How to brand yourself on social media

Social media is the place to be as a brand. Pretty much everyone spends half of their waking hours checking their various social media platforms.

3 Essentials Factor

Social Media Branding

Investigating

Find the goal, target marker and brand strategy.

Content is KING

Get more engagement

Be Social

Maintenance interaction

Social Media Fact

A great example of a smaller brand (also in the fitness space!) doing awesome things with branding their social media images is CycleHouseLA. This Los Angeles-based spin studio has a healthy social media following they engage by sharing inspirational images meant to get people off the couch and onto their workout… preferably at their nearest CycleHouse studio.

If you’re launching a business or project, personal or professional, there’s no avoiding your social media branding.

Since the golden rule of marketing is “get people where they already are,” social media provides you with an A+ opportunity to connect with your audience, deliver your messaging and convert that audience into customers.

But you can’t just throw up a few social media profiles and expect business to start rolling in (if only it were that easy!). Just like you need a solid branding strategy for your business, if you want to be a social media success story, you need to brand yourself there, too.

Create visual engaging page

These days, every company has a social media page design for their Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Google+, Linkedin, Pinterest or Instagram page. The profile picture, cover image and background images act like billboard space for companies to communicate their brand – and that’s where they need a designer to create some eye-catching designs.

Here’s 9 tips on how to design the best social media page for your client’s company.

1. Showcase the company’s branding, products and community

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Social media pages’ images consist mainly of a cover/banner image, profile picture and sometimes a background. The company logo is typically displayed in the profile picture. The cover/banner and background can feature various types of images; some display the basic products and services of a company, while others promote a featured social media or marketing campaign.

It’s always good to consistently update the imagery on a company’s social media page to keep things fresh and interesting for the target audience. For example, you can feature your latest social media campaign on your cover photo to promote the campaign and place a call to action.

When designing a social media page, make sure that your design is consistent with the company’s branding, demonstrates the services that the company provides, and serves as a strong call to action if the design is for a promotion/social media campaign.

2. Use the correct image sizes

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Below is a list of the recommended file dimensions for each social media page cover image, profile picture and background. These images will display at different sizes on different devices, but for the best image quality across multiple devices, use the dimensions below:

  • Facebook: 852 x 315 cover photo; 180 x 180 profile picture
  • Google+: 2120 x 1192 cover photo; 800 X 800 profile picture
  • Youtube: 2560 x 1440 cover photo (template link here); 800 x 800 channel icon
  • Twitter: 1252 x 626 cover photo, 73 x 73 profile picture, 1600 × 1200 background image
  • Linkedin: 646 x 220 banner image, 100 x 60 company profile picture

3. Create your designs in RGB color mode

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Your social media page designs are only going to be displayed on screen. No CMYK colors here.

4. Make your designs visually consistent

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Your client is looking to establish a strong brand identity through social media, so make sure that all your designs are visually cohesive across platforms. Designer charmiel designed 3 different social media page images for their client, but kept the overall look and feel of each design consistent.

5. Devote more space to images than to text

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The brain processes images thousands of times faster than it processes text, and image-based content (especially photos of people) is proven to generate more re-tweets, Facebook shares and other types of engagement than text alone. Facebook actually used to have a rule that cover photos could not have more than 20% text. Even though the rule is no longer enforced, it’s not a bad number to keep in mind when designing your cover/banner image. Keep the content image-based.

6. Pay attention to profile picture interaction

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In terms of composition, don’t let a profile picture overlapping the cover image hide any valuable content that you want your audience to see. For easy viewing, make the main content of your cover/banner image more oriented to the right side of the image than the left.

For a more creative approach, try making the profile picture and the cover image purposefully interact with each other. Above, The JA Designs has designed the profile picture and the cover image to display as if they were one continuous image instead of two, while placing the most important information closer to the right side of the cover image.

Some social media platforms platforms will automatically place your cover image into a photo album, so make sure it looks good with and without the profile picture overlapping the bottom left corner. Don’t leave an awkward blank space in that area.

7. Abide by each platform’s rules

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Most of these guidelines forbid the use of nudity, celebrities, obscene or threatening images, profanity, and copyrighted images in both the profile picture and cover image. Each site enforces these guidelines differently, but if your design violates them, you risk your client’s company account being suspended or terminated.

It’s important to read the fine print as a designer, so feel free to peruse the Facebook page terms, Twitter terms of service, Google+ policies and principles, YouTube community guidelines, and the Linkedin user agreement.

Note: If you’re designing a social media page on 99designs, submitting original work and declaring any stock imagery will cover your bases in this area.

8. Keep it simple

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For a featured promotional campaign on your social media page, use compelling imagery, short copy and a simple call to action. Above, Design_arc‘s Facebook cover design clearly indicates the call to action with a straightforward and effective design.

9. Make it creative and visually engaging

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Here’s the bottom line: the purpose of a social media page is to engage with the target audience and get them to share its content, which includes the cover/banner image.

Social media pages that have appealing content and visuals are much more likely to be shared and increase engagement. So definitely exercise creative freedom in your designs, while making sure that that your visuals are consistent with client company branding and are showcasing their products and community.

4 simple steps Social Media Branding

Social media branding allows you to break through the clutter (and there’s a lot) so you’ll be easily recognizable to your target audience and ultimately drive more business, leads and sales. But how, exactly, do you do that? Follow 4 steps below:

1. Keep your branding consistent across platforms

The most important element of social media branding? Consistency, consistency, consistency.

If your website has one brand style (specific colors, fonts, and product images), but your Facebook has a completely different look and feel… Which is totally different from your Twitter… And your Instagram and Pinterest… And your Snapchat, too…

Well, you get the idea.

