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The 6 Design Elements of Scroll-Stopping Social Media Graphics

Shelby Bake

Social Media Manager

You’ve worked tirelessly on an advertisement or blog post. You’ve shared it on LinkedIn or Facebook. You check analytics at the end of the day and the results are, well…disappointing. You’re seeing engagement from maybe a few select users (hi, Mom!), but overall engagement with your social media channels is static, or even declining.

Sound familiar? If you’re experiencing this scenario, you’re not alone. Every industry faced considerable declines in social media engagement (particularly on Facebook) in 2018, as algorithms changed to prioritize family and friends over brands, and more and more businesses are using social media. It’s still important, though, to utilize social media for publicizing your brand, as the average social media user spends about two hours a day on social media and no doubt encounters content from other businesses and competitors.

With so many ads and organic posts flooding people’s newsfeeds, it can be hard to generate user engagement. One way to set yourself apart from the rest is to create scroll-stopping social media graphics.

So, how do you do it? Use the following elements as a guide to help you up your game on social media.

1. THE BILLBOARD APPROACH

Users scroll past social graphics about as fast as you drive past a billboard. In fact, users scroll through Facebook’s mobile newsfeed 41 percent faster than on a desktop, and with such a high amount of people using mobile devices, it’s especially important to stop (or at least slow down) that scrolling.

original art facebook graphic design
We’re big fans of the billboard approach. We designed this graphic to promote an event on our Facebook page.

Use the billboard approach to help get your message and brand across in those few seconds:

  • Use five words or less. Decide on your message and keep it simple. Bonus points if you make it witty and creative.
  • Use dynamic images. Words are important, but images are also essential in communicating a message, so you’ll want to consider which images can best tell your story.
  • Consider location. Just as you’d change your approach depending on where your billboard would appear, you’ll want to decide what’s best for the social media platform you’re using.

2. BE A PEOPLE PERSON’S DESIGNER

Social is an interpersonal space, and people love people. Since eyes gravitate toward faces, you’ll want to choose photography featuring (real) people (avoid using stock photo models).

bree cheese graphic
Bree’s melty birthday post.
chloe gets promoted at element
Chloe’s promotion announcement.

Ideally, people appearing in your photos should look like your target audience or someone whom your target aspires to be. This helps your audience connect with your brand and know you care about them.

3. DON’T PLAY THE BLUES

LinkedIn’s and Facebook’s interfaces are predominately blues and grays, so avoid monochromatic graphics in those color families—you don’t want your graphics blending in with the screen.

graphic for social media strategy
Pro tip: Add puns to complement your complementary colors…see what we did there?

But what if your brand’s colors are blue and gray (like ours are)?

Play with complementary shades! Use varying shades of your brand colors (other blues and grays, for example), and naturals—oranges, yellows, browns, or greens—to help you stand out in newsfeeds.

4. THINK BIG/CONTRAST IS KEY

Most people use social media on mobile devices, and not everyone has a smartphone with a huge display. Large copy in sans-serif, easy-to-read fonts will always be your friend. You can go classic with Helvetica or use other popular fonts across social media, like Raleway, Oswald, or Montserrat—just make sure your font choice fits your brand.

One exception: if you’re designing graphics to be used in paid Facebook ads, you’ll want to limit the amount and size of the text on the graphic, as it can affect the reach of that post. Learn why by visiting Facebook’s ad guidelines here.

Worried you have too much text on your image for Facebook? Use this tool for insight.

social media recruitment graphic

Along those same lines, contrast is key! Your graphics should be legible on a darkened display from arm’s length on an iPhone, so you’ll want to design accordingly. Make sure your copy doesn’t get lost in the background and that your images don’t blend together. Besides sans-serif fonts, bolding and caps can also be your friends.

Don’t go too over the top, though—if you emphasize everything, you emphasize nothing.

5. KEEP BRANDING MINIMAL

Your brand’s posts will almost always be accompanied by your brand name and profile photo, so for the most part, you won’t need a logo on social media.

job search stats graphic
A social media graphic we used on Facebook to promote this post.

An educational graphic like the one above doesn’t necessarily need your logo, at least not as the focus. You’ll want to balance ways to build your credibility as a brand and provide compelling graphics like the one above that serve purposes beyond branding.

So, when should you include a logo?

It’s a good idea when your post is purely branding or when you need to set yourself apart from another brand because you’re co-hosting or co-sponsoring an event. It’s also beneficial to include a logo on graphics that your audience will be sharing (see element 6 below).

Otherwise, you can leave the logo out.

6. OPTIMIZE IMAGES FOR SOCIAL SHARING

While you don’t want to go overboard with branding, you also don’t want to go unnoticed because your post got shared and it’s missing your logo or other identifiers (it’s a delicate balance). Thus, you’ll want to optimize images for sharing, such as those that will accompany blog posts or links that your audience shares on your social media page and images that are likely to be re-shared.

social media tools for great content
A graphic that we optimized for sharing this blog post on social media

We mention this because sharing links on social media while trying to call attention to your brand can be tricky—if someone else shares a webpage, article, or blog post, the image that accompanies the link on your post will be autogenerated from your website.

So, you’ll not only need to create compelling images. You’ll also want to create images specific to those links or insert open graph (OG) tags into the code on your website, which will direct social networks to the right image (and title, and description) to pull for your post. Using OG tags helps you have more control over the previews appearing on social media.

If all this sounds foreign to you, contact our social media strategy experts to learn how to get started with OG tags and owned content optimization.

STOP THE SCROLL! THESE TOOLS CAN HELP YOU GET STARTED

These are just a few elements to get you thinking. If you need some quick ways to generate graphics for your social channels, there are a lot of great, easy-to-use sites out there to help. Refer to this blog for a list of tools for graphics, videos, and photos.

Want more insight on making your social graphics stand out and increasing user engagement with your posts?

Connect with us to learn more about creating premium social content and executing an effective social media strategy with measurable results.