Graphic Design For Social Media: A Beginner’s Guide

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Graphic designer


Social media is a fast-paced environment where information is delivered quickly. This is becoming even more true as algorithms become more sophisticated and the competition among digital creators intensifies.

Audiences on social media have a short attention span and expect instant gratification. If they don’t see something that catches their eye within the first few seconds, they’re likely to scroll past.

This is where graphic design for social media comes into play. With effective social media design, you can create attractive visuals for your audience. In turn, the message you want to convey through your content can be effectively communicated.

Interested to learn more about social media design? Continue reading as we delve into the realm of graphic design for social media in this guide!

What Is Social Media Design?

What is Social media design

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Social media design refers to visual elements created specifically for social media posts. The process goes beyond making the posts look visually appealing. It’s rather a way to communicate brand identity and messages to the audience.

Furthermore, the process is similar to graphic design in general. The difference is that graphic design for social media focuses more on ensuring that the design elements align with the core messages a brand is trying to convey to its audience.

That being said, designers must first understand what each post’s main purpose is, whether it’s to inform, educate, or entertain. In this case, knowledge of visual communication design can be useful.

What Is Visual Communication Design?

Visual communication design solves various visual communication issues by combining creativity, design thinking, and sensitivity. Visual designers use typography, colour palettes, illustrations, and other graphic design elements to create layouts that help tell stories, convey information, and positively impact audiences.

Visual designers must organise their work before they can create attractive layouts for their audiences. It starts with thorough research, then ideation, and finally, prototyping the graphic design for the required media, including social media.

There are several things that visual designers must be well-versed in. These include colour psychology and perception, as well as design principles. By keeping these in mind, they’ll be able to convey their intended messages with enticing visuals.

While creating enticing visuals to communicate messages is necessary, visual designers aren’t to create extravagant layouts. Often, what matters most is making sure people can easily understand the message from the visuals.

Visual Communication Design For Social Media

Visual communication design is especially important in the context of social media. Social media platforms can attract many visitors, which creators can use to gain a loyal following by creating compelling and communicative visuals.

Without proper visual communication design, efforts in creating engaging posts will be in vain. Even though the posts look visually appealing, the main message is at risk of being misunderstood.

If the audience doesn’t understand the main point of a piece of content, they’ll probably scroll past it very quickly because they’re not getting what they want right away.

How Important is Graphic Design For Social Media?

As previously mentioned, an excellent graphic design is essential for attracting a larger, more engaged audience to social media pages. But what benefits does this bring? Let’s explore the key advantages below:

Increase The Engagement Rate

The engagement rate (ER) indicates how many people actively engage with your content. In other words, your engagement rate is determined by the number of interactions you get compared to your reach, followers, or audience size.

Each social media platform has its own metrics for calculating engagement rates. Instagram, for example, includes likes, comments, shares, saves, and DMs in its calculations. Twitter, on the other hand, measures reposts, mentions, and comments to determine the ER.

Engagement rate plays a vital role in social media marketing. Higher numbers indicate that your content resonates well with the audience who sees it. Graphic design, which entails creating compelling visuals, is one of the elements that can increase your engagement rate.

When you have a performing engagement rate, you can leverage it to achieve several important goals in your campaign strategy. This includes securing a loyal following, improving algorithm favour, and driving higher traffic to your social platform.

Better Brand Recognition

Brand recognition refers to consumers’ ability to identify a brand based on its characteristics. At this point, consumers can easily distinguish one brand from another by its logo, colour palette, or font style rather than being told what the brand’s name actually is.

A brand needs to foster recognition from its audience. When its name has been attached to the heart of its audience, the brand has access to generating more attention for its value proposition, as well as the message it wants to convey to its target audience.

That’s why, as a graphic designer, you should strive for brand recognition when designing social media posts. It’s especially true when you’re working on behalf of your client, as it serves as a path to their business growth.

Moreover, when you properly create the graphic design for their social media posts, their audience can easily understand the implicit message represented in the visuals. By this, the designs can leave a lasting impression, eventually elevating the brand over its competitors.

Higher Conversion Rates

Graphic design for social media is an effective tool for increasing conversion rates. Why so? Two major factors come into play. The first is that design elements can evoke a sense of belonging, and the second is that they have the power of storytelling.

Gaining the audience’s trust requires a strong sense of belonging. When your design resonates with your target audience, you can evoke their emotional connection. In fact, people have a higher likelihood to purchase from brands they trust and feel connected with.

