for stock photos. Most businesses find that the small upfront cost in gaining full rights to use a professional-quality photograph—without having to add a photo credit—is worth it. Some good sites for paid stock photos are: Getty Images, Adobe Stock, and Shutterstock.
- Find a free stock photo that you have the rights to. Some sites offer free stock photography, with one caveat: be very careful about the licensing. Often you’ll be asked to credit the photographer in exchange for using the photo. Some good sites for free stock photos are: Unsplash, Picjumbo, and Burst.
- Create an image yourself. Chances are you have access to a camera—so use it! Give your fans and followers a glimpse at what goes on behind the scenes at your company. Your audience will feel more connected when they feel they have a deeper insight into the inner-workings of your business.
- Commission your own photography. Hiring a professional to take your desired photos will get you exactly what you want, but it’s very uncommon, especially for social media content. Even the largest corporations go with stock photos.
2. Graphics and illustrations
While photos are the go-to medium for social media imagery, digital illustrations or graphics are a great way to mix it up.
The key here is consistency. On average, it takes about five to seven impressions to establish brand recognition. When the graphics you use for your social media content feel cohesive, you’ll bolster your brand identity.
Programs like Adobe Spark and Canva allow you to integrate your brand ingredients, like your colors and logo, into your social media graphics so everything looks consistent, and perfectly professional, across the board.
Remember the four main goals of social media graphic design:
- Educate: Images that share information and establish authority
- Entertain: Images that provoke smiles and spread goodwill
- Engage: Images that prompt an action
- Inspire: Images that encourage, uplift, or evoke emotion
3. Text-centric graphics
Just because you’re creating an image for social media doesn’t mean words can’t be the main focus.
Images with inspirational quotes, or “quote cards,” for example, are highly shareable on social media. They evoke emotion, convey an atmosphere, and communicate your brand’s values. When your followers share an inspirational quote that resonates with them from your social media page with their friends and followers, your visibility will increase exponentially.
You can also create text-centric images to make announcements, share stats, facts or other educational content.
Here are a few quick tips for creating eye-catching text-focused images for your social media posts:
- Steer clear of complicated typography. A large share of your content is going to be consumed on the small screen. No matter how pretty you think a typeface is, if it’s not clear and easy to read at first glance, people won’t read it. Legibility is key to creating shareable content.
- Keep it interesting. Let’s face it, text-only images can be downright boring without a little graphic design. Try playing with font sizes, weights, and colors, and add graphical elements like shapes or icons.
- Be cognizant of contrast. Make sure your text doesn’t blend in with the background color. If your background is pastel, for example, use a more saturated font color—and vice versa.
4. Charts, infographics & data visualizations
It doesn’t matter how well-written it is—a big block of text isn’t going to grab anyone’s attention. Using eye-catching infographics, diagrams or charts to present data in a visual format makes complex information easy as pie to digest. Infographics are liked and shared more often than other types of content.
- Applications like Infogram can create diagrams, charts, and graphs for social media using data you submit.
- Online tools like Venngage can help you compile stunning and unique infographics for social media posts.
There’s no better way to catch someone’s eye as they scroll mindlessly through their mostly-static feed than a moving image. Animated GIFs, or low-resolution video snippets that loop endlessly, are one of the best ways to add a little motion to your social media posts. They allow you to communicate a feeling or message to your followers in seconds. And, unlike video posts, they’re silent—no speakers or earbuds required.Posting an animated GIF to your social media page is a powerful marketing strategy because it will literally “speak” to your followers. In a recent poll carried out by Time, almost two-thirds of millennials surveyed said that animated GIFs expressed their thoughts and feelings better than words. If your target audience can relate to the animations you post, they’ll be encouraged to further engage with your content.
While there are millions of GIFs already out there to articulate your message, you can also make your own.
- Apps like Ripl enable you to create a three to ten-second video with uploaded images.
- Snapchat and Instagram stories allow you to combine and share a quick succession of images or videos. Instagram’s “boomerang” feature creates a short video that loops back and forward.
- Websites like Giphy allow you to make an eye-catching slideshow-style GIF with existing images.
- You can also do a screencast with RecordIt, which makes a GIF from your recording.
Get your design on!
Whether your business is big, or small, images are an integral part of social media marketing. In this age of visual overwhelm, one of your main goals is to make your target audience stop and look. That’s why one of the most important things you can do is to add eye-catching graphics to your content.
If you’re searching for some inspiration, our team puts a lot of thought into what images and visuals we use on social media. We’re continuously testing and trying new techniques. Check us out on Instagram, and send us a DM if you’re looking for some more tips or pointers!