The first thing you should think about when creating graphics for social media is your intent. What is the ONE thing you want people to do or know after seeing your post? Read a blog post? Click a link? Share the post? Buy a ticket to an event? Whatever your ideal conversion is, focus on that. And only that. Don’t try to do too much. Keep it clean and simple so it doesn’t get lost in ambiguity.
The key to making something shareable is evoking an emotional response. Emotions are what make us human. Being human is what makes us relatable. People buy and share what they can relate to. Surprisingly, every little detail of a visual aid can alter the emotional response of the viewer. Things like color, type, and photography. We’ll go over how to optimize each of these variables when creating graphic to share online along with all of the more technical aspects, like using the correct size and dimensions.
The fact that color can affect someone’s emotions has been proven time and time again. Take a look at this graphic that shows what kind of emotions each color represents in the world. Using these mindfully can help garner the response you’re hoping for.
When working with color, there are many things to consider. As with most things, it’s best to keep it simple. Don’t try to use too many colors, and use colors that are complementary to each other. 80% of the time, the text can either be black or white. Don’t try to get fancy and use other colors. For example…
If you’re struggling to find good colors to work with that aren’t the default colors in whichever program you’re using to create the graphics (more on that later), there are plenty of online tools that can help you choose some awesome color schemes. Try Paletton or Color Hunt.
Text (Amount + Type)
The next phase of things to consider is the type.
**Cue the broken record**
Keep it simple! Both in terms of typography choice, and content. Keep it simple. The “boring” sans serif, clean, and simple fonts are usually the best to use. Make it easy to read, don’t get fancy and use curly script fonts. They’re hard to read and will cause the viewer to immediately move on from your post. You should also limit yourself to 2 different font choices. Any more that that and your image will start to look cluttered and unfocused.
Additionally, don’t try to use too much text. The graphic is supposed to supplement the post. Most of the words should be written in the actual post, not the graphic. If you overwhelm the viewer, they will move on immediately. Here is an extreme example of using too much text in a graphic…
Avoid Clipart (And Stock Photos)
The ultimate idea behind posting on social media is to stand out among the crowd. So, you know, don’t use clipart in your graphics. Anyone can use clipart they find online, it makes you look like a cookie cutter business and you’ll instantly fall into the void. It’s the easiest way to make your business look elementary. I HAAAATE this little guy…
Stock photos fall into the same category. I see a lot of the same 50 cheesy images recycled over and over again across the interwebs. It’s like people are literally searching for “business stock photo” and not looking past the first page of Google. For reference…
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of good uses for stock photos. It just takes some creativity to not use such a literal image of what you’re trying to depict. If you run a financial planning company, don’t use pictures of spreadsheets and calculators. What do you ultimately want people to feel about your services? Peace of mind? Comfort? Security? How about using something like a peaceful view of a lake. Instill the idea of a comfortable, peaceful retirement. Much more appealing than that spreadsheet.
If your goal is to create shareable, viral content, you need to incorporate branding into your images. If this thing gets 10,000 shares, you’re going to want something that will tie this back to your brand. Without branding, all of your hard work will be for nothing.
It doesn’t take much. Just a little icon and website address in the bottom corner will do. You don’t need to make your brand the focal point of the image, just so long as it’s there. When this post gets shared by hundred of people, your business will still be associated with it.
One type of content that is easily shareable is quote graphics. They hit all the marks. Quotes can be simple, inspirational, and emotional. At Hatch, we’ll make a batch of these and pepper them into our social streams over the following few weeks or months. But we’re always sure to include a little bit of branding. Here’s one of our examples.
Optimal Size (Dimensions)
Another important thing to keep in mind is the dimensions, sizing, and spacing of the image. On Facebook, the linked image that they will show on the timeline follows a 2:1 ratio of length and height, resulting in a rectangular shape of about 476 x 246 pixels. Really, any 2:1 rectangle will work perfectly for the timeline. However, if you were to post a link to a blog post in a comment, the thumbnail image will be a perfect square. So, you’ll need to produce an image that works both as a rectangle and a square. Here’s an example of one we produced at Hatch. The original graphic on the left, and what happens to it on Facebook on the right.
If you’re not a designer…
Check out one of these online tools for creating images and graphics. Even if you’re not a designer and can’t afford to hire one for everyday things like social media and blog posts, these tools will get you by until you can afford to staff a designer full time!