Apart from that, design elements also can tell a compelling story about your brand. You can convey the brand’s values, mission, and unique selling points through imagery, colour palettes, typography, and other elements, further fostering a sense of relatability among the target audience.

But First Thing First..

The advantages you can potentially earn from implementing good graphic design for social media purposes don’t come easily. Guessing and hoping that the design you create resonates with your target audience is a step that has the potential to be in vain.

No matter how unique or appealing your designs are–when compared to common standards, there are still several requirements that you must do before proceeding to hit your digital drawing or designing tools, as listed below:

Determine Your Target Audience

Before diving into the realm of graphic design for social media, you must first understand who your target audience is. Different target audiences have different standards for well-designed visuals, defined by demographics, behaviour, and psychology.

You can tailor your design elements to their preferences, needs, and interests by determining your target audience. For example, suppose your target audience is young adults interested in fitness and wellness. In that case, your design choices will differ significantly from those targeted for middle-aged people interested in retirement plans.

Beyond aesthetics, understanding your target audience allows you to craft messaging that speaks directly to their concerns, desires, and pain points. This step lays the groundwork for creating social media designs that resonate deeply with your audience.

As a result, the brand messages you intend to share will be effectively communicated and understood by the right people. In contrast, without a well-defined target audience, your design efforts may lack direction and fail to yield the desired results.

Decide Your Design’s Goals

As one of the marketing channels, social media marketing entails several different goals. These include increasing brand awareness, building a community around a specific niche, generating new leads, and many more.

Brands often place these goals into separate posts as a part of their social media marketing strategy. That’s why, when creating graphic design for social media, you should consider the goal of each post. This helps in making the message clear and effective for those seeing it.

Furthermore, considering the marketing goals before creating your design also ensures that your social media content stays consistent and in line with your overall brand image. It’s like painting a picture with the right colours for each part of your marketing.

For example, if your goal is to raise brand awareness, your graphic design could include vibrant colours and engaging visuals. On the other hand, if your goal is to generate new leads, your design should emphasise clear calls to action and the value proposition.

Look Out For Current Design Trends

Design trends are constantly changing and introducing new techniques and styles. The current trend often reflects consumer tastes and preferences. In turn, staying up-to-date with design trends ensures your work remains fresh and relevant to your target audience.

It’s essential if the brand’s social media you’re working on targets younger demographics. Implementing current design trends can influence how the audience perceives them, giving a sense that the brand is forward-thinking and in touch with modern culture.

Looking out for current design trends is now made easy. You can discover fresh inspirations from other accounts with a similar target audience to yours or from social platforms like Pinterest, Dribbble, or Behance, where you can get ideas from other artists.

However, as important as it is to stay up-to-date with current design trends, it is still important for you to maintain your unique style. This is what makes you stand out among other graphic designers, which is an important aspect that every artist should strive for.

Graphic Design For Social Media: The 8 Essential Tips To Implement

After you’ve grasped the advantages of incorporating the concept of visual communication design in graphic design for social media, as well as what to consider before you begin designing, it’s time to understand its best practices.

Learn from the 8 essential tips in the following:

  1. Use High-Quality Images and Graphics

Images and graphics are crucial components of visual appeal. This is also true when creating graphic designs for social media, as high-quality images and graphics can improve the appeal of the layouts you create.

Furthermore, using high-resolution images and graphics ensures that the final designs look crisp and clear on all devices. Blurry or pixelated graphics, on the other hand, can make your social page appear unsightly and unprofessional.

In this case, you should always choose images and graphics with a PPI of 300 or higher. High-resolution images typically have dimensions ranging from 2000 x 2000 pixels for smaller images to 5000 x 5000 pixels for larger ones.

  1. Leverage Free Tools and Resources

Free design tools and resources can help you save time and money, especially if you’re a beginner graphic designer who wants to create social media layouts. Here are some tools and resources that can assist you during the design process:

  • Canva: Canva is a web-based design tool with a variety of templates and graphics for creating social media visuals. It’s an excellent starting point for beginner graphic designers, allowing them to design with less hassle.
  • Unsplash, Freepik, or Pexels: These websites provide access to high-quality and free-to-use stock photos. You can conveniently find a variety of images to enhance your social media content.
  • Google Fonts or DaFont: These platforms offer a wide collection of free fonts. Get to choose fonts that suit your branding and implement them in your text-based visual layouts.
  1. Pay Careful Attention To Copyright

You must respect copyrighted materials when using images or graphics in your designs. Failure to do so can result in various consequences, including legal disputes, reputational harm, and ethical issues.

