Is Your Social Media Graphic Design Holding You Back? [Answer These 9 Questions]

If you want to waste time, money, and further clog up the internet with ineffective litter then don’t put any thought into your social media graphic design. You don’t need any help with that. Carry on.

But if you’d rather…

  • Get the most out of every single post you put up on social media,
  • Drive more traffic to your offers,
  • Increase your brand’s footprint, and
  • Push measurable results…

… You’ve got to make sure that your graphic design isn’t holding you back. Do you have the best articles? The most irresistible offers? The highest-converting landing pages? If nobody sees it, who cares? You’re just a tree falling in the woods.

Success on social media like Instagram goes a lot deeper than finding images that “look nice.” We’re in an era of marketing where data is more accessible than ever before, so why are so many brands choosing to just spray and pray when it comes to their social media presence?

Making The Most Out of Social Media Graphics Design in 2020

One thing that every platform has in common is the goal of capturing attention, but you aren’t done once that happens. There’s a fleeting moment where, out of the hundreds of distractions that are available at any given second, someone has given you their attention. At that moment, having their attention isn’t enough to get results. You have to inspire them to do something.

The graphics that you use on social media are the first piece of the puzzle, but they also need to encourage your audience to do more than just look. Are your graphics doing that, or are your posts falling flat? If you’re getting a lot of reach but seeing poor levels of engagement, it’s time to tinker.

76% of people follow at least one brand on social media, and 96% of people that follow brands will interact with them at one point or another, according to The Manifest. Instagram has the highest rate of brand engagement at just over 4%, with Facebook and Instagram coming in with a paltry 0.07% and 0.04% respectively (source).

What this means is that for every 1000 people that see your posts, if you can inspire just 10 more of them to engage with your content, you’ll be leaps and bounds ahead of the pack. That extra engagement will increase your reach, too.

BigCommerce’s biggest advice for improving your engagement rates are to post daily and to post images. Graphic social media posts (posts with images instead of just text) simply get noticed more. You don’t need to bring a social media graphics designer onto your staff full-time to take care of this, but grabbing random pictures from Google isn’t good enough, either. That’s where we fit in, but we’ll get to that soon.

Here is a series of questions that you can ask in order to help self-identify where the weak spots are in your business’ social media strategy, and how granting yourself access to unlimited graphic design will unlock the door to test, experiment, learn, and improve.

Do You Understand Your Audience?

This is a point we’ll be touching on several more times because it’s relevant to nearly every other tip we’re going to cover.

There’s a difference between understanding who you want your audience to be, and who your audience ends up being. You can plan to build a certain audience, you can target your advertisements and messaging accordingly, but at the end of the day the audience you end up with will be unique and what they respond to and react to won’t always be predictable. Therefore, implementing ad testing becomes crucial to adapt and optimize your campaigns based on real audience feedback. The more you try different things, the sooner you’ll be able to carve out the exact path of least resistance towards finding the perfect graphics.

This can be tricky to measure and understand because most of your social media graphics will only be seen by a small percentage of your total audience. It’s hard to draw any conclusive results from how a few different posts have performed when they’ve been put in front of a collection of different people that follow you. It’s never a perfectly scientific 1:1 comparaison and it’s easy to draw false conclusions if you aren’t careful. The solution is to give it some time, to pay attention to comments and feedback, and to use your analytics.

Do You Understand The Platform?

Every social media platform has a different collection of users (who can be divided into any number of smaller groups), but overall it’s important to understand what people are looking for on each platform. When you know what catches their attention, you can steer into that lane more often.

Very polished stock-looking photos are easier to scroll past on Facebook than photos that look like real people living their lives. The former is something we’ve become blind to (from mentally filtering out ads) whereas the latter will capture attention since we’re used to seeing that type of content on Facebook when our friends and family post photos. A casual looking photo or graphic is much closer to what people are looking for on Facebook (pictures of family, friends, etc.)