Inconsistent branding is confusing. Your audience expects to experience your brand in the same way, no matter where they’re experiencing it. Having an all-over-the-place brand on social media hurts your overall branding, your brand recognition, your engagement… And in the end, it hurts your sales.

When you’re creating your social media profiles, your brand DNA needs to be infused on each one. Got a brand color palette? Perfect. Use those colors on your profile. Have a hero image that people associate with your brand? Great. Use it as a Facebook or Twitter cover photo. Got a logo? Sweet (and if not, it’s time to get one designed!). Use it as your profile picture so you’re instantly recognizable to your audience.

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Jamba also uses their logo as a profile picture, which ensures that even if audience members miss the glaring similarities between their website and their social media profiles, there’s no mistaking which brand they’re interacting with.

If you think only large brands need to keep their branding consistent across social media platforms, take a look at Blue Star Donuts, an artisanal donut shop based in Portland, Oregon.

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Blue Star places a heavy focus on creating high-quality donuts using the best ingredients. In fact, their tagline is “Quality over Quantity.” That’s why it makes total sense that their social media branding emphasizes food.

That branding has done them well. Blue Star has a rabid social media following—over 17K Facebook fans—that frequently causes lines out the door at their Portland locations. In fact, they’ve done so well building their brand, they’ve recently expanded to Los Angeles, CA.

Moral of the story? If you want to successfully brand yourself on social media, keep it consistent.

2. Create share-worthy content

A big part of success in social media is spreading the word about your brand to new people. And the way to do that? Create share-worthy content.

Content is the foundation of social media. In fact, there’s a whole industry built around it: content marketing.

When it comes to social media branding, you want to establish yourself as a go-to resource for awesome content in whatever your industry you’re in. Your content is the foundation of your social media success, and it must inspire people to click, engage and share. Visualmodo has put together a nice article explaining different ways to integrate your content marketing into your social media.

Dunkin’ Donuts saw an opportunity to engage their audience and build their brand on social media when Facebook launched their Live feature. On Valentine’s Day 2016, Dunkin’ broadcast their first live-stream on Facebook Live, where they took their audience behind the scenes at their test kitchen and gave them an inside peek at the construction of a ginormous wedding cake made of donuts. This holiday-themed video was a huge success for Dunkin’—over 46,000 live viewers.

Seeing the opportunity to become the go-to donut brand for fun, seasonal video content, Dunkin’ has continued to create tons of viral social media videos that their audience goes crazy for. Just check out their recent Dancing Pumpkin Man, which currently has over 2.3 million views and almost 62,000 shares.

Let’s also take a look at a lesser-known (but no less successful) brand. The Lighter Side of Real Estate is a (you guessed it) real estate website targeted towards agents that offers helpful resources, articles, and marketing services. Their entire brand is built around content—especially funny content.

They’ve done an incredible job of creating content like hilarious memes and GIFs that get their audience clicking that “Share” button. They keep their design simple (a lot of times, they just slap their logo on a meme and call it a day), but it works.

Just take a look at this recent post that made me LOL.

And the result of all this shareworthy content? Their audience exploded. The Lighter Side of Real Estate currently has 339.6K Facebook fans. That’s pretty impressive for a niche site targeted towards real estate professionals!

The key to successful, recognizable social media branding is to create content that will inspire your audience to share and engage. Figure out what content is going to connect best with your particular audience, publish it on the regular and watch those shares come pouring in.

Whether you decide to focus on producing video content or memes, GIFs or written posts, you need to make sure you’re branding yourself as a company who creates killer content.

3. Add ah-mazing images

Speaking of content, you can’t talk about social media branding without talking about images. In fact, some platforms—like Instagram and Pinterest—are based entirely around pictures.

Images boost engagement like crazy. Facebook posts with images get 2.3x more engagement, and tweets with images receive 150% more retweets than tweets without. If your images aren’t a priority in your social media branding strategy, you’re going to fall flat.

When creating brand imagery for social media, be true to your self, grab your audience’s attention and look fantastic.

Now, keep in mind, your images don’t have to just be based around your product, your service or yourself (if you’re a personal brand). As long as you’re on-brand, they’re a go.

Just look at Lorna Jane, a popular women’s athletic brand. Instead of building their social media images strictly around their products (I mean, how many sports bra photos can a person look at?!), they wisely decided to focus their images on the kind of fun, active lifestyle Lorna Jane inspires.

A great example of a smaller brand (also in the fitness space!) doing awesome things with branding their social media images is CycleHouseLA. This Los Angeles-based spin studio has a healthy social media following they engage by sharing inspirational images meant to get people off the couch and onto their workout… preferably at their nearest CycleHouse studio.

Their mix of real-life students, branded inspirational quotes, and shots of their studio and workout classes make for an inspiring mix that sets them apart from the million other cycling studios in LA.

Are you trying to inspire your audience? Try creating quote images to get them inspired (just make sure you add your logo and brand color palette so you also inspire some brand recognition in the process).

Whether you decide to focus on producing video content or memes, GIFs or written posts, you need to make sure you’re branding yourself as a company who creates killer content. Are you trying to get them to drool over your brand’s newest food product? Then take some drool-worthy product shots that make your treats look even more to-die-for than they already are.

Bottom line: social media is an image-heavy place, and so in order to be successful in social media branding, you’ll need killer images. Figure out what killer images means to your brand, and then deliver on image-centric platforms.

4. Be social

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Our last tip is this: it’s called social media for a reason. If you want to find success with social media branding, you need to actually be social. When one of your followers tweets at you, tweet back! When someone leaves a question on your Facebook page, answer it! If someone comments on your Instagram post, comment right back!

Social media is a conversation, so it needs to go both ways. Build your brand on social media around being social and engaging with your fans. The more you engage, the more engaged they’ll be!

This article was originally written by Deanna deBara.

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