The Science of Social Media Post Design

As humans, we can’t help but be visual people. Whether you’re passing a billboard, flipping through a magazine, watching TV, or surfing the web. We see content everywhere. But do you remember any of it? Do you remember what that ad was for when scrolling down your social media page?

Chances are, if it didn’t catch your attention then you probably won’t remember it. The best thing to do for your brand is to create content that not only stands out but also has visual elements that are memorable. And the best way to do that? Use our 10 social media graphic design tips.

Let’s dig into these 10 creative graphic design tips for your social media so we can make sure your social media content is not only engaging but consisting of all important elements to create lasting impressions.

  1. Find Your Goal
brand goals

The first and most important of the graphic design tips when creating social media content, and all of your digital content marketing, is that you need to have a goal. Setting up a goal will be the basis for creating your design for your social media content. So let’s figure out what it is that you are trying to do and then let’s make a story out of it.

Having a goal will not only help your design for social media content but it will also allow you to tell your message visually. Start by asking yourself a few questions:

  • What is my purpose for this post?
  • Am I trying to drive sales?
  • Do I want to increase traffic to my website?
  • Am I trying to increase engagement on my page?

While asking these questions keep in mind your target audience. Make sure you know who your audience is. Research your competitors and your ideal target audience. Below are some research points to consider when targeting your audience:

  • Who are they?
  • Which platforms do they use?
  • Are they desktop users or mobile phone users?
  • What message do I want to convey?
  • How do I want my viewers to feel and what do I want them to do about it?
  • What are they liking/ who are they following?
  • Where do they hang out?

Once you know your audience, who you want to target, and the purpose of your post, you’ll have your goal. Your “WHY” for creating your social media graphic is the first and most important step in this whole process. Everything after this will be chosen to reflect this goal.

It is also good to note that while goals are important, too many goals can cause a busy graphic. Too much text, pictures or fonts can instantly turn your audience off. So now that we have the first of the graphic design tips down let us move on to color.

2. Color

graphic design color

Color is one of the most important aspects of any design. It helps to set a mood, create an atmosphere, and can even invoke a memory. With each color having meaning and psychology behind it, finding a color scheme that conveys the emotion you want your audience or brand to associate with, will help to establish consistency. 

So what does your brand stand for? Is it fun, established, trustworthy, etc.? You want to use colors that reflect what your brand stands for and you can do that by starting with two to three main colors. Finding your color theme is crucial to the success of a design. Remember that goal you just discovered? Well knowing it will come in handy when using colors in your social media content as this will guide your audience through the story.

Color is also vital for creating contrast and balance within your social media graphic elements. Be aware of how certain hues or pairings influence someone’s perception. Steering clear color combinations that are uncomfortable to see will help your brand in the long run. When colors don’t contrast enough they appear to bleed into one another or when contrast too much they can cause a visual vibration. I’ve provided you with an example below.

graphic design tips
graphic design tips

Look at the text on the left, do you see how the green is hard to read against the purple background image? That is an example of colors bleeding into one another. Now can you see how the orange against the blue background image strains your eyes a bit? This is what I mean by colors that contrast too much (i.e. two bright colors) causing a visual vibration..

Once you have your color scheme picked make sure you’re using the same colors throughout your posts. Write down the hex codes so you have the exact color. The last thing you want is to have your posts a shade or two off (unless it’s intentional i.e. monochromatic). For non-designers, you can find the exact color of an image using any color picker tool, which will give you a six-digit code that identifies an exact color on the color wheel.

Color plays a major role in the final output of your overall social media graphic design. As mentioned earlier color affects a person’s psychology, emotions, and reactions to a design. Thus it is important to choose the right kind of color scheme that will create the right kind of reactions from your audience.

Bonus Tip!: Since your social media designs are only going to be displayed on screen make sure the color is always set to RGB, no CMYK colors!

3. Text

graphic design text

Not to be confused with typography (which we will get into next). Text is a sequence of words whereas typography is the visual component of the written word. Now that we have that explained let us get into why the text is important.

As an owner, we know that this brand is like your baby. You want to show it off and tell everyone about it. You might even feel as though you have to use every word you can to explain your brand and why it’s so great. However, when creating social media graphic designs you want to stray from overcrowding an image.

