Social media marketing is a notoriously difficult beast to master, not least for graphic designers. Gone are the days when everyone was on Facebook, and there were no other platforms to entertain, let alone tricky algorithms to worry about. Today, we’re faced with a whole boatload of different options to choose from – but even if we know where to focus, do we really know what we’re doing, and how to actually get people to see us? Most of us can feel so overwhelmed by it all to the point that we end up just stalling and getting nowhere (please say that’s not just me!). Are we just overthinking this – is social media even worth it for us as graphic designers?

I think by now, we’re all conditioned to embrace social media, not just as part of our marketing, but in our everyday lives. Everyone seems to be on it constantly, so when people urge businesses to get on board with it, and that social media is the one major place where we can make an impact, it’s hard not to believe them, isn’t it?

Perhaps a hard thing to admit, but nowadays, business is done online – traditional marketing, though it has its place, has taken a reluctant back seat. Online content is where it’s at, and where it’s likely to be for the foreseeable future.

So yes, being present on social media is a necessity for businesses. But you can’t be everywhere. How do you decide which platforms to be visible on? And what do you post, anyway?

The fear of comparison

Have you ever experienced this? You scroll through Instagram and see breath-taking posts from other designers, amazing images backed up by a perfectly matched piece of text that you know hits the sweet spot for SEO and is adorned with hashtags that are going to appeal to just the right people?

Yeah, me too. All the time. And it’s paralysing. I can’t possibly match up, right? So I won’t bother. I won’t put myself out there, and let people see how thoroughly mediocre I am. 

But hang on – isn’t that just your impostor syndrome getting the better of you? What if we flip it, and let those posts inspire us instead?

Comparison can be a dangerous thing. It can also give us a marvellous insight into what works for other designers online. Instead of falling prey to jealousy, could you analyse what’s happening? Look into the post – why does it appeal? How are people responding to it? And most importantly, how can you emulate that through your own work?*

(*Note – I’m not suggesting imitation or copy here, but letting the ideas and concepts inspire you.)

What’s your objective?

When I’ve researched the best social media platforms for graphic designers, one of the answers that seems to come up a lot is ‘go where your ideal client is.’

OK, I get that. It makes sense – if you are trying to purely use social media to get leads (never a bad tactic) – but another way to look at it is ‘what do I want from my social media?’

I don’t necessarily want my posts to be all about getting people to buy from me. I want to show my work to the best audience possible. I want to raise opinions and conversations around what I do. I want to connect with an audience and share my story a little bit. Thinking about it – when I look at social media posts, I’m most inspired by those posts that speak to me on a creative level – not those that are trying to get a sale out of me.

This kind of ties in with the question ‘which platform?’, because you’ll want to not only consider where your potential buyers hang out, but more so where your audience hang out. They’re not always the same thing.

I suppose the key is not to just connect with people who might buy from you, but also with the kind of people who are in your own industry. I’m talking about other designers, creative agencies, and the types of people who might enjoy sharing your content and talking about you, and with you. If people can relate to you and engage with you, then those who are looking to buy will learn to trust you through recommendations.

A numbers game?

Like all types of marketing, it’s largely a numbers game – the more times people see your brand, they’ll become familiar with it and are more likely to buy from you. Unlike traditional marketing though, you have other factors to consider. Because social media posts have such a short life span, it’s important that you create posts that grab people’s attention enough to stop them from scrolling and to read what you have to say. And you have to do that often – which (sorry) means posting a lot of content, regularly.

People see your social media posts first, so that’s the place to focus on getting noticed by new audiences – and the place to build trust with them.

So, is it worth it?

I think yes, it’s absolutely worth getting it right. Something else I’ll mention too is that any social media platforms you use should ideally lead people back to your website – people will still want to see concrete proof of what you stand for before they buy from you, and they will do that from first seeing your posts, and then looking at your website.

I hope this article was useful. I’m off to see what I can find to post on my Instagram now…