Image is Everything: Making a Good First Impression on Social Media

by The Creative Cloud Team

posted on 03-23-2018

It’s no secret that social media is essential to modern business. Social networks allow you to reach current and new consumers, spread your message, and build your brand. Still, creating a social media account for your business can be intimidating. The good news is that no matter your preferred social platform — whether Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, or Snapchat — basic design principles can take your business’s profile from average to eye-catching.

Humans are visual by nature. One-third of our brain is dedicated to processing images. So, when you are skimming through a news feed on your favorite social media network, an interesting image is far more likely to catch your attention than text alone. The clear directive is that using well-designed, compelling images in your social media publishing will greatly improve your readership and help engage your audience.

Visually stunning images, like this depiction of the neurons in the human brain, capture attention better than text alone. Image source: Alexey Kashpersky.

Before you can stun your followers with beautifully designed content, you’ll need to launch your social media presence.

Select a social platform

Each social network — whether Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, or Snapchat — has its own distinct user demographics.

Get to know which networks will help you reach your target audiences, and then put your effort toward the platform that will get the best results for you.

Set up a business page

Depending on the social media platform you select, you’ll set up either a page or a profile for your business. Because the majority of U.S. adults use Facebook, we’ll focus our instructions on this social media site, but remember that these principles apply to all social networks.

As you set up your Facebook page, you’ll be asked to fill in information about your business — location, contact information, and a description of what you do. Then comes the fun part — choosing your profile and cover photo.

Your profile and cover photo are the first visual elements visitors to your page will see. A good practice is to have your profile picture be your company’s logo. This allows visitors to your page to immediately begin associating your logo with your brand.

Your cover photo is an opportunity to be a bit more creative than simply using a horizontal lockup of your logo. With some basic Photoshop skills you can overlay text or other shapes, or experiment with photo effects like shadowing and changing color palettes.

Cover photos can be a combination of captivating visuals, texts, and shapes like this mixed elements photo. Image source: Alison Harris and the Sout.

Make an editorial calendar

An editorial calendar is a great way to keep your social media game on track and help you accomplish your goals. To get started, make monthly or quarterly goals for publishing new content. These goals could include how frequently you want to post, what messages you want distributed, and how many people you would like to reach.

Next, make a detailed plan for content that will help you meet these goals. If your goal is to post about company products twice a week during your first month, calendar out which product each post will be about and what information you will share in each post. At the end of the month, you can look back on your calendar and see where you were successful. Did you follow your posting schedule? Which posts performed the best? What is working well, and what isn’t? Then, use these insights to make new calendar plans.

It can take time to achieve your goals. Pause to enjoy even the smallest of successes once you start seeing results.

Customize your images

As you plan the content for your social media posts, skim through your own social media news feed and notice which images grab your attention or, even more importantly, which images get you to click. Chances are, they will not be traditional stock photos. Instead, they will be images with an intriguing thought or call to action. Try combining an interesting image with a great quote from your article, a compelling question that your article answers, or an interesting statistic or chart. Employing basic design principles can help you incorporate text in a visually appealing way. Delivering this blended strategy takes more time than just using text or a free photo, but will pay off in its ability to engage your readers.

Combining images and text from quotes can communicate your message while grabbing a social media user’s attention. Image source: Alissa Schurov.

Leverage tools and resources

Designing compelling images for your social media campaign is a lot easier with the right tools, and when it comes to design, Adobe’s Creative Cloud software sets the standard. Adobe Illustrator CC and Photoshop CC are incredibly powerful and robust tools, while also being very accessible — you don’t need to be a master to get started.

Step-by-step tutorials and learning resources from Adobe Support, as well as products like Adobe Spark (a free graphic design app), make it easy to get comfortable with the software and on your way to producing any design you can dream up for your social media post.

Design-distinguish your posts

According to the Global Web Index, the average person has five social media accounts. With social media, you have a few seconds at most to engage viewers before they scroll past. Your goal is to stand out and do something different than the competition. Here are some ways to distinguish your posts with great design.

Color. Find a unique and interesting color palette for your designs. Don’t overdo it with too many colors, but look around. Don’t be afraid to take influence from great color pairings you see from other designers or illustrators’ work. Another excellent tool is where you can explore color combinations in depth and find pairings that complement each other.

Animation. Adding motion to your design can be a highly effective tool in commanding attention. GIFs are quickly becoming standard on social networking sites, and they are easier to create than you think. But all great things can be used too often, so mindfully leverage animation effects with restraint to ensure you do not annoy and frustrate your viewers. Cinemagraph-style animations or other subtle motions are great to draw the eye without overstimulating.

Simplicity. In a cluttered, busy news feed, a little bit of visual “rest” for the eye — by way of a tranquil, minimal design composition — can sometimes be the best way to attract viewers.

Minimalist designs like this one can be a welcome addition to a cluttered newsfeed. Image source: Peechaya Burroughs.

Brand your message

Most everyone hopes for their message to “go viral” by being shared and reshared far beyond its original publication. In these extreme viral cases, sometimes the original source can become obscured. The solution to not losing control of your branded content is to be sure you include your logo and any other appropriate branding in your designed image. This will ensure credit is clearly given where credit is due.

Hashtags are another excellent way to connect your brand to your content. They can also be a fun tool for engaging your audience, promoting certain products and ideas, or creating a community around a contest or event. It’s easy to get “hashtag happy,” so start with establishing one winning hashtag for your brand.

Hashtags are a powerful tool for expanding your brand on social media. Selecting an effective hashtag, like this one promoting Montana tourism, can be one of your best social media decisions. Image source: Noelle Cantarano.

Remember your goal, but respect your audience

Don’t do damage to your brand by irritating or annoying your audience. Respect your readers by being clear and helpful in your messaging and what you are offering, but never attempt to manipulate or trick them into taking action. For example, withholding a critical piece of your story in your headline in order to get a click (“You won’t believe which megastar was just arrested”) is likely to frustrate more than entice and puts your content in a category that may not be consistent with your brand.

The networks we rely on to share our content, such as Facebook and Twitter, are continually being updated, enhanced, and refined. New features and capabilities are introduced regularly and frequently. Don’t miss an opportunity to be among the first to utilize a cool new feature that will excite your audience. Doing this will not only give you a way to stand out from the rest, but also will enhance the perception of your brand as being trendsetting and technologically savvy. For example, in late 2015, Facebook added a feature for displaying 360º virtual reality videos. The early adopters of this technology received — no, rightfully, earned — a lot of attention.

Building a social media page for your business from the ground up can seem intimidating — and it’s a commitment — but with some basic tools like those available through Adobe Creative Cloud, you can consistently create beautiful, visual, and shareable content.

Topics: Creativity

Products: Photoshop, Creative Cloud