by Jessica Fortier, Digital Design & Content Specialist
The difference between a good and bad design is crucial, and there is much more to design than “making it look pretty.” Proper design and branding distinguish your brand and campaign from others by establishing and honoring identifiable characteristics. Good design successfully communicates information in a way that is easily digestible, and it is precise. Investment and attention to design are vital to your brand’s reputation, as it signals levels of professionalism and quality.
If you are looking to build and execute a strong social media campaign, take time to do it right and think quality over quantity. If the information you are trying to share is so important, you should be thinking about how that information can be most successfully communicated. Calculated delivery is often better than rushed.
1. Consider brand guidelines
Brand guidelines are rules that outline distinguishing and essential characteristics, including logos, color palette, typography, artistic elements, voice and tone, etc. Before getting started on any designing, study the brand guidelines and download all necessary files to set yourself up for success. Some of these files will include original Adobe Illustrator design files and pngs of the logo and logomark in full color and white versions, hex codes for colors, fonts, etc.
Understand that there are rules to follow to ensure designs are “on-brand.” These rules include instructions for pairing colors with themselves and with the logo to ensure proper contrast, specific dimensions and locations for logos, and details on how to use different weights of type to communicate importance. A cohesive and strong visual presence signals to your audience that you are organized, prepared, established, and professional.
2. Design with consistency, sets, and variety in mind
Going along with that same note of cohesiveness, it’s important that graphics in the same campaign belong to a set. One way that you can create a set is by following the same format. This will set the foundation for the aesthetic of the graphic and the content within it. With a consistent format, there is wiggle room for variety in colors or artistic elements. Variety keeps followers intrigued, lets followers know the post is fresh and adds visual interest. Being attentive to details such as alignment and spacing will ensure a streamlined look in social media feeds, especially visual-focused Instagram, when graphics in the set appear next to one another.
3. Select photos that resonate with your target audience
Be intentional with the people in your photos. Representing your target demographic will make the post seem more relevant to those you are trying to reach, and it will increase the likelihood of them engaging with your content. Other photo considerations include diversity, seasonality, and scenery. To make your post feel more organic, consider current weather and appropriate fashion to match. Stock photos can be limiting, so it’s important to search deeply through the archives with strategic search terms to make sure you’re not underrepresenting a key demographic. Use genuine, but quality photos taken by your organization when possible, as it will provide well-needed authenticity, a quality that performs well.
4. Live by ‘less is more’ and ‘keep it simple’
Social media visuals serve to capture the attention of someone scrolling through the feed. Details should be reserved for the copy in the caption. You do not want to overwhelm the viewer by cluttering the graphic with too much text; instead, think of the graphic’s text as a headline or summarizing preview/highlight of the larger story in your caption.
Now, let’s talk type. There is much more to type than the difference between Market Felt and Helvetica. Avoid using fonts from more than two font families. Instead, communicate importance through the type’s weight within the same font family (i.e. light, regular, demi bold, bold, etc. You can also use capitals, text size, leading (spacing between lines), and kern (spacing between letters) to help the eyes process the information more easily. When using all capitals, you should most often adjust the kern to avoid cramping the type. Think streamline and clear!
5. Include calls to action and ask questions
Consider your goals for the individual posts and overall campaign, and provide a clear next step for the user. By keeping your caption on the shorter and sweeter side, the user will be more likely to read through and complete the task when they see a call to action at the end or beginning of the caption. You can further remind users of this crucial next step by including it in your graphic’s text.
Do you want to drive traffic to your website or lead new clients to your business? If so, examples of a call to action include:
• “Learn more at the link: solomonmccown.com.”
• “Explore our services at the link or schedule your consultation today via 617-695-9555: solomonmccown.com
• “Need help now? Call 617-695-9555 to speak with our firm’s leading crisis communications experts.”
Is your goal to increase engagement on your page and build a community? Consider asking your audience a question or frame your posts as a platform for followers to share their thoughts.
6. Size appropriately for each platform
Each social media platform has its own unique dimensions for images, so if you are posting across more than one social platform, you will likely need more than one version of a graphic. Luckily, user-friendly design tools like Canva make it easy to search for the most up-to-date canvas size for each platform. You can simply type in “Twitter Post,” and Canva will automatically pull up the proper size canvas for you. If you are using Adobe design programs, it’s important you research proper sizes and stay up to date on each platform’s latest standards.
If design, and overall social media strategy, still seem daunting to you or you are unsure about your team’s current skillset given the project’s timeline, reach out to us and we can help! It’s okay to utilize outside resources, especially when it’s an area that will distract you from your larger goal or passion. We’ll start by meeting with your team to understand and identify your priority objectives. Then, we’ll work on a plan that suits your needs and provide you with the tools to launch your campaign – we can even be there post-launch to help manage your social media channels if you want us to be!