Creating Graphics for Social Media
Let’s face it: all of the different specifications for all of the many social media outlets is enough to make your head spin. Aspect ratios, recommended pixel dimensions and safe zones are not the same for your Facebook, Google Plus, Google My Business page or LinkedIn covers and can be confusing.
If you have decided to use social media at some level, you must also decide how often you will use these outlets and what the best way to present yourself and your services or product to the viewing audience. Here are a couple of facts to consider.
- Social media is huge in letting a business reach, inform and interact with their audience.
- Including images when sharing increases engagement - more clicks, likes and shares.
That means you have to look good, get their attention and get them to take some sort of action. You’ll want viewers to like, share, repost or click to go to your website or profile page to learn more.
But as a small business owner or person not familiar with graphics formats and software, is this something you really want to do yourself? You’ll need to know to edit and use properly formatted images in your online posts and advertising and consistently post to build an audience and a following.
So let’s say that you already have a couple of social media accounts. Hopefully you have your Google My Business page and a dedicated Facebook page. What do they say about your company right now? Do they show it in a good light? This is a good place to start before you think of either advertising online or starting more social media accounts. Profile covers, profile photos, photos of the business and brief descriptions including current information, hours, contact info and great examples of your work or services. Remember that you are trying to make a good first impression.
Page Covers and Profile Photos
There is no standard size for your profile pictures either from platform to platform. Size recommendations are not standard for Facebook, Google Plus and YouTube. And depending on the device that your profile is being viewed on, it will show up differently there, too. The sizes you may need can range from 200×200 pixels to 800×800 pixels depending on which one that you’re posting on. Many businesses may use a small logo for the profile picture. If you do, make sure any text is clear and easy to read when very small. Some logos may have to be simplified to have enough contrast to view easily.
Background covers for your profile or company page on Google Plus or Facebook are important, too. You can use the space to show a variety of products, your building, or a good photo of yourself. There are areas of these backgrounds that have other things that overlap, so you need to not have critical images or text in these areas. For the most part, keep parts of your image or text near the middle and have wide, clear margins so it doesn’t get covered up when viewed.
Ads are another story altogether and have another whole set of varying dimensions and ratios depending on the type of ad that you’re running. You’ll need to not only follow the exact dimensions for each ad and where it will be placed on the sites, but also follow any rules specific to them. Facebook only allows ad images with text in them if it’s 20 percent or less of the image area.
Images that you use in your social media posts can vary greatly from Facebook to Instagram and it’s important that your ads are designed use proper design principles so they don’t look blurry, jagged or get cropped.
With the advent and popularity of video in social media today, it’s a whole new ballgame. Your videos need to be at certain specs to view properly Facebook, YouTube and on Instagram. Frequently these files can be quite large and need to be optimized to load fast for mobile users with data or Wi-Fi connections. If it takes a while to load… viewers will just go away or move on.
So what is an average person supposed to do to make sure that their graphics and videos look great for their business or personal social media accounts? How can you be expected to know and remember all of the different sizes and ratios?
You do have a few choices, and there is help out there. Depending on your interest in the subject and your skill level you may want to think about what you need to do to make sure your graphics look great every time you post or advertise. I don’t think I need to explain the importance of needing high quality graphics for your company.
Do it Yourself
If you have the time, you can invest in learning a good photo editing program, but usually those have so many tools and options available that your experience can run from mild confusion to utter frustration. Even if you’re mildly experienced in one of these programs you need a cheat sheet for all of the the social media platforms you’re posting on to get them right.
Some examples of photo editing software and graphics creation programs include Photoshop, PhaseOne, and Corel.
There are online apps and mobile apps that you can use that can help. Some even have settings for many of the social media platforms that you use. A new (free) online app that is available from Adobe (the people who make Photoshop and other industry standard graphics programs) called Spark that allows you to choose many different preset sizes for different social media or application you may have, upload your art, overlay your type and either use a link that you’re given or download the image when you’re done creating it. You can create posts, covers videos and more.
While these options are viable, it doesn’t take into consideration that you may not want to do it yourself or you just don’t have time to learn and do it in addition to everything else that you need complete.
Hire a freelancer or social media manager
If you don’t want to do it yourself, this is another option. While it may seem intimidating or expensive, there are many capable designers and social media managers that can do the job for you quickly and for a very reasonable price. Depending on the quality of materials and content that you give them, they should be able to to do it for you - either by the piece or grouped in batches for a set flat fee.
Paying someone who is experienced and works quickly can be a smart choice if you take into consideration what your time is worth to you. Think of the time you’ll save and frustration you’ll avoid if you just let a graphics professional handle if for you.
Whatever you decide, it is of utmost importance that you do whatever you can to improve your online image. It’s part of what people may be using to decide to use your business, service, or buy your products. You should also have a good idea about the reasons why you want to use these outlets and how they are going to deliver the results that you’re looking for.