We know words are powerful and some good graphic design tips to keep in mind is that too many words on an image can appear busy to your potential audience (See below). The last thing you want is for your audience to feel overwhelmed. Whether you are creating a graphic for Instagram or Facebook, try to limit your text to one to two liners. You see, these lines will help create an order in the overall image. You can use these lines by incorporating them around blocks of text. They can also be used as a separator for each element found in an image. Doing so will create a sense of coordination in your design.

graphic design tips

The point of social media graphics is to deliver your message as simply as you can. One of the most overlooked good graphic design tips is to make sure your text is easy to read.

More than likely a large share of your content will be consumed on a mobile device. Keep that in mind when choosing your font size. The readability of the text largely depends on the color as well as the size. Going back to color, It is good to use a light-colored font with a dark background and vice versa. It is best to use contrast to make the text stand out but we will cover that later on.

4. Typography


It’s obvious that typography is an art in itself. Selecting the perfect font to get aligned with the images can be tough, but when done right it can bring your graphics to life! Like your color palette, picking a font should reflect your brand’s personality. Don’t go overboard – you only need two to three fonts max. Any more than that and your audience may get distracted and your message will get lost. And they won’t have a font to remember you by. You want your customers to be able to see a graphic and know it’s yours even if your logo isn’t on it. 

When choosing your typeface or font family, you want to make certain that it projects your message and reflects your brand. Your font has an impact on how your design is interpreted and the message your brand sends across. Similar to color, typography can project moods and emotion and sometimes even more powerful than the copy. So as a marketer, you need to choose wisely when picking the right font as it will deliver your tone.

Some graphic design tips to keep in mind when using fonts:

  • Serif fonts are best for print
  • Sans serif is bet for web
  • Limit your design to a maximum of 3 fonts

When deciding on more than one font, pair fonts with high contrast. The fonts will balance each other out while still creating that extra “POP”! Ensure that you aren’t using too many fonts as the eye finds it hard to scan multiple fonts. Instead, if you want to create a good design, you should use a typeface or font family that has a selection of versions, such as italic, bold, condensed, etc.

A simple font contrast you can include is a font that is a serif and the other that is not. The image below shows the same font in different versions.

Arranging fonts to make text legible and more appealing is vital when creating social media content. Whether you choose a sans serif or a serif font, make sure that your audience can ultimately read your message.

5. Good contrast

graphic design for social media

If you haven’t heard of it by now, negative space (also referred to as white space) is a great way to make your image stand out. Contrast attracts the eye and can be applied with font, colors, alignment, size and more.

How can you contrast an image? A simple way to implement contrast into your graphic design is through the use of colors.

For example, I used a white logo with a contrasting dark color making the content both readable and visually appealing. The right balance can bring any social media graphic design content to life!

best graphic design tips

Text is also an important part of the contrast. Choosing text sizes that contrast well, as mentioned above, will help to make your graphic pop. Creating a flowing design by surrounding words with white space will allow the elements to breathe. The use of space around text, shapes and other elements will make your design easier to read and also attract more attention than a cluttered design.

A good rule of thumb is if you have a light-colored background then you should use a dark font (and vice versa).

6. Visual Identity- Incorporate your branding into the design

how to do graphic design

So now that you have the basics of graphic design for social media, we can focus our attention on brand identity and how to incorporate branding to elevate your story.

On average It takes about seven times of seeing or hearing your brand for someone to recognize it. This means that consistency and repetition of brand elements such as logo, colors and fonts, is essential.

Make sure to include your logo in every image but keep in mind what we’ve learned so far. It’s great to include your logo in your pictures because you want people to associate it with your brand but making it half the size of the picture or more will come off as too cluttered.

The point of creating graphic designs for your social media content is not only to tell a story but to attract an audience and then direct them to your website. So if your graphic has no branding, the whole effort becomes ineffective. It doesn’t have to be big and bold, just enough to ultimately let people know where it’s from.

7. Consistency

professional graphic design

A core building block of your brand is going to be consistency. If your social media content looks and feels connected, your audience will form a clear understanding of your brand and its message. However, if your content seems sporadic and random, the audience may feel confused and not understand your brand or its message.

Having established your goal early on this will help your brand work towards a consistent look. Giving your followers a chance to quickly recognize you on their feed. Make sure all your content that you create is consistent with your brand. Always posting content in the same style can be challenging at times but being able to establish a strong brand identity will make it worth it.