For example, to include images in your design, you must first check the image licensing. Check that you have the necessary rights to use the images you choose. In this case, you can either purchase the photos or use free licence images.

Aside from ensuring that you have the necessary rights to use certain images, you have to make sure that the images you select are appropriate for your purposes. Some images are only licensed for editorial use, which means that they cannot be used for commercial advertising or promotion.

  1. Add Creative Text To Spice Up Your Design

Social media is a platform where brands can share information while also connecting with their audiences on a deeper level. As a result, every post should convey a message that the audience can easily understand, one of which is by adding creative text.

Brands typically hire a creative team of individuals with diverse specialities. If you work with a company with such an arrangement, your team may include a copywriter. In this case, you can ask the copywriter to provide a powerful and compelling copy for your design.

On the other hand, if you are in charge of the copy, including short texts in your design is a simple task. 

  1. Place Your Branding Elements

Branding elements are another essential tip to include in your social media designs. These can include a logo, tagline, pattern, and texture. By incorporating them into your design, you can achieve consistency, which is critical for brand recognition across social media pages.

When you’re working for a brand, you have two options for branding elements. The first is that the brand elements already exist; you just need to add them to your design. Second, you can be the one who creates it first for your client or director to approve.

If the latter is the case, you can achieve it by grasping the fundamentals of graphic design. This includes paying attention to the brand’s identity, which includes the colour palette, style, typography, and other elements.

  1. Balance Out Your Design

Achieving visual balance is essential when it comes to creating aesthetically pleasing social media visuals. In this case, there are several design principles you need to consider, including:

  • Alignment: Ensure that the elements you incorporate in the design are aligned cohesively with your goals. Centred, left-aligned, or right-aligned can convey different feelings and messages.
  • Negative space: Use negative space wisely to give your design room to breathe. Avoid including too many visuals to the point where the layout appears cluttered, as this can overwhelm the viewer.
  • Colour harmony: Maintain a harmonious colour palette across your designs. Consistency in colour choice contributes to a polished social media page appearance.
  • Typography: Pay attention to font choices and typography hierarchy. Use font styles, sizes, and colours to guide the viewer’s eye as they scan through the content.
  • Visual weight: Balance the visual weight of elements that are present within your design. This will create a sense of equilibrium, where no single element overpowers the others.
  1. Review and Adjust Your Design

Before finalising your social media design, you should thoroughly review it to see if there are any unbalanced elements or spelling errors. If you notice that your design would benefit from some changes, you can easily adjust it to meet the requirements.

You can accomplish this by zooming in and out of your rough draft. This allows you to see your design from two perspectives: one that’s more detailed and one that’s more general. In turn, you can see details you may have overlooked and make the necessary changes.

Aside from that, you can review your design by asking for feedback from others. You may ask for your colleagues’ views of your design. Their feedback is valuable, especially if they aren’t graphic design experts, as it shows how the audience may perceive your design.

  1. Test and See How Your Design Looks On Social Page

After creating a graphic design for social media, you must check how it appears on your social media profiles. Testing and previewing your design on social media pages ensures consistency and is visually impactful.

Planoly is one tool that can assist you with this process. Planoly is available in mobile and desktop versions to help you map out how your content will appear on a social media page like Instagram, which can be arranged in a visual grid preview.

Aside from that, Planoly allows you to schedule your posts ahead of time. You can relax knowing that your design will be published at the most appropriate times for your target audience.

5 Tools You Can Use To Design Visuals For Social Media

Creating compelling visuals for social media is essential for engaging your audience and effectively conveying your brand’s message. Here are five powerful tools that graphic designers often use to craft eye-catching and impactful social media visuals:

  1. Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop is a graphic design software known for its versatility and advanced capabilities. Designers can use this tool to create intricate and highly customised social media layouts, including manipulating images, creating illustrations, adding special effects, and more.

Despite having a steeper learning curve, Adobe Photoshop is a worth-trying tool to fine-tune designs with higher precision. It’s equipped with extensive features ready to help designers create social media posts that are truly unique and visually appealing.

  1. Adobe Illustrator

Adobe Illustrator is a vector-based design software that many designers use to create scalable graphics for social media. The graphics typically include logos, icons, infographics, and illustrations, which are commonly present in social media posts.

