Creating your own social media graphic templates can boost your productivity, increase readership and shares, while reinforcing your brand.
I’d like to share some examples, ideas, tips, and resources to help you explore creating your own social media graphic templates.
Graphics are no longer a luxury.
Graphics are a necessity if you want to add attraction and engagement to your blog posts and social media.
You need graphics not only not only standing elements, like your profile pages, but also for individual blog posts.
Old versus new approach
Until recently, I would create each social media graphics on an as-needed basis.
This, however, was an extremely inefficient process. It forced me to reinvent the wheel each time I created a new article or blog post.
Worse, without templates, I’d have to research the ideal size for graphics before I could begin to create the graphics–a horrible waste of time.
Now, I use template to save time by providing me with a framework I can immediately put to work on my projects.
There’s more to social media graphics, however, than I thought. However, the resources I uncovered and the lessons I learned from my initial efforts, can save you a lot of time and effort.
Requirements for social media graphic templates
There’s more to creating social media graphics than simply locating atmospheric stock art and scaling it to the appropriate size. To me, there are four primary requirements:
- Social media graphics must tell a story. Social media graphics should do more than simply attract attention or set a mood. They should tell a story, visually communicating the key ideas of the article or blog post that follows. As you can see from the examples above, each graphic is a visual table of contents that previews the contents and benefits that follow.
- They must contribute to a consistent brand image. The graphics should share a consistent look, in terms of colors, borders, margins, typefaces, and style. The plethora of typefaces and stock art, however, can easily undermine the need for consistency.
- They must boost your productivity. Custom, or personalized, social media graphics should save time by reducing the number of decisions needed at the time of production. There should be a multiplier effect; the time you spend creating graphic templates should be paid back over and over again.
- Graphics should contribute to better, faster writing. Although graphics are often created at the last minute, I’ve found that beginning a project by creating the graphic saves a considerable amount of writing time. The graphic helps me identify the key ideas I want to share and encourages me to write better headlines.
Those are just a few of the possible goals for social media graphics; you may have other goals (which you’re invited to share in the comments, below).
Above is an example of a simple social media graphic I created for use when publishing blog posts on LinkedIn Pulse’s platform. You can click the image above to download a larger PDF image of the key elements of a social media graphic template.
You may have noticed that the image differs from the graphic as it appears in my LinkedIn post or the middle example at the top of this post; it doesn’t contain the arrows connecting the book covers. I added later using TechSmith’s Snagit screen capture tool.
The building blocks of a social media graphic templates include:
- Size. As you may have already discovered, there is little standardization of the sizes needed for the various social media platforms where you are active. There are also size differences between the graphics for different purposes within the various social media platforms. You profile shot will likely be a different size and shape than your header graphic, for example. The resources I share below will help you keep track of the various social media graphic sizes for various purposes.
- Borders. One of the easiest ways to brand your social media graphics is to be consistent in the border treatments you use. You can choose different border thicknesses and colors to help set your graphics apart from other screen elements.
- Guides. Notice the light green horizontal and vertical guide shown and identified in the above example. The center guides help you horizontally and vertically balance the text and graphics, and assure consistent placement of the headlines. They also help you consistently text elements, like the captions in the above example.
- Margins. The guides are essential to creating consistent margins, or spacing, between borders and adjacent text, illustrations, or photographs. Margins are especially important in places when text or graphic elements may overlap your social media graphic. In the above example above, note the generous bottom margin. This is necessary because LinkedIn inserts a thumbnail (or small image) of your profile photograph which overlaps the bottom of the graphic at the top of your blog posts.
- Text formatting. Pay particular attention to the typography, or formatting options, you choose for your social media graphic templates. Text formatting options include font (or typeface design), type size, type style, color, and line spacing. Your graphic templates should include type specifications for the major categories of text included in your social media graphics, including headline (or title), subhead, bullet lists, and captions (see More Deadlines, Less Stress!).
As the examples show, as you become more involved in adding graphics to your social media graphics, you may end up creating multiple templates for different purposes.
Creating social media graphics is one thing; you also have to be able to immediately locate them when needed. You shouldn’t have to search for them.
I suggest you create a Social Media Resources folder inside your Writing folder on your hard drive. Then, create separate folders for Facebook Templates, LinkedIn Templates, Pinterest Templates, and Twitter Templates, etc.
Getting in the habit of saving your social media template files in a logical location, as shown in the above Mindjet MindManager graphic, can deliver productivity savings in the future. It can also make it easier to back-up your valuable template files.
Resources for keeping track of social media graphic sizes
Here are some of the blog posts that I discovered that can help you keep track of the size requirements for social media graphics. As mentioned above, there are not only a lot of different social media size requirements, and there are different specifications for different pages.
- Sprout Social’s Always Up-to-Date Guide to Social Media Image Sizes. This is one of the first resources I visited–a possible tribute to the power of the “Always Up-to-Date” promise in the title. Note the easy navigation to the specific social media you’re interested in, and the clear, stylized drawings showing how the images are used for different applications. You can choose to be automatically notified of updates, and there’s a list of handy list of 36 free image manipulation tools.
- Hubspot takes a different approach in their A Detailed Guide to Photo & Image Sizes on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube & More [Infographic]. Scrolling through the infographic, by itself, provides a visual introduction to the range of options available. There are also links for downloading free pre-sized cover photo templates for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and more.
- Constant Contact’s [Infographic] 2015 Social Media Image Size Cheat Sheet and Image Tricks offers a more concise approach plus a valuable bonus. Instead of simply listing sizes for different applications, it includes 7 time-saving tips, including suggested template proportions which you can easily resize for multiple purposes. different social media.
- Buffer’s The Ultimate Guide to Ideal Image Sizes for Social Media Posts offers the most advanced look at creating social media graphics that can be easily resized for different applications. Kevan Lee’s examples are fascinating because he shows how various “core” image proportions may be automatically cropped differently when placed in different applications. There’s also more emphasis on vertical versus horizontal
- Jeff Bullas’s Content Marketing Tips: Image Rules For The Top 7 Social Networks offers an infographic that emphasizes the importance of adding visuals and stresses optimum image sizes and pro tips for the top 7 social networks.
How are you creating graphics for social media marketing?
Are you currently using templates to save time and create a consistent image in your social media graphics? What software are you using to create your graphics? Are you currently using PowerPoint or Mindjet’s MindManager for creating social media graphics? Share your concerns, questions, and suggestions as comments, below.