Why social media strategy hinges on design

By July 16, 2015 No Comments

Coming home from work recently, I squeezed myself into my busy train. Stuck between someone’s armpit and a pushchair, I had no other option than to look straight forwards, which meant spying on people’s phone screens (moment of weakness; I was standing in a very weird position).

Here was a mish-mash of stereotypes realised: I saw the suited guy flicking through Facebook, the skater swiping through Twitter, pressed cardigan lady scrolled her LinkedIn, hipster girl posting a selfie on Instagram and a lovey-dovey couple watching YouTube videos.

Different strokes for different folks, I guess, but I couldn’t help thinking how many hours we spend on average on these different social media channels, and then switch to a different channel for different reasons. More to the point, what do we get out of it?

Three years ago I deactivated my Facebook account. I was spending way too much valuable time on it; I was a very active member getting nothing in return, so to speak. People ask me if I miss it, and the answer is I really don’t.

You see, even as a business marketing content you can still be ‘cool’ without Facebook or Twitter. You just need to do some soul-searching to decide which channel is right for you. And you can always quit; that’s allowed. Don’t be afraid to test it out.

I couldn’t help thinking how many hours we spend on average on these different social media channels, and then switch to a different channel for different reasons

Just ask yourself:

  • Why do you want to join a particular channel?
  • How much time do you realistically need to invest?
  • What will you get in return – how does this achieve your marketing goals?

Of course if you don’t have time for all this soul-searching then this is an area in which Southerly specialises and can help you with your social media strategy, choosing the right channels for your content and audience.

And there’s another crucial factor that we need to consider when choosing what social channels our clients occupy – design. Trust me, I’m a designer.

What’s a social media strategy without design? 

When I watch someone on the train on their smartphone, I see them scrolling. Scrolling, scrolling, scrolling: we seem to scroll more than we walk. So what makes them stop in their tracks? Actually look at something? More often than not, it’s an image or video. For brands and publishers, how you present that rich content is key to getting social media users to stop and click.

Basically, you need to be loud. Strong design hits all the right notes with your audience. It stops them and piques their interest.

Ever since social media started we have tested, investigated and learned the hard way about how to make an impact with good design – the design that draws your attention and wows you.

Take a look at the comparative example below and let me know what you think in the comments:


See what I mean?

Think about what your design shows, who’s looking at it, and where they’re looking at it

One size doesn’t fit all!

Each social media channel has its own restrictions, so you need to be discerning about what to post where and how it will stop your audience in their scroll. Unfortunately is not quite as easy as using one image and posting it everywhere. Get the right specs and adapt your communication around each individual post.

I know, I know, it’s a pain, but it’s good to be aware of these rules before you start designing your campaigns.

When I design a social campaign, I think about those guys on the train. Sure, you’re playing to stereotypes sometimes, but what can I say? People like what they like, so I’m going to give it to them. I might instigate a selfie campaign for Instagram; a more friendly, homely design for Facebook; something bold, brash and striking for the very noisy Twitter; something that inspires more business thinking for LinkedIn; and short, sharp, easy-to-digest videos for YouTube.

Think about what your design shows, who’s looking at it, where they’re looking at it, and how that inspires them to become more engaged with your brand as a result. Even if you think half your audience has left Facebook, it might be because they want more pictures on Instagram.

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