Your social media aesthetic is the visual presentation of your brand on social networking platforms. Typically, it’s a combination of images, text-based posts and video content that forms a virtual snapshot of your brand’s identity. While the type of creative content you post will vary according to each platform, your social media aesthetic will have one thing in common, across the board: brand guidelines.
Back by popular demand, this addition to our Picos article series ‘Social Media Marketing for Dummies’ caters to all the aesthetic & design-related questions submitted in recent weeks. We’ve given you community management, influencer marketing & digital advertising tips in Q&A form, so now there’s only one thing left to do. We’re going to give the people what they want. Behold: social media aesthetic, explained.
Visualise, merchandise and advertise. Repeat.
Your social media aesthetic is arguably your brand’s most important customer touchpoint. Like a storefront on a busy street. Wedged between other businesses competing for passerby attention, its visual and conceptual appearance is often the difference between closing a sale and closing a day without sales. This is because a buyer’s journey begins and ends with their initial appraisal of a brand and its position within the marketplace. Visual merchandising, in this sense, is critical to customer acquisition, retention and loyalty.
Answers to the Questions you Felt too Awkward to Ask
Developing a social media strategy for a strong online presence takes knowing your brand, knowing your audience and knowing your platform. No matter where you sit on the social media-savvy spectrum, getting your aesthetic right is a process of trial, error… and (sometimes) delete. Though it may not come naturally at first, this learning curve is your ticket to brand awareness, word-of-mouth exposure, customer loyalty and engagement with an active online community. Not to mention, a poorly designed feed that lacks professional TLC is a recipe for social media suicide. So for all the romantics out there thinking that their brand’s image is beyond a social media strategy, think again. With a little help from your friends at the Picos HQ, you’ll curate a social media aesthetic that cuts through all the noise. Presenting: answers to the questions you felt too awkward to ask.
Answers to the Questions you Felt too Awkward to Ask
1. What are Brand Guidelines?
Brand guidelines are the holy grail for creatives. They outline your brand’s set visual and communicative standards to streamline a consistent message in the online and offline space. When used consistently, they ensure that your brand’s identity is embedded in every piece of advertised content, from promotional flyers to social media posts. Inside them, you’ll find details outlining instructions for the use of typography, colours, logo variations, spacing and icons, so that no matter who manages your account, your content is always on-brand.
2. What kind of posts are best for Instagram?
Since Instagram is primarily a visual platform, you are spoiled for choice when it comes to the type of content you can post. Videos, images and text-based content are all excellent mediums to connect with your audience and generate brand awareness. With a digital strategy in place, these posts can promote campaigns, drive traffic & build the foundation of a strong online presence. If you are managing your brand’s social media strategy yourself, we recommend giving a bit of thought to the purpose behind each post. By doing this, you can strike a healthy balance between sales, traffic and engagement-driven content. For example, you might want to dedicate a certain number of posts per month to engaging with your followers and attracting new ones to your account. These posts would vary from promotional content designed to drive website traffic or sales conversions. Our tip to you: no one likes a salesperson.
3. How do I choose a colour palette?
That depends. If you have brand guidelines, your colour palette should already be outlined in there with instructions regarding its application. Though it may be tempting to try a new colour palette out on social media, it’s really important to stick to the theme curated by your design team in the early days of your brand’s development. On the other hand, if you’re building a colour palette from scratch, focus on the colours used in your logo design and find ones to complement them. If you’re not sure where to start, use a colour tool like Adobe Color for recommendations. Unless you have a sophisticated colour palette and established brand guidelines, best practice is to limit your palette to 3 colours.
4. Do I have to use the same fonts, filters or presets?
As a general rule of thumb, stay within the lines of your brand guidelines. They exist as a blueprint to make sure that you streamline a consistent image across channels. If you find text-based templates or fonts that you love, pocket them for another account. If, on the other hand, your branding process is still in its infancy, you might have more flexibility with fonts, presets and filters. Remember: consistency is key. We recommend creating your own guidelines on a document that outlines your chosen fonts, presets & colour palette. For inspiration or help finding the right preset, Pinterest and Adobe’s Lightroom are a great place to start.
5. Why is it so important to create a theme?
Cast your mind to that really poorly managed Instagram feed you’ve stumbled across all-too-many times. Think about the impression it made when you saw text-based ‘SALE’ posts in a varied mix of colours that hurt your eyes. Now throw some randoms selfies in the mix for impact. The point we’re trying to make is that consistency is the bedrock of brand design. Not only are you competing for the attention of a target audience shared with your competitors, but you are also competing with high-quality content of self-made influencers and social media gurus. If your social media aesthetic isn’t thoughtfully & strategically designed, you’re behind the eight ball – and your brand image will suffer for it.
6. Do I have to use design programs to create text-based posts?
That depends on the type of content you’re looking to create. Normally design programs like Canva or Lightroom can be used to create text-based content. Remember: keep your copy short, sweet and on-brand. Avoid dabbling in different fonts or colours outside of your brand’s palette. Stick to your guns; AKA your brand guidelines.
7. Should I use a scheduling program to post my content?
If you’re curating your feed ahead of time and have a month’s worth of content ready-to-go, scheduling software can save you a great deal of time. They also help you visualise what your ‘feed’ will look like with all of your content in place, so you can make last-minute changes to your grid easily. Not to mention, most programs provide insight into engagement and performance metrics, helping you post your content at optimal times of the day. On the other hand, if you’re creating content as you go and post irregularly, a scheduling program is probably unnecessary.
8. What are the different dimensions for Instagram posts and stories?
Great question. The aspect ratio for regular Instagram posts is 1350 by 1080px, whereas stories are 1920 by 1080px. If you upload square posts then 1080 by 1080px is the correct ratio. Happy posting!
9. Do I have to be mindful of the resolution of my images?
To all the Nokia flip-up phone photographers out there, this may hurt a little. When posting on behalf of your brand, it’s really important that your content is professional and high-quality at all times. This means that you have to be mindful of specs like resolution, composition, lighting and even the use of space in your photos. Fortunately, social media apps, like Instagram and Facebook, are designed to circulate content captured on handheld smartphones, so image resolution shouldn’t be much of an issue if you’re posting directly from a smart device. If you’re not sure whether your images are high resolution, focus on their clarity & sharpness. Keep in mind that photos sent to you are likely to have lost their resolution upon transfer.