The Only Social Media Image Guide You Need [with FREE Template!]
Here at CMG, we believe creative is an integral piece of marketing, branding, and social media. However, we also know that it takes a lot of work and a trained eye, and that it’s often difficult—especially for small businesses, nonprofits, and political campaigns—to make good creative possible, much less a high priority.
In order to help you succeed, we’ve gathered some handy online resources, tools, and tips to help you create optimal social media graphics.
I like to use Coolors, an online color combination generator. This tool is really nice for when you don’t yet have a clear idea of what colors you’d like to use in a piece, because it randomly generates color palettes, which you can conveniently refine, adjust, and save. The app Adobe Color CC is also useful because you can export your color palette directly into the Adobe Suite. Another option is searching Designspiration’s image library for specific color combinations to see how certain colors look together in various contexts.
Stock Photo Resources
I like to use StockSnap, Unsplash, and 123RF for my stock photo needs. Stock Snap has some absolutely breathtaking outdoor scenes and landscape photos as well as some nice, versatile office and tech photos. Unsplash has great outdoor scenes as well, and 123RF has a great collection of diverse photos of people.
Design Inspiration Tools
I’m a firm believer that design inspiration can come from almost everywhere. However, when I’m at a loss, there are a few places I like to turn to online for inspiration. Designspiration, Dribbble, and Behance all provide professional, curated selections of the best work in the industry. Pinterest is also good, but because it has a wider user base, it may be more necessary to filter out irrelevant content when using it.
With these tools in your creative toolbox, it’s time to put them to use. Social media is perhaps one of the most crucial and universal uses for graphics, but be careful — your social media graphics can help you or hurt you, so you should be aware of some basic best practices before you start designing, posting, and advertising. Here are some tips we’ve learned throughout our years of digital marketing experience:
Best Practices for Designing Social Media Graphics
Social media graphics must be eye-catching and optimized for the platform they will be going on. For example, a graphic made for Facebook needs to be wider than it is tall (optimally, 1200 x 630 pixels), while a graphic for Instagram should be a square (1080 x 1080 pixels). Most graphics going on social media, especially those made for Instagram and Facebook, should not be text-heavy (of course, text is an important part of any post, but you can always add text in your post description!). Why is this the case? People are less likely to read or even look at a text-heavy graphic on these platforms, since 40% of people respond better to visual information than text. And Facebook always tailors its ad platform to user experience, so ads with a lot of text just won’t be shown as often as graphics that focus more on imagery. However, on Pinterest (where the optimal graphic is up to 800 pixels wide and any height), people expect to scroll through more text-heavy graphics as they are often looking for lists of information like recipes or tips.
Did you get all that? Don’t worry — we’re here to help you out. We’ve created a FREE Adobe Illustrator template for all of these social media image sizes, just for you! Just click the button below to get the guide.
Most importantly, posts that incorporate human elements will get shared more often — and posts with a visual are shared and liked more often. By human elements, we mean a graphic that warrants emotion, or causes a reaction in the viewer. Based on a study conducted by the New York Times, and an article analysis by Buzzsumo, awe is the most shareable emotion, i.e., the emotion most likely to cause people to share a post. Interestingly, Buffer has found that graphics with the colors red, pink and purple get the most shares. That being said, it’s important to keep your visual identity in mind when creating social media graphics (so if red doesn’t fit in with your brand, don’t sweat it!).
Thanks for reading! As always, let us know if you have any questions. Feel free to leave a comment or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org — we would love to hear from you!
Carly Fox is CMG’s Visual Composer. Originally from Pittsburgh, PA, Carly will graduate from the University of Michigan next year with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Minor in Business. She is excited about combining functions of the left and right sides of the brain by studying the interplay between business and creative practices. Other areas of interest include fashion, writing, painting, and yoga.