Design Tips For Your Social Media Images

You already know that images and visuals make your content more shareable on social media.

But you can’t just add any photo to your posts and hope for the best.

Low-quality, blurry, or poorly edited images simply won’t cut it. To make sure your social media strategy is being enhanced—not dragged down—by your visuals.

Choose color carefully

Color can either make or break your marketing efforts. Researchers found that 90 percent of snap judgments made about a product can be based on color alone. Not only that but “the relationship between brands and color hinges on the perceived appropriateness of the color being used for the particular brand.“

When choosing color themes for image components such as text or graphics, you need to consider your brand. For best results, align colors with your brand guidelines and voice.

For example, if you are a light-hearted, inspirational, and creative brand, using bright and cheerful colors is appropriate. If your brand is for rugged and outdoorsy types, you might want to choose an earthier palette to convey this.

Hootsuite graphic designer Jocelyn Aarnoutse explains: “When you first go to a brand’s Instagram page, for example, you’re judging it based on the entire grid. You aren’t looking at individual images as much as you are seeing the overall look and feel of the page. Make sure this immediately conveys the tone and visuals of your brand.”

She adds, “With the purpose of creating a cohesive look and feel in mind, if you use Instagram filters you should make sure you are using the same filter for all of your photos.”

Headspace’s Instagram is a favorite of hers because of their strategic use of color. She explains: “They have an established color palette that they stick to for their Instagram images. This not only makes their account visually pleasing but helps create a cohesiveness that is woven through their page.”

Headspace is a meditation and mindfulness app, and their Instagram color scheme reflects this calming brand characteristic.

Like Headspace, it’s important to determine your color palette for:

  • Typefaces and text overlays
  • Borders
  • Subjects of images
  • Graphics and illustrations
  • Image backgrounds

Rather than a distracting crayon box of colors, choose a palette that works for your brand personality and tone.

Be consistent when it comes to text and typography

There are many ways brands can use text and typography within their social media images. But it needs to be well-positioned and relevant text.

Hootsuite production designer Brenda Wisniowski explains: “When using text in social media images, ensure it is clear and concise. If you want to write anything longer, put it in your image captions instead.”

This is a great tip for those times when you know you have more to say, but don’t want to clutter up your image with huge amounts of text. Wisniowski adds: “It’s also important to commit to a typeface and use it consistently across your social media images.”

Again, brand consistency is key. Just like with your color choices, typefaces need to reinforce your brand and work with your other branding. Consistency and familiarity lets your audience and customers recognize who you are and what you represent, which helps support brand awareness and loyalty.

Another design tip for using text in your social media images is to make sure that when you’re laying text over a photo, the photo doesn’t have too many small details. Readability and clarity are paramount.

With this in mind, our designers also suggest that you refrain from mixing typefaces as this can distract from your message. A brand that does this well on Instagram is Tightclub. They share relevant information alongside simple, yet on-brand images.

Some other ways brands use text in their social media images include:

  • Sharing contest information
  • Quotes and inspirational sayings
  • Hours or store addresses
  • Statistics and facts
  • Promotions and sales information
  • Highlights of product features

Make space your friend

“Less is more”—a proverb that’s especially true when it comes to social media images. All too often we see cluttered, busy, irrelevant, and all around terrible visuals being shared by brands on social.

The core principles any brand needs to consider when sharing a visual are clarity and conciseness. Think about the simplest way you are able to get your message across.

When you are creating visuals that are going to be placed alongside one another, in a sequence, or in a campaign, you want to make sure that the subjects of these images are clear. Using negative space (the area that surrounds objects in an image) helps bring balance and defines the focus of the visual.

When there is too much information in one image, it’s easy for the message to get lost. Consider why you are sharing your image to social media, and what your key message is. Then, ask if your image choice accomplishes this.

For example, if you want to highlight your product, make sure that your product is the focus of the image. Don’t include busy backgrounds or other overly-stimulating elements that could distract the viewer.

A brand who uses negative space well in their social media images is Bench Accounting. They use clean, crisp, and simple images that are visually pleasing. AsAarnoutse describes, “Their in-house photographer produces photos that have a light and airy feel and are consistent with their brand.”

Like Bench Accounting, your brand can make use of space in your social media images by:

  • Making sure each image has a clear focus
  • Using white (or other light colors) in your visuals
  • Having simple, non-cluttered backgrounds
  • Taking photos in daylight (if possible)
  • Sharpening images and photos if necessary

Mastering the art of social media images can be tricky, but follow these key principles, and you can take your visuals to the next level.