With approximately 2.3 billion people active on social media, and millions of organizations joining every day, identifying ways to make your nonprofit stand out on some of your favorite social media networks can be difficult.
To overcome this challenge, Melanie Perkins of Hubspot suggests that your organization “implement a strong visual branding strategy on social media.” This would involve taking a look at your organization’s profile pictures, cover photos, and the types of posts your organization publishes online.
According to Perkins, “Great visuals on social media are important because the human brain is wired to read and understand images better and faster than words. Plus, visual content increases social engagement.”
Anna Guerrero of Canva, an online graphic design platform, agrees. “Our brains process images about 60,000 times faster than text,” writes Guerrero. “..Everything has an image, graphic, or video. But there’s a reason why. Visuals grab us like nothing else.”
With that in mind, I’d like to ask: Is your organization publishing original, eye-catching graphics online or is it recycling whatever it can find via Google Search?
Now, at this point, you may be thinking about your budget and wondering how much this is going to cost you to implement on all of your social media networks. STOP! If you have the budget to hire a graphic designer, you can certainly work with a designer to get all of this accomplished, but if you are a small business or nonprofit with a tight budget, you can also use various tools to effectively communicate your messages through lively and professional-looking images…this route is just a bit more intimidating (especially if no one in your organization even the tiniest bit artistic!).
Creating eye-catching imagery isn’t always as difficult as it seems. I can honestly say that you can be a first-time designer and produce beautiful graphics for your organization’s profile, blog, status updates and advertisements on any social media network—with the right tools. That is what this article is going to focus on: getting you to the tools that will allow you to create social media ads and graphics to help your small business or nonprofit organization promote sale events, signature programs, fundraising campaigns, and much more!
Rely on Imagery to Tell Your Story
As we’ve already explored, using the right images will instantly grab your viewer’s attention and make him want to learn more about your organization, special offer, etc. Images will also help give viewers more insight as to what your organization does and gives you the opportunity to allow them to see you in action.
The next time you take a photo at the company picnic or of a customer trying on an item at your boutique, here are two tips you can use immediately!
a) The Rule of Thirds – Everything doesn’t always have to be in the center of the frame! Consider ways to make the viewer’s eye travel across the frame by having things a little off balance, off-center, or in odd amounts (3 versus 2).
b) The Background – You may not even realize it, but your image’s background can weigh just as heavily as the image itself. Are you taking photos of the food in your restaurant without cleaning the counter space around the plate? You better believe that my eyes are now attracted to that crumpled napkin and discarded ketchup packet in the background. Think before you snap, because every image leaves an impression on your followers.
For more tips, click here to view a presentation by Jay Baer, President of Convince & Convert, about improving your social media photos.
Don’t Use Too Much Text
Space is at a premium when it comes to social media advertising. People tend to rapidly scroll through their social media feeds. Your ads will get bypassed if they don’t entice viewers quickly. No one wants to read an ad filled with paragraphs, so use only a few keywords or short phrases. To include additional information, put it in the social media post, or post the link to your organization’s website.
Achieve Harmony with Your Color Usage
Studies, including this one by Neil Patel and Ritika Puri of Quick Sprout, show that colors can evoke various emotions. Color usage helps show off your organization and its message.
Is your organization serious? Calm? Trustworthy? Deciding on the right colors can create a favorable impression with your audiences, even if they know nothing about you.
Pick a Legible Font that Can Still Get the Point Across
Much like color, the right fonts can project what kind of organization you have. Sans serif fonts (no extensions on the letters) work well for light, casual messages. Serif fonts (extensions on the letters) work well for projecting a more formal tone. Cursive and script-style fonts make your ad difficult to read, so use these sparingly or avoid them altogether.
Ready to Start Designing?
Knowing a bit more about graphic design now, you’re probably ready to start making amazing artwork of your own. Use these free and low-cost resources to get things going:
- Canva– Canva provides an easy-to-use platform that enables anyone to create graphic design for a variety of uses. It contains hundreds of templates, stock images, and fonts that can instantly enhance any project. Even with the Adobe Creative Suite at my disposal, I use Canva frequently now to produce images quickly and efficiently.
- Pixlr– Pixlr is a photo editing platform, similar to Adobe Photoshop. Use Pixlr to clean up photos, apply filters and borders, create collages, and more. Pixlr even has its own mobile app for editing photos on-the-go.
- DaFont– Your font choices don’t have to be boring! With its thousands of fonts, DaFont is one of my favorite resources for spicing up the text in my work. With every style available, DaFont is sure to contain a font that will fit with whatever you’re creating. Fonts are available for free and for purchase depending on your intended use.
- Adobe Color CC– Can’t decide which colors to use for your project? Use Adobe Color CC to experiment with color combinations and explore different color palettes. The color palette section is my personal favorite; I browse through all the palettes and download the ones I like best. I keep all my color palettes on hand and have them ready for any project that comes my way.
- YouTube– Want more practice before you start designing for real? YouTube is a great place to find video tutorials on graphic design techniques. You can learn at your own pace and learn techniques that can be applied to any project. Here is a beginning tutorial on understanding color palettes:
- Smart Insights | Global social media research summary 2016
- Rebekah Radice | How to Create Social Media Graphics that POP
- Snappa Blog | The 17 Graphic Design Tips All Non-Designers Need to Know
- TechReviewPro | 31+ Best Free Graphic Design Software to Create Stunning Graphics