When keeping up with consistency make sure that all your designs are cohesive across all platforms. These consistent elements will tie each post together and make your brand easily recognizable!

An easy way to keep consistency is to take the time to create templates for quick quotes, announcements, promotions, or sales. This will make it easy for you and your team to quickly create content. Plus it’ll also make it easier for your social media fans to quickly recognize your brand and increase customer engagement.

The most important thing to take away from these graphic design tips is that there needs to be consistency so that your followers will associate a certain style/type with you. The idea for consistency is that no matter what social platform your audience is on, they will quickly be able to tell that a graphic is related to your brand.

8. Know your platform

social media content

Repeat after me, each platform is different.

Knowing ahead of time what works best with each platform will not only help visually with your audience but will make things easier for you in the long run. Knowing what the people want to see in each social network will help you enhance their user experience. Below I’ve listed 5 social platforms and included some tips for each.

  • Facebook
    • Is geared toward the older generation
    • Makes great use of articles and promotions
    • Sizing: 852 x 315 cover photo; 180 x 180 profile picture; 1,200 x 630 regular shared post
  • Instagram
    • Geared toward millennials
    • Lifestyle shots are great as the platform was built on “lunch and selfies”
    • Sizing: 1080 x 1080 post; 1080 x 1920 stories; 1080 x 1350 portrait; 1080 x 566 landscape; 110 x 110 pixels profile picture.
  • Twitter
    • Great for engagement
    • Great for celebrities
    • Sizing: 1500 x 500 header photo; 400 x 400 profile picture; 900 x 512 post
  • Pinterest
    • Great for inspiration and new ideas
    • Great for people looking for new products
    • Sizing: 600 x 1260 pins; 165 x 165 profile image
  • LinkedIn
    • Great for business.
    • Great for networking
    • 1584 x 396 banner image, 400 x 400 company profile picture

Know what works best on each and know you’ll have to resize each piece of content to fit the dimensions of every platform you plan to share a social media graphic design with. It may seem tedious, but a quick size check could make the difference.

9. Creative

graphic design for social media

Whether you believe it or not, creativity lives in everyone. Being creative when creating or curating your content will not only help tie your brand and audience together but will also make your company stand out from the rest.

Create a variety when posting for your social media content. There are a plethora of different types of graphics that you can share on social media. Here are a few graphic design tips to get your inspiration rolling:

  • Quotes in engaging font & shape
  • Infographics/ Charts
  • Behind the scenes
  • Themed days (Motivation Monday, Throwback Thursday, etc.)
  • Reposts
  • Mesmerizing Photos

Keep in mind that social media pages that are appealing are more likely to be shared and will ultimately increase engagement. So exercise that creative freedom you’ve been holding inside of you, then make sure that that your designs are consistent with your branding and are showcasing your products and community.

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Remember that the most visually dominant feature in your design will be the most important part of the message. So apply these graphic design tips and add some color or scale to a graphic to see how it changes and what grabs your attention first.

Want to push your creative abilities and graphic design skills to achieve original graphics? Try something new, think outside the box, experiment and choose and combine different fonts and pictures and see what works. Try to avoid the latest trends and create designs that correspond with your style, leave your personal mark on your work.

10. Keep it simple

simple graphic design

With all the trends, graphics, and going on it’s always best practice when in doubt; to keep it simple. The most agreed-upon social media graphic design tips are to simply, keep it simple.

When working with such a small canvas, such as mobile phones, overcrowding happens too fast. Here are some quick graphic design tips you can use to make sure your content is keeping it simple:

  • Use icons, eye-catching graphics, and illustrations
  • Limit font choice to 2 fonts
  • Stick with 2-3 contrasting (or ‘complimentary’) colors
  • Use spacing to contrast with a bold element

It can be easy to get lost and carried away with so many great design elements and fonts to choose from but by reducing clutter you are more likely to get your message across!

Make sure each design reflects the message you’re trying to tell. Simple is always best when it comes to graphic design. By helping to reduce clutter you’re more likely to get your message across!

Now You Try!

Now that you have all your graphic design tips in order you are ready to create better, more engaging, and targeted graphic designs for your social media content! Do you have any social media graphic design tips you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments and let’s get those creative juices flowing!

Don’t feel like you have the creative juice in you? We have an entire expert team of graphic designers that would love to transform your brand. Contact us today to make the images in your mind become a reality online.

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