Design Basics for Social Media

Stay on Brand No Matter Where You Are

When people ask me what my job is, I usually tell them, “Graphic design with a little bit of social media.” After all, the two go hand-in-hand. I partner with the digital team to ensure that the design of all social media elements adhere to each client’s brand strategy and guidelines, while also creating each piece to adhere to the technical specifics  required to provide an optimal user experience across all devices.

Here are a few tips for working on social media if you don’t have a background in graphic design.

1: Brand Everything

Keep that brand standards guide nice and close!! If you have no idea what this means or don’t have one, find the person who designed the logo and/or collateral for your organization. A brand standards guide outlines the fonts, colors, and rules regarding when to use design elements and logos (e.g., traditional vs. reversed, stacked vs. horizontal). It is extremely important to stay on brand.

2: Create Templates

This is number one on my list for all things social media. Creating templates helps you save time and stay on brand. I have templates for quotes, holidays, corporate updates, and more for all social media clients. I also keep client approved backgrounds, fonts, and design elements like shapes and overlays with the brand colors in my template files to quickly pull items as I design something new. If you don’t have InDesign, we usually recommend using to create templates and social media graphics.

3: Photography Rule of Thirds

Photos are a great asset to any social media account! Keep in mind the “Rule of Thirds” to make your pictures even more impactful and fun. This means keep objects and people (the focal points) at the intersections of a 9-grid – think tic-tac-toe board!

Another photography tip to consider is headroom! Place people toward the top of an image – no one really wants to see that boring blank wall, they want to see the person!

4: Know What Sizes Work Best

I get it, social media best practices are ever-changing. It seems like every week there is a new cover photo size but it’s important to keep up! For example, the optimal Facebook cover graphic size is (currently) 820×360 pixels to create the best user experience across devices. On desktop your image will get cropped slightly, but on mobile it will appear full size. This is true for many social media platforms so my best advice is to design to the recommended size and then double check for cropping on desktop and mobile after posting and adjust accordingly.

5: Have Fun!

Social media offers the opportunity to engage with your audience and create conversation. Be consistent in your branding, but don’t be afraid to show off your brand personality too! For example, here at Ampersand we celebrate National Ampersand Day (which is September 8, by the way), and have fun sharing behind-the-scenes posts of our office and team at work! These are on brand but the photos are often edited only slightly and the captions are fun. This type of content, mixed in with our more strategic and curated posts offers a big picture view of what it means to work with and for Ampersand.

If you are looking for a partner to help you develop social media strategy and streamline your template process, contact us and let’s work through it together!




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