If someone were to look up you on social media right now, what would their first impression be of you?
If you have no idea how to answer that question, then you probably haven’t given much thought to your social branding.
Having a recognizable and memorable brand is the first step towards making a lasting impression in your industry. According to Convince and Convert, 22 percent of Americans go on social media multiple times a day. That means that the odds of at least one in your industry coming across your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn Instagram or Pinterest in a given day are quite high.
So how do you communicate your brand on social media? Start with a cohesive branding kit.
By branding kit, I mean matching:
- Images for posts.
You know how businesses have particular colors, fonts and image styles that they use in their visuals? There’s no reason why you can’t apply the same tactics to your own social page.
That doesn’t mean being sales-y. It just means having a clear idea of what message you want to communicate to other people and tailoring the visuals on your social to fit that message.
Here’s how you can create a cohesive social branding kit.
1. What is your message?
This is the most important step in the process because not only will it guide your visuals, it will also help guide every post you make on your social pages.
Remember the elevator pitch? The same concept can be applied to your social pages’ design and copy. The classic elevator pitch should last no more than 20-30 seconds. But when people land on a social media page, they might rest there for even less time.
That’s why images are so important on social. In a snap second, they can communicate everything you need to know.
Your message should communicate:
- Your goal.
- What you do.
- What makes you unique.
So whatever images, colors, fonts, and copy you decide to include to lend toward communicating this central message.
2. Pick images that make an impression.
The first two things someone is going to look at when they click on your profile are your header and profile picture.
You’ve may have noticed that a lot of marketing influencers use an image of themselves speaking as their header photos on Twitter and on Facebook. It’s a quick and direct way of signaling to people who come across their pages for the first time that they are influential in their field.
Take Joanna Wiebe of Copyhackers’ Twitter page:
Her header is a picture of her speaking at an event. Her bio description summarizes what she’s all about: helping businesses write copy so that they can grow their business.
Even if you don’t have speaking experience, there are other ways you can signal to people that you know your stuff. For example, you could use a picture of yourself doing something in your role–the more hands-on, the better. A shot of you interviewing someone for an article you’re writing, or a shot of you working in a team.
If you don’t want to use a picture of yourself, then look for another way to show your expertise. You could, for example, use an image of a project you’ve worked on.
For graphics to include in your actual posts, the design principles are the same. Generally, the kinds of graphics you will probably include in your posts are:
- inspirational quotes
- helpful tips
- charts and graphs
- headers for blog posts
- and, of course, pictures of projects you’re working on and your day to day life.
If nothing else, just take this piece of advice: stay away from bad, corny stock images. You probably know the ones I’m talking about. I’m talking about images like this:
3. Pick your brand colors.
If you’re a small business owner or a freelancer, you may already have brand colors. But if you don’t, you will want to take the psychological effect that colors have on viewers into consideration.
For example, bold primary colors are often perceived as youthful, energetic and cool, while tints are seen as calming and peaceful. Check out this color psychology chart from QuickSprout:
For example, take this image that Content Marketing Institute tweeted:
Without even clicking on their profile, their branding is already consistent because the orange in the image matches the orange in their profile pictures. What’s more, the colors are bright, bold and energetic.
4. Pick your fonts.
Fonts can communicate a lot about your style and approach to your job.
Think about it: how would you consider a person who uses Comic Sans versus someone who uses Futura? You’ll probably think the person using Futura is more serious, right? (OK, I don’t really think there’s ever a right time to use Comic Sans, but that’s a personal opinion.)
Check out the font that The Atlantic uses:
Versus the font that TechCrunch use on their Facebook page:
Both brands are telling very different stories through their fonts (not to mention their images).
The Atlantic is a magazine that has been around for over a century. The italicized Serif font has a classic, nostalgic feeling.
TechCrunch, on the other hand, uses a bold and sleek Sans Serif font. They’re a tech news site, so it makes sense that they would go for something more modern.
Check out what Foundr Magazine does for their Instagram:
They place bold, Sans Serif fonts as the focus of their images. This gives the images a charged feeling, inspiring readers to read the quotes and take action.
A quick look around pages of people and companies in your industry will give you a sense of the general aesthetic that is popular. Decide where you want to fit within that trend.
5. Size your images for each site.
Odds are that you will want to cross-post certain messages across multiple platforms. You may have your accounts set up so that anything you post on Twitter or Instagram automatically post to Facebook as well, but that’s not always the best approach.
If you are posting images to promote a new project you’re working on, or to make some other kind of exciting announcement, it’s worth it to optimize your images for each platform so that they can perform well.
The optimal dimensions for in-post images (according to SproutSocial) are:
Facebook: 1200 x 630 (shared images) (Header image/cover photo 820 x 312)
Twitter: 440 x 220 (Header image 1,500 x 500 pixels)
Instagram: 1080 x 1080
LinkedIn: 1584 x 396 (header image)
Pinterest: 236 width, height optional
Have fun with it!
This is your opportunity to express yourself to the world so really have fun with it. Think about the persona you want to uphold and find ways to show that to others. Keep in mind that more and more people are prizing authenticity and individuality over a “professional” appearance, so don’t be afraid to let your passions and sense of humor shine through.
Sara McGuire is a Content Editor at Venngage infographics. When she isn’t writing research-driven articles for a number of business and marketing sites, she enjoys reading graphic novels and writing music reviews.