What makes Adobe Illustrator superior is that it retains sharpness and clarity regardless of the size. Its robust vector tools allow for precise line work and intricate shapes, making the outcomes look highly polished and professional.

  1. Procreate

Graphic designers who work on iPads may be familiar with Procreate. It’s a digital painting tool that features an extensive brush selection and an adjustable canvas, making it ideal for use on an iPad, especially when combined with a stylus pen.

By using Procreate, designers can seamlessly sketch hand-drawn social media visuals. For some artists, this is an important aspect of their creative expression that’s beyond what a mouse or pen tab can provide.

  1. Affinity Designer
affinity designer

Another design software that many designers use is Affinity Designer. It features a user-friendly interface and extensive vector tools, making it an excellent choice for those looking for powerful design software with a lower learning curve.

One significant advantage that Affinity Designer offers is its affordability when compared to Adobe. Despite this, it retains professional-level capabilities, making it ideal for creating logos, icons, and other vector graphics without breaking the bank.

  1. Canva

Canva is a user-friendly web-based design tool that many graphic designers, both beginners and advanced, use. It offers a wide range of templates and graphic design elements that are seamless for social media content creation.

Moreover, Canva provides an intuitive drag-and-drop interface, a vast stock images library, and customisation options for fonts, colour, and layouts. This way, you can effortlessly create graphic designs for social media posts, stories, ads, and more.

How To Master Graphic Design Essentials For Social Media Purposes?

Every expert graphic designer had to start somewhere. Some of them begin to master their skills through self-learning and continuous experiments. Self-learning serves as a way to grasp the fundamental concepts before moving on to more advanced skills.

Professional guidance in graphic design is essential for mastering more advanced skills. The field professionals will teach aspiring graphic designers beyond the basics they may have learned on their own.

If you want to become an expert graphic designer, especially one who creates designs for social media, graphic design courses are a great place to start. Degree in Communication Design or Diplomas in Communication Design and UI UX Design are among the disciplines within the courses.

You can choose disciplines that align with your interests and personal career growth. Together with the courses and your burning desire to create appealing visual art, it’s an excellent starting point for your exciting journey in the graphic design field.

Final Thoughts

Graphic design plays a critical role in the fast-paced world of social media, where attention spans are shorter than ever. Providing an enticing graphic design made specifically for social media serves as a bridge between your message and the ever-scrolling audience.

By creating aesthetically pleasing layouts that resonate with the target audience, you can help your brand grow. This includes increasing the engagement rate, brand recognition, and number of visitors who become paying customers.

However, the advantages of graphic design for social media don’t just come naturally. As a graphic designer, you must master visual communication design so that the audience can easily understand the message you want to convey.

Now, you no longer have to struggle with self-learning to grasp the concept, which can be an uphill battle, especially if you’re just starting. Orita Sinclair’s graphic design courses come in handy to provide you with the necessary knowledge and skills led by the field professionals.

Contact us today and we’ll get back to you shortly.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is graphic design for social media?

Graphic design for social media is creating visual layouts intended to interact with the audience on a more personal level. The designs should be in line with a variety of social media marketing goals, such as increasing awareness, interaction, and conversions.

Do graphic designers do social media designs?

Yes, graphic designers do social media designs. They’re responsible for creating graphic designs that entice the target audience, which they do by carefully planning out the colour palette, design elements, typography, and more.

How do I make a graphic for a social media post?

Making a graphic for a social media post is a rather simple task. If you’re new to this, using a free tool like Canva makes a great start. The platform offers numerous templates and free graphics you can use to create your own social media designs.

How much do graphic designers charge for a social media post?

Graphic designers charge different rates for designing social media posts. Factors like experience, design complexities, and employment types influence their charge. For more information on this subject, see our graphic design salary guide.

About Orita Sinclair

Founded in 2002, Orita Sinclair is one of the oldest music and design schools in Singapore. We are committed to fostering a love of design and music in our students by encouraging them to be bold and imaginative in their endeavours.

Here at Orita Sinclair, we believe that theoretical and practical foundations are equally important with the music and graphic design courses that we offer. For that reason, we have put in place a forward-looking curriculum that grounds students in key principles before being guided by field practitioners in applying theory and technical craft in authentic, industry-oriented projects. One of our best programme is Diploma in Interaction Design.

Our supportive learning environment prepares students for the demands and challenges of the music and design industries. At the end of their graphic design courses or music courses, our students are ready to step out into successful careers or pursue degrees at renowned universities.

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