In a world of about seven and a half billion people, almost three billion of us are active on social media. Those numbers alone make it clear why social media demands a never-ending stream of content.
But it’s more than that. The type of content influences the engagement of the audience. In the world of social media, visual content is king. As an example, research shows that tweets with images were re-tweeted up to 150% times more often than tweets without images.
So if social media is important, and visuals are important, then it’s obviously vital that we as designers learn how to create an awesome brand with social media visuals, and know how to be able to do so again, and again, and again. Luckily, with PowerPoint you can achieve all that with less time and more oomph for your social media visuals.
Let’s break it down.
This is an important first step in creating a social media visual. You can’t just wade in with your Instagram account in one hand and a stock photo in the other, smash them together and expect magic to result.
What type of visual do you want to create?
This decision will be based largely on the purpose of the image, and whether you want it to be shared or not. A social media header, for instance, isn’t going to make the rounds on Facebook. But if you want maximum exposure, quotes are some of the most likely images to be shared, especially if they are funny, inspirational, or accompanied by an illustrative photo. Creating them using PowerPoint can definitely save you time and effort.
It’s easier to create an effective visual when you know the size and shape of the finished product. So start with a canvas or a template in your PowerPoint that fits the requirements of the platform you’re using, and of the image type.
To set your image size, simply go to the Design tab, select Custom and set your size and image layout (landscape or portrait). Just a note though, most social media image guides and specifications are in pixels but you can easily convert them to inches and millimeters through online converters.
For example for a Facebook header image we’ve selected this image and resized it in MS PowerPoint. The ideal size for the image is 820 pixels wide by 462 pixels tall which can be converted to 11.39 inches by 6.42 inches. For this purpose we’ve used an image from iStock.
We’ll mostly be discussing shareable images here, but these steps can also apply to banners, cover photos, social headers and business product chart that include a brand logo (you can get one here).
With the purpose of your visual in mind, now it’s time to go searching for the appropriate graphic or photo.
For a high-volume social media account, it may be worth your money to sign up for a stock photo account, such as iStockphoto. You may also be able to locate appropriate royalty-free stock images, such as on Unsplash or check our list.
This is a good image for social media because it allows room for branding.
This is not a good choice because it looks unprofessional and no room for branding.
Alternatively, you may have your own photo or image that you’ve created from scratch.
When selecting your logo design file type, make sure to have editable .PNG with transparent background that will allow you to use with any image color or background.
Whatever the case, make sure that the image works for the purpose of the visual, and that it can be edited down appropriately. Also, take care to ensure that it is of a high enough quality that it won’t pixelate or otherwise degrade when the size is changed.
The main colors of your visuals are likely to be influenced by the predominant colors of the image. So make sure that any supporting colors, such as for the text, fill the following requirements:
You may also want to edit the social media image for color. Try adjusting hue and saturation, highlighting a certain color, or trying the image in black and white or sepia. You can also try filters that are found on platforms like Instagram and editing programs like Photoshop.
Once, done add it on to your PowerPoint dashboard and continue to create your image for the particular platform.
Along with the color palette that you’ve chosen, choose a typeface that fits these requirements:
Of course, if you’re creating a quote graphic, the typeface will be even more important, especially the legibility. You may need to alter the spacing and kerning in order to make sure that the type fits, both in a readable and in an aesthetic way.
This is a step that goes overlooked by far, far too many social media accounts: edit your type content before you post it.
I can’t count how many otherwise attractive, interesting, and shareable posts I’ve decided not to share because of fundamental spelling or grammar issues.
Poorly edited type, rife with typos, does not make a good impression on your audience! Don’t be in such a hurry to post that you ignore this step. Take the time to make sure that you’ve got it right.
Depending on the platform, a finishing touch like a filter or a frame may give your visual a little extra “kick” to set it off from the rest of the feed.
This can be especially important for stock photos, which can look generic and boring if not handled just right.
Now that you’ve got all these steps under your belt, it’s time to send your carefully-designed visual out there into the wide world of social media!
Remember, to really be a social media “pro,” the level of content you produce should be consistent, both in terms of quality and quantity. That demand for content never stops!
So keep on the lookout for new ideas and image sources that might become the basis of your next social media visual. You never know where inspiration might strike!
Alana Higgins works as a digital marketer but side hustles as a freelance writer. Her expertise is in writing about social media marketing, SEO and landing pages content for conversion optimization. She loves fishing with her best buddy.