Hello DIY’ers, following on from my previous posts (here, here and here) I thought it would be useful to talk about DIY social media design specifically, because often, once I finish up a visual branding project and hand over files, my clients are responsible for furthering and maintaining their brand through social media, and typically (or at least often to start off with) they do it themselves, without the help of a content creation pro.
SO, here are some tips on how to better your DIY graphics, specifically for social media purposes…
ONE – know your optimal social media graphic sizes!
You can find out this info online here: http://sproutsocial.com/insights/social-media-image-sizes-guide/ (they claim to always be ‘up to date’ – something to always check because social platforms, like Facebook, change their UI designs quite frequently and sometimes this can affect what you are creating)
AND/OR you can save or pin the current (2017) data in the form of a handy cheat sheet here (click to view full infographic):
TWO – maintain brand consistency!
You have a logo and cohesive branding set up (hopefully!) for a reason – maintaining consistency is key. If you haven’t got one already, select a colour palette that you can work from across the board, and make sure you stick to it. Choose a handful of fonts (see my previous DIY Design posts on choosing fonts) and use them consistently in your graphics. This all becomes part of what makes your brand recognisable and YOU.
THREE – make a mark!
Include your logo, sub-mark, hashtag and/or your website URL somewhere on your graphic/content that you have created yourself (this is NB – do not put your logo on someone else’s photo/graphic – this implies that you are the creator, and technically, it is theft!) This is especially useful to do on highly shareable content, and a great way to watermark what belongs to you. The trick with doing this is to make it SUBTLE and TASTEFUL – people often get bored of highly-branded imagery, they want to see ‘pretty’ or ‘aesthetic’ visuals, not constantly ‘in your face’ images.
FOUR – consider your text!
Two points on this: firstly, don’t use too much text – remember that most people are scrolling through a sea (their feed) of information and the idea is to grab their attention and draw them in for more. Use catchy, relevant wording and make it irresistible for readers to stop and check you out 😉 Tell a story or have a more detailed blurb in the caption section of your post. Good examples of eye catching title copy:
Secondly, make it easy to actually READ! Using text boxes and transparent overlays can be really useful for this, case in point:
Organise and style your text in the best way possible to communicate what it is you are actually trying to say (read more about formatting text in my first DIY design post here)
FIVE – space is your friend!
Do not succumb to the urge to fill up every pixel in your image! ‘White’ / negative space helps to create balance and harmony (read more about using grids to create better designs here) Sometimes when there is too much information in one image, it’s easy for your audience to get overwhelmed and for the message to get lost. This is a GREAT example from Apple (♥) of how using white space actually assists in getting the point across, and making the product and key message stand out:
SIX – mix it up!
Unless you purposefully want to be known for just a specific style or type of graphic (eg. an illustrator might only want to share his/her work), avoid monotony by mixing up your images/designs! Variation adds excitement and stops people from becoming bored with your posts – think along the lines of using photos, quotes, illustrations, computer generated designs etc – the key is to ALWAYS make sure they are relevant to your brand and your audience. Also make sure there is some sort of thread that runs through them to maintain that golden chalice of consistency! A good example of mixing it up with graphics, quotes and photos (while still maintaining a cohesive visual vibe!) from @thelovelydrawer on Instagram:
SEVEN – be creative!
I always say to my clients that social media is where they get to be creative, and in some cases, make use of current trends without actually incorporating them into their core branding (which should always be timeless!) A good way to inspire yourself is to check out what others are doing and to see what is working for them – look on Pinterest, tap into visual trends and make them work for YOU!