On Instagram, people often expect something more polished and filtered. It’s the “show the best version of yourself” platform, and it’s a great fit for brands who see much higher engagement rates on Instagram than on Twitter or Facebook. . On Snapchat, it’s more fun and casual. TikTok is silly. Pinterest is practical, useful, and inspirational. LinkedIn is professional and polished. You get the picture.

You don’t want to blast the exact same images and content across every social network that you’re using, which is why having unlimited design options is a very practical choice for filling out numerous profiles. We can tailor your graphics for each platform.

Does Every Single Image Have a Purpose?

Social media is all about driving results, and in order to measure those results, we need measurable goals. It doesn’t always have to translate directly to revenue, though. You can have more abstract goals, too.

Here are some examples of “purposes”, in other words, reasons for posting an image to social media:

  • To build general brand awareness and stay fresh in the minds of your followers,
  • To inform them about a sale, an event, or a new service,
  • To signal what your brand represents or stands for,
  • To directly drive traffic and conversions.
  • To encourage people to share your content with people they know,
  • Or a countless number of other actions.

Let’s use Facebook as an example. If you have a content brand that gets a portion of your traffic from Facebook, you’ll know how much the results can vary from one image post to the next. You’ll know how important the featured image is for capturing people’s fleeting attention. You have a split second to get someone to notice you while they scroll their feed, and another split second to inspire them to actually click on your article. If your purpose is to get clicks to your website, that’s the outcome you should be measuring.

You can follow every textbook principle of good design and increasing website conversions using design principles, but unless your graphics are accomplishing what they’re intended for, your designs will never be great.

The visual appeal of a featured image on your Facebook post could mean the difference between getting 2-3 clicks and having it fall flat, or perfectly massaging Facebook’s algorithm to give you maximum exposure and thousands of visitors.

Are You Telling a Story?

The art of storytelling dates back as far as we can possibly measure, and probably much further than that. Storytelling has changed throughout history. We no longer have to carve drawings into the walls of caves or rely on oral tradition to pass messages along.

Imagine living in a time where it would take you an entire month to carve your story into a wall where it may be seen by a few dozen people at best. Now, it takes about 5 seconds to send out a tweet that could be seen by millions.

What does any of this mean for you, as a marketer? It means you’ve got a heck of a lot more time at your disposal to think about your messaging, your branding, and the story you’re telling.

The Sprout Social Index shows that 72% of marketers define engagement as likes or comments, and only 29% define it as inspiring an emotional response. Storytelling can help you inspire emotions, and that’s how you truly build trust, earn fans, and rise above the majority of marketers who are just chasing empty likes. The visual aspect of storytelling is incredibly important.

Do You Balance Your Desired Brand Identity With Reality?

If you already have an established identity for your brand, it’s very tempting to lean into that heavily when designing images for your social media and just leaving it at that. Here’s the problem with this plan: what works on social media to capture attention isn’t always going to match your brand’s visual identity.

You probably established your visual identity based on things that looked good to you and that made you feel a certain way. That isn’t always going to line up with how your audience reacts to the same visuals, though.

When we say “reality”, we’re talking about cold, hard data and results. That’s real. It’s measurable. It’s not an opinion. And it’s what should guide you.

You can stick to the best practices for social graphic design and those are absolutely a great starting point, but remember that best practices aren’t tailored to your audience or brand. They’re someone’s opinion on what looks best best, and someone’s interpretation of broad data about what works best for other brands.

At the end of the day that really doesn’t help you, other than giving you a starting point. Remember: If every brand is following the same general guidelines about what works, then the average social media user is going to become more and more desensitized to it and you’ll never differentiate your brand from the pack. When you can do something unique that still matches your core aesthetic, you’ll stand out from the crowd and you’ll gain ground on the established brands in your niche.

What Are Your Priorities?

Let’s get real. Not every brand is going to have the same priorities. If social media is a huge part of your bottom line, it’s going to be a much larger priority in your day to day operations. You’ll want to put a ton of effort into fine-tuning every aspect of what happens across your social pages, and anything you invest into that will pay huge dividends for years to come.

