Alright, so a graphic designer is essential for certain aspects. These are the people that can make the website creative, add the perfect graphic for a blog, and work their magic for that print ad that you want asap. Let's just say that graphic designers are indispensable. However, these people can get loaded down with everything else and don't have time for the latest fun image for a social media campaign. So, the job falls onto the social media person.
Eventually, as more and more projects involving social media start to pile up, the inevitable evolution will occur. This does not mean that the graphic designer will not touch any social media at all, it just means that the social media person has to step up. A graphic designer cannot make a graphic for every day of the week, plus complete all of their other work. You need to find the balance between graphic design and social media.
Thus, not only are social media experts researching the latest trends or keywords, tweeting about the hottest topics, writing content, responding to the comments or ratings, and scheduling out posts to best suit their brand's needs, but they're also creating the images to go with their latest clever quip. They're fully taking on these brands digitally and are the eyes, ears, and mouth of the brands they're representing.
With that, these social media pros have to transition from being wordsmiths to being the full package: being able to write and create visually stimulating images. As they are planning out and instinctively creating these social media posts, they must also think about the visuals. What images can I pair with this? Should I create a fun meme or do I need to overlay text on a photo? What best suits the needs of the post, but also the brand? When this happens, a social media expert not only has to know the brand, but must fully immerse themselves. Images sometimes can define the client more than the copy because people are drawn to images. Does anyone else remember the quote, "A picture is worth a thousand words?" For a company, it's true. People form opinions of companies based off of their social media, including the copy and graphics. Also, a bad image or poorly-paired image and text can quickly go under Buzzfeed's latest "What Not to Do on Social Media" list. The nightmare for any company.
So, what should be done to prepare for this shift?
There are a couple ways to handle this, but it all depends on your company culture and how you want to proceed with this looming trend.
You could just make sure that the next social media person that you hire is graphically savvy. This person must be a digital saint by having social media, content, and graphic design backgrounds. This is possible, but rare. The majority of these people have preferences or specialties in one area, so be clear on this and respond accordingly.
Another option is to train or assist your current social media people. This could be anything from basic graphics courses, free or expensive, to using basic graphic design programs. For the people who want to learn more or are struggling to think graphically, then some classes might be ideal. However, if some team members just do not have the gift, then I would suggest designating a few people with graphic skills on the team to make these graphics.
The social media gurus that have talent, and don't need or want a class, might want to look into a couple other options:
1. Learn from YouTube videos and blogs for more in-depth graphic design tips, like Photoshop. This is pretty straightforward, but it does work, and it can be done during work hours or independently, based on company policies.
2. Rather than the social experts teaching themselves the more complicated programs, try out some of the lighter graphic programs. So, instead of learning how to touch-up the background in a photo, use programs that don't have to do as much "heavy-lifting." There are free sites like PicMonkey and Canva, which allow for uploading images, using some pre-set design elements, and editing them to your needs. Now, both have paid features, so be sure to take a look. Both allow for some flexibility when creating graphics to help take the stress off the graphic designers. Canva even has a business level, which allows for multiple users to access photos and designs. Another free image option is Buffer. Yes, it's a social media scheduling site, but it also has a feature for some meme or image creation by combining a few simple elements.
When preparing for the latest social media posts, be sure to remember what matters. It's easy to get caught up in the latest memes or just promoting services. Keep in mind what interests your audience and create the text and images accordingly. Be sure to scatter the fun graphics, the blatant self-promotion, and everything in between throughout the calendar. It's finding the right balance, just like finding the right combination between the post's text and the image. It takes knowledge of the audience and brand, while still being creative. That's one thing that the ultimate social media guru must be --- creative, engaging, and sensitive to needs.
Simply put, a new era is here for small businesses. Graphic designers are sharing the load with social media experts. With the right tips and tricks, these social gurus can conquer the graphic world that they live in.