On the other hand, if your social media posts are more about going through the motions and putting something up there because it’s “what you’re supposed to do”, but they don’t really move the needle, and it’s more just a matter of protecting your brand in the SERPs, it might be harder to justify the cost of custom graphics (at least if you’re going a-la carte instead of using a service like ours.)

Now, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that your social posts aren’t really moving the needle and wondering why even bother with them? On the other hand, maybe you’re just not doing it right or giving it a fair shake?

Whether or not your business has potential on social should be gauged on more than just looking at past results or failures. If you’re a dentist in a small town of 800 people who is looking for more local patients, spending a lot of money on growing your international social media presence is probably not the best route. Alternatively, if you have an online magazine that covers breaking viral stories, that is much more tailored to social.

Whether social is a high priority for you that sends measurable results, or something that happens in the background but doesn’t drive a lot of your revenue, there’s no reason not to have your bases covered. Our graphic design social media packages can help anyone from local artists and small businesses to international marketing firms with hundreds of clients.

Are You Always Testing?

Even after you’ve found a style of graphic that is driving results, the work is never done. If you could squeeze out another 5% or 10% engagement by further tweaking your images and other aspects of your social media presence, what would that mean to your bottom line? How much would that free-up your advertising budget and how much more quickly could you find exponential growth?

Things can get stale with time. Your audience can get used to certain types of posts and lose interest. KFC created an iconic mascot with Colonel Sanders, but they’re constantly changing him. When you start to rest on your laurels and believe that “Good enough is good enough”, you’re leaving a big lane open for your competitors to pass you by.

Are You Able To React Quickly?

A huge part of getting attention on social media comes down to timing. If there’s a major event that you want to reference, or a meme that fits your business perfectly that you need to post – you need to jump on that ASAP.

With a traditional design service, by the time your graphics are complete and ready to post, it’s probably already too late to capitalize on the trend. News moves faster than ever, and if you’re posting stale memes a week or two late, it won’t have the same impact.

We have teams of designers that are ready to get to work for you quickly. We can help you hit trending topics before it’s too late, and it’s all included. Don’t leave your social media graphics design up to chance!

Can You Afford To Do Things Correctly? (Or Can You Afford Not To?)

We’ve talked about testing, trying different styles of images, and leaning into whatever performs the best. Leave your bias behind, and let the data drive you forward and you’ll increase the likelihood of whatever results you’re trying to achieve with each post.

If that meant scrapping your initial designs and starting over because you found a different style performs 75% better, would you be willing to do that? If you’re willing to do that, can you afford it?

This is precisely where really shines for our clients. We enable entrepreneurs and content creators to have the freedom to test, tweak, and try different things so you can steer towards whatever is working best. And once we find the perfect graphic package that drives the strongest results on your social media, we can help you scale that up to reach incredible heights.

Our unlimited graphic design packages empower you to eliminate the guesswork that comes from design for social media. You can have a set monthly budget for design, and you can test things as much as you want. You could try out a different revision every single day and see what your audience responds to best.

If there’s one thing that will slow your results and your growth on social media, it’s stubbornness and refusing to follow the momentum. If you’re stuck paying a fortune for graphic design, waiting forever for even the slightest revisions, and facing resistance from your designers who think they know better than your analytics what works best, that’s a recipe for failure.

The Recipe for Social Media Success Requires Great Graphics

To sum it all up, your graphics will capture attention. What you do with it after that is up to you, but using inferior quality graphics will act like a road block from the very start. Great graphics will not only remove that roadblock, but they’ll open up additional lanes of traffic.

For a few dollars a day, you can start filling up your social media accounts with custom graphics that will look great and that will earn the attention you need to succeed. From there, you can measure what’s working and we can help you steer into that more and more with each new image.

The rest of your funnel can be absolutely perfect. You can spend months ensuring your copy is flawless, you can have the best tracking technology, amazing and irresistible follow-ups and offers… but it’s the social media graphic design that will dictate whether or not you’re able to capture the attention in the first place.

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